The top 10 in stage 15 is: 1. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) BTL - 187.5km in 4h44’51" 2. Alessandro Ballan (ITA) BMC at 1’20" 3. Aitor Perez Arrieta (ESP) FOT at 1’20" 4. Lloyd Mondory (FRA) ALM at 2’50" 5. Luke Roberts (AUS) MRM at 2’50" 6. Francisco Reda (ITA) QST at 2’50" 7. Alberto Contador (ESP) AST at 2’50" 8. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 2’50" 9. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB at 2’50" 10. Brian Vandborg (DEN) LIQ at 2’50" ...12. Andy Schleck (LUX) SAX ... at 3’29"
The provisional general classification standings has Contador ahead of Schleck by eight seconds.
Andy Schleck has lost his yellow jersey to Contador... and it’s essentially because of the power of his attack. Had he not put so much power into the pedals it’s possible his chain would have stayed on and he may well have finished ahead of Contador and gained time. As it is, he’s lost over 31" to last year’s champion who is the new leader of the general classification.
Start the stopwatch...! Contador has arrived at the finish... now we await the arrival of Schleck...
Contador is with Menchov, Sanchez, Roberts and Reda they are less than 2km from finish.
Voeckler is enjoying the fruits of his labor. He has won a memorable stage of the Tour by attacking at the 90km mark, spending almost 100km ahead of the peloton... and kissing his French champion’s jersey as he crosses the line.
With 5km to go, there is 34" between Contador and Schleck. At this stage of the race, Contador is the virtual leader of the Tour de France (again).
The stage is going to be won by Voeckler who has survived the descent although he almost overshot a right turn in the closing kilometers of the downhill. But the question is: can Schleck get to withing 31" of Contador who was 28" ahead at the last check. Contador is within the final 5km, 3’30" behind Voeckler.
Voeckler could become the first French champion to win a stage of the Tour de France since Jacky Durand in 1994.
Voeckler appears destined to win his second stage. He is inside the final 5km and has a lead of over a minute.
As he passes under the 10km to go sign, Schleck is 28" behind Contador’s group.
There are five men with the rider in second overall: Contador, Menchov, Sanchez, Roberts and Reda.
Ballan is with Perez Arrieta with 10km to go. This pair is 1’25" behind Voeckler who may become the first French champion to win a stage in a long time...
Voeckler appears certain to win the stage. He is inside the final 10km and has a lead of 4’20" on the yellow jersey.
Schleck lost about 40" with his chain problem around the 3km to climb mark, he is now 24" behind Contador who attacked the Luxembourger when he was trying to fix his bike...
Contador has just sped around Menchov and is now in pursuit of Sanchez who is attacking the descent like his life depends on it... they are 22" ahead of Schleck and VDB.
At the top of the climb there was 27" between Contador and Schleck... the yellow jersey is now with Van Den Broeck but Contador is not yet in sight of the yellow jersey who is riding with Sanchez setting the pace and Menchov following...
Port De Bales points... 1. Voeckler (BTL) 40pts 2. Perez Arrieta (FOT) 36pts – at 1’30” 3. Ballan (BMC) 32pts 4. Vansummeren (GRM) 28pts 5. Vandborg (LIQ) 22pts at 2’25” 6. Mondory (ALM) 18pts at 3’35” 7. Ivanov (KAT) 16pts 3’35” 8. Contador (AST) 14pts at 4’15” 9. Menchov (RAB) 12pts 10. Roberts (MRM) 10pts
Contador, Menchov and Sanchez are at the top of the climb in 8th, 9th and 10th place. They are 27" ahead of Schleck.
Schleck is remaining relatively calm - considering the situation - he is with Rodriguez and trying to reel in Contador who is now out of the saddle and thriving on the misfortune of the Luxembourger.
Schleck is speeding past Armstrong, Kloden and others as he tries to bridge the gap to Contador who is riding with Menchov and Sanchez...
The attack was effective but his equipment wasn’t... Schleck now needs to catch the surge by Contador and Sanchez.
Schleck has attacked Contador and then he dropped his chain. Contador is seizing the moment and he is flying ahead.
Voeckler is near the top of the final climb. He is about 500m to go before starting the descent to Bagnere-de-Luchon.
Gadret has made a better effort this time. He has been able to put ground between him and the yellow jersey and his posse who are not interested in chasing the Frenchman.
