It was expected to be a day when the top of the general classification received a shake up and thatâs just what happened. While Saunier Duval continues its stage winning blitz â with Leonardo Piepoli taking first place ahead of his team-mate Juan Jose Cobo â the Silence-Lotto team can celebrate the fact that its leader Cadel Evans is the new overall leader.
The Progress Report
The 156km 10th stage of the 2008 Tour de France, from Pau to Hautacam, began at 1.06pm. There were 170 riders at the sign on. The day featured four climbs: the first two were category-three â the cote de Benejacq (at 38.5km) and at Loucrup (at 67km) â and the first two âHors Categorieâ ascent of the 95th Tour â the Col du Tourmalet (at 106km) and the final rise to Hautacam. There were two intermediate sprints: the first in Lamarque-Pontacq (at 44km), the second in Pouzac (at 74.5km).
24 Establish Escape
Attacks began the moment the flag dropped to signal the start of racing but it wasnât until the 10km mark any real advantage was gained. When the peloton eased off the pace momentarily 24 men found themselves in the selection, they were: Popovych (SIL), Cancellara (CSC), Gutierrez (GCE), Burghardt (THR), Augustyn and Cheula (BAR), Pozzato (LIQ), Le Mevel (C.A), Tosatto (QST), Dupont (ALM), Fothen, Lang and Wegmann (GST), Feillu and Vogondy (AGR), Freire (RAB), Fedrigo (BTL), Chavanel, Di Gregorio and Roy (FDJ), Bertogliati and De La Fuente (SDV) and Duque (COF). At the 21km, the peloton was at 1â40â. Milram drove the chase for 10km before Garmin-Chipotle took over at the head of the peloton. At the first climb, the bunch was 1â15â behind. Freire claimed six points at the first sprint and put himself in the lead of the race for the green jersey. The average speed for the first hour was 44.4km/h. Freire, Roy, Di Gregorio, Fothen, Cancellara, Dupont and Duque insisted with the move but the others were caught at the 63km mark.
Hushovd led the peloton over the second climb 35â behind the seven escapees. He then attempted to bridge the gap before the 2nd intermediate sprint. He didnât insist. Just before the sprint, the peloton eased up and by the 80km mark, the peloton was 5â00â behind the seven.
Col du Tourmalet
At the base of the Tourmalet, Cancellaraâs septet led a counter-attack by Bichot (AGR) by 1â00â and the peloton by 9â40â. Di Gregorio attacked with 15km to climb. Behind him Cancellara led four others â Fothen, Roy, Dupont, Duque and Fothen most of the way up the climb and the CSC team led the yellow jerseyâs peloton all the way to the final section when Ricco attacked to claim 8th place at the top. Valverde, Pereiro and Cunego were dropped 2.5km before the summit. There were 14 riders in the yellow jerseyâs peloton, they were: Voigt, Sastre, Menchov, Cobo, Evans, Efimkin, Kohl, Schleck, Schleck, Ricco, Piepoli, Kirchen, Vande Velde and Duenas Nevado. At the top the deficit of Kirchenâs group was 6â00â.
At the base of the final climb Di Gregorio led by 40â. The chase group was composed of 24 riders - Evans, Sastre, Cancellara, Schleck, Schleck, Voigt, Kirchen, Duenas Nevado, Nibali, Fothen, Kohl, Menchov, Freire, Ricco, Cobo and Piepoli (SDV) and Vande Velde (TSL), Astarloza, Dupont, Efimkin and Goubert, Roy and Duque. The CSC team dominated the chase and ruined Di Gregorioâs chances. Once the capture happened Saunier Duval took control with Cobo attacking and splitting the lead group. Eventually it became a battle between stage hopefuls Piepoli and Cobo who were joined by Frank Schleck at the front of the stage the GC hopefuls Evans, Menchov, Vande Velde and Sastre who rode together most of the way up the final climb. Kirchen was dropped early on the climb and would finish the stage in 15th, 4â19â behind. Evans set the tempo of the GC group most of the way, swapping turns with Menchov but they couldnât get near the Saunier Duval duo who claimed the win for Piepoli while Cobo celebrated second place and the teamâs third victory this year.
Evans would finish 2â17â behind the stage winner and take the overall lead with an advantage of just one second on a valiant Schleck who claimed third in the stage.
Last year Remy Di Gregorio crashed before and had to abandon the Tour before it arrived in the terrain that he excels in. In stage 10 he ignited the action with a superb attack that earned him the âSouvenir Jacques Goddetâ, a prime for the first rider over the Col du Tourmalet. He was caught before the finish but will savor the memory of his experience nonetheless.
âIt was a beautiful day for me. I had planned to escape and I managed to spend a good part of the day in the lead. I was also able to climb well on the Col du Tourmalet and I went over the top with a lead of two minutes. This might have been sufficient if circumstances had been a little different in the race but with way that CSC swapped off behind me â to ensure that they put time into the Valverde group â I found myself in a situation that was rather dire despite the advantage Iâd been able to build.
