- The race 2011
- All about the race
There has long been a war of words between André Greipel and Mark Cavendish but it was one largely perpetuated by the media. The ‘Supermanx’ repeatedly says that he doesn’t care about who his rivals are, he just wants to win sprints... but in Carmaux the German giant from Omega Pharma-Lotto not only pushed Cavendish all the way to the line, he beat him. A few days shy of his 29th birthday, Greipel has claimed his maiden victory at the Tour and he did so in a sprint that didn’t include all the specialists in this discipline. Guys like Tyler Farrar, Denis Galimzyanov and Matt Goss lost contact with the first peloton in the closing kilometers that were animated by the leader of the points classification Philippe Gilbert.
There were other escapees in the final kilometers and it was sprint after a battle of attrition... and in the end it was the debutant who opened his account in the race by just half a wheel. In this round at least ‘The Giant’ beat ‘Supermanx’...
The Progress Report
The start of the 158km 10th stage of the 2011 Tour de France – from Aurillac to Carmaux – was at 1.38pm. There were 178 riders at the start with the non-starters Kolobnev (KAT) and Popovych (RSH). There was a hail storm an hour before the start but the storm passed before the race began on dry roads with temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The stage featured four climbs: the cat-3 cote de Figeac (62.5km), cat-4 cote de Loupiac (70.5km), cat-3 cote de Villefranche-de-Rouergue (99.5km), and cote de Mirandol-Bourgnounac (143km). the intermediate sprint was in Maurs at the 37.5km mark.
Attack And Crash...
At 10.5km, five riders were able to gain a slight advantage over the peloton; at 11km there was a crash that caught up Flecha, Cancellara, Leukamans, Leipheimer, Gesink... but they rejoined the bunch by 15km. By then, six men were in the lead – they were: Di Gregorio (AST), Minard (ALM), Vichot (FDJ), El Fares (COF), Marcato (VCD) and Delaplace (SAU). At 26km they led by 40” and, 5km from the sprint, they were 2’40” ahead... that’s when Movistar and Omega Pharma came past the Europcar team to start a lead-out to the intermediate sprint. Vichot grabbed 20 points by leading the escape over the line in Maurs and Cavendish took seventh place at the front of the peloton 2’15” behind the escapees. The maximum gain of the escape was 4’00” at 49.5km. It was the fastest start to a stage in 2011, with the average speed for the opening hour an impressive 51.6km/h. The peloton was led by Europcar from 20km to 35km (when the sprint squads took command of the bunch) and then from 45km to 50km when HTC put Bak and Pate at the front to share the chasing duties with Voeckler’s team.
Marcato led the escape over the first two climbs and the peloton hovered about 3’30” behind. HTC, Katusha and Lampre all had riders at the front of the bunch, shadowed closely by the Europcar team of overall leader Voeckler. The average speed for the second hour was 40.2km/h.
HTC Keeps Escapees Honest...
The HTC team put Bak and Pate on the front early and they stayed there through to the final hour. Ignatiev (KAT), Knees (SKY) and some Lampre riders also did some turns for the pursuit but it was Cav’s team that steadily reeled in the escape: 2’00” at with 54km to go, 1’20” with 40km to go, 50” with 25km to go. On a descent 21km from the finish Marcato increated the tempo up front and Minard followed. Vichot chased this pair down and at 18km to go. The other three were caught 17km from the finish. And eventually the speed of an Omega Pharma-Lotto surge that eliminated Petacchi, Farrar, Galimzyanov and bunch of others from the main caught all escapees before the top of the final climb. Marcato was the last to be caught (at 16km to go).
Gilbert Sets Up The Sprint For Greipel
Gallopin (COF) put in a strong turn in the final kilometer of the last climb and drew four others clear of the peloton with him: Gilbert (OLO), Devenyns (QST), Martin (THR) and Voeckler (EUC). The yellow jersey claimed first place at the top of the final climb and, with 11km to go, the leading quintet was 15” ahead of the peloton that was led by Leopard-Trek. With 7km to go, Gilbert was alone in the lead of the stage and it appeared as though he was going to try and hold off the bunch all the way to the finish. But he was caught 5km from the line. Kadri (ALM) and Ruijgh (VCD) and Izagirre (EUS) all chanced their luck and tested their legs in the finale but all were caught less than 4km from the line. Milar (GRM) was the last to try and foil the sprinters but he too was caught before the descent leading to the line. Going under the ‘Flamme Rouge’ there were two HTC riders at the front but Oss (LIQ) led Cavendish around the final turn. With no one in front of him, Cavendish was forced into a long sprint roughly 400 meters from the line and although he opened up a solid advantage over the rest of the bunch, his former team-mate André Greipel never conceded. The German overtook the winner of 17 stages in the final 50 meters and claimed his first Tour de France stage win by about a wheel.
It is Omega Pharma-Lotto’s second stage win in the 2011 Tour. Greipel’s team-mate Gilbert continues to lead the points classification (finishing 14th in the stage); Hoogerland keeps his polka-dot jersey and Voeckler finished 36th with the same time as the winner. The Frenchman will wear the yellow jersey in stage 12.
Stage 10 gave Thomas Voeckler a reminder of what it’s like to lead the Tour de France. He found himself in a lead group of five in the finale and, to him, that’s only natural – as he’s an attacking rider.
"It was an escape that was an escape royale for us, it suited us perfectly. No one in the breakaway was within a quarter of an hour of the overall lead. And so we hardly needed to work in the peloton. We needed to be alert and roll through when we had to but we didn’t have to sit up the front all day.