Gadret has attacked the yellow jersey’s group and he was followed by Leipheimer first and then the rest of the group including Andy Schleck.
There are a number of riders closing in on the yellow jersey’s group... including Armstrong, Gesink, Leipheimer, Rodriguez, Sastre, Kloden...
Samuel Sanchez has moved to the front of the yellow jersey’s group with 25km to go. They are 5’25" behind Voeckler.
Schleck has not been able to drop Contador but he is taking responsibility for the pace setting of his group of five - Schleck, Contador, Van den Broeck, and Menchov.
Schleck has attacked Contador et al, but he has been matched by Sanchez (EUS), Menchov, Van Den Broeck (OLO) and the winner from last year.
With 25km to go, Voeckler leads...
Ballan by 55"
Vansummeren and Perez Arrieta by 1’20"
Vandborg by 1’35"...
With 25km to go, Ballan is 55" behind Voeckler.
Voeckler’s advantage over Ballan is 40". The yellow jersey’s group contains 37 riders with the last position held down by Cadel Evans...
Voeckler is determined to crest the Port de Bales in the lead. He attacked the other escapees about 10km from the top and although we don’t have an official time check, he is well ahead of Ballan at the moment. If the French champion can hang on, he will earn France its fifth stage win of the Tour this year. He is currently 5’55" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The pace of Sorensen is sending riders out the back of the yellow jersey pack but, for the moment, Lance Armstrong is still in the mix with about 30 other riders...
At the back of the yellow jersey’s peloton are Evans (BMC) and Sastre (CTT). The are still in this group that’s still led by Sorensen... but it is thinning out fast.
That’s the end of the effort from Fuglsang... now it’s Chris Anker Sorensen setting the pace for Andy at the front of the peloton. Right on the wheel of the yellow jersey are four riders from the Astana team and VDB of the Omega Pharma-Lotto squad.
Wiggins and Rogers are the most recent casualties of the pace that’s being set by Fuglsang at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
Roche has recently punctured his front tire. He has a new wheel and is now racing to try and rejoin the bunch that is led by three Saxo Bankers including Andy.
Of the 10 who escaped the peloton at the 93km mark, only two had previously won a stage of the Tour. Voeckler (BTL) is one of them and he’s dancing up the climb now and has about 5km to climb. He has a lead of over half a minute on the next-best rider Ballan (BMC).
Voeckler leads Ballan by 10", Vansummeren by 15", Perez Arrieta by 20", Vandborg by 30", Ivanov by 45"... and the peloton by 6’10".
There are two riders leading the chase of the French champion. Ballan and Vansummeren are in 2nd and 3rd place in the stage...
Voeckler has attacked the lead group with 8km to go. He is 6’40" ahead of the peloton which has just dropped Cunego...
There are five men in the front group now. Ivanov attacked with 10km to climb. He has been caught by Voeckler, Vansummeren, Vandborg, Perez Arrietta and Ballan. They are 50" ahead of Roberts, Reda and Mondory.
The 10 escapees represent nine teams. Here’s a reminder who is in the lead... Vandborg (LIQ), Van Summeren (GRM), Ivanov (KAT), Mondory (ALM), Ballan (BMC), Reda (QST), Roberts (MRM) – who started the move – Voeckler and Turgot (BTL) and Perez Arrieta (FOT). And just as this was typed, Vansummeren surged and a number have been dropped from the lead group.
The peloton is speeding along at a rapid tempo and riders are being spat out the back on a regular basis now. Another dropped rider is Fedrigo who has recently punctured. The bunch is 8’00" behind the 10 escapees who are about 32km from the finish (ie. 10km from the top of the Port de Bales).
Voigt has taken over from O’Grady at the front of the bunch. Behind the German Saxo Bank rider is Matti Breschel...
The Saxo Bank team is driving the peloton which is now 8’35" behind the 10 escapees. Right behind the yellow jersey’s squad are riders from Astana, followed by men from Rabobank.
All three of the riders involved in the accident are riding again.
Petacchi (LAM), McEwen (KAT), Boasson Hagen, Thomas (SKY) and yesterday’s winner Riblon (ALM) - plus a number of others - have been dropped by the peloton early on the Port de Bales.
The third crash victim has just stood up. Lancaster, Mayoz and Geslin are all being treated by the race’s medical staff.
