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2011 Tour de France Stage 12 Cugnaux -> Luz-Ardiden

July 16, 2011

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This was the first mountain stage and it was actually one of the first stages where we’d see who would emerge as the real leader of the tour. Currently, Voeckler isn’t looking so bad, but the Schleck brothers and Contador are still the favorites. Frank Schleck looks somewhat better than Andy Schleck, as it was he who made the move to get the time on Contador and Evans. He managed to gain about 30″, which was very good. Sanchez won the stage with a last minute acceleration, which left Vanendert getting second.

Today’s stage is 209km long, and has got some challenging climbs. We are entering the Pyrenees.

There is a breakaway composed of Thomas (Sky), Guiterrez (Movistar), Perez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Roy (FDJ), Kadri (AG2R), and Mangel (Saur Sojasun).

There are 141.2km left and the break is 7′ ahead. In 75km, they’ll hit the first cat 1 climb, followed by the first hors-catégorie climb 30km later. This is an climbing finish, that concludes with an HC climb.

The sprint is in about 50km. The first HC climb is the Col du Tourmalet. There are about 40km of climbing in this stage.

Europcar are doing the pacing. Voeckler has told his team manager that he doesn’t want the break to go more than 8′ ahead. It’s Bastille Day.

With 122km left, the lead is 8′. Cofidis and FDJ are in front as well.

With 111.8km, the lead is 8:30.

At 105.1km, the lead is 8:34. The peloton is coming through the feeding zone. The sprint is coming up. With 95.6km, the lead is 9′.

Guiterrez has some stomach problems. He goes to the team car to get some stuff to settle his stomach. The leaders are going through the intermediate sprint in Sarrancollin. Mangel gets the top points and Roy is 2nd.

The peloton is about to cross the intermediate sprint. Movistar are at the front. Europcar are also there. HTC is nearby. The sprinters are trying to jockey themselves into position. Cavendish is being led to the front. He gets 9pts. The rest of the team continued to sprint to take away the points from the others competitors in the Green Jersey comp.

With 85.6km, the gap is 8:15. Hoogerland and 2 other riders are leaving the peloton but they relent. Di Gregorio has a wheel change.

With 81.4km, the lead is 7:46. They are about to climb the first climb. La Hourquette d’Ancizan is the 1st climb. It’s 9.9km long, 1.538km in height, and the average gradient is 7.5%.

The leaders start the climb. 9.9km to go. The lead is 6:59. There are 79.2km left.

Europcar, BMC and Leopard Trek are at the front.

The breakaway is climbing the steepest part of the climb, 9.4%. Some of the sprinters are already being dropped. Hoogerland has come to the front and is trying to make a move. Chavanel is following him. There’s no reaction by the peloton.

He just sneaked up and then powered away. He needs to catch up with the breakaway to get any points. The leaders are at 5:33. Guiterrez is about to be dropped by the leaders.

If they get a good gap, they could get some points in the next climb, the HC Col du Tourmalet.

Kreuziger (Astana) also moves away from the front of the peloton. Kreuziger joins Hoogerland and Chavanel. They’ve got about 30″ over the peloton.

The sprinters are joining the autobus, the riders that band together at the rear of the peloton. The chase group is at 5′ and the peloton is at 5:44.

The chase is at 4:31 and the peloton is at 5:48. There are 72.5km left.

Kreuziger and Chavanel drop Hoogerland. He’s trying to get back. They are 4:17 back from the leaders with 70.9km left.

Mangel goes for the top followed by Perez. They leave the others behind. Mangel gets 10pts. Now it’s time to fly down the slope. This is when they can make up a lot of time, but climbers usually don’t like descending.

Right off the bat, Thomas almost goes crashing down the mountain. It looks like his back wheel locked up. He looks fine.

Thomas lost some time. There was a gap in the parked cars. He does it again. It’s a mechanical problem. It might be his carbon fiber wheels locking up.

The leaders are now 4. The peloton is 5:47 behind the leaders.

