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letour.jpgWith the peloton looking to extend their rest day one more day as they leave the Pyrenees, and with news of another EPO case (this one caught with the goods), it was an ideal day for a breakaway to strike. 12 riders made the move and it was Kurt-Asle Arvesen who emerged victorious in the breakaway cat-and-mouse. Taking the lead in the sprint, he held off Ballan and Elmiger to just take it at the line. It started with the catch of Cofidis' Moinard at 4k to go. Moinard had made the best of a solo effort off the front, but the rest of the 12-man breakaway group was too much in the end, especially with the likes of Arvesen, Wegmann, and Pozzatto in the mix.

With Moinard caught, Arvesen and Elmiger jumped and Arvesen did his best to egg Elmiger into taking pulls. Ballan and Moerenhout then caught on, and the jockeying began. Ballan took a flyer with less than 1km to go, but Arvesen chased him down and went to the front. Arvesen went through sharp-right hander with 300m to go first and was able to use the slight rise on the finishing straight to his advantage.

We were treated to a rare sight today: Silence-Lotto leading the peloton. It remained a rare sight as Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro decided to make a repeat of his Tour-de-France-winning breakaway tactic from 2006. He jumped off the front with nary a reaction at first. CSC seemed to decide that Silence-Lotto has as much leg-power as Phonak in those days and went to the front to keep that contained. Once Pereiro was caught and CSC got the win with Arvesen, Silence-Lotto was free to patrol the front the peloton once more.

The message is clear: Evans' team isn't in control of this race, CSC is. Evans may win this race in the ITT, but he's going to have a hard time on the road until then.

Barloworld may not have withdrawn from the race, but they are pretty well decimated after the news of Moises Duenas EPO positive and the subsequent catching of him with the doping goods. Felix Cardenas abandoned today with an injury and Paolo Longo crashed out with a broken collarbone. With Soler already gone, that leaves the team at half strength.

Tour de France '07 Stage 13: Albi TT

Vinokourov - JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images


13 was a lucky number for Astana as they turned their disasterous Stage 5 on its head: Vinokourov first, Kloden third, and Kashechkin fourth. Vino's effort jumped him from 19th to 9th place in the overall standings, 5:10 behind. Kloden is 4th and Kashechkin is 6th, giving Astana several weapons in the GC.

Evans broke up the Astana 1-2-3 by finishing in second, 1:14 behind, but he will be disappointed that he didn't take the yellow jersey with his effort: Rasmussen did the time trial of his career and even passed Valverde on the finishing straight. Valverde's poor 47th-place finish dropped him out of the overall top ten after starting in second.

Discovery didn't have an Astana day but put in a respectable 6-7-9 in the standings with Popovych (despite crashing), Contador, and Leipheimer. Contador appears to be taking over the leader status from Leipheimer as he finished 0:21 faster and moves into third in the overall, while Levi takes fifth. CSC, as expected, couldn't deliver a strong effort with Sastre or Schleck, but Sastre was able to stay seventh overall.

Early rain saw many riders finish with wet and bloody skinsuits. Cancellara put in a good early time check but quickly fell from the standings after he crashed and appeared to hurt his arm. Wiggins instead had the top early mark on the day, which stood until Vinokourov put in a shockingly fast TT: 2:13 faster than Wiggins. Gusev was putting in a good time until he crashed into a roundabout and went skidding over the curb.

Despite drying road conditions, none of the riders who started later than Vino could match his pace. Kloden nipped at his teammate's heels but lost time when he crashed in a wet, slippery corner.

It's a bit early for me to already start posting this entry, but this wide-open Tour has been waiting for a big sorting that a TT can provide and tomorrow is it.


CyclingNews Stage Preview: "A twisty, tricky out and back time test, stage 13 could prove unlucky for riders who are not competent time trialists. The first 20 kilometres are a gradual uphill, then the course is downhill and flat until the 34-kilometre point, where the four-kilometre climb up the sinuous Cat. 4 Côte de la Bauzié awaits. Then there is a difficult descent and return to Albi on the D999 road where an experienced tester can make a difference."

