The results for the ninth stage of the 2007 Tour de France is:
1. Juan Mauricio Soler (COL) BAR 159.5km in 4h14’24" (37.617km/h)
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE - at 38"
3. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL - at 38"
4. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC - at 40"
5. Iban Mayo (ESP) SDV - at 42"
6. Michael Rasmussen (DEN) RAB - at 42"
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC - at 42"
8. Kim Kirchen (LUX) TMO - at 46"
9. Andreas Kloden (GER) AST - at 47"
10. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC - at 47"
Soler won the stage by 38". Rasmussen will keep his yellow jersey.
Evans led the chase for most of the final climb but Valverde pipped him on the line to take the 12" time bonus and second place.
Soler has given the wildcard team a victory in the Tour de France. Seven years since Santiago Botero’s landmark win in Briancon, Colombia is about to get another stage win.
Rasmussen is leading the pursuit of Soler. Evans is on his wheel and the pace is too much for Moreau who has failed to stay in touch with the yellow jersey’s group.
Soler could give Barloworld its first stage win in the Tour de France. He is less than 1km from the finish and now Evans is setting the pace of the chase. It has dropped Moreau.
The rise to the finish is a steep one. Soler has begun to climb and the 14 chaser are now 2km from the finish 50" behind...
Soler is 2km from the end of the stage. The road is about to rise again as it approaches the finish.
Evans, Arroyo, Sastre, Moreau, Leipheimer, Mayo and Kloden have just caught Rasmussen, Valverde, Gutierrez, Astarloza, Kirchen, Contador and Popovych. There are now 14 men in pursuit of Soler who has 3km to go.
The 14 are 55" behind.
Rasmussen, Valverde, Gutierrez, Astarloza, Kirchen, Contador and Popovych are 55" behind Soler with 5km to go.
Rasmussen, Valverde, Gutierrez, Astarloza and Kirchen have just caught Contador and Popovych. They have about 7km to race but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to catch Soler who is now 5km from the finish.
Contador and Popovych are about 100m ahead of Rasmussen’s quintet.
With 10km to go, Soler (BAR) has a lead of 58" to Popovych and Contador.
1’18" to Rasmussen, Valverde, Gutierrez, Astarloza and Kirchen.
1’30" to Evans, Arroyo, Sastre, Moreau, Leipheimer, Cobo, Mayo and Kloden.
Vinokourov was the last winner of a Tour stage in Briancon. He is now well out of contention, about 3’35" behind the stage leader and about 2’10" behind the yellow jersey’s group.
Popovych has just been named as the Most Aggressive rider of the ninth stage. He was in the early escape and then, at the summit of the Col du Galibier waited for his team-mate Contador. This Discovery Channel pair are about 1’00" behind Soler who is now 10km from the finish.
Gutierrez, Valverde, Rasmussen, Kirchen and Astarloza are eight seconds ahead of Moreau, Kloden, Evans, Cobo, Mayo, et al.
Rasmussen has Kirchen, Gutierrez, Valverde and Astaloza in it. They are slightly ahead of Moreau, Sastre, Evans, Leipheimer, Kloden...
Evans is being cautious on the descent. He has let a gap open in the yellow jersey’s group. Moreau refuses to come through and is hoping the Australian will bridge the gap... as he promptly does.
It appears that Rasmussen will keep the yellow jersey. He is about one minute behind Contador and Popovych who are 1’15" behind Soler with 15km to go.
Soler is 1’25" ahead of Contador and Popovych and 2’15" ahead of the yellow jersey group with 15km to go.
The yellow jersey’s group includes: Valverde, Arroyo, Cobo, Mayo, Evans, Astarloza, Kirchen, Kloden, Leipheimer, Moreau... and the pace is being set by Arroyo of the Caisse d’Epargne team.
With 20km to go, Evans was caught by Rasmussen’s group that was 2’20" behind Soler.
Soler is still in the lead by 1’35". The next riders are Popovych and Contador.
Evans appears to be waiting for the Rasmussen group that is now 28" behind.
Soler has just raced under the 20km to go banner.
The yellow jersey’s group is 2’30" behind Soler with 25km to go and includes: Rasmussen, Valverde, Sastre, Kirchen, Kloden, Moreau... but they are still in pursuit of Evans.