When the peloton crosses over the top, five riders almost simultaneously drop to the floor. Voeckler is almost involved. Some of his teammates are. That’s the same spot where Thomas crashed just a few minutes ago. It’s two Europcar riders and others. A rider from Euskaltel Euskadi is on the floor. It’s Sanchez. Voeckler was in the same situation, but he managed to control his bike and move on. He went into a car, but it wasn’t fast.

Urtasun and Klöden are on the floor. Klöden is back up and racing.

The leaders are 1′ in front of Guiterrez and/or Thomas, followed by Chavanel and Kreuziger at 3:44. The peloton is back 5:30.

Voeckler is back in the front of the peloton.

Velits from HTC has a problem and needs a new bike.

The leaders have 6:36 ahead off the peloton. They are at 56.2km. There are only 3km left before the Col du Tourmalet.

Thomas and Guiterrez are 45″ behind the leaders. Chavanel and Kreuziger are 3:18 back from the leaders. There is another chase group at 4:35. The peloton is back 6:53.

Voeckler has to change his bike. He does it smartly before the next climb.

Klöden gets his cut looked at by the medical team. The leaders have started the climb. The peloton is close to the climb.

Guiterrez and Thomas are 24″ behind the leaders.

The Col du Tourmalet is 17.1km long, has a height of 2115m, and an average gradient of 7.3%.

The peloton is back 7:45. Guiterrez and Thomas rejoin the leaders.

Some of the sprinters are back into the peloton. The chase group is 2:37 behind the leaders. They will be able to join the leaders, depending on how well Chavanel and Kreuziger will climb.

Kreuziger and Chavanel are 2:21 behind the leaders. The other chase group is 5′. It’s Hoogerland. The peloton is at 7:33. There are 47.6km left.

The pace of the peloton is being lifted by Leopard Trek. All of them are in the front. They are trying to accelerate and see what will happen to the rest of the favorites.

The peloton is about to catch Hoogerland. A lot of the sprinters are dropped. Cav and Hushovd are dropped. Petacchi and Greipel are there as well.

Hoogerland is caught at 45.9km. The peloton is 6:05 behind the leaders.

Velits has another wheel change.

Kreuziger drops Chavanel. Hoogerland is dropped by the peloton.

Kreuziger is at 1:20 behind the leaders. Chavanel is at 2′. There are 44.1km left. Gesink is also being dropped. Gesink tells Bareda, his teammate, to go ahead and rejoin the peloton.

At 42.7km, the lead is 3:55. Kreuziger is 33″ behind the leaders. Chavanel is still 2′ behind. Kreuziger is at 25″. He will join the leaders.

Guiterrez is being dropped again. Kreuziger is coming up behind him. Kreuziger passes him.

The peloton is composed of about 25 riders.

The leaders drop Mangel. Roy, Perez, Kadri, and Thomas are the remaining part of the breakaway. Kadri is being dropped as well.

The peloton is 3:12 behind. It’s Roy, Thomas, and Perez in the lead. Kreuziger is 34″ back. He’s slowed down.

Chavanel is about to be caught by the peloton.

Kreuziger and Mangel are working together. Thomas is ahead of Roy. Perez is dropped. Thomas is riding away by himself. He’s got 6km to go. Thomas is riding well. He looks strong. The gradient is 9%. Kreuziger and Mangel are 21″ behind.

At 39.4km, Chavanel is caught. Kreuziger and Mangel are 1:03 behind now as Thomas has accelerated.

This move by Leopard Trek is basically to trim the front peloton, to take the support away from the favorites. That will mean that it will get very interesting during the next climb. I expect to see some kind of move by the Schleck brothers to test Contador.

At 3km from the top, Thomas is at 50″ behind the first chase group. Kreuziger is about to drop Mangel. They are 1:28 behind.

Roy is about 20″ behind Thomas. The peloton is composed of about 35 riders.

Guiterrez is picked up by the peloton.

Andy Schleck gets a front wheel change. It was done very quickly. Leopard Trek slows down. It opens the way for another break. Tendam (Rabobank) and a rider from Katousha ride away.

Schleck had some trouble but then he’s back in the first.

A rider from Saxo Bank tries to ride away. Charteau has a wheel change.

Jens Voigt goes with the escapees. They are caught again.

