- The race 2011
- All about the race
He finished second to the world champion in the rain of stage 16 but when the Tour de France returned to Italy, it was Edvald Boasson Hagen who achieved another coup for Norway. The young rider attacked the final ascent and used it as his launch pad for a winning surge that allowed him to finish 40 seconds ahead of the best of his former escape companions, Bauke Mollema. It would be Sky’s second stage win in the 2011 race and Norway’s fourth with the runner-up in Gap, the winner in Pinerolo.
At the end of the 179km stage, Alberto Contador again danced on the pedals to animate the race and prompt reactions from all the other GC specialists. Amongst them is Thomas Voeckler who, despite several close calls on the frantic descent, was able to finish within 27 seconds of the defending Tour champion who worked hard to gain time on his rivals but ultimately failed despite a strong collaboration with the rider who is now fifth overall, Samuel Sanchez.
The Progress Report
The 179km stage from Gap to Pinerolo in Italy began at 12.36pm with 170 riders still in the race. The stage featured five climbs: the cote de Sainte-Marguerite (cat-3 at 71.5km), Montée de Briançon (cat-3 at 85.5km), col de Montgenèvre (cat-2 at 96.5km), Sestrières in Italy (cat-1 at 117km) and the final rise of the ’Salita’ Pramartino (cat-2 only eight kilometers from the finish). The intermediate sprint was in Villar-Saint-Pancrace at 81.5km.
Casar Instigates Early Escape
At the 8km mark Sandy Casar (FDJ) launched an attack and others with him. By 10km there were 10 men in the lead of the stage by 25”, they were: Casar, Sanchez (RAB), Di Gregorio (AST), Costa (MOV), Boasson Hagen (SKY), Thomas (SKY), Hondo (LAM), Van Garderen (THR) and De Gendt (VCD). Garmin-Cervélo and BMC were the teams that assumed position at the front of the peloton. Casar was the best of the escape on GC, starting the stage in 21st overall (at 14’36”). The maximum gain of the escape was just 40” at 20km and the initial escape was over at 41km. The average speed for the first hour was 51.3km/h. At 52km Boasson Hagen again went on the attack, he was joined by 13 others and by 60km the 14 escapees – Perez Moreno (EUS), Mollema (RAB), Tjallingii (RAB), Fofonov (AST), Muravyev (RSH), Amador (MOV), Paterski (LIQ), Boasson Hagen (SKY), Chavanel (QST), Casar (FDJ), El Fares (COF), Bozic (VCD), Leukemans (VCD) and Hivert (SAU) – had a lead of 2’05”. This grew steadily and Europcar assumed position at the head of the peloton. By the site of the sprint the escape had a lead of 5’55” and it was Cavendish who was prepared to chase the point for 15th place in Villar-Saint-Pancrace. The average speed for the second hour was 36.5km/h.
Roche Sets Off On Counter-Attack
The maximum gain of the 14 escapees was 7’20” at at the 90km mark. At the 92km mark – 4km to climb on the col de Montgenevre – Roche (ALM) attacked the peloton and was chased down by two counter-attackers, De Weert (QST) and Hoogerland (VCD). At the top, the 14 leaders were 5’10” ahead of Roche’s trio and 6’35” ahead of the peloton that was still led by the Europcar team. The chase group was 5’12” behind the lead group and the peloton was 6’35” behind. Perez Moreno attacked the lead group 2km from the top of Sestrières and led his former escape companions by 1’05” at the top (with Chavanel taking second place). The counter attack was at 2’05” and the peloton was 7’51” behind.
De Weert started the stage ranked 12th overall, 9’00” behind Voeckler. With 20km to go in the stage, Perez Moreno led the stage by 1’00” to his 13 former escape companions, 2’47” to De Weert’s trio and 7’05” to a Lampre/Garmin-led peloton. At the base of the final climb, Perez Moreno was 35” ahead of the next group and 5’55” ahead of the BMC/Leopard-led peloton.
Boasson Hagen Goes Solo To Take Win Number-Two...
Perez Moreno was caught Chavanel who attacked the chase group 16km from the finish. The French champion led briefly but, 2km from the top of the final climb, Boasson Hagen chased him down, followed for a moment and then attacked... bursting into the lead of the stage with 11km to go. At the 10km to go mark, he led Hivert by 10”, Mollema by 20”, Chavanel by 30”. Boasson Hagen had done a reconnaissance of the descent before the stage and it paid off as he was able to attack the downhill and race on to a fine stage victory whiie, behind him, the likes of Hivert and Voecker (in particular) suffered losses when they overshot several turns and were forced to start their race after scrambling back on to the road. Boasson Hagen held off the chase by Mollema and got to salute his second stage win without having to worry about the rider in second place (as was the case when he won the sprint in Liseux). Norwegian riders have now won four stages (plus the TTT for Hushovd) and Sky celebrates a second victory in the Tour by the team’s wunderkind.
