The top 10 of the 182km stage from Narbonne to Nimes is:
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) COL - 182km in 4h25’42"
2. Robbie McEwen (AUS) SIL
3. Roman Feillu (FRA) AGR
4. Heinrich Haussler (GER) GST
5. Oscar Freire (ESP) RAB
6. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
7. Leonardo Duque (COL) COF
8. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
9. Julian Dean (NZL) TSL
10. Sebastian Chavanel (FRA) FDJ
Robbie McEwen went head-to-head with Mark Cavendish in the finale but the Australian couldn’t get near the rider from the Isle of Man who, again, won by several bike lengths after a perfectly executed sprint.
Cavendish is making this sprinting game look easy. He was blocked in the middle of the bunch with 500m to go but when he opened it up, there was no one who could get close. Stage win number four for the Columbia rider!
The peloton is in less than 1km from the line. Liquigas has just been swamped by three Milram riders with Zabel in third wheel.
There are four riders from the Quickstep team at the head of the peloton. Also near the front are riders from Quickstep, Gerolsteiner and Columbia. The green jersey is about 20 riders back.
With 3km to go, Chavanel has been caught by the peloton that is now being led by the Columbia team.
Chavanel is holding on to his advantage. He is less than 4km from the finish. He attacked with 8km to go and is now about 12" ahead of the bunch that continues to be led by Milram.
Sylvain Chavanel is trying to spoil all the work that FDJ did for his brother. The elder of the siblings has a lead of 10" and is flying towards the 4km to go sign.
The Garmin and Liquigas teams are now moving up on the left side of the road and about to swamp the Milram lead-out train. They are 10" behind Chavanel with 5km to go.
Afer his crash, Krauss is back on his feet. The team is standing by with another bike but he appears uninterested in remounting after a dramatic fall.
With Terpstra off the back of the peloton, there are seven of his team-mates now at the head of the bunch trying to limit the gains of Sylvain Chavanel who is 7km from the finish.
Sylvain Chavanel has attacked the peloton. He has opened up a lead of about 150m.
Sven Krauss has crashed and his bike smashed in half as he hit a post in the middle of the road.
Terpstra was caught just before the 10km to go sign. He was on the attack for 172km and then passed by a fellow Dutchman, Stef Clement (BTL). He too has been caught by the peloton.
As Terpstra was caught by the peloton (10km from the finish) a Bouygues Telecom rider has attacked. It is another Dutchman, Stef Clement but his bid for glory is being shut down quickly...
The peloton is now just 20" behind Terpstra who is essentially accepting defeat as cramp sets in. He is looking back and wondering how long it’ll be before he’s swallowed up by a peloton hungry to set up a bunch sprint.
With 13km to go, the peloton is 42" behind Niki Terpstra. Now riders from Credit Agricole and Quickstep have joined the FDJ, Columbia and Agritubel teams at the head of the peloton.
The only rider ahead of the peloton is Terpstra who has a lead of 1’00".
With 14km to go, the Cofidis pair were caught by the peloton.
Terpstra has been at the front of the stage for 166km. He is now less than 15km from the finish. His lead over Auge and Brard is 1’00". The peloton is at 1’10".
Terpstra is still 1’00" ahead of Brard and Auge and 1’30" ahead of the peloton. The Dutch Milram rider is 16km from the finish.
The Agritubel team must be feeling confident. It has sent Vogondy to the front of the peloton and he is now setting the pace ahead of riders from FDJ and Columbia who have been in charge of the main pack all day.
As it passed under the 20km to go sign the peloton was 1’40" behind Terpstra.
Terpstra is 20km from the finish and is now committed to trying to hold off the peloton. He started his attack in the first kilometer. He is 58" ahead of the chasing Cofidis pair.
Terpstra leads the Cofidis pair - Auge and Brard - by 50". Flecha has sat up and waited for the peloton.
With 25km to go, Brard was 25" behind Terpstra. The Cofidis rider has been joined by team-mate Auge.