âI did not lose so much time in the valley and am proud of the way I raced. I loved this day, especially when I think that last year I only got to see the mountain stages of the Tour on television because Iâd broken a rib in the first week.
âThe experience of climbing at the front of the Tour de France as we went over the Tourmalet is something that provided me with a good revenge for the situation I found myself in last year.â
Saunier Duval is riding a wave of success but that doesnât mean it has found a winning formula. With riders who excel in the mountains, the squad has won each stage with big climbs so far this year, the latest coming from the loyal 36-year-old domestique Leonardo Piepoli.
âItâs true that [Riccado] Ricco had said that Iâll win here but in reality it is a coincidence. Everyon is trying to have their own way and excel when an opportunity presents, but nothing is ever certain. This was not planned. Our directeur sportif is not a magician!
âIn the final we had Cobo, who has some different ambitions to mine; heâd like to have a good result in the general classification. In 2006 he lost over 20 minutes on the climb to Plateaux de Beille, otherwise he would have finished in the top five overall. And I have been fifth in a stage of the Tour and that was already enough to have some good memories. But I still have dreams and a win was one of them. Today is better than a dream!â
The leader of the points classification on the eve of the first rest day is Oscar Freire. He wore the green jersey in stage 10 but only because Kim Kirchen couldnât wear it as well as the yellow jersey. By putting himself in an escape in the first 25km, Freire was able to add to his points tally and then play the role of domestique for a Russian colleague later in the stage.
âToday I had to go in the break because maybe it was also difficult for the team to survive after the Tourmalet so it was a mixed role for me in this stage. I did two things: I gained some points for the green jersey and then was there for Denis [Menchov] for a while between the two big mountains. For me and for the team, it was a good day.
âIt wasnât too easy for me later in the stage but I knew what I had to do. Tomorrow we have a rest day and Iâm pleased about that because early today it was really fast. A lot of people wanted to be in the escape and eventually a big break formed but there was a lot of chasing from behind and we had to keep working hard. Thatâs okay. I felt good and am pleased to get a few more points and to take the green jersey.
âItâs not like I could do a lot for Denis on the climbs but I help where I can. We can be happy with how this stage went.â
A day after crashing and thinking that his chance of winning the Tour might be over, Cadel Evans has taken the yellow jersey. He achieved this coup at the summit of Hautacam, and now leads Frank Schleck by just one second in the general classification.
âIâm only in the lead by a very small margin but, tactically every second counts. Itâs a long way to the finish and our goal has always been to have the yellow jersey in Paris but as we saw yesterday, anything can happen in this race. One day ago I was counting every pedal stroke to the finish and today I was counting the seconds to try and calculate if Iâd take the lead or not. Thatâs cycling; it can be cruel but sometimes it can be fair.
âI nearly got dropped on the first category-three climb today and then I just said to my team-mate, âGuys, stay calm, be cool and hopefully Iâll get better.â Thankfully it all came together at the end. The main difficulty was accounting for the numbers that CSC and Saunier Duval had. In that situation I have to watch three guys and they all know that; so itâs very hard to control.
âI opted to keep an eye on Menchov, Sastre and Frank Schleck. I had to chose my guys and play my cards right. Finally Menchov saw the light and we worked together. Thatâs going to work to his advantage later on.
âI think they might have figured out that I was suffering after the crash in stage nine. From the amount of blood that they would have seen yesterday, theyâd be stupid if they didnât know I was in a little bit of pain.
âWe may not be the strongest team but weâre trying to be the smartest team. Weâre using our strengths as intelligently as possible and CSC still has a lot to gain. Theyâre only just out of the lead by one second and theyâve got the weight of numbers.
âYesterday I was on the road honestly thinking that my Tour was over. I was scared to get up and move because I thought Iâd broken a bone and to find myself in yellow now is just great. I donât quite believe that Iâve got the yellow jersey yet. Maybe Iâll wake up tomorrow and realize what Iâve done. Itâs a long way from being over but itâs a step towards where we want to be.â
With his eighth place in the stage, Cadel Evans has pushed his way into the lead of the Tour de France. He has an advantage of one second over Frank Schleck.
As we wait for Kirchen’s arrival, we can confirm the top 10 in stage 10.
1. Leonardo Piepoli (ITA) SDV - 156km in 4h19’27"
2. Juan Jose Cobo (ESP) SDV - at same time
3. Frank Schleck (LUX) CSC at 28"
4. Bernhard Kohl (AUT) GST at 1’06"
5. Vladimir Efimkin (RUS) ALM at 2’05"
6. Riccardo Ricco (ITA) SDV at 2’17"
7. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC at 2’17"
8. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL at 2’17"
9. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB at 2’17"
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA) TSL at 2’17"
Evans has finished the stage 2’17" behind Piepoli.
Kohl has finished fourth in the stage, 1’05’ behind Piepoli.
Schleck is third in the stage, 27" behind Piepoli.