“As for my emotions, it’s true that the yellow jersey creates a lot of tentions – especially on the first day you wear it but it’s also really fun.
“At the end of the stage I was ahead because I rode the way I normally do. It’s not surprising to see myself and Philippe Gilbert on the front because we both have an aggressive temperament and that’s how we race. He is going a notch better than I am but we are attackers. And there is no reason to respect all traditions – rather than let four guys who were just with me gain an advantage, I went with them. But then I didn’t have the legs to do any more. I certainly spent a lot of energy the other day.
“For the next day days... well, you can’t look too far into the future but tomorrow I expec that the scenario could be similar to what it was like today. That would be ideal... so we’ll wait and see."
Omega Pharma-Lotto might only have six left from the original roster of nine in the Tour de France but the team keeps on animating the race. In stage 10, Philippe Gilbert found himself thinking about the stage win himself but eventually he helped his German mate get what he really wanted...!
"This victory [by Greipel] is a victory for the team. We only have six from our team left in the race, but we are still capable of doing good things. We planned to make the race hard on the final ascent. It was not very steep, but we really climbed it quickly. Then I continued to ride at the front... then therew were only five of us, and I tried and thought I might be able to win the stage.
“When I found myself alone, it wasn’t necessarily because I attacked, it just that the others didn’t follow me!
“In the end, it became very difficult because there was still a climb near the finish and I could not hold on to my advantage. I went back in the peloton, and immediatley took the wheel of Greipel so no other sprinter could get in his wake. Finally he managed to win, it is very beautiful. He really wanted this win! "
There was a crash early in stage 10 and Robert Gesink was one of the riders to be caught behind the fallen riders. Importantly, he didn’t hit the ground. The Dutchman is happy to get to the finish and he’ll be even more happy once the race reaches the Pyrenees in two days...
“I had some bad times a few days ago but I’ve ridden through them and now it’s enjoyable to feel as though that is behind me. There was an early crash and I was caught behind it but I myself was not on the ground. That happens some times when we’re all riding so close to each other. That’s part of cycling.
“Today I felt a little better than I was the other day. There were a few little climbs on the road today and I had good sensations.
“At this moment I’m happy in white. It’s a nice jersey to wear. Of course it gets more important after we’ve had some mountains and I’m looking forward to the mountains – I think a lot of climbers are. We want to see how good we really are and get the chance to test ourselves. For me it’s the same, this was day that we just had to get through and we’ve done that. Good. There were no big problems and I’m feeling better and better.
“Now I’m pretty happy. After the crash I was feeling bad for a few days. You can never say how things are going to develop but now I’m thinking very positive thoughts about the next few days.”
The scars of his crash are going to last a lot longer than his time in the Tour de France but Johnny Hoogerland maintains a positive outlook on life and the race he’s dreamed of being a part of... and he continues to lead the climbing classification.
“Luckily I was not in the crash early today. I was able to put myself in the middle of a good group and although it was a heavy day, I got a lot of support from other cyclists and a lot of encouragement from the crowd, and especially great help from my team-mates – so thanks to all who helped me today.
“I think that surviving the stage today was largely mental strength.
“Today I felt better on the bike than I felt in bed or walking. It was a lot of adrenaline that got me through the day, I think.
“The only time that I really thought about stopping the Tour de France was during the two seconds that I was flying through the air... and then my thought was, ‘Oh! My God!’ But then, when I was lying there and I could move, my only thought was to get back up.
“It’s horrible to go through something like that. It’s been a dream of mine for 15 years to be in the Tour de France and then, when I get that chance, I take the mountains jersey, I was riding for a stage victory and then something like this happens. Watching the footage makes me very emotional.
“It’s the goal for the team to be in the front every day. It was perfect for Marco Marcato to be in the escape today and take the points that could have gone to others.”
Just making it to the start of the Tour was considered a victory, according to André Greipel. The German who turns 29 in a few days time, celebrated a win in his debut – and he did so by outsprinting his former team-mate Mark Cavendish.
“When I crossed the line I was just really happy. It was the biggest moment in my cycling career and it’s a special day.
“It was a big success for me just to be able to take part in this race. I’m really happy to have found a team that I could ride for in the Tour de France. Of course I had my own ambitions here and I tried to win a stage and now I’ve managed that. I wanted to show myself and prove that I can be competitive in this race. I’m really happy to do that.
“Of course it was always a hard decision that the sport directors [at my old team] had to make about selection and the success of Mark Cavendish is incredible – he’s won 17 stage of the Tour de France – and this sort of record gave the sport directors and him the right to make the selection. That’s why it’s been hard for me in the past to get in to do this race. I’m grateful to Omega Pharma-Lotto for giving me a chance and I’m happy that I could win for this team.”
The German sprinter André Greipel has taken on Cavendish and won! The top 10 in stage 10 is: 1. André Greipel (GER) OLO - 158km in 3h31’21" 2. Mark Cavendish (GBR) THR 3. José Joaquin Rojas (ESP) MOV 4. Thor Hushovd (NOR) GRM 5. Romain Fellu (FRA) VCD 6. Daniel Oss (ITA) LIQ 7. Sebastien Hinault (FRA) ALM 8. Borut Bozic (SLO) VCD 9. Geraint Thomas (GBR) SKY 10. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) COF
André Greipel has beaten his former team-mate by the length of a wheel. It’s the German’s first stage win in the Tour de France.
Greipel believes he’s beaten Cavendish in the sprint...
Cavendish is second around the second-last turn. Oss is leading it out and the sprint is about to start...
Millar has been caught and there are now two HTC riders at the front inside the final kilometer.