Lancaster and Mayoz are standing again after their crash but Geslin is still lying on the road as the doctors arrive to tend to the injuries...
Iban Mayoz, Brett Lancaster and Anthony Geslin have been caught in a fall at the back of the peloton.
“As regards the fight for the title, I am not sure whether this descent could be decisive," Ledanois said, concluding his discussion with LeTour.fr earlier today. "Contador does descent a little better than Schleck, but I remember after the Col de la Madeleine, Alberto failed to put any time into Andy.”
The maximum gain of the 10 escapees (who broke free at 93km) was 10’45" at the site of the second intermediate sprint (136km). The peloton has recently picked up the pace a little and it is now 10’15" behind Vansummeren’s group.
“We must not believe that Luis Leon is 10 times better on the descents than Contador," Ledanois of Caisse d’Epargne told LeTour.fr earlier today. "He cannot take him a minute or a minute and a half. And this is a chance for him to take time in the general classification but he must be realistic. Of course, he could gain one or two places, but before going down, he must climb. And no one can say that Luis can follow Leipheimer, for example. Yesterday, he was behind!”
Caisse d’Epargne’s directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois spoke with LeTour.fr earlier today about the chances of an attack in the finale by the master of descending, Luis Leon Sanchez. “It will decide the race. If he wants to chase the stage win, it is necessary to follow the leaders. And it is not yet known if Schleck and Contador will attack, if other riders will go on the offensive... It is certain that hope must be over the top [of the Port de Bales] with the best."
The escapees are on the early slopes of the third ’Hors Category’ col of the 2010 Tour de France. This has only been a feature of the Tour once before - in 2007 when Kim Kirchen led an escape of 25 riders over the top. He did so on the day that Alexandre Vinokourov "won" his second stage of that edition, in the stage from Foix to Loudenveille.
As the lead group begins its ascent of the Port de Bales (a 19.3km climb that peaks 21.5km from the finish) it is 10’50" ahead of the peloton.
One of the 10 in the lead is Johan Vansummeren (GRM). This is the Belgian’s sixth successive Tour de France and his best ever stage placing was seventh - which he netted in stage three this year. He has 10 victories since turning pro after finishing second in the road race for under-23 riders at the 2003 world championships. Another significant results was his fifth place in last year’s Paris-Roubaix.
The tallest starter of the 2010 Tour was Stijn Vandenbergh but as the Katusha rider abandoned in the first week, Johan van Summeren takes over that tag. If the Belgian (who is the best of the 10 escapees on GC) wins the stage, he will be the tallest winner of a mountain stage of the Tour since Eros Poli claimed a victory in Carpentras in 1994 after leading over Mont Ventoux.
The 10 escapees are 50km from the finish of the 15th stage. They are 10 minutes ahead of the peloton.
The points for the sprint in Fronsac (136km) were won by: 1. Sebastien Turgot (BTL) 6pts 2. Lloyd Mondory (ALM) 4pts 3. Serguei Ivanov (KAT) 2pts
At the top of the third climb, the peloton is 10’00" behind the 10 escapees.
The only time that the Port de Bales (which the peloton is currently climbing and the escapees are descending) featured in the Tour before today was in 2007. The winner of the 10 points at the top three years ago was Kim Kirchen. In the escape that day was Kirchen’s current team-mate Serguei Ivanov who was part of a 25-man move on the road between Foix and Loudenveille.
The 10 escapees are 5km from the sprint in Fronsac. They are 9’30" ahead of the peloton.
LeTour.fr spoke to the sports director of Euskaltel-Eukadi earlier today to get an update on the ambitions of his team: "Samuel [Sanchez] and the team are motivated,” said Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. “His position in the GC gives us opportunities and today, the podium is our clear objective. It would be wonderful it is still in the top three in Paris. It would be a great success for our team. But we are humble, we know what it would mean to be in the top three at the Tour.”
The 10 escapees are over the top of the col des Ares. The points were won by: 1. Voeckler (BTL) 10pts 2. Turgot (BTL) 9pts 3. Vandborg (LIQ) 8pts 4. Van Summeren (GRM) 7pts 5. Ivanov (KAT) 6pts 6. Reda (QST) 5pts
The 10 leaders are in the final kilometer of the category-two Col des Ares. They are 9’25" ahead of the peloton that’s being led by five riders of the Saxo Bank team.