The previous flash was incorrect: the two Discovery riders are 1’25" Soler with 25km to go. Apologies for any confusion caused.
Soler is 2’50" ahead of Contador and Popovych and has 25km to race to the finish.
Vinokourov is currently 1’40" behind the yellow jersey’s group.
Soler is 1’40" ahead of Contador...
Soler appears destined to win the stage. He is 30km from the finish with a lead of 3’10" but most of this is downhill.
At the top of the Col du Galibier the situation was as follows:
1. Soler (BAR) 40pts
2. Popovych (DSC) 36pts - at 2’05"
3. Contador (DSC) 32pts - at 2’05"
4. Evans (PRL) 28pts - at 2’20"
5. Astarloza (EUS) 24pts - at 3’00"
6. Valverde (GCE) 20pts - at 3’15"
7. Rasmussen (RAB) 16pts
8. Moreau (A2R) 14pts
9. Kloden (AST) 12pts
10. Cobo (SDV) 10pts
At the top of the Col du Galibier, Evans is 2’30" behind Soler.
Contador is about to catch up with his team-mate at the top of the Col du Galibier. They are 2’05" behind Soler at the summit.
For his efforts, Soler (BAR) has at least won the Souvenir Henri Desgrange - a prize worth 5,000 Euro for first place at the top of the Col du Galibier.
Soler is 3’00" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group. We have had no time checks for the likes of Vinokourov or Contador or Valverde... or, for that matter, anyone. We’ll catch up at the top of the Col du Galibier.
Moreau has caught up with the yellow jersey’s group that’s now being led by Gutierrez who has recently been caught...
Rasmussen, Valverde, Kirchen, Leipheimer, Kloden, Cobo, Mayo and Sastre are the riders in pursuit of Contador and Evans.
The Astana rider in the Valverde group is Kloden, not Kashechkin. They are 2’50" behind Soler who is 1km from the top of the Col du Galibier.
Contador dropped Evans about 5km from the summit of the Col du Galibier. The Australian now appears to be waiting for the Valverde group that includes: Rasmussen, Cobo, Mayo, Sastre, Kirchen and Kashechkin.
Evans has been unable to respond to the latest surge by Contador.
Evans has come to the front of the attack and is now setting the pace with Valverde but they are 2’40" behind Soler who has been at the front of the stage since about 10km to climb on the Col du Galibier.
The Valverde group includes: Rasmussen, Cobo, Gusev, Leipheimer, Kirchen, Kloden...Sastre and Kashechkin.
Contador is setting the pace and Evans is tucked in behind him but cannot come through. The Australian is paying for the chase he’s given to catch the Spaniard.
Evans is able to drop the others from the yellow jersey group but he’s still in pursuit of Contador with about 5km to climb. Rasmussen and Valverde are out of it and now Evans is on the wheel of Contador.
Contador has launched one solid attack! He has dropped all others from the yellow jersey group. Valverde was the first to respond.
Evans is now setting the pace of the yellow jersey’s group. It is too much for Moreau but Valverde, Rasmussen, Contador, Leipheimer, Kloden, Sastre and Kirchen are able to respond.
The riders with Rasmussen are: Valverde, Evans, Leipheimer, Contador, Mayo...
Moreau has been dropped from the Valverde group. Also unable to match the pace are Arroyo and Menchov.
Valverde has launched another attack. He is being chased by Rasmussen and Evans. Kashechkin has been dropped as has Mercado.
Menchov has taken charge of the yellow jersey’s peloton. The pace has settled but none of the dropped riders are able to get back on.
The riders who are able to respond to Valverde include: Rasmussen, Evans, Arroyo, Kirchen, Sastre, Menchov, Moreau, Leipheimer, Contador, Popovych, Mercado, Kaschehkin, Kloden, Cobo and Mayo.
There are about 14 riders in the yellow jersey’s group. Vinokourov is there...
The attack by Valverde has split the main pack into pieces. The riders able to respond include: Evans, Rasmussen... Vinokourov is not in this group.
Evans is now leading an elite group that includes Valverde, Rasmussen and two others...
Valverde has attacked the yellow jersey’s peloton. Only Rasmussen and Evans have been able to respond.
Soler has launched a violent attack. Popovych could only look on as the Colombian Barloworld rider bolted ahead.
