The top five on general classification after the penultimate stage of the 2009 Tour de France is:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Andy Schleck at 4’11"
3. Lance Armstrong at 5’24"
4. Bradley Wiggins at 6’01"
5. Frank Schleck at 6’04"
Rabobank has finally won a stage of the 2009 Tour de France and what a one to win! Juan Manuel Garate has claimed his first victory at the Tour. The top 10 in the 20th stage is:
1. Juan Manuel Garate (ESP) RAB - 167km in 4h39’21" (35.869km/h)
2. Tony Martin (GER) THR - at 3"
3. Andy Schleck (LUX) SAX - 38"
4. Alberto Contador (ESP) AST - at 38"
5. Lance Armstrong (USA) AST - at 41"
6. Frank Schleck (LUX) SAX - at 43"
7. Roman Kreuziger (CZE) LIQ - at 46"
8. Franco Pellizotti (ITA) LIQ - at 56"
9. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ - at 58"
10. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) GRM - at 1’03"
Andy Schleck has led an elated Contador over the line for third place...
Garate has attacked Martin on the last turn and taken victory on the Ventoux.
Martin and Garate are 42" ahead of Pellizotti and 48" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group which has just disposed of Nibali.
Martin has ridden back to Garate and the pair are together again at the front of the stage.
The latest acceleration from Andy Schleck has dropped Wiggins but Contador, Armstrong, Frank and Kreuziger have been able to respond to the younger Schleck.
Garate has attacked the lead and is now 1km from the top. He is on his own and racing towards what could be his first stage win in the Tour de France.
Andy Schleck has attacked for the eighth time on the climb. He has almost crashed into a motorcycle he attacked so quickly. Contador and Armstrong have been able to respond.
Could it be that the escape artists are going to have the last laugh today? Garate and Martin have a lead of 45" on Pellizotti and 55" on the yellow jersey’s group that contains Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Armstrong, Contador, Wiggins, Kreuziger and Nibali...
Martin and Garate are 45" ahead of Pellizotti and appear as though they may hold on to contest the stage win. The yellow jersey’s group is now 20" behind the polka-dot jersey.
There is no getting rid of the British rider from Garmin. Wiggins lost a little ground but he has rejoined the group that has essentially been led by Andy for about 90 per cent of the Ventoux climb.
There has been another acceleration from Andy and this time the casualty is Wiggins... but he has crawled back to the yellow jersey’s group and is defending his fourth place overall.
Van Den Broeck has just been caught by the seven men in the yellow jersey’s group.
The riders with Contador are: Armstrong, Schleck, Schleck, Kreuziger, Nibabli and Wiggins.
The seventh attack from Andy has lured Frank away as well. Contador is able to respond as has Wiggins and Armstrong. Kloden has been dropped.
Van Den Broeck is the fourth rider at the front of the stage. He has attacked Contador’s group and is now in pursuit of Garate and Martin (who continue to ride together at the front) and Pellizotti who is 1’25" behind the leading pair.
The riders with the yellow jersey now are: Van Den Broeck, Kloden, Armstrong, Contador, Andy and Frank Schleck, Kreuziger, Nibali, Riblon, Wiggins and Righi.
Pellizotti slowly paced himself back to the yellow jersey but as soon as this group was caught the polka-dot jersey accelerated around. He is now in pursuit of Garate and Martin and aiming for the stage win he’s been talking about for months. He is 14" ahead of the Armstrong group.
Armstrong’s group has caught Contador’s quartet. Now Pellizotti has attacked and is in pursuit of the two stage leaders. The capture happened with 6km to go.
Garate and Martin have pushed their advantage over the yellow jersey up to 1’20".
Pellizotti has caught up with Armstrong’s group which is now being paced by Kloden.
Riblon is the third last escapee at the front of the stage. He has just been caught by Andy, Alberto and Vincenzo. Now only Garate and Martin hang ahead of the yellow jersey.