The rider who finished fourth in the Luxembourg championships on the Sunday before the Tour, Laurent Didier, turns 26 today. He is a member of the Saxo Bank team and he finished 33rd overall in the Giro d’Italia this May.
Today is the 46th birthday of the only Brazilian to have won a stage of the Tour de France, Mauro Ribeiro. He was a member of the RMO team in 1991 when he beat Laurent Jalabert and Dmitri Konyshev in stage nine in Rennes.
Jurgen van den Broeck has recently had a flat front tire. He has a new wheel and is now being supported back to the peloton by one Omega Pharma team-mate.
The 10 escapees - Vandborg (LIQ), Van Summeren (GRM), Ivanov (KAT), Mondory (ALM), Ballan (BMC), Reda (QST), Roberts (MRM) – who started the move – Voeckler and Turgot (BTL) and Perez Arrieta (FOT) - are now 9’10" ahead of the peloton.
The 10 escapees have begun climbing the col des Ares at 6.1km long ascent with an average gradient of 4.7 per cent. They are 8’45" ahead of the peloton that continues to be led by Saxo Bank riders.
“Possibly because the guy can really climb and he’s good on the descent. We’ll have to keep an eye on a couple of riders and he’s one of them,” McGee told LeTour about Samuel Sanchez today. Next question: was it a bit strange to see Contador attack only twice yesterday? “Yeah, I didn’t really understand their tactics early on in stage 14. They went so hard from so far out effectively for nothing. We’ve got to pay attention to their tactics but we’ve also got to stick with our plans."
Q. Andy had a game plan yesterday, can you tell us what that was exactly? A. “It was exactly what you saw, he had to follow Alberto.” Q. Is it going to come down to gaining time on the descent today? A. “We’ve had look at the profile and we know that there’s not a lot of difference between the big players – Contador and Andy – and it’s not worth them taking so much of a risk on the downhill that they could put time into one another.”
LeTour.fr contadred Bradley McGee before the stage today and asked: is it all going to come down to the time trial? “There’s still a long way to go," said the Saxo Bank directeur sportif. "We’ve got at least five big climbs before the time trial. At one moment or another, I think Andy will be able to put in a big one. It won’t necessarily be the knock-out blow but we’ve got to plug away and try and gain time here and there along the way.”
There have been instances when the peloton stopped at the memorial for the 1992 Olympic champion during a stage of the Tour but it hasn’t happened today. The bunch is now at the 110km mark, 8’00" behind the 10 escapees.
O’Grady is still at the head of the peloton as it nears the Casartelli memorial (at 109km). The bunch is being cautious this descent and the yellow jersey is in third position grabbing a fist full of brake on each turn...
At the top of the Portet d’Aspect, the peloton is 7’40" behind the 10 escapees.
Earlier on the Portet d’Aspet, Cavendish (THR) had a mechanical issue and he lost a bit of time to the peloton. The bunch is cruising up the second ascent and the sprinter easily chased it down.
Ivanov is one of two riders in the lead to have won a stage of the Tour before. We reported earlier that he claimed a victory in stage 14 last year (in Besancon) but he also won the stage to Aix-les-Bains in 2002 when he had been in an escape with Brad McGee (who is the DS driving the Saxo Bank team car today).
The points for the second climb of the stage (at the 105km) mark were won by: 1. Voeckler (BTL) 10pts 2. Turgot (BTL) 9pts 3. Mondory (ALM) 8pts 4. Vandborg (LIQ) 7pts 5. Perez Arrieta (FOT) 6pts 6. Ivanov (KAT) 5pts
At the front of the peloton we can see the polka-dot jersey (Charteau), the Spanish national champion (Gutierrez), the three-time winner of the green jersey (McEwen), the second Australian to wear the yellow jersey (O’Grady)... and the seven-time Tour champion (Armstrong). Will the Texan stop on the side of the road at the 109km mark to pay respect to his former team-mate Fabio Casartelli...? We’ll know the answer shortly.
Robbie McEwen has been suffering through the 2010 Tour. He’s crashed more times than he wants to remember and although he sprinted to a few top five positions, he is usually one of the first to lose contact with the peloton on the climbs. Today he’s in the front row as the bunch makes its way up the Portet d’Aspet. The latest time check has his group 6’10" behind the 10 escapees.
The peloton is at the 100km mark and 5’40" behind the escape that’s being led by Alessandro Ballan (BMC). The leaders are within the final 2km of the Portet d’Aspet.