The points at the 2nd sprint were won by:
1. Terpstra (MRM) 6pts
2. Brard (COF) 4pts
3. Auge (COF) 2pts - at 30"
Flecha was at 50" and the peloton at 1’10".
Terpstra is first over the sprint line with 26.5km to go. He has a lead of 15" on the Brard, then comes Flecha at 30" and Auge at 35".
Aith 27km to go, Terpstra has attacked Brard. He has opened up a good gap on the Frenchman and is now building his advantage on Flecha and Auge.
Flecha has surged ahead on the approach to the second intermediate sprint. He has taken Stephane Auge with him. They are 50" behind Terpstra and Brard. The peloton is at 1’05".
The two escapees are 5km from the site of the 2nd intermediate sprint. Their advantage has dropped to 1’20". How bizarre, they’ve been on the attack for 150km and have led all day but they haven’t been able to muscle their way into the virtual lead of the Tour de France. Poor Terpstra... he was the best placed of the pair after 12 stages but somehow he wasn’t able to make up the one hour 40 minute and 19 seconds that he lags behind Cadel Evans. Oh well, maybe the yellow jersey will be his another day.
The advantage of Terpstra and Brard has shrunk to 1’35" but with capture imminent the leaders picked up their pace a little. The latest check has the duo who attacked in the first kilometer ahead by 2’00". They have 35km to go.
The lead of the two escapees is down to 1’40" with 40km to go in the stage. Flecha has sat up from his little ploy to limit the chance of others from taking points from his team-mate Freire and he’s now back in the bunch.
Flecha went ahead of the peloton to collect the third-place points at the sprint in Villevieille (155.5km). The points were won by:
1. Niki Terpstra (MRM) 6pts
2. Florent Brard (COF) 4pts
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (RAB) 2pts - at 1’40".
As the peloton approaches the site of the 2nd sprint, Juan Antonio Flecha (RAB) has accelerated ahead of the peloton.
Columbia continue to cooperate with FDJ at the front of hte peloton. Terpstra and Brard are 44km from Nimes and their advantage has dropped to 2’00".
At the top of the third climb in stage 13 (at the 126km mark), the points were won by:
1. Florent Brard (COF) 3pts
2. Niki Terpstra (MRM) 2pts
3. Sebastian Lang (GST) 1pts - 2’40"
The German has retained his lead in the mountains classification.
Florent Brard has claimed a total of nine points in the climbing classification today. He has been in the lead for 60 percent of the last 10 minutes. He has led Terpstra up each of the climbs in the 13th stage and taken first at each summit. They are now less than 55km from the finish and have been at the front of the stage for 127km.
The manager of the Credit Agricole team has recently told France Television that they may have a change to their usual plans today. Instead of riding for the rider who is ranked third in the points classification after 12 stages, they may employ a new tactic. âThor has a sort throat that is irritating him just as it was yesterday,â said Roger Legeay. âSo we are not going to work in the chase. Weâll see if a bunch sprint is the likely conclusion for the stage and then gauge how Thor feels.
âWe may change our strategy in the final: the sprint could be for William Bonnet or for Mark Renshaw. It would be a great reward for them.â
Terpstra is following Brard up the Pic Saint-Loup. This pair are 2’40" ahead of the peloton as they ascent the final categorized climb of the stage.
The capture of the two escapees appears to be a certainty. Their advantage has dropped to three minutes as the peloton reaches the 120km mark.
The average speed for the third hour in stage 13 is 38.3km/h. The average for the first three hours of the 182km stage to Nimes is 39.2km/h.
The two leader appear to be growing weary from the effort of leading for over 118km today. Terpstra and Brard have just had a quick chat but now the Dutchman has gone to the front of the escape again. They are 3’25" ahead of the peloton that is at the 117km mark.
The escapees are losing their advantage slowly but surely. The latest check has Terpstra and Brard 3’50" ahead of the peloton.
Lang and Kohl of the Gerolsteiner team have ridden ahead of the peloton on the 2nd climb. The Austrian claimed third place at the top.