Martin and Garate are still at the front of the stage. They are 1’15" ahead of Contador, Schleck and Nibali... and 1’55" ahead of the Armstrong group.
Andy Schleck has just accelerated again. This is his sixth attack on the final climb and each time Contador just taps away at the pedals making it look like chasing down the champion of Luxembourg is like a ride in the park.
The riders in the group behind Contador’s trio are: Armstrong, Kloden, Van Den Broeck, Wiggins, Frank Schleck and Kuschynski. They are 20" behind the yellow jersey’s trio.
There are now three riders in the yellow jersey’s group: Andy Schleck, Contador and Nibali.
Contador and Andy Schleck are now 15" ahead of Armstrong who is riding with Wiggins, Frank Schleck, Kloden...
Contador just has to mark his rivals. Currently the white jersey has been doing all the work in the second group. He is ahead of Contador and Van Den Broeck then Nibali are attempting to bridge the gap to the yellow jersey.
Just after the 10km to go sign, Andy Schleck has launched his fifth attack. He is being marked by Contador who has been able to respond to every surge. Kloden and Van Den Broeck have rejoined Armstrong’s group but now VDB has attacked...
The yellow jersey’s group is 2’10" behind Garate and Martin. Kloden and Van Den Broeck are 20" behind the yellow jersey.
The two leaders are now 10km from the finish of the stage. Andy has attacked again (for a fourth time) but he has not been able to drop Contador, Armstrong, Frank, Wiggins or Nibali.
Garate and Martin are still in the lead of the stage. They are 2’10" ahead of the Contador quintet... which is swelling once in a while as they catch and pass the remnants of the 16-man escape group.
With the yellow jersey’s group down to: Andy and Frank Schleck, Nibabli, Armstrong, Contador and Wiggins. Frank has just attacked again but he has been caught.
Wiggins, Armstrong, F. Schleck and Nibali are now back with Contador and Andy.
Andy has now attacked for a third time. Again only Contador can respond.
There are now five riders with the yellow jersey: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Brad Wiggins and Van Den Broeck.
Andy has attacked again and only Contador has been able to respond. These two riders are now looking behind to see Armstrong leading Frank, Nibali, Wiggins and a few others forward.
With the yellow jersey’s group thinning out because of Frank’s attack, it’s time for Andy to surge again. He has dropped Pellizotti from the ’Good Group’. Wiggins is still in the group...
The first attack of the yellow jersey’s peloton has come from Frank Schleck. He is being marked by Armstrong and now Kloden and Contador are coming forward as is Andy Schleck.
We can confirm that the following riders are in the yellow jersey’s peloton:
- Van den Broeck (SIL)
- Contador, Armstrong, Kloden and Paulinho (AST)
- Schleck, Schleck and Sorensen (SAX)
- Vande Velde and Wiggins (GRM)
- Astaloza (EUS)
- Pellizotti and Nibali (LIQ)
- Le Mevel (FDJ)
- Sanchez (GCE)
- Minard (COF)
- Karpets (KAT)
- Calzati (AGR)...
At it passes under the 15km to go sign, the yellow jersey’s group is 3’00" behind Garate’s trio.
There are now 23 riders in the yellow jersey’s peloton (including three Saxo Bank riders). The leaders are 15km from the finish of the 20th stage. Garate continues to lead with Martin and Riblon. They are 3’22" ahead of the Good Group.
Of the 24 in the Good Group, 12 are from the top 12 overall.
There are 24 riders in the yellow jersey’s peloton. Included are four Garmin riders (with Wiggins and Millar), the Schleck brothers, Contador, Armstrong, Paulinho, Sorensen, and Sorensen, Astarloza, Sanchez, Karpets, Nibali, Pellizotti, Van den Broeck...
Garate has attacked the leading trio again. He didn’t gain much of an advantage before sitting up and waiting for Riblon and Martin to come back to him...
There are three riders from the Garmin team at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton which is now 3’18" behind the stage leaders.