Roy and Thomas are rejoined. Roy looks very good. He might drop Thomas. Roy crosses the line first and he gets maximum points. He earns the Polka Dot jersey, with 24pts. Hoogerland has got 22pts.

They start the descent. Kreuziger gets a raincoat. He crosses the top 2:11 behind the leaders.

Tendam passes Mangel. The peloton is at 3:10. The descent is 18km.

Voeckler is at the front, leading the peloton down the slope. The descent will allow a number of riders to join the peloton back up again.

Mangel and Tendam have joined Kreuziger. Kadri and Perez are still in front of them.

Gilbert has broken off the front, thanks to his speed. There are two other riders behind him.

15km to go and Thomas and Roy have started the climb of Luz-Ardiden.

Gilbert has caught to Riblon and a rider from Katousha. Voeckler has got a gap on the peloton as well. That’s very interesting.

Thomas and Roy start the climb. Tendam, Kreuziger and Mangel are behind them. Mangel is dropped.

Gilbert, Riblon, and a rider from Katousha are chasing. They join two other riders. Sanchez joined Gilbert. The gap is 3:13.

Gilbert has caught up with Kreuziger and his group. Perez, Sanchez, Riblon, and others are part of this 8-man group.

Voigt is still doing the pacing for the peloton and Leopard Trek. Perez is dropped and caught by the peloton. The pace has once again been hard for some of the riders. Kreuziger is also dropped.

11.1km left, and the peloton is 2:06 behind. Voigt has dropped behind.

Kadri is caught by Gilbert and his group. Sanchez is in front with a OLO rider, Vanendert.

10km to go and the peloton is 1:44 behind. Sanchez is 56″ behind.

Basso is at the front of the peloton and asked his team to accelerate as well. Voeckler is right there.

The peloton is 1:19 behind the leaders. The leaders are 34″ ahead of the chasers. They are 8.8km to the finish.

Navarro is dropped by the peloton. The peloton is 1″ behind. Sanchez is about to rejoin Roy and Thomas. Gilbert is caught by the peloton. Tendam is also caught.

The peloton is 37″ behind the leaders.

Thomas and Roy are passed and dropped by Sanchez and Vanendert. The peloton is 40″ behind.

Roy is caught by the peloton. Now Thomas is caught. They are passed and dropped. They are 46″ behind Vanendert and Sanchez.

At 6.3km, the lead is 52″. With 5km left, the lead is 1:09.

The Schleck brothers are talking.

Sanchez is grimacing trying to get through the last few km. The lead is 1:15.

Andy Schleck tries to get to the front and makes a move. Contador is right there. It was just a feint. It was a cover for Frank, who goes ahead. Basso is right there. Contador is still there. Cunego is up there too. Frank Schleck is forcing Contador to follow.

Evans, Contador, Basso, and the Schleck brothers are facing off. Basso tries to get away, but he can’t distance them. Voeckler is there as well.

Now they’ve regrouped, Frank Schleck tries to get away. Contador is following. They are all looking at each other.

Meanwhile, the leaders are 1:07 ahead. 3km left. Roland is leading Voeckler to another day in the Yellow Jersey.

With 2.5km, the gap is up to 1:14.

Frank Schleck tries to get away again. This time, it’s a good move. Roland and Voeckler are trying to get ahead, but Frank Schleck is faster up the mountain.

2km to go. Schleck is 55″ behind. The peloton is at 1:13. Schleck is going at it quickly.

Evans and basso try to leave the favorite’s group. Voeckler is right there, as is Contador and A. Schleck. A. Schleck has joined them.

1km to go. They’ve got 46″ over F. Schleck. At the time check, he’s 25″ behind them. Voeckler and Roland are dropped.

It’s Evans, Basso, Contador, Cunego, and A. Schleck chasing down the leaders.

F. Schleck is coming up on the leaders. Sanchez and Vanendert saw him coming and accelerate away.

Sanchez accelerates away from Vanendert. He wins the stage.

Contador was dropped. It’s Basso, Evans, and A. Schleck. Cunego follows. Contador brings up the gap. Voeckler is about 52″ behind. He will keep the Yellow Jersey.

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