Tour de France '07 Stage 14: Mazamet - Plateau-de-Beille

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Contador took the stage win on a great day for Discovery -- and me, as I got my pick :). It was a battle of the skinny boys and Contador's white jersey was lighter on the shoulders than Rasmussen's yellow. Rasmussen and Contador initially worked well together to get separation on an elite group of Leipheimer, Sastre, Evans, and Soler. That cooperation shutdown with a couple kilometers to go as Contador took advantage of Rasmussen's need to defend his yellow jersey. Contador grabbed a hold of Rasmussen's wheel and didn't come around until the final meters for the victory. Rasmussen can't be too disappointed: he put lots of time into strong TT riders like Kloden and Evans, and he defended both the yellow and polka dot jerseys.

Astana and Discovery traded roles today. Yesterday Astana finished 1-3-4 while Discovery finished 6-7-9. Today Discovery finished 1-4-10 while Astana finished 6-8-9. Discovery is also now 2-4-10 in the GC. Contador only got eight seconds closer to the yellow jersey, but he did leapfrog Cadel Evans for second place. Leipheimer did a great job of riding to finish in 4th -- he yoyo'd with Sastre quite a bit as they were both unable to match the frightening accelerations of Rasmussen and Contador. Leipheimer's time gains moved him past Kloden in the GC into 4th and he closed his gap on Evans. Popovych was Discovery's hero today: fighting to bridge back after the Port de Pailheres to bring bottles up to his teammates, then setting the tempo on the Plateau de Baille that whittled the field down to eight riders. And he finished in 10th. Hincapie did similar work to bridge back after the Pailheres and was in the driver's seat on the lead-in to the Plateau de Beille.

Astana's 6-8-9 was a bit of a mixed bag. Kloden did well to finish in sixth, despite being the main rider dropped by Popovych's pace making. Colom and Kashechkin both fought to keep Kloden's losses to 1:52. The big hurt for Astana is Vinokourov. Vino appears to have left it all on the line with yesterday's TT victory: Vino was already in trouble on the Port de Pailheres and lost gigantic time on the Plateau de Beille.

CSC had a so-so day. Sastre managed fifth place and moved up a spot in the GC to 6th, but Schleck was far behind. Whereas Discovery had three riders in the final selection of eight, Sastre had none and found himself at a big disadvantage. Levi was able to just sit on Sastre's wheel because of Contador's place up the rode and Soler sat on as well.

Soler was a surprising rider to make the selection. He took enough points on the Pailheres to move into the KOM lead by 10 points, but Rasmussen's second place finish regained his lead by 2 points. After impressive moves on the Pailheres and the lower slopes of Plateau de Beille, I was a bit disappointed by the way Soler rode in the end -- he didn't have a good excuse like Levi to sit on Sastre's wheel and then he had the nerve to launch a big attack to get the third place KOM points.

Saunier Duval is probably in a sour mood. Millar and others did a lot of work up front on the Pailheres to set things up for Mayo, but Mayo didn't have the legs today and performed disappointing for his team.

Valverde had a second-straight awful day. Perhaps its because he's used to bowing out of Tours at this point, but he picked two of the worst days to be off, especially after having look so strong in the first week. Valverde actually managed to move into the top ten despite his weak legs. He can thank Arroyo and Pereiro for forming a train for him as well as Vino and Kirchen for plummeting.

GC Shakeup (previous position holder in ()'s ):

1 Rasmussen
2 Contador 2.23 (Evans)
3 Evans 3.04
4 Leipheimer 4.25 (Kloden)
5 Kloden 4.38
6 Sastre 5.50 (Kascheckin)
7 Kashechkin 6.58
8 Astarloza 8.25
9 Valverde 9.45 (Vinokourov)
10 Popovych 10.55 (Kirchen)

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CyclingNews Stage 14 Preview: "Saturday's first stage in the Pyrenees heads south from Mazamet, the hometown of Laurent Jalabert and climbs out of town via the Cat. 2 nine-kilometre Côte de Saint-Sarraille, across the Montagne Noir massif and the flats of Carcassonne, Limoux and Quillan. From there it will be the steep 17 kilometres of the hors catégorie Port de Pailhères and then the final ascent that finishes atop the stiff 16-kilometre hors catégorie Plateau de Beille."