Garate has attacked the lead group early on the climb. He has been joined by Martin and now Riblon at the front of the stage.
With the yellow jersey’s peloton over 1’20" ahead of the second peloton, it’s fair to call the front one the ’Good Group’. In this mix is the polka-dot jersey Franco Pellizotti.
Cavendish had been in the yellow jersey’s peloton which is now at the base of the climb. He has just dropped out of this elite selection and gave a grin to the camera as he drifted back. Conserve some energy Mark, there’s a sprint to win tomorrow...
Cancellara was one of the Saxo Bank pacesetters earlier today. He has just been dropped by the yellow jersey’s peloton. Job done. Flick the switch Fabian: it’s survival mode now...
The Garmin team is now at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton. Pate is setting the pace of the group that’s now 4’30" behind the 16 escapees who are all together...
The Astana team are sacrificing themselves before the climb. Super domestique Yaroslav Popovch has just finished his effort and has dropped out of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The front peloton has just passed under the 25km to go sign. The final climb is less than 5km away and the 16 escapees are 5’00" ahead. Sastre (CTT) and Evans (SIL) are in the second peloton that’s now 30" behind the group that’s led by Popovych of the Astana team.
There are at least six riders from the Garmin team in the front peloton, including Wiggins. They have been most attentive today but are yet to show themselves on the front... Wiggins is fourth overall, just 15" behind Armstrong after 19 stages.
The front peloton (including Contador, Schleck, Schleck, Armstrong and the others from the top 10 of GC) is now 10" ahead of the second group.
The front peloton is being led by Cancellara. We can see at least three Garmin jerseys in this group of 41 as it leads the second peloton by eight seconds. The yellow jersey is in the front selection that’s now 6’21" behind the escapees as it passes the site of the second intermediate sprint.
The two Schleck brothers are in the front peloton that split around the 28km to go mark. There are 41 in the yellow jersey’s bunch.
The pace of the peloton is now extremely fast. The pace is being set by the Astana team and their speed has reduced the leading peloton to about 35 or 40 riders...
The points for the second intermediate sprint of stage 20 were won by:
1. Mickael Delage (SIL) 6pts
2. Aleksandr Kuschynski (LIQ) 4pts
3. Samuel Dumoulin (COF) 2pts
The escape is being led by Delage (SIL) as it approaches the second intermediate sprint of the 20th stage. His group is 7’25" ahead of the peloton.
The New Zealander who is in the leading group of 16, Hayden Roulston comes from a notoriously windy part of the world. He is from Ashburton which is known as a windy place. In 2006, he was fifth in a stage of the Tour of Southland that was badly affected by the weather conditions. The stage was won by Sam Bewly - a team-mate of Roulston’s during the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympics (when they finished third). But a victim of a crash was Australia’s Paul Crake who was literally blown off the road and into a fence. He fractured vertebrae and has not walked since the incident.
The Astana team has pulled the leaders back to under eight minutes as it sets a furious pace at the head of the peloton which is now at the 127km mark. The bunch has 40km to go in the stage and it is 7’55" behind the 16 escapees.
The Astana team is back in front of the peloton as it reaches the top of the fourth climb. The deficit to the escapees at the 121.5km mark is 8’15".
The points at the top of the col des Abeilles (121.5km) were won by:
1. Juan Manuel Garate (RAB) 4pts
2. Tony Martin (THR) 3pts
3. Joost Posthuma (RAB) 2pts
4. Mickael Delage (SIL) 1pt
Today is the 14th time that a stage of the Tour has included the Mont Ventoux. The first time was in 1951 when Lazarides led over the top (he was sixth in the stage from Montpellier to Avignon won by Louison Bobet). Subsequent winners have been:
- Jean Robic (1952)
- Louison Bobet (1955)
- Charly Gaul (1958)
- Raymond Poulidor (1965)
- Julio Jiminez (1967)
- Eddy Merckx (1970)
- Bernard Thevenet (1972)
- Gonzalo Aja (1974)
- Jean-Francois Bernard (1987)
- Eros Poli (1994)
- Marco Pantani (2000)
- Richard Virenque (2002)
The average speed for the third hour of stage 20 is 35.8km/h. The average since the start of the stage is 39.4km/h.