Soler is still pushing the pace at the front of the stage. Popovych is still with him but doing much shorter turns of pace. Their advantage over the peloton is 2’35". There four riders between the leaders and the yellow jersey’s bunch: Astarloza, Gusev, Clement and Mercado.
Soler has dropped Astarloza and Gutierrez. Only Popovych is able to follow. The Colombian joined the lead group with 10km to climb and already he looks strong enough to win the stage.
Soler’s surge has done damage to the lead group. Gusev and Clement have been unable to respond to the Colombian’s pace.
Soler is making this stage his. He didn’t even slow down when he caught the five leaders. The Colombian raced into the lead of the stage and only Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez have been able to respond.
Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza, Gutierrez and Clement are 18" ahead of Soler, 1’40" ahead of Mercado and 2’00" ahead of the peloton.
Soler’s attack is impressive. He is now just 18" behind Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza, Gutierrez and Clement.
Mercado has attacked the peloton with good effect. He is 1’50" behind the stage leaders and 20" ahead of the peloton.
Clement has caught Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez. This quintet is 1’10" ahead of Soler and 2’40" ahead of Mercado who has recently attacked the peloton.
Soler is 1’10" behind Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez.
The leaders are 50km from the finish in Briancon. Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez are on the early slopes of the Col du Galibier. They are 10" ahead of Clement and 2’40" ahead of the peloton. This climb is 17.5km long with an average gradient of 6.9 percent.
Boogerd and Dekker are at the front of the peloton on the approach to the Col du Galibier. Tucked in behind this Rabobank pair is the former race leader Linus Gerdemann.
At the 108km mark, the peloton is 2’35" behind Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez.
Clement has been dropped by Gusev, Popovych, Astarloza and Gutierrez who are now 25" ahead of the Dutch Bouygues Telecom rider.
Le Mevel and Voeckler have been hovering ahead of the peloton by a matter of meters for a few minutes. They have now been reeled in and the Rabobank team is starting to up the pace.
The attacks have begun at the front of the stage. The first to go was Gusev (DSC). Gutierrez responded and raced into the lead but he is now waiting for the others. Clement was dropped because of the surges.
Gusev, Popovych, Clements and Gutierrez have caught Astarloza near the base of the Col du Galibier. At the same time, Vaugrenard was caught by the peloton.
The peloton is 3’05" behind Astarloza. In between is a group of four (Gusev, Popovych, Clements and Gutierrez), Vaugrenard... then Voeckler.
Gusev, Popovych, Clements and Gutierrez are now 12" behind the stage leader.
The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy is on Tour today. He’s in the number-one car with the race director Christian Prudhomme.
1. Astaloza (EUS) 15pts
2. Popovych (DSC) 13pts - at 21"
3. Clement (BTL) 11pts
4. Gutierrez (GCE) 9pts
5. Gusev (DSC) 8pts
6. Soler (BAR) 7pts - 55"
7. Vaugrenard (FDJ) 6pts - 1’05"
8. Lefevre (BTL) 5pts - 2’45"
The peloton was at 3’12".
The peloton has reached the top of the Telegraphe 3’12" behind Astarloza.
At the top of the Telegraphe, Soler (BAR) was 55" behind Astarloza.
The peloton is now being attack by a number of French riders including Voeckler.
The first five riders have reached the top of the Telegraphe climb. The points for them are:
1. Astaloza (EUS) 15pts
2. Popovych (DSC) 13pts
3. Clement (BTL) 11pts
4. Gutierrez (GCE) 9pts
5. Gusev (DSC) 8pts
The Euskaltel rider, Mikel Astarloza has reached the top of the Telegraphe. His lead over the chasing foursome is 21".
Vinokourov has dropped to the rear of the yellow jersey’s peloton. He is asking for the race doctor.
The Saunier Duval team is clearly trying to set something up today. Almost as soon as Millar moved from the front, Iker Camano came to the front of the peloton to set the pace.
Christophe Le Mevel (C.A) has attacked the peloton. There was no real reaction.
Astarloza is 25" ahead of Gusev, Popovych, Gutierrez and Clement and has less than 2km to climb before reaching the Telegraphe’s summit.
With Millar spent, another rider from the Saunier Duval team has come to the front of the peloton.