The points for the cote de puechabon (at 105.5km) were won by:
1. Florent Brard (COF) 3pts
2. Niki Terpstra (MRM) 2pts
3. Bernhard Kohl (GST) 1pt - at 4’10".
The rider in the lead of the points classification has been riding with standard issue Rabobank knicks until today. But he’s had a wardrobe change for the 13th stage. Oscar Freire is now fully green - knicks, jersey, helmet... but not attitude. He’s an experience campaigner who has been able to gain a 24 point advantage on his nearest rival, Kim Kirchen.
Brard led Terpstra all the way up the second climb. The Cofidis rider has taken first place points at the cote de Puechabon. Now Terpstra has come through to do a turn of pace after cresting the climb at the 105.5km mark.
There are the burned-out wrecks of two cars near the summit of the 2nd climb. They fire brigade appears to have extinguished the flames and now they’re waiting on the side of the road for the peloton to arrive. The two escapees have just gone past and their lead is around 4’35" on the FDJ/Columbia led bunch.
Terpstra and Brard are climbing the cote de Puechabon. Their advantage is now less than five minutes and the Gerolsteiner team is starting to bring Mr Lang, the King of the Mountains, to the front of the bunch.
As the peloton reaches the 101km mark, its deficit to the stage leaders is 5’10". It took Terpstra and Brard just 10km to establish a lead of five minutes after attacking in the first kilometer of the 13th stage.
The first professional race that Florent Brard won was the fifth stage of the Etoile de Besseges in 2001. He beat Jimmy Casper and Jan Svorarda in a sprint. In ninth place that day was Thor Hushovd.
He is currently in the lead of the stage along with the nine-time Dutch national champion (from track events), Niki Terpstra.
It took only a minute for Cadel Evans and his Silence-Lotto team-mates to weave their way back to the front of the peloton. They are now in position behind the Columbia and FDJ teams which have led the bunch since the 25km mark.
The second climb of the stage is a little over five kilometers away for the two stage leaders. The Cote de Puechabon is a 2.5km long ascent with an average gradient of 5.2 percent. It is ranked category-four - meaning there are three, two and one points on offer at the top - and the summit is at the 105.5km mark of today’s 182km stage.
The rider in the yellow jersey, Cadel Evans, has recently answered the call of nature. Several of his team-mates waited for him and they have just returned to the peloton.
Today is the 16th time that a stage of the Tour de France has concluded in Nimes. The last time was in 2004 when Aitor Gonzalez won the stage, relegating Nicolas Jalabert to second place in a stage from Carcassonne.
Before that, the previous stage finish in Nimes was in 1986 when Frank Hoste claimed the victory in a two-up sprint against Silvano Contini in in the 225.5km 15th stage from Carcassonne.
It was the birthday of another Hoste yesterday: Leif - who is in the Silence-Lotto team at this year’s race - turned 31.
Both the La Francaise des Jeux and Columbia teams have put two riders at the front of the peloton to reel in the escapees who scampered clear as soon as racing began. The advantage of Terpstra and Brard peaked at the 21km mark when they were 9’55" ahead. The current deficit is 6’30".
The average for the 2nd hour of racing in stage 13 is 38.1km/h. The average for the first two hours combined is 39.6km/h.
The peloton is 6’35" behind Brard and Terpstra at the feedzone (75km from Narbonne, 107km from Nimes).
Terpstra and Brard are 6’50" ahead of the bunch which has just arrived at the 73km mark.
There are five FDJ riders at the head of the peloton and, in the last 10 minutes, they have spent 64 percent of the time at the front. The other 36 percent of time in the wind has been done by two Team Columbia riders.
The last time a stage of the Tour de France concluded in Nimes, the runner-up was Nicolas Jalabert. He was part of an escape group on the day the Tour visited this city in the Gard department in 2004. The winner was Aitor Gonzalez who was riding for the Fassa Bortolo team at the time.
Jalabert has just been seen hovering around the rear of the peloton expressing little interest in racing too hard in the first half of the 13th stage.
The peloton has been led by the Columbia and FDJ teams since the 25km mark. The squad of the yellow jersey is nestled in behind Cavendish and Seb Chavanel’s workers. The last time check had Terpstra and Brard ahead by 7’05".