The peloton continues to be led by the Saxo Bank team as it begins the ascent of the col des Abeilles.
The escapees are now 50km from the finish of the penultimate stage. Their advantage on the peloton (which has jus been caught by Le Mevel after his puncture) is 9’05".
The latest rider to get a flat tire on the roads of the Vaucluse department is Christophe Le Mevel (FDJ), the best placed rider in the general classification. He was given a new rear wheel by a team-mate and another rider waited to help the man ranked ninth overall get back to the peloton.
The fourth climb today is the col des Abeilles (at the 121.5km mark). This is a cat-3 ascent that is 7.7km long with an average gradient of four per cent.
It didn’t take long for Frank Schleck to return to the peloton after his puncture. The bunch is still well behind the 16 stage leaders (around 8’45") but the escapees are now on the col des Abeilles, the four climb of the 20th stage.
Fabian and Nicki have dropped back with Frank to help him rejoin the peloton after his recent puncture.
There have been a lot of punctures today. The latest to cop a flat tire is Frank Schleck of the Saxo Bank team. His colleagues are at the front of the peloton but they’ve eased the pace of late.
Normally stages of the Tour de France are schedule to conclude at around 5.00pm (with the exception of the opening day) but because there is such a long transfer tonight (for much of the entourage) and tomorrow (for the team staff and riders), the start time was moved forward. If the riders have a 40km/h average, the arrival will be at around 4.01pm...
The wind at the top of the climb is still very strong. It was blowing at over 100km/h earlier today - much like it was in 2000 when the Tour visited Ventoux (but back then it was also very cold, one degree Celsius in the morning)... it is not easing either today.
The Saxo Bank team continues to ride at the front of the peloton with all the seven riders from the squad remaining in the Tour tapping out a steady tempo. The bunch is 8’15" behind the 16 escapees.
Thor Hushovd has just stopped to get a puncture tended to.
Both the Rabobank and Skil-Shimano teams have two men in the group of 16 at the front of the stage. Juan Manuel Garate and Joost Posthuma are the Rabobank representatives while Cyril Lemoine and Alberto Timmer are the men from one of the wildcard invitees.
When the fourth stage of Paris-Nice started in Montelimar and went up the other side of the Mont Ventoux from where today’s route takes the peloton, the winner was Cadel Evans. He followed Robert Gesink much of the way to the ski station based four kilometers from the summit and then raced into the lead in the dying meters to take the victory at Mont Sarrin. In third place was Rinaldo Nocentini (at 33"), fourth was Davide Rebellin and fifth was Frank Schleck (at 34").
Juan Manuel Garate (RAB) who is in the escape today, finished seventh.
The leaders have ducked back into the Drome department (where the stage began before moving to the Vaucluse). They have a lead of 9’15" on the peloton and will soon return to Vaucluse. They are 70km frim the finish.
Stuart O’Grady, Fabian Cancellara, and the rest of the Saxo Bank team are at the front of the peloton which is now 9’46" behind the 16 escapees.
The points for the third climb of the day, the col de Fontaube (87km) were won by:
1. Righi (LAM) 3pts
2. Timmer (SKS) 2pts
3. Garate (RAB) 1pt
Of the 16 men who are over 10 minutes ahead of the peloton - currently being led by the Saxo Bank team - only one has previously won a stage of the Tour de France. Samuel Dumoulin (COF) was the winner of stage four in Nantes during last year’s race.