Millar has gone from the front of the peloton that’s now being led by Michael Boogerd (RAB).
Soler (BAR) has attacked the peloton. There was no reaction to the Colombian’s move.
Astarloza is pushing on with his escape. He is now 1’15" ahead of the Frenchman who was part of the escape, Benoit Vaugrenard.
Millar continues to lead the peloton with 5km to climb to the second summit. His group is 3’00" behind Astarloza.
There are now four riders 27" behind Astarloza. The chasing quartet is: Gutierrez, Popovych, Gusev and Clement.
There are 5km to go for Astarloza on the Col du Telegraphe.
Astarloza leads the stage by:
25" - Gusev, Popovych and Gutierrez
35" - Clement
50" - Vaugrenard
The peloton is at 2’55".
Millar is still up front of the yellow jersey’s peloton. Behind him is a group that includes all the riders in the top 10 of the general classification. We haven’t yet seen an attack from the peloton on the second ascent of the stage.
The pace being set by Millar is causing all sorts of havoc. The latest riders to be dropped on the Col du Telegraph are Sandy Casar (FDJ) and John Gadret (A2R).
Gusev, Popovych and Gutierrez are 20" behind the stage leader, Astarloza.
Iban Mayo has expressed an interest in going for the stage win today. His team-mate David Millar is currently setting the pace of the peloton that’s 2’20" behind the stage leader, Astarloza.
The stage is now being led by Euskaltel’s Astarloza who is 10" ahead of Gutierrez, Popovych and Gusev. Clement is 15" behind the Spaniard.
Gusev accelerated at the front of the stage and that was the catalyst for Astarloza to launch an attack. The front group has now split and is 2’30" ahead of the peloton.
The peloton continues to be led by Millar (SDV). Right on his wheel is Sylvain Calzati (A2R)... who is being shadowed by Michael Boogerd of the Rabobank team.
David Millar (SDV) has decided it’s time to join the Rabobank boys at the front of the peloton. He is now setting the tempo of the pack that’s 2’45" behind the six escapees.
Clements is currently leading the escape on the early slopes of the Col du Telegraphe. The peloton continues to be led by the Rabobank team and their pace is claiming a few casualties. Gilbert (FDJ) is the latest rider to be dropped from the peloton.
One of two Australians to win a gold medal in cycling at the Sydney Olympics, Scott McGrory is at the finish in Briancon today. These days he’s the manager of Australia’s only Pro Continental squad, Drapac-Porsche which has just contested the Tour of Austria. "I like the way Moreau rode the other day," said McGrory who teamed up with Brett Aitken seven years ago to win the Madison at the Olympics.
"Cadel [Evans] also looks reasonably comfortable. We’ll see if he can fly the Aussie flag today."
Gutierrez, Astarloza, Gusev, Popovych, Clement and Vaugrenard are now 12km from the Col du Telegraphe summit. This climb is 12km long at an average gradient of 6.7 percent. The advantage over the peloton is 3’30".
Of the 171 riders in the peloton, one is celebrating a birthday today. Leif Hoste, the Predictor-Lotto rider who is riding his first Tour this year, is 30 years old.
With the peloton at the 75km mark, it is 3’50" behind the six escapees.
The peloton continues to be led, as expected, by the Rabobank team. It is 3’35" behind Gutierrez, Astarloza, Gusev, Popovych, Clement and Vaugrenard at the 72.0km mark.
At the 65km mark, the peloton is 3’20" behind Gutierrez, Astarloza, Gusev, Popovych, Clement and Vaugrenard.
“Today can be difficult,” said the highest ranked Italian on general classification, Dario Cioni. “We all expect that it’s going to be fast at the start because there will be plenty of riders trying to get in a break. We’ll have to pay attention to who is going away and, after that, it will settle down a bit; then we can decide what to do later in the stage.
“It’s hard to say who will try and get in the move at the start. I think a big break is possible but it will have to be riders who are six or seven minutes down the rankings.”
When LeTour.fr asked him what he thought would transpire on this final day in the Alps, he said that it would be the team of the overall leader Michael Rasmussen who would decide. “It depends on what Rabobank wants to do,” said Cioni. “Even if they go on the Iseran, it’s a long way to the finish and there’s plenty of time to chase them down.”