The peloton was 6’45" behind Terpstra and Brard at the top of the first climb.
With 500m to go on the first climb, Lang accelerated ahead to claim third place. The points at the top of the cote de la Resclauze were won by:
1. Florent Brard (COF) 3pts
2. Niki Terpstra (MRM) 2pts
3. Sebastian Lang (GST) 1pt
The Columbia team continues to lead the peloton as it ascends first climb of the 13th stage. Sebastian Lang has come forward to try and climb the one point for third place.
âSome teams are riding to close the gap,â said Erik Dekker of the Rabobank team when contacted by LeTour.fr recently. âSo I hope that they continue to do this work for Oscar [Freire]. Itâs not in our interest to spend energy chasing down escape groups on the flat stages. We wonât work when itâs not necessary.â
When it was suggested that Rabobank was in a similar position to Silence-Lotto, the directeur sportif agreed. âWe are actually the same sort of team this year. Of course, itâs good for us to have the lead in the points classification but Oscar has done that largely on his own.â
And how is the form of Freire and their GC candidate, Denis Menchov? âBoth are feeling very good. Of course Oscar wants to win a stage so heâs not happy to have missed out although he is at least pleased to be in the green jersey.
âDenis, well yeah, everything is going according to plan and heâs pleased with how the race is progressing. Itâs going to hard job to make up any time on Cadel Evans but, anyway, on Sunday there is a hard stage then a rest day and then the stage to LâAlpe dâHuez. Denis will look for a weak moment from Cadel. Itâs going to be a hell of a job to close that 57-second gap though.â
Florent Brard has led Terpstra all the way up the 2.7km climb that peaks at the 62km mark. The Cofidis rider has taken the three points for first place at the summit of the cote le la Resclauze.
Brard is leading Terpstra to the top of the first climb. There are plenty of spectators lining the course on this hot day in the south. The two escapees are in the final 1,000m of the climb.
Terpstra and Brard are about to start climbing the 2.7km long cote de la Resclauze. The summit comes with 120km to go in the stage. The leading pair currently have an advantage over the Columbia/FDJ-led peloton of 7’10".
As the peloton passes the 50.5km mark, it is 7’00" behind Terpstra and Brard.
Terpstra and Brard are now in Pouzolles at the 52km mark. They are 7’45" ahead of the peloton. The first climb of the 13th stage is at the 62km mark.
The two escapees are being kept honest by the Columbia and FDJ teams. The peloton allowed Brard and Terpstra to gain a maximum advantage of 9’55" at the 21km mark. That has dropped to 8’00" after 39km of racing in stage 13.
âOur team did a great chasing job in the lead-up to the bunch sprint,â said Milramâs Vittorio Algeri after the 12th stage. âIn the finale, especially Marco Velo showed a great performance.â
Despite the work of the lead-out train, Erik Zabel was still not able to crack the win, finishing behind Cavendish, Sebastien Chavanel and Gert Steegmans. Still, the teamâs directeur sportif was realistic about the sprint.
âI think weâve achieved the maximum today with this fourth placing. Mark Cavendish is simply the strongest sprinter in the field at the moment.â
At the 34.5km mark, the peloton is 8’25" behind ’Terps’ and ’Bra’.
The maximum gain for Terpstra and Brard thus far is 9’55" as the peloton passed the 21km mark. That has dropped to 9’10" at 28km as the Columbia and La Francaise des Jeux teams have taken charge of the pacesetting duties at the head of the main pack.
One of the riders in the escape today is the 2006 French road race champion Florent Brard. He has also won a national time trial title (in 2001). He made his professional debut as a stagiaire for La Francaise des Jeux late in 1997, but joined the Festina team in 1999. It was with this formation that he made his Tour debut, finishing fifth in the prologue and spending a few days in the white jersey as leader of the youth classification before finished 100th overall.
He didn’t return to the Tour until 2006 when he as with the Caisse d’Epargne team. He finished sixth-last in the penultimate stage, a time trial, but did not sign on the next day as he broke a finger in a fall.