The fifth stage of this year’s Dauphine Libere stage race was a 154km journey from Valence to Mont Ventoux. The rider who finished second, Valverde (GCE) took the yellow jersey from Cadel Evans (SIL) that day and would ultimately win the title for a second year in a row. The top 10 was:
1. Sylvester Szmyd (POL) LIQ
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE at same time
3. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) AST 1‚Äô14‚ÄĚ
4. Robert Gesink (NED) RAB 1‚Äô50‚ÄĚ
5. Jacob Fuglsang (DEN) SAX 1’59"
6. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL 2‚Äô10‚ÄĚ
7. David Moncouti√© (FRA) COF 2‚Äô13‚ÄĚ
8. Alberto Contador (ESP) AST 2‚Äô13‚ÄĚ
9. Vicenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ 2‚Äô16‚ÄĚ
10. Vladimir Efimkin (RUS) ALM 2‚Äô20‚ÄĚ
With the peloton arriving in the feedzone at the 78km mark, it is 10’35" behind the 16 escapees.
The leaders covered 39.1km in the second hour. The average for the first two hours of stage 20 is 41.2km/h.
With a few riders in the peloton opting to answer the call of nature, the escapees have been able to increase their advantage: 9’30" is the gap between the 16 leaders and the bunch.
The Astana team no longer has riders at the front of the peloton which is currently 8’50" behind the 16 escapees. Instead we can see Saxo Bank riders at the front of the bunch. The deficit had dropped to 8’25" at the 67km mark but we can expect to see if grow again soon as it doesn’t seem as though the peloton is too enthusiastic about chasing down the move that includes Tony Martin, Juan Manuel Garate, Christophe Riblon and 13 others.
On Monday last week over 9,000 riders took part in a ’Gran Fondo’ style event organized in conjunction with the Tour de France. L’Etape du Tour offers enthusiasts the chance to compete on the same course as that used for a stage of the Tour de France each year. In 2009, the course used was the one for today’s stage. The rider with the fastest time was Dmitri Champion who, on the Saturday before the Tour began, won the French national title.
The 14th stage of the 2002 Tour de France was a 221km journey from Lodeve to Mont Ventoux. The top 10 in the stage was:
1. Richard Virenque (FRA)
2. Alexandre Botcharov (RUS) at 1‚Äô58‚ÄĚ
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) at 2‚Äô20‚ÄĚ
4. Marco Serpellini (ITA) at 2‚Äô54‚ÄĚ
5. Raimondas Rumsas (LTH) at 3‚Äô36‚ÄĚ
6. Ivan Basso (ITA) at 3‚Äô39‚ÄĚ
7. Francesco Mancebo (ESP) at 3‚Äô51‚ÄĚ
8. Joseba Beloki (ESP) at 4‚Äô05‚ÄĚ
9. Dariusz Baranowski (POL) at 4‚Äô10‚ÄĚ
10. Ivan Gotti (ITA) at 4‚Äô16‚ÄĚ
Of these riders only Botcharov (KAT) and Armstrong (AST) are in the race this year.
After his toilet stop, Aleksandr Kuschynski (LIQ) has rejoined the lead group.
Since the escape began at the 3km mark, the leaders have been increasing their advantage. It peaked at 9’10" but that has dropped a little to 8’55" with the peloton at the 64km mark.
One of the riders in the lead of the stage - the Belorussian who led the escape over the 2nd climb, Kuschynski - has stopped on the side of the road to answer the call of nature.
1. Kuschynski (LIQ) 4pts
2. Garate (RAB) 3pts
3. Martin (THR) 2pts
4. Timmer (SKS) 1pt
The 16 escapees are less than 1km from the top of the col d’Ey which peaks at the 65.5km mark.
The leaders are climbing the col d’Ey (which peaks at the 65.5km mark). This is a 6.7km long ascent with an average gradient of 4.8 per cent.
The Astana team at the front of the peloton that’s at the 59km mark. It is 9’10" behind the 16 escapees and Garmin is the next team in the line-up up front. Tucked in behind the Garmin boys is the yellow jersey, Alberto Contador.
The offiicial site of the Tour de France (LeTour.fr) has a poll for every stage of the race. Today’s question is: of the five riders at the top of the general classification, who has the best chance to win the stage to Mont Ventoux?
