- The race 2011
- All about the race
There has been a significant shake up of the general classification even if the French surprise continues... Voeckler still wears the yellow jersey and here is the new top 10 overall: 1. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) EUC 2. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 15" 3. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO at 1’08" 4. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 1’12" 5. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM at 3’46" 6. Ivan Basso (ITA) LIQ at 3’46" 7. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 4’44" 8. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 5’20" 9. Tom Danielson (USA) GRM at 7’08" 10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) ALM at 9’27"
It promised to be an epic race from Pinerolo to Gap and that’s just what it turned out to be. The top 15 in stage 18 is: 1. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO - 200.5km in 6h07’56" 2. Fränk Schleck (LUX) LEO at 2’07" 3. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 2’15" 4. Ivan Basso (ITA) LIQ at 2’18" 5. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) EUC at 2’21" 6. Pierre Rolland (FRA) EUC at 2’27" 7. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM at 2’33" 8. Rein Taaramae (EST) COF at 3’22" 9. Tom Danielson (USA) GRM at 3’25" 10. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) GRM at 3’31" 11. Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ) AST at 3’35" 12. Christian Vande Velde (USA) GRM at 3’38" 13. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) RSH at 3’44" 14. Jelle Vanendert (BEL) OLO at 3’50" 15. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 3’50"
Alberto has lost 3’50" in the stage and, with that, pretty much all chances of winning the Tour de France again.
Voeckler is bend double after finishing 2’18" behind Andy Schleck. The Frenchman will keep the yellow jersey for another day.
The Schleck brothers take first and second in the 18th stage.
Evans could yet finish second in the stage... only in the final 250 meters has Voeckler been dropped...
Cunego has been dropped by the Evans group which now includes just Cadel, Frank, Ivan, Pierre and Thomas...
Bravo Andy! You dared to race today and the rewards are yours. This is the third stage win for the Luxembourger and the first for his Leopard-Trek team.
Evans’ group is now 2’55" behind Schleck and 30" ahead of Contador.
Schleck is going to win the stage. He may take the yellow jersey. He is inside the final kilometer. The two-time runner-up in the Tour de France is going to win his third stage of this race...
Contador is out of the picture now. He has not been able to follow the Evans-led group which is now just:
Cadel, Basso, Frank, Cunego, Voeckler and Rolland.
Basso did a quick turn of pace and it’s gotten rid of Contador but the defending champion is fighting back...
Evans remains at the front of the chase. Only Voeckler, Rolland, Frank Schleck, Cunego, Basso and Contador have been able to match the pace being set by the Australian. Surely there will be an attack from this group soon as Evans must be at his limit... although he doesn’t seem to know the word "surrender". He is out of the saddle now and pushing his group to 3’05" behind Andy Schleck.
Andy Schleck is likely to win his third Tour de France stage. He won at Morzine-Avoriaz and the Col du Tourmalet last year. He is 3’06" ahead of the group that has just caught and passed Roche.
Andy Schleck will attend the podium protocol at the top of the stage as he’s been voted the winner of the ’Fighting Spirit’ award. He is looking as though he will win the stage and could even take the yellow jersey as well.
Vanendert has been dropped by the Evans group which is 3’15" behind Andy Schleck.
Evans is the only rider who has led the yellow jersey’s group for the difficult gradient of the Galibier climb. Voeckler is matching the pace of the Australian and riding in second wheel...
Contador is also still with the group that continues to be led by Evans. (He was not included in the previous list... apologies for this significant omission.)
The rider in ninth overall, Tom Danielson (GRM) has just been dropped by the Evans-led group.
Andy is 3’15" ahead of the chase group and is inside the final 5km of the climb to the top of the Galibier pass...
The riders in the chase group are:
Frank Schleck (LEO)
Basso and Szmyd (LIQ)
Voeckler and Rolland (EUC)
Evans’ group is 3’25" behind Andy who is 5.5km from the finish.
