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2011 Tour de France Stage 18 Pinarolo -> Galibier Serre Chevalier

July 23, 2011

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It had to happen this week because it was simply the last week for it to happen. Finally, Andy Schleck makes a move, which was cunningly put together. At the time, there were already two Leopard Trek riders in the breakaway. Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady were doing some hard pacing, having taken it up a notch from what Europcar was doing. Contador was in the back and they were climbing the Col d’Izoard. There were 60km to go and Schleck launched his attack. At one time, the lead was up to 4:24. Slowly but surely, he caught up with all of the splintered groups and beat them. His two teammates served as a jumping point. Monfort stayed with him for the longest. In the end, the blistering chase was led by Evans, who managed to get back a lot of time on Schleck, but not enough. It was just enough for Voeckler to remain in the Yellow Jersey by 15″. This will make it an interesting stage tomorrow.


There are three hors-catégorie climbs in this stage, which is 200.5km in length.

There is a 19-rider breakaway with 8:58 over the peloton. There are 111.2km left.

The riders include Roche (AG2R), Delage (FDJ), Monfort (Leopard Trek), Posthuma (Leopard Trek), Perez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Urtasun (Euskaltel Euskadi), Tjallingii (Rabobank), Navardauskas (Garmin Cervelo), Iglinskiy (Astana), Irizar (Radioshack), Erviti (Movistar), Devenyns (Quick Step), Bookwalter (BMC), Burghardt (BMC), Duque (Cofidis), Hondo (Lampre), Silin (Katousha), Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), and Delaplace (Saur Sojasun).

The break has started the climb of the Col Agnel, a 23.7km peak, that has a height of 2,744m and an average gradient of 6.5%.

If Hoogerland gets all of the KOM points, he might regain the lead over Vanendert and Sanchez (74 and 72pts).

With 103.3km left, the lead is 7:48. The break got away right before the sprint, so no sprinters got any points in the Green Jersey comp.

Monfort gets clipped by a spectator, but he’s fine. Burghardt just shakes his head.

There is a small group that’s trying to get away from the peloton. It includes Gilbert, Leigheimer, Riblon (AG2R), Koren (Liquigas), Barredo (Rabobank), Di Gregorio (Astana) and Zeits (Astana).

Hondo is about to be dropped from the break.

The gradient is pretty steep, 10.9%.

Westra makes a move off the front of the peloton. He catches up with Leipheimer and Zeits because they’ve dropped back.

The leaders are 16 now and the lead is 5:25 on the peloton. Hondo, Burghardt, and Delaplace have been dropped from the break.

The peloton is split. The sprinters are going backwards quickly.

There are 94.2km left. The peloton is at 5:14. There are 24 riders ahead of the peloton.

Iglinskiy goes over the top first. Hoogerland is 2nd. He’s now 4th in the KOM comp.

The descent is quite dangerous initially, but then evens out. There are no barriers. Once you drop, you fall off the mountain.

Leipheimer’s group is 4:56 behind the leaders. Iglinskiy is descending at 80kph.

Iglinskiy has got about 10-15″. He’s not pedaling hard. The descent allows many riders to rejoin the peloton.

Iglinskiy is caught. He wasn’t really trying to get away. The break is now 13 riders. There are 80.2km left and the peloton is at 5:38.

There are many groups going down the mountain. The lead group is followed by a chase group of 5 riders. There are other chase groups. Sky has started doing some pacing to chase down Jeanneson, in order to defend Uran’s White Jersey.

The 4 men off the breakaway are caught at the feeding zone. Liggett mistakenly identifies Hoogerland as Erviti, the Movistar rider. Odd, as Hoogerland is on Vacansoleil.

Tony Martin crashed on the descent. He remounted and started racing again.

The riders have started the climb of the Col d’Izoard, which is another hors-catégorie peak.

The break is down to 11. Voeckler, Vanendert, and Uran have attacked the peloton. It’s quickly nullified. The Moncoutie group is caught.

Bookwalter, Navardauskas, and Irizar are dropped. So is Tjallingii.

There are 66.9km left. The leaders are down to 9. They have got 4:35 over the peloton.

As soon as the peloton starts the climb, an AG2R rider starts a move. It’s Maxime Bouet. He catches up with Hondo, who’s just a few seconds off.