- Alberto Contador
- Andy Schleck
- Lance Armstrong
- Bradley Wiggins
- Andreas Kloden
After almost 5,000 votes, the consensus is that Alberto Contador has the best chance (with 49 per cent of the votes so far).
Roulston (CTT), Garate and Posthuma (RAB), Martin (THR), Riblon (ALM), Kuschynski (LIQ), Geslin (FDJ), Dumoulin (COF), Righi (LAM), Bonnet (BBO), Bouet (AGR), Lemoine and Timmer (SKS), Perez Moreno (EUS), Gutierrez (GCE) and Delage (SIL) are now 8’15" ahead of the peloton.
The conditions are the top of Mont Ventoux are going to make the race even more interesting today. The wind is blowing strongly with gusts of up to 110km/h reported earlier today!
At the 48km mark, the peloton is now 7’45" behind the 16 escapees.
At the intermediate sprint in Les Pilles (48km), the points were won by:
1. Samuel Dumoulin (COF) 6pts
2. Albert Timmer (SKS) 4pts
3. Christophe Riblon (ALM) 2pts
At the 42km mark, the peloton is 7’00" behind the 16 escapees who began their escape at the 3km mark.
Wiggins has just dropped behind the peloton after having another mechanical issue early today. He has the support of several Garmin-Slipstream colleagues as he makes his way back to the bunch.
The leaders have covered 43.3km/h in the first hour of racing today.
The 16 escapees are now 5’30" ahead of the peloton which is at the 36km mark.
Of the 151 riders who finished the Mont Ventoux stage in the 2000 edition of the Tour, six are in the race for today’s 20th stage. They are: Lance Armstrong, Christophe Moreau, Grischa Niermann, George Hincapie, Jose Luis Arrieta and Andreas Klier.
The 16 escapees are now 5’05" ahead of the peloton.
The 12th stage of the 2000 edition was from Carpentras to Mont Ventoux. The top nine years ago was:
1. Marco Pantani (ITA)
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) at same time
3. Joseba Beloki (ESP) 25‚ÄĚ
4. Jan Ullrich (GER) 29‚ÄĚ
5. Santiago Botero (COL) 42‚ÄĚ
6. Roberto Heras (ESP) 42‚ÄĚ
7. Richard Virenque (FRA) 1‚Äô17‚ÄĚ
8. Francisco Mancebo (ESP) 1‚Äô23‚ÄĚ
9. Manuel Beltran (ESP) 1‚Äô29‚ÄĚ
10. Christophe Moreau (FRA) 1‚Äô31‚ÄĚ
Of this selection only Armstrong and Moreau are in the race today.
Christian Vande Velde is the latest rider from the Garmin team to have a mechanical issue. He has punctured his rear tire.
The peloton is at the 28km mark of the 20th stage, 4’30" behind the 16 leaders.
There are now 16 riders in the front of the stage. The chasing trio caught the 13 leaders at the 25km mark. The lead group is now composed of:
- Hayden Roulston (CTT)
- Juan Manuel Garate (RAB)
- Joost Posthuma (RAB)
- Ruben Perez Moreno (EUS)
- Tony Martin (THR)
- Christophe Riblon (ALM)
- Aleksandr Kuschynski (LIQ)
- Mickael Delage (SIL)
- Anthony Geslin (FDJ)
- Samuel Dumoulin (COF)
- Daniele Righi (LAM)
- William Bonnet (BBO)
- Maxime Bouet (AGR)
- Cyril Lemoine (SKS)
- Albert Timmer (SKS)
After a brief consultation with the Garmin team mechanic, Wiggins has returned to the peloton.
Delage, Perez Moreno and Gutierrez are about to catch the 13 leaders. The trio is currently 25" behind Martin’s group.
At the 21km mark, the peloton continues to be led by the Astana team. It is currently 3’40" behind the 13 stage leaders. The three chasers are 32" behind the 13 escapees that began at the 3km mark.