Sanchez has not been able to match the pace set by Evans. The rider in fifth overall has been dropped but the yellow jersey is still able to follow the 2009 world champion.
Peraud has not been able to follow the lead of Evans. The BMC team leader is determined to win the Tour today. He is setting the pace of the chase and Voeckler is right on his wheel. Thee are just 11 in his group now...
Schleck is now just 3’30" ahead of the Evans group but this effort is surely going to cost the Australian dearly if Contador or Basso or Frank Schleck opt to attack...
Evans is the only rider who has been at the front of the yellow jersey’s group on this windy race to the col du Galibier. He waited until he could wait no longer and then decided to throw caution, quite literally, into the wind. He is followed by Rolland, Voeckler, Szmyd, Basso, Vanendert, Riblon, Danielson, Sanchez, Zubeldia, Frank Schleck, Taaramae... and host of other GC riders.
Andy is the leader of the stage. He dropped Iglinskiy with 8km to go and his advantage over the Evans group is 3’45".
Iglinskiy and Schleck are inside the final 8km of the 18th stage. Andy is now starting to dance on the pedals and it’s enough to get rid of Maxim.
Uran has been dropped by the Evans-led peloton. The effort by the rider in second overall has reduced the gap to the stage leaders from 4’25" to 3’55" in the distance of about 1km.
Evans is now in the wind and really upping the pace ahead of Rolland and Voeckler. This group was 4’25" behind Andy Schleck when the Australian decided that it was time to chase: either spent time in the wind or lose out to Andy Schleck who began his attack halfway up the col d’Izoard.
With Sanchez dropping back to get a new bike, Evans has attacked the yellow jersey group.
Roche has lost contact with Schleck and Iglinskiy inside the final 10km of the stage.
Evans has been forced on to the front of the chase group and he really does NOT want to be there. No one else will come around him though and it’s all playing into the hands of Andy Schleck who is still 4’10" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group... led, with regret, by Evans.
Evans is now at the front of the chase group and looking closely at who is going to start to attack. It’s a strange tactic as he seems more interested in watching for an attack - which has come from Szmyd (LIQ) - than in chasing down the Andy Schleck trio.
Contador is at the front of the chase group and now that yellow jersey group is going to thin out rapidly. They are still 4’05" behind Schleck’s trio who are about 13km from the finish of the 18th stage.
Verdugo (EUS) and Moinard (BMC) are the latest to be dropped by the group that’s now 4’05" behind Andy Schleck’s trio.
There are now just three in the lead of the stage. Silin has been dropped which leave Andy Schleck, Nico Roche and Maxim Iglinskiy in the lead with 15km to go.
The riders in the chase group are:
Contador, Navarro, Chris Anker Sorensen (SBS)
Frank Schleck (LEO)
Sanchez, Izagirre and Verdugo (EUS)
Danielson, Hesjedal and Vande Velde (GRM)
Arroyo and Erviti (MOV)
Basso and Szmyd (LIQ)
Dupont, Peraud and Riblon (ALM)
Thomas, Uran and Zandio (SKY)
De Weert (QST)
Jeannesson and Meersman (FDJ)
Evans, Moinard and Morabito (BMC)
Cunego and Loosli (LAM)
Voeckler and Rolland (EUC)
Karpets and Gusev (KAT)
There are now five in the lead of the stage Monfort (LEO) has given his all to deliver Andy Schleck to the base of the climb with the best possible gains. As Maxime pull out of the lead group, Frank Schleck has dropped behind the peloton to collect a few drinks from the team car.
Saxo Bank, Euskaltel and BMC are leading the yellow jersey’s peloton and now keeping the Schleck group in check. The runner-up from 2010 and 2009 is now 3’50" ahead of the peloton... this is the maximum gain for Schleck so far since his attack midway up the Izoard climb. The bunch is inside the final 20km.