The Spaniard in the escape group is Aitor Perez Arrieta. He is from the Footon-Servetto team (not Euskaltel as reported in an earlier newsflash - sorry for any confusion caused).
Of the 10 in the lead of stage 15, only two have previously won a stage of the Tour de France.
Thomas Voeckler won stage five to Perpignan last year.
Serguei Ivanov won stage 14 to Besancon last year.
Of the 10 in the lead of stage 15, the best on general classification is Johan van Summeren of the Garmin-Transitions team. He is 31st overall, 29’27" behind Andy Schleck.
The peloton is being led by BMC’s Burghardt as it starts to climb the Portet d’Aspet. Robbie McEwen has also positioned himself up front of the bunch for this category-two pass...
The 10 escapees have begun the ascent of the second climb today, the 5.8km long ascent of the Portet d’Aspet. This is ranked category-two and the top is at 105km. The latest check has the Ballan group 4’10" ahead of the peloton.
The 10 escapees are now 2’50" ahead of the peloton that is currently being led by two from the RadioShack team.
The pace has been fast all day with the second hour average speed 47.3km/h. The average for the first two hours: 47.4km/h.
There are now 10 stage leaders. The move started at the 93km mark and the latest time check has the breakaway 2’20" ahead. Here is a reminder of the guys who finally established the the elusive escape:
Van Summeren (GRM)
Perez Arrieta (EUS)
The BMC team is down to seven riders as Mauro Santambrogio has just abandoned the Tour de France.
The peloton is now being paced by riders from the Saxo Bank and Omega Pharma teams. It is 1’40" behind the seven who escaped at the 93km mark.
There are seven men ahead of three counter-attackers. The lead group is composed of:
Perez Arrieta (EUS) The chasing group is:
Brian Vandborg (LIQ) and Luke Roberts (MRM) are at the front of the stage. They are being pursued by five others...
There are a number of riders trying to establish an escape again while the bunch is led by RadioShack 1km from the feedzone (91km).
The Tour has raced over the Portet d’Aspect eight times since the crash of Casartelli in 1995. The leaders over this category-two ascent in recent years have been: 1997 – Laurent Brochard (FRA) 1998 – Alberto Elli (ITA) 2001 – Laurent Roux (FRA) 2002 – Laurent Jalabert (FRA) 2003 – Richard Virenque (FRA) 2004 – Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) 2005 – Erik Dekker (NED) 2007 – Laurent Lefevre (FRA)
The latest escape has been reeled in at the 84km mark. No breakaway has gained more than 20" on the peloton today.
There is a group of escapees with a lead of 19" on the peloton. We await confirmation of the size and composition of this breakaway...
Lance Armstrong is the only rider who was in the race on the day that Fabio Casartelli died in 1995.
The peloton will pass a memorial to the 1992 Olympic champion Fabio Casartelli during the stage today. The Italian died after crashing on the descent of the Portet d’Aspet during the 1995 Tour de France. The Tour will never forget such a tragedy and today the bunch will pass the memorial at the 105km mark.
Finally and escape group seems like it might succeed. There are 23 riders in the move at the 79km mark.
The peloton is already passed St-Girons but it is not allowing an wannabe escapist to gain any advantage. None of the attacks today have stuck. The latest news from Radio Tour is that Michael Rogers has a flat tire and that Nicolas Vogondy (BTL) is trying to break free...
Elmiger is back in the peloton which is now at the 72km mark.
The stage is led by one rider who is being hunted down by a group of counter-attackers. Elmiger is the rider at the front but the other chasers have already been caught (before this newsflash could be posted).
The four has become one... Martin Elmiger (ALM) is the only rider able to gain more than 10" on the peloton today. At the 68km mark, the Swiss champion is 15" ahead.
Team Sky is at the front of the peloton which is in pursuit of four riders who are on the attack and 15" ahead.
The little rhyme we’ve heard from Sebastien Piquet of Radio Tour often throughout this Tour has been repeated again: "RadioShack, at the back of the pack." It’s a way of telling the team car - which is slotted into sixth place in the convoy today, based on the best rider from the team on GC (Leipheimer) - to come forward to see a rider who has raised an arm for service...
The 15 escapees have been reeled in... peloton together (again).
There are 15 riders with a slight advantage at the 61km mark - included in this group are the green and polka-dot jerseys.