Update: VeloNews Stage 13 Preview is up as is Carmichael Sez: "Knowns & Unknowns".

Bobby J's Picks

Bobby Julich's Picks given to Neil@ROAD:

  1. Cancellara
  2. Kloden
  3. Hincapie
  4. Contador
  5. Evans

John Hay Jr 2006 ITT tallies (via CyclingNews)

A reader, John Hay Jr, wrote into CyclingNews with tallies of the contenders combined ITT times from last year. You can find it in the Stage 12 live feed at 13:22 CEST. Last year's time trials were similar in distance, though courses change. I assume you divide by 2 to get the approximate splits for tomorrow.

(2) Andreas Klöden, 2h 11'52"
(13) Oscar Pereiro, 2h14'48" - 2'56" behind Klöden's time
(4) Cadel Evans, 2h14'58" - 3'06"
(18) Denis Menchov, 2h15'44" -3'52"
(6) Carlos Sastre, 2h16'11" -4'19"
(14) Christophe Moreau, 2h17'01" -6'19"
(9) Levi Leipheimer, 2h21'35" -9'43"
(10) Mikel Astarloza, 2h21'52" -10'00"
(1) Michael Rasmussen, 2h24'48" -12'56"

There are no results for Valverde, Vinokourov, Contador, or Mayo. Also, Levi did especially terrible in last year's TT, which I think skews his results.

Versus picks

  • Al: Kloden
  • Paul: Cancellara
  • Bob: Evans
  • Phil: Leipheimer

My Predictions

  1. Cancellara
  2. Leipheimer
  3. Kashechkin
  4. Kloden
  5. Evans
  6. Hincapie
  7. Vinokourov
  8. Valverde
  9. Contador

Levi hasn't shown an amazing TT since he raced stateside this year, but he's so much faster than last year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a breakout day tomorrow. Kashechkin finished second to Vino in the Dauphine and sits just outside the top ten. Cancellara had the luxury of soft-pedaling it today to gear up for the the TT -- not that he needs much advantage as World TT champ.

Update 7/21: Millar Diaries Stage 11: Pace of the Pack

Updates 7/20: Zabriskie Diaries Final Cut, CyclingNews Roundup 2, Pez: LeMond On LeTour: The Finale Begins, Kloden Stage 11



Stage Summaries/Results:





Zabriskie eliminated


There will be no more Zabriskie Diaries to entertain us (perhaps except for Stage 11) as DZ was eliminated for finishing half an hour behind. DZ had be trailing at the back of the peloton during the stage, which was a bad position for Astana's tactics today. He had been complaining of knee pain due to a change in shoes as well as pain just about everywhere else, so he'll probably welcome the relief of not having to race the Pyrenees. We'll be sad not to see him do his stuff in the Albi TT, though. It also means that he won't get the honor of being Lanterne Rouge, which certainly would have gone to him if he had been able to stay within the limit.

Other abandons include Igor Anton and Sylvain Calzati, who abandoned before the split occurred.

update: The finalpenultimate edition of the Zabriskie Diaries, TdF 07 and the final edition.

Hunter - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images


Robbie Hunter got his first and South Africa's first stage wins -- but wildcard team Barloworld's second -- as this flat stage delivered far more fireworks than the lack of terrain promised.

Vinokourov was a big instigator today. After trying to get in an early break, he was next seen at the front as Astana put in a big move to split the peloton in the crosswinds. The move worked and made Moreau the big casualty on the day. Moreau was first bruised after tangling with a teammate and going down, but the real pain came when he found himself over three minutes off the back. Moreau dropped from 6th to 12th in the overall standings. Vino wasn't done yet -- he tried to take advantage of the lack of sprint organization to launch an attack, but Quick Step was able to reel him in.

The sprint was sparser than expected: on top of the abandons thus far, the split in the peloton put Hushovd and Zabel out of contention. Then a crash on the final S-bend knocked Boonen and Fast Freddie out of contention. Hunter just had to outsprint second-place Fabian Cancellara and Liquigas' Fischer and Pozzato.