Of the 16 Italians who remain in the 2007 Tour de France, the best in the general classification is Predictor-Lotto’s Dario Cioni who is 53rd overall. LeTour.fr contacted him before the start of stage nine and asked him how he felt about that. “Well, I guess all that means is that the others are going pretty slow if I’m the first one,” said the 32-year-old. “I don’t care that I’m the best-placed Italian; it’s not important to me, that’s not interesting to me at all. I’m here to work for my team. That’s my job and I’m happy to do that.”
Today’s stage to Briancon is as close as the 94th Tour gets to Italy, but Cioni wasn’t compelled to cross the border on the rest day, instead he went out riding in the morning. “I went out with Cadel and the others,” he said about the rest day. “We went into the valley and rode some of the Iseran climb… we did about 5-6km of the climb and then turned around and made sure that we didn’t do too much.”
The deficit of the Rabobank-led peloton at the 60km mark was 3’05".
When asked if he thought it was possible for a rider to attack on the Iseran and still achieve a good result in stage nine, Mauro Gianetti was adamant with his response. “It’s not an option,” said the Saunier Duval-Prodir team manager. “The descent afterwards is long and it will be difficult to hold off the chasers.”
The rest day recipe is similar for most riders in the Tour: easy rides to turn the legs over and remain active. That was the same for all but one of Gianetti’s squad. “They did two and a half hours at an easy pace. Only David Millar couldn’t ride because he has a problem with allergies and it was impossible for him to go outside.”
The points for the intermediate sprint in Bramans at the 60km mark were won by:
1. Mikel Astarloza (EUS) 6pts/6"
2. Vladimir Gusev (DSC) 4pts/4"
3. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) 2pts/2"
“I think today is a really hard stage,” said the manager of the Saunier Duval-Prodir team, Mauro Gianetti when contacted by LeTour.fr at the start of the day. “It’s not a stage to attack early because the last climb is a difficult one. The Galibier is long and steep and although it’s hard I think we must try to profit from it. There are guys in the bunch who don’t have such good condition and we’ll see who is vulnerable today.
“Iban Mayo is absolutely the leader of the team for the Tour,” said Gianetti, “but we also have good, aggressive riders like Juan Jose Cobo and David De La Fuente. Both showed they they have good form in the first two stages in the Alps and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them yet.
“Cobo has good condition we know that. He is focused on the Tour and is good in the time trial and on the climbs but he has to just try and stay with the leaders and limit his losses today.”
Of the six men in the lead, only Yaroslav Popovych has previously won a stage of the Tour de France. He made his debut in the race in 2005 and won the youth classification and finished 12th overall in the final season of Lance Armstrong’s reign. Last year he won the 12th stage... it concluded in Carcassone on 14 July. Moments after his victory salute the skies opened and rain poured down to provide a cool end to a hot day.
Of the six men in the lead of stage nine, the best placed on general classification is Mikel Astarloza of the Euskaltel team. His group is 2’45" ahead of the peloton and the Spaniard began the day in 21st overall, 5’14" behind Rasmussen.
The peloton is now being led by five five riders from the Rabobank squad. This group is 2’35" behind the six escapees who are now at the 53km mark.
After his spectacular crash with the canine, Marcus Burghardt has rejoined the peloton. It’s fair to say he appears in a better state that the golden retriever that copped a solid thump into its ribs... a hit that was hard enough to make a carbon-fibre deep-dish Shimano Dura-Ace wheel crumble.
The peloton is now 2’20" behind Gutierrez, Astarloza, Gusev, Popovych, Clement and Vaugrenard.
Marcus Burghardt is back on his bike and racing to rejoin the peloton.
Burghardt (TMO) has just thumped into a dog that cross the road as the peloton was passing. The German’s front wheel collapsed completely, the rider flew over the bard... the dog walked away although it is likely to be very sore right now.
The six escapees have an advantage of 2’05" on the peloton at the 45km mark.
There are riders in the peloton opting to answer the call of nature now. The bunch is led by riders from the Rabobank squad and is 1’35" behind the six who joined forced at the 36km mark. The peloton has done 39km of the 159.5km stage.
Popovych has been caught by the chase group. The six in the lead are:
Yaroslav Popovych and Vladimir Gusev (DSC), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Mikel Astarloza (EUS), Stef Clement (BTL) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE).