Hondo is caught by the peloton. The lead is back up to almost 5′.

Voeckler ripped out his earpiece and threw it onto the road. That’s strange. He dropped his race radio.

The lead is back up to 5:16 with 63.3km left. Bouet catches up with Duque.

Contador stayed in the center of the peloton all day. Bouet is 4:22 behind the leaders.

Jens Voigt and some other Leopard Trek riders have come to the front. They accelerate the pace. The pace was set by the Europcar team.

The leaders’ group is down to 8. Delage is caught by the peloton.

Hoogerland is dropped but the leaders. Monfort and Posthuma are also pressuring the pace in the break.

Stuart O’Grady is at the front. Schleck is there. The blistering pace is taking a toll on the peloton. Voeckler is there. Bouet is caught.

Iglinskiy makes a move to get away from the breakaway. Posthuma is dropped. Iglinskiy wants to get the KOM pts.

Schleck makes a move and goes off the front of the peloton. He rides away. It’s the steepest part of the climb. The peloton is at 3:52. That was very good. There is no response from the peloton. The Leopard Trek riders have gone away from the front.

The Europcar riders are back at the front. Saxo Bank has come up as well. Contador tries to get away, but the others are right there.

Schleck looks really good. I hope he makes it across to the break. Frank Schleck is riding Evans’ wheel.

There are 59.4km left. Schleck has got 30″. Uran and Cav have been dropped a while ago from the peloton.

Iglinskiy has got 35″ over the break.

Schleck has got 50″. Iglinskiy is 43″ ahead of the break.

Thanks to Monfort and Posthuma, Schleck has got allies ahead. Bookwalter is caught.

There are 58.4km left. Schleck has got a minute now. Iglinskiy has got 50″. Schleck passes the Movistar rider. He’s got a 1:10 now over the peloton.

Iglinskiy has got 1:05 over the chasers. There are 56.9km left. Monfort and Roche are behind Iglinskiy. Schleck catches up with Posthuma with Hoogerland. Posthuma was waiting for him. Schleck has got now a teammate. It was a great tactical move.

They are 1:30 behind Monfort and Roche. They are 1:40 ahead of the peloton.

The favorites are all in a small groupetto.

Schleck dropped his teammate and goes ahead. Iglinskiy has got 1km left. If he won the race today, he would be the leader in the KOM comp.

Schleck has got a 2′ lead over the *maillot jaune*. He’s 1′ Monfort.

There are 55.3km left. Iglinskiy has got 300m to go. He will get 20pts in the KOM. Schleck will catch up to Monfort. Monfort allows Roche to go ahead. He’s waiting for Schleck. It was a brilliant tactical move to get the lead in the Tour.

Monfort is joins by Silin and Devenyns. They are 1:24 behind Iglinskiy. Schleck is a few seconds behind. He’s 25″ behind his teammate. Monfort is waiting. He’s taking on some food and gels.

Monfort has a smile on his face when he sees Schleck. They hook up and accelerate away.

Voeckler is at the front of the groupetto, trying to take risks to make up some time.

Schleck has caught up with Silin. He tries to stay on their wheel. They are about to catch Devenyns.

There are 49.9km left. The lead is 3:58. They are 1:42 behind Iglinskiy.

Vanendert is with the little Voeckler group. There are 43.2km left. Vanendert is trying to get away from Voeckler and Evans.

Schleck has caught up with Roche. They are 1:36 behind Iglinskiy. The peloton is 3:52.

Vanendert abandons his move. Iglinskiy still has 1:33 over the Schleck group. The peloton is 4:02.

With 37.2km, the lead is 3:56. They are 1:22 behind.

Contador is talking with Sanchez. They must have been talking strategy. They might do joint attack on the start of the next climb.

Contador stops to change his bike. It might have been part of his plan to get the right gears for the climb. This change might be to get his mountain climbing race bike. Contador is all alone getting back to the peloton.

The Euskaltel Euskadi team car is kind of helping out Contador out. Now, he’s using the Europcar team car. Contador is in sight of the peloton.

Both the Euskaltel Euskadi and Europcar team cars look like they had an accident. Both of their hoods are bent upwards.

The Schleck group is 49″ behind Iglinskiy. The peloton is at 3:42. There are 32.5km left.