Contador Animates The Finale (Again)
Before the stage began Brad McGee said that Saxo Bank-SunGard had to not only seize opportunities but create them if they didn’t exist. That’s just what Contador did on the salita Pramartino, the climb that peaked just 8km from the finish. With 5km to climb, he launched the first of a series of attacks but it was on the descent that he gained the most time on his rivals (ie. the Schleck brothers and Evans, but also Voeckler who crested the final climb 10” behind the defending Tour champion. On the descent Voeckler went off the road twice while Contador raced ahead along with Samuel Sanchez. The Spanish pair was caught by the other favorites just before the finish but Voeckler lost 27” of his overall advantage... yet he continues to lead the general classification and he will wear the yellow jersey in stage 18.
Two men are well ahead of the others in the climbing classification and Jelle Vanendert knows he has to keep a close eye on his main rival, Samuel Sanchez...
"I’ll have a good look at the others and see if it’s possible to defend the polka-dot jersey. It is particularly important for me to be ahead of Samuel Sanchez, otherwise I’ll lose it. But this knowledge still won’t help me to sleep well tonight.
“It seems that the stage to Alpe d’Huez is easier than tomorrow, but with only 107km, it’s also likely that it’ll be raced very quickly, and we’re not used to that. So there may also have big differences.
“Tomorrow there are three big climbs and I know of none of them. It’s weird, right? So we’ll see how I manage...”
Despite the relatively lackluster performance in the 17th stage (finishing 10th in the team classification for the day to Pinerolo, Italy), the Garmin-Cervélo team – which lost 1’34” to its rivals Leopard-Trek – the US-registered formation maintains its lead in the team’s general classification. The differences are still significant: 5’27” ahead of the Schleck brothers’ squad, 8’04” over AG2R La Mondiale, and 14’24” over Voeckler’s Europcar group.
The battle of the Alps is just beginning and the queen stage, which passes the col d’Agnel, col d’Izouard, and finishes on the col du Galibier could change all that.
Ambition can be dangerous, that’s the lesson Thomas Voeckler was reminded of on the final downhill of an exiting day of racing to Pinerolo. The yellow jersey misjudged a few turns, scared himself and ultimately lost 27 seconds of his advantage at the top of the general classification.
“I tried to attack at the top of the last climb and to make the downhill but three times I went wide on a corner and the third time I was very, very lucky because I had to jump down a step that was about a meter high. I lost time and if I’d been more calm, I could have finished with the favorites but I was a little bit too ambitious. Maybe I wanted too much today...
“Yesterday I learned about my limits. Today I learned what my limits on the downhill are.
“I was really scared after the few close calls on the descent but – after the first one – I knew I was just behind Contador and Sanchez but still in front of Schleck and Evans. But then I lost time when I shouldn’t have.
“My climbing has been good but I don’t think it’s good enough for tomorrow. A six kilometer climb is a lot different to a 35 kilometer one.”
When he was asked if the final descent was like downhill skiing, the winner of the stage to Pinerolo giggled and said, “Close.” It was here that he seized the chance to race ahead of his escape companions and onward to a second stage victory in the 2011 Tour de France.
“I was close yesterday and today I really wanted to win and to arrive at the finish alone. It’s a really great moment. I was thinking about this stage when I was training a few weeks ago and now that I’ve won it, it’s really great.
“I’ve had a really great Tour and have been able to get in the right breakaways just like Thor can... I think the two Norwegians in this race are in really good form.
“I wanted to try to attack but I didn’t want to go too often and I’m happy that it worked well.
“It was a very technical downhill near the finish but I knew it quite well. I saw it on a video before we left the bus this morning and I felt like I knew almost every corner and that helped a lot. I wanted to hold my own pace going up the climb and after doing that, I could go alone down and it’s really great to win that way.
“It’s been an amazing Tour for Norway, there might only be the two of us but we have four stage wins and that’s really great. I’m having a good Tour I think.”
Evans finished with along with the Schleck brothers and the Contador group. The Australian is now closer to the yellow jersey after 28" ahead of Voeckler but the Frenchman sitll leads the general classification after 17 stages. The top five overall is: 1. Voeckler (FRA) EUC 2. Evans (AUS) BMC at 1’18" 3. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO at 1’22" 4. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 2’36" 5. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 2’59"
The climb near the finish was used as a launch pad for Edvald Boasson Hagen to race ahead and claim his second stage win in the 2011 Tour. The top 10 in a dramatic stage to Pinerolo is: 1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY - 179km in 4h18’50" 2. Bauke Mollema (NED) RAB at 40" 3. Sandy Casar (FRA) FDJ at 50" 4. Julien El Fares (FRA) COF at 50" 5. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) QST at 50" 6. Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ) AST at 1’10" 7. Maciej Paterski (POL) LIQ at 1’10" 8. Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ) RSH at 1’10" 9. Jonathan Hivert (FRA) SAU at 1’15" 10. Borut Bozic (SLO) VCD at 2’20"
Voeckler has arrived at the finish about 24" behind Contador’s group and the Frenchman will still lead the general classification after the 17th stage.
Contador and Sanchez were caught just before the line by a group that included the Schleck brothers and Evans.
Voeckler should keep his yellow jersey despite some incidents on the final descent. He is just 27" behind Contador.