They are 1’10" ahead of the peloton at the 40km mark.
Stuart O’Grady, the CSC rider who crashed in stage eight and was taken to hospital in an ambulance, received several visitors yesterday. His brother, Darren, is in France and working as a host for guests of the CSC team during the Tour. He saw Stuart yesterday and said that, despite the injuries, he was in good spirits. "His legs and head are good," said Darren O’Grady, "even if the rest of his body is a mess.
"He has five broken ribs and has had a lot of treatment from the medical staff, but we managed to get a smile from him before we left."
The injuries are enough for most riders to consider ending their season but O’Grady told his brother: "I’ve got about seven weeks to get better, so I’ve told the team: sign me up for the Vuelta a Espana! I’m not wasting the good form I’ve got... a few broken ribs shouldn’t slow me down for too long."
One rider has decided to attack the peloton. It’s the winner of the Tour de l’Avenir last year, Moises Duenas Nevado of the Agritubel team.
The average speed for the opening hour of stage nine is 38.6km/h.
The points for the sprint in Le Villaron (at the 33.5km mark) were won by:
1. Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) 6pts/6"
2. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) 4pts/4"
3. Stef Clement (BTL) 2pts/2"
“When you’re in the yellow jersey, it’s hard to ride like he normally is able to at the Tour,” said Breukink about Rasmussen’s approach for the ninth stage. “He’s the guy to watch and now he has to ride differently. Normally he can attack and gain some time but he won’t be allowed to do that so easily now because everyone will be watching him.”
Rasmussen is the reigning leader of the Tour but Rabobank has other riders who are high up the rankings including the rider who finished sixth overall last year and won the stage to Pla-de-Beret, Denis Menchov. “I think he’s okay,” said Breukink about the Russian. “He had a good ride in stage eight (finishing ninth, 3’35” behind Rasmussen) so when he’s not confident then no body should be. He’s reliable and I think that we’ll see more of him as the Tour progresses.”
There are five riders in a group that’s now 40" behind the stage leaders. Four of them are working - Vaugrenard (FDJ), Gutierrez (GCE), Astarloza (EUS) and Clement (BTL) - while Gusev (DSC) sits at the back of the quintet. The peloton is 50" behind Popovych.
Astarloza (EUS) and Clement (BTL) are 50" behind Popovych. The peloton is at 1’10".
The stage continues to be led by the former winner of the youth classification, Yaroslav Popovych (DSC). He is less than 5km from the first sprint and is 45" ahead of Gutierrez, Vaugrenard and Gusev.
“Everything can happen now,” said the directeur sportif of the Rabobank squad, Erik Breukink. “There’s a long descent after the first climb and there’s a big chance that any escape that goes early will come back. If the riders who are high up the rankings in the general classification really want something they’ll try on the Galibier. I think that they will be willing to attack. Other teams may go for a stage win but we’re interested in protecting the overall lead.”
This will be the first day that Michael Rasmussen will wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. So how did the Dane spend the rest day? “It was okay for him,” said Breukink. “He went training with the others and had a press conference after lunch and then he could rest.”
Gutierrez (GCE) has caught up with Vaugrenard and Gusev. They are now 40" behind Popovych and the peloton is at 50" at the 25km mark.
Vaugrenard caught Gusev at the 22km mark. This pair is 50" behind Popovych.
Vaugrenard (FDJ) has attacked the peloton on the descent. He has caught up with Vladimir Gusev (DSC) who are now in pursuit of Popovych.
The really steepp descent of the Col d’Iseran is 12km long before reaching Bonneval-sur-Arc. Popovych is about to be caught by a group of five riders.
Cadel Evans (PRL) explained yesterday that he’d ridden the stage in training prior to the Tour and that the descent - that effectively stretched all the way to St-Michel-de-Maurienne (at the 86.5km) - can be ridden at speeds in excess of 80km/h.