âIt looks like just a matter of surviving the boredom and then being careful towards the end,â said the directeur sportif of CSC-Saxo Bank, Scott Sunderland when contacted by LeTour.fr to get his thoughts on the 13th stage. âOf course, we have to have stages like this; sometimes the break gets established really early, other times it can take up to two hours.â
Today it took less than one kilometer for âThe Moveâ to break free. It includes Niki Terpstra and Flaorent Brard. âTerpstra is strong,â said Sunderland of the Dutch rider who is now in the lead by over eight minutes, âand his team must have been keen to put him in the move because I donât think Milram wants to work in the chase in the hope of setting Zabel up for the sprint.
âI think itâs going to come down to Columbia and Credit Agricole but Iâm not sure how Hushovd is going so perhaps theyâre not going to be interested in swapping off. Maybe FDJ will do a little bit of work because Sebastien Chavanel was good yesterday but the sprintersâ teams have got to do something because the two up front are no threat to us.â
The peloton has just reached the 20km mark with a deficit of 9’25" to Terpstra and Brard.
Brard and Terpstra are now eight minutes ahead of the peloton that is at the 17km mark.
Niki Terpstra has claimed eight Dutch national championship titles in the past five years. They include pursuits and scratch races victories. The 24-year-old Milram rider joined the team in 2007 and his first win for the squad was the mountains classification at the Deutschland Tour when he beat David Lopez Garcia and the overall winner Jens Voigt.
Terpstra and Brard are about to ride through Capestang at the 14km mark. Their lead is up to 5’00".
Terpstra and Brard are in for a long, hot day on the attack. Their advantage on the peloton has quickly grown to 3’55".
Each day LeTour.fr conducts a poll relating to the race. Today the question on the race’s official site asks: Mark Cavendish has already won three stages of the 2008 Tour. Will he win again today?
You have three options for an answer:
Yes - He is the fastest man in the race
No - He is getting tired
No - The stage won’t finish with a bunch sprint
Of the two riders in the lead of stage 13, neither is within spitting distance of the yellow jersey. The best of the pair in general classification is Niki Terpstra who began the stage ranked 125th overall, 1h40’19" behind Cadel Evans.
Florent Brard is ranked 146th overall, 1h51’21" behind the race leader after 12 stages.
Terpstra has no points in the race for the green or polka-dot jerseys. Brard has no points in the mountains classification and he has just 12 points in the points classification.
Terpstra and Brard are now 1’30" ahead of the bunch which has just passed the 4km mark.
Terpstra and Brard look like being given some leeway. There hasn’t been a big response to their attack in the opening kilometer. At the 3.5km mark, the escapees are 1’10" ahead of the bunch.
The first escape of the day has come from Niki Terpstra (MRM) and Florent Brard (COF). They attacked about 10 seconds after the announcement for the official start was made. They are currently 35" ahead of the peloton.
Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ) has worn the white jersey for a couple of days already but now he is the official leader of the youth classification now that Ricco is out of the race and dealing with the consequences of his âstupidityâ. Another Liquigas rider, Roman Kreuziger is ranked second in the category open to riders born after 1 January 1983. The Czech is 2â42â behind his team-mate while third place is held down by the young Belgian, Maxime Montfort (COF) who is 2â49â behind Nibali.
In the first kilometer of the 182km stage, there has been an attack by two riders: one from Cofidis, one from Milram.
The official start of the 13th stage was at 1.10pm. There are 158 riders still in the race. There were no overnight retirements.
The 12th stage was raced without a spotted jersey in the peloton. The absence of the former leader, Riccardo Ricco â who was taken into custody prior to the start in Lavelanet â meant that not even the heir apparent Sebastian Lang (GST) could be presented with the jersey before the stage.
The German who was in an escape during the day over the Col de Peyresourde and Col dâAspin, earned 57 of his 58 points on the day of Riccoâs second stage âvictoryâ. His Gerolsteiner team-mate, Austrian Bernhard Kohl, is ranked second, just two points shy of Langâs tally.