There has been another flurry of action at the front of the bunch but the latest escape attempt has also been chased down. The peloton is all together at the 60km mark.
The eighth stage of the 2009 Tour de France was from Andorra to St-Girons (at the 71km mark of today’s stage). Luis Leon Sanchez took the victory after being particularly aggressive on the descent from the col d’Agnes a pass that peaked 44km from the finish. He was part of an escape that included Sandy Casar (who finished second… again). Sanchez’s victory came on the day that team-mate – and 2006 Tour champion – Oscar Pereiro abandoned the Tour last year.
No escape has gained any advantage on the peloton yet. The bunch is still all together at 57km.
At the first climb of the day, Hushovd and Petacchi claimed second and third place. And then, at the first intermediate sprint, Jerome Pineau took third place... could it be that the climbers and sprinters mis-read the road book this morning.
The Lampre team led the peloton to the sprint line in Clermont at the 55km mark. The points were won by: 1. Jeremy Hunt (CTT) 6pts 2. Christian Knees (MRM) 4pts 3. Jerome Pineau (QST) 2pts
The peloton is winding up the speed as it approaches the first intermediate sprint of stage 15. Alessandro Petacchi is determined to increase his two-points advantage on Hushovd...
The Lampre team is at the front of the peloton as it approaches the intermediate sprint at the 55km mark.
We can expect to see Petacchi, Hushovd and Cavendish lining up for the intermediate sprint in Clermont but one of the lead-out men for the Brit has just copped a flat front tire. Monfort has been serviced by his team car.
The peloton is likely to reach the intermediate sprint at the 55km mark all together. Points for the green jersey will be awarded in Clermont.
The peloton is still all together after the first hour of racing. The average speed for the first hour is 47.5km/h.
As the escape group that formed on Port d’Envalira in the opening hour stage eight in 2009, it was clear that Hushovd wanted to add points to his tally in the green jersey competition. He achieved just that by leading Hincapie and Flecha to the sprint at the 67km mark. It would prove pivotal as the Norwegian eventually won his second green jersey by just 10 points (over Cavendish).
Today’s stage passes through St-Girons at the 71km mark of today’s stage. This town was the site of the finish of stage eight in the 2009 Tour. A year ago, Cadel Evans attacked on the opening climb of the stage from Andorra and put himself in a lead group that also included Hushovd and Cancellara who argued with the Australian GC rider, trying to get him to return to the peloton and cease his effort in the escape. Evans didn’t respond to their urges and kept on riding... (Story continues...)
The peloton is still all together at the 40km mark. It seems that the sprinters’ teams are going to try and keep the race together at least until the first intermediate sprint - at Clermont (55km).
It could be that the opening hour of stage 15 is the fastest of the 2010 Tour. The bunch is currently at the 37km mark and moving along at an extremely rapid pace.
We won’t give the names of the escapees from kilometer 30... but they have already been caught by the peloton. Stayed tuned to see if any breakaway will be allowed to gain some time.
There are 18 riders ahead of the peloton which continues to speed along early in the 15th stage. Stay tuned for the names of the escapees... if they succeed.
The points for the CLIMB - not a sprint - at the 30km mark were won by: 1. Fedrigo (BTL) 3pts 2. Hushovd (CTT) 2pts 3. Petacchi (LAM) 1pt
The peloton is at the 28km mark and not allowing any move to gain an advantage.
The peloton is speeding along early today. No escapees are being allowed any leeway. The riders are particularly attentive to who is trying to gain an advantage.
The split in the bunch is void. The Saxo Bank team has reeled in the cheeky move by Astana at the 26km mark.
Contador is at the front of the first peloton at the moment, along with several of his Astana team-mates. They are 10" ahead at the 25km mark. And, lo, Saxo Bank is now at the front of the second peloton... which is closing in fast on the move by the rider in second place overall...
There is 10" between the first and second peloton at the 22km mark.
The bunch has split into two distinct groups. Petacchi is in the front one while the yellow jersey and Gesink (in white) are in the second group.
There are seven riders in an escape group that formed at the 21km mark. We await the names of those involved...
The peloton is still all together as it reaches the 19km mark of stage 15.
Another rider who is struggling to maintain his place in the peloton early today is Robbie McEwen (KAT).