At the top of the first climb, the points were won by:
1. Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) 20pts
2. Laurent Lefevre (BTL) 18pts - at 30"
3. Juan Mauricio Soler (BAR) 16pts
4. Anthony Charteau (C.A) 14pts - at 35"
5. Mikel Astarloza (EUS) 12pts - at 40"
6. Vladimir Gusev (DSC) 10pts
7. Francisco Sanchez (EUS) 8pts
8. Christophe Moreau (A2R) 7pts
9. Stef Clement (BTL) 6pts
10. Denis Menchov (RAB) 5pts
Popovych has crested the Col d’Iseran. The race is on behind him for climbing points. Lefevre beat Soler for second place. (Full results for the first climb will follow soon.)
The Discovery Channel team clearly has a plan for today’s stage. The latest attack has come from Gusev who has joined Lefevre and Soler. They are 1’00" behind Popovych and about 15" ahead of the peloton.
Popovych is one kilometer from the highest point of the 2007 Tour. He is 1’00" ahead of the peloton and 50" ahead of Lefevre and Soler.
Laurent Lefevre is a consistent performer this year. He has just attacked the peloton.
Soler is now 50" behind Popovych and Lefevere is about to catch him.
The peloton is 1’00" behind the stage leader.
The highest point of the 2007 Tour is the Col d’Iseran. At 2,770m it is an imposing ascent that rises for 15km at an average gradient of six percent. The first time it was part of the Tour’s itinerary was in 1938 when Vervaecke was the first over the top. It was part of the route in 1996 but it was never raced over as snow covered the road and that stage became an abbreviated one. It has only been contested during the Tour six times before today. In 1939 the winner of a time trial up the mountain was S. Maes. The most recent winner of points at the top of the ‘hors category’ pass was Claudio Chiappucci in 1992.
Casar is the latest rider to be dropped by the peloton.
The latest Barloworld escapee is Juan Mauricio Soler. He is about 150m ahead of the remnants of the peloton.
There are signs of aggression at the head of the peloton. Barloworld and Caisse d’Epargne are the real pace setters and the speed is fast enough to have reeled in Arrieta.
Cardenas has opened up a gap on the peloton. He has been joined by Landaluze (EUS) and Cobo (SDV)...
The peloton is thinning out at the moment with several sprinters being dropped. The latest to lose contact with the main pack is the leader of the points classification, Tom Boonen.
The peloton is now 5km from the top of the Col d’Iseran. Cardenas has been caught by the bunch but he’s trying again.
Popovych is 15" ahead of Arrieta and 1’40" ahead of the peloton.
Chavanel has been reeled in by the peloton that is now showing signs of aggression. The latest to ride off the front is Felix Cardenas from the Barloworld team.
Discontent with the pace at the front of the stage, Popovych has ridden away from the first escapee, Arrieta.
Popovych and Arrieta are 1’20" ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and 1’30" ahead of the peloton which is now at the 8km mark.
The third rider to attack the peloton in stage eight is Sylvain Chavanel (COF).
At the 6.5km mark Popovych caught Arrieta. They are 1’30" ahead of the peloton.
The counter-attack has yielded fruit: Yaroslav Popovych took only a few minutes to bridge the gap to the stage leader, Arrieta (who attacked at the 3km mark). There are now two riders ahead of the peloton. The Spaniard leads the Ukrainian by 10" and the bunch by 1’20".
Arrieta is 30" ahead of Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) and 55" ahead of the peloton.
The 171 riders remaining in the 2007 Tour de France represent 26 countries.
The breakdown is:
37 – Spain. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (AGR) abandoned during stage one after a crash; Xabier Zandio (GCE) abandoned during stage four because of injuries sustained in a crash in stage one. Oscar Freire (RAB) and Rubens Lobato (SDV) didn’t start stage seven.
32 – France. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) didn’t start stage five after fracturing his elbow in a fall early in stage four. Geoffroy Lequartre (COF) didn’t start stage six after being caught up in a crash in stage five. Romain Feillu (AGR) abandoned during stage eight. Cedric Herve (AGR) finished outside the time limit in stage eight.
19 – Germany
16 – Italy. Enrico Degano (BAR) abandoned during stage seven. Danilo Napolitano (LAM) finished outside the time limit in stage eight.
13 – Belgium
7 – The Netherlands
6 – USA and Russia
5 – Switzerland.
4 – Kazakhstan, Great Britain. Mark Cavendish (TMO) abandoned during stage eight.
3 – Austria.