Devenyns is doing some pacing for the Schleck group. Andy Schleck is the virtual leader of the Tour.

They are 31″ behind Iglinskiy. There are 31km left. The lead is 20″.

Euskaltel Euskadi has come to the front of the peloton. They are doing the pacing. Schleck is 14″ behind of Iglinskiy.

Schleck catches up with Iglinskiy. The lead on the peloton is 3:18.

The next climb is the Col de Galibier. It’s a mountain top finish. The average gradient is 4.9%. The climb is 23km.

Voeckler looks discouraged. He knows that he lost the Tour today. The gap is 3:04. There are 25km to go. The lead is 3:11.

With 22km left, the lead is 3:33. Incredible that they are gaining even time on the false flat, which suits the peloton a lot more than the breakaway.

The gap keeps going up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Schleck attacks once again on the slope of the climb. With 20km left, the lead is 3:42.

The gap goes up even more. It’s 3:50. With 17.8km left, the lead is 3:46.

Schleck goes ahead and drops Monfort, who couldn’t do anything more. Roche, Silin, and Iglinskiy are there.

F. Schleck goes back to the team car and takes on some liquids.

With 17km, the gap is 3:50. Silin is dropped. If the race stopped now, Andy Schleck would have a 2:09 lead over Evans. Roche is struggling at the back of the break.

With 15.3km left, the lead is 3:55.

With 14km, the lead is 4′. Contador has come to the front. He’s followed and closely marked by Evans and F. Schleck. Evans does some pacing, but then suddenly, Contador drops back. Roland can’t believe it.

Contador has gone to the back of the race. And with that, the lead is up to 4:03. Even Evans doesn’t understand what is going on. Schmidt accelerates away. Evans follows, but they don’t get far.

Now, the favorites excluding the Schlecks are messing about. With 11.6km, the lead is 4:10. Monfort joins the peloton. Sanchez adjusts his race radio at the team car. They take it off.

Contador comes to the front with Navarro. None of the favorites have got any teammates to help them out, really. Andy Schleck has got a 4:14.

There are 10.8km left. The lead is 4:19. With 10.1km, Roche is dropped. The lead is 4:24. Sanchez had a problem in the back. He changed his bike as well.

Evans does an attack, but he’s quickly countered. Evans is at the front. Contador isn’t doing much. Voeckler is right behind him.

There are 8.6km left and the lead is 4:01.

Iglinskiy is dropped by Schleck. Schleck rides ahead alone. With 7.6km, the lead is 3:45. Well, the lead is coming down because the chase hasn’t yet started the real climb yet.

The lead is 3:33.

With 6.7km, the lead is 3:30. Evans is doing it by himself. The chase has stalled on the steepest gradient. Schleck has got 3:26. There are 5.7km left.

There are some incredible backdrops of the Alps. With 5km left, the lead is 3:20. The pace of Evans has split the peloton.

Eddie Merckx is looking on at Andy. He’s shouting at Andy to go on. The lead is 3:09 and there are 4.4km left.

Evans has slowed down. They are in the steepest part of the climb. It’s 9%.

Evans catches Roche. There are 3.3km left. The lead is 3:09. F. Schleck continues to mark Contador.

There are 2.6km left. The gap is 3:09. 2km left, and Schleck is at 3:03.

Contador is almost dropped but he makes it back. Then he’s dropped again.

1.5km left. The lead is 3:01. There are only five riders following Evans.

There is 1km left. Roland comes to the front and tries to pace Voeckler.

Evans goes back ahead. Voeckler has no power left. The lead is 2:44. It’s slowly coming down. Schleck might not be in yellow tonight. Voeckler is back in yellow for now.

Andy Schleck wins the stage. Voeckler needs 2:36 to retain yellow. Evans, Frank Schleck, and Voeckler are all matched. Basso is there too.

Frank Schleck sprints away for 2nd. Voeckler keeps the Yellow Jersey. That was an unbelievable fight by Voeckler.

1. Voeckler
2. Andy Schleck +15″
3. Frank Schleck +1:08
4. Evans +1:12
5. Cunego +3:46
6. Basso +3:46
7. Contador +4:44
8. Sanchez +5:20
9. Danielson +7:08
10. Peraud +9:27

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