Andy Schleck is now swapping off only with Monfort. The others in the lead are opting to follow the Leopards who are officially on the final ascent although the road doesn’t really start to rise until about 18km from the finish. They are inside the final 20km and have a lead of 3’45" on the yellow jersey.
The six in the lead are increasing their advantage. Chris Anker Sorensen (SBS) is nodding his head - as he does when he’s pushing his limits - and he’s ahead of two BMC riders at the front of the pack that includes the yellow jersey. The latest check has the six in the lead by 3’28".
With 25km to go, Andy Schleck’s group is 3’18" ahead of the yellow jersey group.
Only Monfort, Andy Schleck and Devenyns are setting the pace at the front of the stage. The other three are following wheels on this windy day in the Hautes Alpes.
The six in the lead have increased their advantage. WIth a little over 25km to go, the Schleck group is 3’07" ahead of the Voeckler group.
After five hours of racing in stage 18, the average speed is 34.1km/h.
The six stage leaders with 28km to go are:
Andy Schleck (LEO)
Maxime Monfort (LEO)
Maxim Iglinskiy (AST)
Devenyns (QST) They are 2’55" ahead of the yellow jersey.
Iglinskiy is about to be joined by Andy Schleck’s quintet... and then it’s all uphill to the finish... they have 30km to go in the stage. Their advantage over the yellow jersey’s group is 3’00".
Iglinskiy - who hasn’t won a race since the Strade Bianche last March - is still in the lead of the 18th stage. But has advantage is shrinking quickly. The latest check has the Kazakh 15" ahead...
Andy Schleck has the support of Devenyns, Silin, Monfort and Roche in the lead of the stage. For the first time, someone other than the Leopard riders is setting the pace... it’s the Belgian from Quickstep (Devenyns). This group is 3’00" ahead of the yellow jersey group meaning that Andy Schleck is the virtual leader of the 2011 Tour.
With the exception of Andy Schleck who is now 3’00" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group all riders in the top 10 overall are in the Voeckler group with about 33km to go in the stage.
There has been a regrouping on the descent and Uran now has the likes of Thomas and Zandio there for support. There are a few other teams with multiple representatives in the yellow jersey’s group which includes about 40 riders.
Andy Schleck is 1’00" behind Iglinskiy. The Astana rider is almost at the base of the last descent leading to the Galibier. He is 3’57" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
At the entrance to Briancon, Andy’s quintet is 2’40" ahead of the Voeckler group.
Contador has caught back up with the Voeckler group.
There are no team-mates with Contador as he speeds through the convoy of following cars and tries to rejoin the yellow jersey’s group.
Uran, who crashed on the descent, has been able to rejoin the Voeckler group.
Contador has dropped out of the yellow jersey’s group to change bikes.
Iglinskiy’s advantage over the Andy Schleck group is 1’20". The yellow jersey’s peloton is at 3’57".
Contador, Navarro, Cunego, Basso, Taaramae, Arroyo, Izisar, Jeannesson, Evans, Bookwalter, Voeckler, Rolland, Frank Schleck, Danielson, Vande Velde, De Weert, Gesink... These are some of the riders in the yellow jersey’s group. They are 2’40" behind Andy Schleck.
Iglinskiy is still in the lead and is now inside the final 40km of the stage. Then comes a group of five:
Vanendert had tried to gain some time on the yellow jersey but he has since decided to wait for the race leader.
On the descent, Vanendert is 3’45" behind Iglinskiy and the yellow jersey’s group is at 3’55".
Iglinskiy leads the Schleck quartet - Andy, Monfort, Silin, Devenyns and Roche - by 1’33".
The white jersey, Rigoberto Uran (SKY) has crashed out of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
Iglinskiy is still in the lead of the stage. He is ahead of Roche, then comes a quartet including Silin, Devenyns and the two Leopard-Trek riders who are setting the pace of the chase - Monfort and Andy Schleck.