The peloton is being a bit more selective about who is allowed in the escape today. Everything that’s moved forward has been chased down.
The speed early in stage 15 is very fast. There are five men trying to breakaway... in pursuit of this quintet is Anthony Charteau (BTL).
Tankink (RAB) and another (un-named) rider have been dropped by the bunch early today.
Vansummeren (GRM) has also retreated to the peloton. He was away for just 4km and the bunch is all together again at the 10km mark.
Maaskant (GRM) has punctured his rear tire while up ahead, his team-mate Vansummeren - together with Pineau (QST) - are trying to gain an advantage on the peloton. Bbox is at the front of the bunch and clearly trying to put someone in the move... They get their desired effect: pulling back Pineau so that he doesn’t gain more points in the climbing classification and spoil Charteau’s time in the polka-dot jersey.
The two riders in the lead are Jerome Pineau (QST) and Johan Vansummeren (GRM). They are 10" ahead of the peloton.
There are two men on the attack at the 6km mark. They are just ahead of the bunch and we await their names from Radio Tour...
The start today is in Pamiers which has hosted a stage of the Ronde de L’Isard, an race for under-23 riders. In 2006 the stage to Pamiers was won by Ignatas Konovalovas who is riding the Tour for the first time this year. The Lithuanian is part of the Cervelo TestTeam now, and has won a TT stage of the Giro. He is currently ranked 155th overall.
The escape by Brutt (KAT) has lasted just 2km. He’s back in the bunch now.
Although the winner of the race is yet to be determined, it seems almost certain that Andy Schleck is going to become the second rider in Tour history to win the youth classification for a third time. The Luxembourger essentially has to finish the race to ensure that he stands on the podium in Paris with the white jersey (again). His lead over Robert Gesink (RAB) is 4’27” while Kreuziger slipped further behind – but retains his third place, 7’11” behind the Saxo Bank team leader.
There is one rider ahead of the peloton. Pavel Brutt - who was on the attack yesterday - is currently trying to gain an advantage on a fast-moving bunch.
The peloton is at the 1km mark and there have already been a "few attempts" by riders to escape the peloton. No one has yet succeeded.
Anthony Charteau was able to increase his advantage over the only other rider to have worn the polka-dot jersey in the 2010 Tour. The Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider was 7th over the penultimate climb of stage 14, taking eight points for his efforts on a day that Jerome Pineau simply couldn’t follow the leaders on the Port de Pailheres. Andy Schleck, the leader of the general classification has moved up to third after reaching the top of the final climb in seventh place.
The official start of the 15th stage was at 12.23pm. There are 175 riders still in the race with no one quitting overnight...
With the Tour in the Pyrenees there was little chance for the sprinters to alter the order of the race for the green jersey. Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) remains the leader of the points classification with an advantage of just two points over Thor Hushovd (CTT). They have 187 and 185 points, respectively, while Mark Cavendish remains third with 162 points. The Italian from the Lampre team believes this jersey could be decided on the final sprint of the final day.
The was a little gain for the rider in third place overall in the 14th stage, with Samuel Sanchez (EUS) gaining 14 seconds on the two men ahead of him in the general classifcation, Andy Schleck (SAX) and Alberto Contador (AST). Otherwise we saw a few who were in the top 10 drop down a place or two – Leipheimer (RSH), for example, dropped from 6th to 7th after losing 45 seconds to Contador and Schleck. Roman Kreuziger also slipped down the rankings from 10th to 12th.
The bunch is on its way to the site of the official start. We’ll publish a review of the various prize classifications while the riders make their way through the neutral zone.
The peloton will roll through a 3km neutral zone before receiving starting orders from Christian Prudhomme. This is expected to be at around 12.20pm.
The course from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon features two intermediate sprints – in Clermont (55km) and Fronsac (136km) – and four categorized climbs: the Carla-Bayle (cat-4 at 30km), col de Portet d’Aspet (cat-2 at 105km), the col des Ares (cat-2 at 126.5km) and the ‘Hors Category’ Port de Bales (166km).
The second stage in the Pyrenees of the 2010 Tour de France is due to begin at 12.15pm. The weather is perfect for a good race with blue skies and bright sunshine at the start in Pamiers in the Ariege department. The peloton faces a 187.5km course to Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Haute-Garonne. There are four climbs, including the third ’Hors Category’ col of the 97th Tour, the Port de Bales (21.5km from the finish). Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.