Wiggins has called for the Garmin team car. The British rider is ranked fourth overall after 19 stages, 5’36" behind Contador.
When the Tour last had a stage finish at the top of Mont Ventoux, there was a group of 11 riders in the escape that gained 11 minutes before the foot of the final climb. That was in 2002 and one of the men in the move was Thor Hushovd.
The stage was won by Richard Virenque.
At the top of the climb, the peloton is 2’50" behind the Martin group.
One of the riders who was part of the US Postal team during the 1999 Tour de France, the first of Lance Armstrong‚Äôs overall victories, celebrates his birthday. Pascal Derame is 39 today. He raced for the American team for three years and ‚Äď along with Armstrong, Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Kevin Livingstone, Peter Meinert-Nielsen, Christian Vande Velde and Jonathan Vaughters ‚Äď helped Armstrong win by 7‚Äô37‚Äô‚Äô over Alex Zulle.
The points at the top of the cote de Citelle (14km) were won by:
1. Timmer (SKS) 4pts
2. Kuschynski (LIQ) 3pts
3. Garate (RAB) 2pts
4. Martin (THR) 1pt
The chasing trio was 48" behind at the summit.
Of the 13 in the lead of the stage, the best in the general classification after 19 stages is the former leader of the youth classification, Tony Martin (THR). The peloton is currently 2’40" behind the escapees.
Martin began the stage ranked 40th, 55’39" behind Contador. The leaders are 50" ahead of the three counter-attackers who are now 1km from the top of the first climb.
At the 10km mark, the 13 lead the peloton by 2’10". The counter-attackers have not given up their pursuit but they are 45" behind Garate’s group of 13.
The intermediate sprints for the 20th stage are in Les Pilles (48km) and Mormoiron (138.5km). The stage features five categorized climbs: the cote de Citelle (cat-3 at 14km), col d‚ÄôEy (cat-3 at 65.5km), col de Fontaube (cat-4 at 87km), col des Abeilles (cat-3 at 121.5km) and one of the most feared ascents in cycling, the ‚Äėhors category‚Äô 1,912m ‚ÄėGiant of Provence‚Äô Mont Ventoux for the grand finale.
The first climb of stage 20 is 5.2km long with an average gradient of 3.9 percent. The 13 escapees are currently making their way to the top. They are 1’40" ahead of the peloton (while the three chasers are at 40").
The peloton is being led by the Astana team and is currently 1’15" behind the group containing 13 men: Roulston (CTT), Garate and Posthuma (RAB), Martin (THR), Riblon (ALM), Kuschynski (LIQ), Geslin (FDJ), Dumoulin (COF), Righi (LAM), Bonnet (BBO), Bouet (AGR), Lemoine and Timmer (SKS).
The three counter-attackers are 30" behind the 13 leaders. The peloton appears uninterested in pursuing the early escapees. It is currently 1’00" behind as it passes the six kilometer mark.
Perez Moreno (EUS), Delage (SIL) and Gutierrez (GCE) are currently trying to catch the 13 men who escaped at the 3km mark.
At the 3km mark there is a group of 13 riders in the lead of the 20th stage. They are: Roulston (CTT), Garate and Posthuma (RAB), Martin (THR), Riblon (ALM), Kuschynski (LIQ), Geslin (FDJ), Dumoulin (COF), Righi (LAM), Bonnet (BBO), Bouet (AGR), Lemoine and Timmer (SKS).
The winner of the votes for the most aggressive rider prize ‚Äď aka, ‚ÄėFighting Spirit‚Äô ‚Äď was Leonardo Duque of the Cofidis team. He was part of a 19-man escape group that formed at the 9km mark and, as the Rabobank team intensified the chase of the breakaways, the Colombian rider attacked the front group. He ended the stage in 138th place but will wear a red race number to illustrate that he was the rider that eight judges believed helped to animate the race the most yesterday.
The official start of the 20th stage was at 11.52am. There are 156 riders still in the race; two finished outside the time limit yesterday - Amets Txurrka and Alan Perez Lazaun (EUS).