Well, a day with five hard climbs will sort out the standings, won't it? Menchov takes the stage win on a day that Rabobank controlled the end, but it's Floyd Landis that takes the yellow jersey. Menchov and Landis are the clear leaders now; Kloden, Evans, and Sastre are close, but they will have to look towards the Alps to prove themselves better than they were today. If Landis continues to ride the way he did today, without any teammates to really help him, then he should be in yellow in Paris. It won't be an easy defense as Menchov's Rabobank showed themselves to be a strong mountain threat. T-Mobile hasn't given up yet either, though all their bets are riding on Kloden now. One team that won't give Landis any trouble is Discovery. I picked them as the strongest team going into this Tour, and let me say I couldn't have been more entirely wrong. They haven't controlled a second of this race and certainly weren't ready for today's attacks.

Leipheimer hung in there with Landis and Menchov, hoping that his loss of contender status would allow him to escape for the win, but Menchov kept nailing back his attacks. It didn't seem like it was going to be a Rabobank day: T-Mobile did the initial damage on the penultimate Col du Portilon climb, dropping all of Discovery except Azevedo as well as Caisse rider Vladimir Karpets; however, T-Mobile did the most damage to itself, knocking all of their highly placed riders out of contention, except Kloden, who they pushed into cramping. Rabobank seemed more concerned with helping Rasmussen get some KOM points, as Boogerd led out Rasmussen twice to collect points. On the lead-in to the final climb, though, Rasmussen moved to the front of the surviving 18 riders and set a pace that kept the peloton from closing down the gap. Then on the final climb it was Boogerd who shattered the rest of the group, shedding Azevedo, Fothen, Parra, Schleck, Simoni, Moreau, and Zubeldia. With a final push he popped off Kloden.

Menchov, Landis, Leipheimer, Evans, and Sastre were the only riders to survive Boogerd's final acceleration. Leipheimer made several attacks, but wasn't going to be allowed to get the win by Menchov. Landis did the majority of the work, with Menchov and Evans doing a bit of pacing as well. An attack by Levi and counterattacks by Menchov and Landis were enough to drop Sastre and Evans. Menchov timed his final sprint perfectly, coming around the final corner ahead and holding off Levi and Landis. From there it was a race to see if Dessel could pull a Voeckler and stay in the yellow jersey. Dessel needed to limit the time gap to about four and a half minutes, but was eight seconds too slow in the end -- the difference was Landis' twelve-second time bonus.

David de la Fuente deserves a big mention as he and Fabian Wegmann duked it out for KOM points early in the day. de la Fuente won that battle and was able to stay away until the final climb.

Prediction check:

  • Prediction: First I picked Sastre and then swapped for Rasmussen, with Floyd in yellow.
  • Actual: Rasmussen was nowhere close as he sacrificed himself for Menchov, who took the stage win. Sastre got dropped near the very top and came in fifth.

Stage 11: Courchevel-Briancon


Vino's simply too good to let a bad day on Stage 10 keep him down. The time he lost yesterday also worked to his advantage: unlike previous attacks Armstrong no longer had any reason to respond. He attacked with a group on the Col de la Madeleine climb, whittled it down to just him and Botero, and outsmarted Botero for the finish in Briancon. He had dropped Botero on the Col du Galibier climb, taking the prize for winning the highest climb in the Tour, but Botero caught him on the descent and they rode together into Briancon.

This shouldn't matter too much for Armstrong and Discovery. Vino lost too much time yesterday to be a threat, so Armstrong could afford to give Vino the minute of time. Discovery rode in a defensive mode today and managed to keep a team of five riders all the way from the top of the Col du Galibier climb to the finish. With that many riders at his side, there was no way that any of the contenders could hope to attack -- their own teammates had already fallen away.

Moreau made a go for some King of the Mountain points. He did well over the first two climbs, but Rasmussen took the remaining points on the final climb. Moreau also took the third place sprint bonus to move into third place overall.