Stage 14: Montelimar - Gap



Fredrigo takes it as the long breakaway on the day was able to hold off a charging chase group of 32 ridres over the final climb and down into the finish. The French fans have to be happy: three stage wins so far this Tour. Fredrigo and Commesso were the only surviving riders of a six-man break that was hit hard by a crash earlier in the stage. Verbrugghe had trouble holding the line for the break through a gravel-strewn turn; Verbrugghe went over the guard rail, cutting himself badly and possibly breaking his leg, while, a couple riders behind, Canada lost control of his front wheel and went sliding and broke his collarbone. The most spectacular part of the crash came from Kessler, riding in back, who did his best to get around a crashing Canada and ended up flipping himself and his bike over the guard rail as well. Kessler amazingly got back on the bike, even with large bits of rock stuck in his helmet. With their riders reduced by half, the break still continued to hold off the peloton being led by Liquigas and Milram, and even as the break dropped Aerts on the final climb of the day, there simply wasn't enough concerted chase to bring them back.

Discovery made a go for the stage win near the end, with Popovych and Azevedo trying to help bridge a group of riders containing George Hincapie up to the lead break. There were attacks within that chase group that Discovery had trouble containing and ended up killing the chase of the lead. CSC's Christian Vandevelde tried to bridge it alone, but he was a couple seconds too short to catch Commesso and Fredrigo. Rabobank also made a go for the win. Boogerd initially appeared to be leading out Rasmussen for some KOM points, but Rasmussen wasn't on full form so Boogerd shifted into attack mode for the win, but wasn't able to get enough of a gap.

Phonak got what they wanted out of the yellow jersey giveaway. Caisse controlled the pace, and even they got a break as the sprint teams seemed a bit more interested in trying to bring back the break for a stage win, knowing that the Alps lie ahead.

Abandons: Simoni, Backstedt

Prediction check: * My prediction: Discovery didn't make any moves yesterday, tomorrow is a rest day, and Hincapie is far enough down that he could be in a break without Phonak or Caisse-I.B. caring -- Hincapie in a breakaway. * Actual: Discovery made a go for it, with Popovych and Azevedo trying to pull back the breakaway for Hincapie, but there was too much chaos in the chase and they ended up a few seconds too short.


Prediction: Discovery didn't make any moves yesterday, tomorrow is a rest day, and Hincapie is far enough down that he could be in a break without Phonak or Caisse-I.B. caring -- Hincapie in a breakaway.

Cote du Bois-de-Salles, KOM 1: Boogerd went over first in a large break

Sprint 1: Aerts, Fredrigo, Martinez

Col de Peyruergue, KOM 2: Commesso, Aerts, Kessler, Fredrigo in an uncontested climb

The break is now six: Kessler, Commesso, Verbrugghe, Aerts, Canada, and Fredrigo are 4:10 ahead with 95k to go

Discovery had Martinez in the break but he was dropped and is back in the peloton

It's still hot, though not the hotteset: 93 degrees, 111 road temp

Simoni is falling off the back of the peloton

Col de Perty, Cat 2

The breakaway is on the climb.

Magnus Backstedt has abandoned. Simoni may have abandoned as well.

Vassuer (QuickStep) has moved in front of Caisse's train to lift the tempo. The lead has grown out to 5:38 but perhaps QuickStep wants it pulled back in for Boonen.

Canada takes the climb uncontested.

The Fly to the Finish contest is having trouble with their codes. Today's 'domestique' code doesn't work but yesterday's non-functional code 'musette' works now.

Quickstep has a lot more riders up front now. They are going to have to set a high pace to bring back the 5:35 in 64k.

Quickstep's pacemaking has only pulled back 15 seconds over the first 9k at the front. Faster!

49k, 5:00

Now Liquigas and Milram have put riders at the front.

4:15, 42k

Canada front wheel washed out and Kessler went down hard going over the guard rail. Verbrugghe was actually the first to go over. Verbrugghe wobbled taking the line, which sent everyone else wobbling on their line.



Kessler is back on the bike. That's amazing given that he just flipped over the barrier. There's rocks in his helmet!

3:36, 33k - the three remaining breakaway riders are setting a good pace. It's Liquigas doing the main pacemaking.

3:15, 24k - still holding

2:48, 22k - dropping now that the climb is approaching

La Plaine, Sprint 2: the three-man break rolled through with Commesso in front

Col de la Sentinelle

2:11, 16k

Landis is riding near the front with two teammates. A lot of riders are popping off the back, including Kessler.

The break has pulled on the road up the climb.

Boogerd and Rasmussen have come to the front as the peloton moved onto the road up the climb.

Three riders crashed into the peloton as Chavenel went into a ditch.

Aerts has been dropped from the break. Just Freridgo and Commesso now.

1:34, 9k

Azevedo and another Discovery rider are up at the front of the peloton.

Rasmussen, de la Fuente, a Discovery rider, and another rider tried a little push, but have been bridged back.

Zubeldia is pushing the pace now, with Boogerd and Rasmussen on his wheel.

de la Fuente has popped, losing out on some more KOM points to pad his lead.

KOM: Commesso has taken the climb, but that's not what they were fighting for. The battle for the KOM points is behind as Boogerd is attacking and ended up dropping Rasmussen. Schleck is on Boogerd's wheel. Boogerd took third and kept on going, this is his move for the stage win. Rasmussen ended up taking 12 points in fifth.

I think Discovery has two riders bridging up to Boogerd and Schleck

There is a large group now that has formed to chase the break. Discovery has three riders in that group, most likely Azevedo, Hincapie, and Popo. In fact, it's Popo setting the pace with Azevedo on second wheel. Hincapie is about 6th wheel.

An Agritubel rider with Boogerd and a Saunier rider have attacked but have been pulled back. I think Popo and Aze are done, though, and they have slowed their chase.

Popo is trying to bring back the breakaway for Hincapie. They need to bridge about 12 seconds in these final 2k.

The breakaway has just passed beneath the 1k flag and the chase has slowed.

A CSC rider -- Vandevelde -- is trying to bridge to Commesso/Freridgo. Commesso is in front, constantly glancing over his shoulder at both Vandevelde and Fredrigo.

Fredrigo is sitting on Commesso's wheel as CSC's Vandevelde gets closer and closer.

Fredrigo takes it as he comes around a tired Commesso.

All of the leaders are in the group of 32 riders seven seconds behind, so the overall standings won't change any.




related articles: Tour de France 2006
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