Prediction: Contador.

Live coverage links

Versus picks

  • Paul: Contador
  • Phil: Rasmussen
  • Bob: Vinokourov
  • Al: Kloden

kwc.org stage log

Saunier-Duval is driving the peloton on the Pailheres. Moreau is dropped and, after yesterday's poor TT, it seems that his crash caught up to him.

The break is 5:30 up the road: Txurruka (Euskaltel), Gutierrez (Caisse), Colom (Astana), Perez (Euskatel), and Barredo (Quickstep). Kuschynski is being dropped by the break.

The break has whittled down to Perez, Txurruka, and Colom

Millar's pace-making for SD is doing real damage: Vino is off the back with Navarro to pace him. DC's Martinez and SD's de la Fuente are also there.

Millar's done with the pace-making but Popovych and reportedly Schleck is another casualty of his work. Rabobank takes over at the front.

Vino visits the doctor.

Gutierrez is back with the break.

Hincapie is popped.

Mayo and Popo are trying to reattach, with Popo carrying water.

Hincapie is driving it towards the Plateau de Beille for the peloton

Barredo caught on but it I don't imagine him holding on very long on the climb with that effort

On the PdB now. Perez falls off as his teammate Txurruka attacks. Colom attacks now and gets a gap.

Kirchen is dropped

Popo is driving it with a bandage on his arm. Horner is dropped

Valverde is being dropped with 2 teammates to help and Euskatel's Astarloza. Pereiro is trying to help Valverde.

Boogerd is whipping things up and drops his own former leader Menchov

Soler squeezes out some water then offers some to Rasmussen. Odd.

Barredo is passed by the contenders

Kloden is unhitching

The yellow jersey group is around eight riders and three of those are Discovery.

Contador has a weird moment as he swings from the front to the back and even spends a little bit off the back with Sastre before catching back on.

Gutierrez is being caught by the yellow jersey group.

The refs are letting the cars around Valverde's group

Popovych is done and Levi whips it up. Now its Contador with Sastre on his wheel. Soler is leading Levi back in.

Now Ras goes with Contador on his wheel and Evans. Levi is trying to catch back on with Soler on his wheel. Sastre bridges Levi and Soler back in.

Levi takes over at the front from Rasmussen.

Soler goes! Rasmussen leads the chase. Levi is gapped again with Sastre. Back to 6. Levi and Sastre are like little yoyos.

Soler goes again. Contador leads the chase this time. Sastre Ras and Evans stick with but Levi is gapped. Rasmussen leads the chase past Soler and Soler is gapped . Sastre is bridging back with Soler on his wheel. Levi is just down the road

Its just Contador and Rasmussen as everyone else cracks

Which skinny boy will win? Colom is still up front but he only has about half a minute.

Plenty of climbing left with 5k to go.

Levi sticks to Evans wheel with Sastre and Soler attached as well. Sastre attacks that group.

Kashechkin and Kloden have formed their own chase group far behind.

Evans is cracked as Sastre tows Levi and Soler

Colom makes the 4k to ride banner, but Contador and Rasmussen are right behind

Sastre is mad that Levi and Soler won't help. Levi of course won't help because of Contador.

Ras and Contador pass Colom, who latches on.

Contador better win -- he's my pick for today ;)

3k for Ras and Contador. Colom appears to be dropped

0:25 Sastre/Levi/Soler 1:07 to Evans

Evans is all the way back with Kloden/Kashechkin

2k to go as Rasmussen picks it up. Rasmussen tries to slow up to get Contador to come through.

Soler attacks the Sastre/Levi group. Its a bit of a crappy move as he's been getting a tow from Sastre.

Discovery car is allowed to pass the Kloden/Evans/Kash group

Rasmussen leads the charge. Contador comes around and takes the win. Soler is third, Levi fourth, Sastre was dropped.

Kloden is driving to the line as Kashechkin is falling off the pace

Colom holds up to help pace Kasheckin in. He saves Kashechkin a second or two as they cross the line 'together'

Popo charges in three minutes behind with boogerd and Astarloza on his wheel

The Caisse d'Epargne train rolls in 3:45 behind

related articles: Tour de France 2007
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