2 – Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway, Ukraine, Australia and Colombia. Brett Lancaster (MRM) abandoned during the fifth stage. Michael Rogers (TMO) abandoned during stage eight after crashing and dislocating his right shoulder. Stuart O’Grady (CSC) abandoned during stage eight after crashing and breaking five ribs, dislocating his AC joint and sustaining numerous other injuries. Robbie McEwen (PRL) finished outside the time limit in stage eight. Ivan Parra (COF) abandoned during stage eight.
1 – South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden
Lithuania had one reprentative but Toomas Vaitkus didn’t start stage three because of a broken thumb sustained in a crash at the end of stage two.
Linus Gerdemann has a lead of 2’27” over Alberto Contador (DSC) in the youth classification. Third and fourth in the category open to riders born after 1 January 1982 are both from the Barloworld team: Kanstantin Siutsou (at 5’35”) and Juan Manuel Soler (at 6’48”).
The eighth stage is being led by Jose Luis Arrieta who has an advantage over the peloton of 45" at the 4km mark.
The climbing classification is led by the rider who wears the yellow jersey after eight stages, Michael Rasmussen. As he cannot wear two jerseys, the polka-dot top is on the shoulders of Sylvain Chavanel (COF). The winner of stage eight has 82pts, while the Frenchman is 40pts behind. In third place is the race’s best young rider and the winner of stage seven, Linus Gerdemann (TMO) with 30pts.
The first rider to attack the peloton is AG2R’s Jose Luis Arrieta. There has been no reaction to the move by the Spaniard.
The sprinters are in survival mode today. Tom Boonen (QSI) wears the green jersey as leader of the points classification. Erik Zabel (MRM) is in second place, 13 points behind the Belgian. Third is Robbie Hunter of the Barloworld team who is 44 points behind.
Today is the first day that the two-time King of the Mountains, Michael Rasmussen (RAB) has worn the yellow jersey. The only Danish rider in the 94th Tour leads Linus Gerdemann (TMO) by 43” and Iban Mayo (SDV) by 2’39” in the general classification.
The rest of the top 10 overall includes riders who were favored for the title prior to the start of the Tour: 4th - Valverde (GCE) at 2’51”; 5th – Kashechkin (AST) at 2’52”; 6th – Evans (PRL) at 2’53”; 7th - Moreau (A2R) at 3’06”; 8th – Contador (DSC) at 3’10”; 9th - Schleck (CSC) 3’14”; 10th – Menchov (RAB) at 3’19”.
There are 171 riders still in the Tour de France. Patrick Sinkewitz (TMO) was not at the sign on after being involved in a crash while riding to his hotel after the eighth stage. He struck a spectator and sustained facial injuries. The man who hit was airlifted to the hospital in Grenoble with severe injuries.
Christian Prudhomme has signalled the start of stage nine. The peloton is being led by three riders from the Rabobank squad along with two Caisse d’Epargne riders. The official start time was 12.36pm.
Michael Rasmussen is leading the peloton through the 2.5km neutral zone. The Rabobank rider has blue armwarmers on but they are pulled down for the moment. Next to him at the moment is the former race leader Linus Gerdemann (TMO) who is in the white jersey as the best young rider. He is 43" behind Rasmussen in the general classification.
The two intermediate sprints for stage eight are in Le Villaron at the 33.5km mark, and in Bramans at 60km.
The itinerary for the stage after the first rest day includes three climbs including the highest pass of the 94th edition, the ‘hors categorie’ 2,770m high Col d’Iseran (with the summit at 15km), then the cat-1 Col du Telegraph (at 99km) followed by another HC pass, the Col du Galibier (at 122km). The first rider at this summit wins 5,000 Euros for the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange’.
The 159.5km stage from Val d’Isere to Briancon is schedule to begin at 12.30pm. There is a 2.5km neutral zone and then the white flag will be waved by Christian Prudhomme from the race director’s car to signal the start of racing. This is expected to be at about 12.35pm.
The sun is shining in the French Alps and conditions for the eighth stage are hot with temperatures in the mid-30s. There was a strong wind blowing yesterday but that was late in the day. At the moment it’s relatively still but there are some big challenges a day after the ’repo’: the road starts to climb immediately with a 15km ascent of the highest pass of the 94th edition, the 2,770m high Col d’Iseran.
Live coverage of stage eight will commence shortly.