Frank Schleck, the CSC rider in second place overall, has 46 points in the mountains classification which puts him into third position in the race for the polka-dot jersey. The winner of the seventh stage, Luis Leon Sanchez (GCE) is fourth with 31 points while the rider in the yellow jersey, Cadel Evans (SIL) is fifth with 30 points.
âIâm really happy,â Cavendish told BBC radio when asked how it felt to beat British rider Barry Hobanâs record of two stage wins in one Tour. âBut as I keep telling the journalists, I donât think Barry had the sort of team that Iâve had and it all boils down to that.
âThey used up a lot of energy before today but they still gave 110 percent and dropped me off at the right place at the finish to do what I do best which is win.
âI think itâs possible,â he said in response to the question of if he can win more stages. âBut Iâm getting pretty tired. Itâs taken a lot of me. I was suffering a lot more than I normally do but I was still able to win.â
His victory was overshadowed in the headlines by the news about Riccardo Riccoâs positive test that was announced just before the 12th stage. âI think everybody is happy that the cheats are getting caught,â concluded âCavâ in his interview with BBC. âIt proves that the tests are working. Itâs good for the sport. The more cheats that get caught, the cleaner the sport gets.â
Oscar Freire (RAB) added another 24 points to his collection in the race for the green jersey yesterday. He now leads Kim Kirchen (THR) by 24 points and Thor Hushovd (C.A) by 44 points in the sprintersâ classification. Erik Zabel (MRM) holds on to fourth place with 123 points while the triple stage winner Mark Cavendish (THR) moved up from sixth to fifth with a tally after 12 stages of 123 points.
âItâs difficult to know whatâs going to happen on a stage like this,â said Cadel Evans about the 182km journey from Narbonne to Nimes when he spoke exclusively to LeTour.fr before the start of the stage today. âIt could take a long time to establish a break. The precise combination needs to get clear and although it would ideal if a group of about 10-15 went up the road, I think that the move that gains an advantage will be smaller.
âThe sprinters teams know they havenât got a lot of chances to go for a stage win, so theyâre going to be looking to keep things under control. And us GC guys donât want anyone who is a threat to gain any time.
âI think weâll see two guys go, then be chased down by another two or three. If itâs the right mix, they might be able to gain enough time to stay away all the way to the finish. I think itâs more realistic, however, to expect a bunch sprint today.â
Christian Prudhomme has just announced that the mayor of Narbonne has waved the peloton off from the start. The bunch is currently rolling along in the 4.5km neutral zone on the way to the site of the start proper.
Cadel Evans (SIL) continues to lead the 2008 Tour de France since taking the yellow jersey after finishing eighth in the stage to Hautacam on Monday. His advantage over second place is still just one second and, aside from the omission of the two Saunier Duval-Scott riders who were in the top 10 after the Pyrenean stages, the top order of the general classification hasnât changed since the 10th stage.
Christian Vande Velde (TSL) is still ranked third overall, 38â behind the Australian, Bernhard Kohl (GST) is fourth at 46â and the fourth rider within a minute of Evansâ lead is the two-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana, Denis Menchov (RAB) who is 57â behind.
There are three category-four climbs in the 13th stage: the cote de la Resclauze (at 62km) the cote de Puechabon (105.5km) and the Pic Saint-Loup (126km). Each offer three, two and one points in the climbing classification for the first three riders at the summit. The two intermediate sprints today will be contested in the last third of the stage, in Saint-Bauzille-de-Montmel (at 139.5km) and Villeveillle (155.5km).
The 182km 13th stage of the 2008 Tour de France, from Narbonne to Nimes, is due to begin at 1.00pm. There is a 4.5km neutral zone before the flag will be waved by the race director, Christian Prudhomme to signal the official start. This is expected to be at around 1.10pm. The sun is shining on the Tour today but a relatively strong wind is blowing from the north-west with gusts up to 40km/h. The trajectory of the 13th stage is essentially from the south-west for the stage.
The temperature at the start is a warm 25 degrees Celsius but this is expected to climb into the high 30s during the start that traverses three departments: starting in Aude, then into Herault and concluding in Gard.
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.