The Silence-Lotto squad claimed a victory in the 19th stage; with three riders in the top 23 it won the team classification in Aubenas. Greg van Avermaet was fourth, Jurgen van de Broeck 21st and Sebastian Lang 23rd. But the Belgian formation is ranked 13th in the overall rankings for teams. This is led by Astana and all riders from Contador‚Äôs squad will wear yellow race numbers for the 20th stage. Astana is 16‚Äô14‚ÄĚ ahead of Garmin-Slipstream and 23‚Äô45‚ÄĚ ahead of AG2R La Mondiale. Last year‚Äôs winners, Saxo Bank is ranked fourth 24‚Äô32‚ÄĚ behind.
The rider in second overall and the winner of the white jersey of the 95th Tour de France, Andy Schleck (SAX) is in charge of the youth classification. He is 3‚Äô04‚ÄĚ ahead of his nearest rival, Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ) and almost 10 minute clear of the first man to wear the white jersey in 2009, Roman Kreuziger (LIQ). Nicolas Roche (ALM) is now ranked fourth in the Best Young Rider prize, 27‚Äô34‚ÄĚ behind the champion of Luxembourg.
Egoi Martinez (EUS) did make one last bid to gain enough points to win the polka-dot jersey yesterday. He as third at the cote de Culin and col de l‚ÄôEscrinet and gained another 17 points for his tally but it‚Äôs now impossible for him to win the mountains classification unless Franco Pellizotti (LIQ) doesn‚Äôt make it to the finish. Pellizotti is due to become the first Italian King of the Mountains at the Tour de France since Claudio Chiappucci in 1992. There are still considerable points on offer in the 20th stage but not even the double points at the top of Mont Ventoux will enable anyone to surpass Pellizotti‚Äôs collection of points, 196 to Martinez‚Äôs 135. Pierrick Fedrigo is ranked third with 99 points.
The winner of stage 19, Mark Cavendish (THR) reduced his deficit to Thor Hushovd in the points classification with his fifth victory in the 2009 Tour de France. But the Norwegian is still in command of the race for the green jersey. It will take a strange sequence of events to see the Brit overtake the man who has led the sprinters‚Äô category since the end of stage 13. Hushovd‚Äôs tally is now 260 points, while ‚ÄėCav‚Äô has 235 points. With this eighth place in the sprint yesterday, Nicolas Roche (ALM) moved up from sixth to fifth in the points classification. The Irish champion is now four points ahead of last year‚Äôs green jersey winner Oscar Freire (RAB).
Lance Armstrong (AST) and Christophe Le Mevel (FDJ) were the only two riders in the top 10 overall to finish in the front group of 12 riders in the stage to Aubenas yesterday. That means the American and French riders gained a surprise four-second bonus over their rivals. Armstrong, ranked third overall, increased his advantage over Bradley Wiggins (GRM) from 11 to 15 seconds and Le Mevel‚Äôs gain pushed him up to ninth, one place ahead of Mikel Astarloza (EUS) in the general classification. Alberto Contador‚Äôs overall lead was not threatened in the 19th stage. He has a lead over Andy Schleck (SAX) of 4‚Äô11‚ÄĚ and he‚Äôs 5‚Äô21‚ÄĚ ahead of Armstrong after 3,128.5km of racing.
While we wait for the official start, we will review the five prize classifications after 19 stages LeTour.fr. There is a festival atmosphere in Montelimar as the riders roll away from the site of the ’Depart Fictif’. The neutral zone is 5.3km long.
The highly anticipated 20th stage of the 2009 Tour de France - from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux - is scheduled to start at 11.40am. This is the last real test for the favorites for the overall title of the 96th edition of the race. A strong wind is blowing at the top of the mountain and conditions are going to be difficult for the peloton in this 167km stage.
There is a short neutral zone before the riders reach the site of the official start. This is expected to be at around 11.50am.
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.