Silin and Devenyns have been caught by Andy and Maxime...
The difference between Andy Schleck and the yellow jersey is now 2’15". The Luxembourger is almost the virtual leader of the Tour de France. He began the stage in fourth overall, 2’36" behind Voeckler
Schleck is about to catch his team-mate Maxime Monfort. These two are descending while Navarro leads the yellow jersey’s group to the top of the Izoard.
1. Iglinskiy (AST) 20pts 2. Roche (ALM) 16pts – 1’15” 3. Monfort (LEO 12pts 4. Devenyns (QST) 8pts 5. Silin (KAT) 4pts 6. Andy Schleck (LEO) 2pts – at 1’50”
Iglinskiy is over the top of the Izoard. He has a lead of 2’08" on Andy Schleck.
Schleck’s gains on the yellow jersey are reportedly now 1’55". This has prompted Navarro (SBS) into action. He is just ahead of Evans (BMC) and the rest of the yellow jersey’s group which now includes about 25-riders.
After a brief collaboration with the Dutchman from Leopard, Andy Schleck is now out of the saddle and trying to increase his gains on the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The last time check has Andy Schleck just 30" ahead of the BMC-led yellow jersey’s peloton.
Joost Posthuma is now setting the pace for his team-mate Andy Schleck.
Iglinskiy is still in the lead of the stage. He is 2’38" ahead of Andy Schleck as he nears the top of the second climb.
The men in the yellow jersey group include:
Voeckler, Evans, Bookwalter, Basso, Szmyd, De Weert, Sanchez (EUS), Zubeldia, Frank Schleck, Navarro, Contador, Vanendert, Ruben Perez Moreno, Danielson, Vande Velde... and others but the camera is focused on Andy Schleck who is increasing his advantage.
Andy Schleck is now 47" ahead of the Voeckler group that includes about 20 riders.
Iglinskiy’s advantage on the four chasers - Roche, Devenyns, Silin and Monfort - is 35".
The yellow jersey’s peloton has just caught Perez Moreno and this is now composed of about 18 riders including all the men in the top 10 overall (with the exception of Andy Schleck... who is just ahead). Uran has just rejoined the Voeckler group.
Navarro surged to the front of the yellow jersey’s bunch that didn’t respond to Andy’s attack. Now Contador has slotted into second place in the group that’s 40" behind Andy Schleck.
There has been no reaction to the move by Andy Schleck. He is now stranded ahead of the peloton without support but he doesn’t seem to mind that he’s able to gain time on Evans and the others in the top 10.
The rider in 10th overall, Rigoberto Uran (SKY) is the latest to be dropped by the yellow jersey’s peloton just as Andy Schleck has launched his first attack of the stage.
Iglinskiy has attacked the leaders of the stage and there has been no reaction to the Kazakh’s move.
Bouet has been caught by the peloton which is now down to about 40 riders. All the men in the top 10 overall are represented in this group.
There are now seven men in the lead group:
Urtasun Perez (EUS)
There are numerous riders now out of the yellow jersey’s peloton that continues to be led by Voigt. Voeckler still has a number of team-mates with him.
Voigt and O’Grady are at the front of the peloton that is spitting a number of riders out the back on the Izoard climb. Gerdemann and Boasson Hagen are the latest to loose contact with the bunch of the yellow jersey.
The average speed of the escape after four hours of racing in stage 18 is 34.6km/h.
There are now 168 riders still in the Tour. Leonardo Bertagnoili (LAM) has just quit the race.
The rider who recently attacked the peloton, Bouet (ALM) has caught up with one of the riders who had been in the lead of the stage earlier today, Mickael Delage.
There are now six riders from Europcar, including the yellow jersey, at the front of the peloton that is 4’50" behind the nine stage leaders early on the slopes of the col d’Izoard.
There has been an attack at the front of the peloton by Maxime Bouet (ALM).
The riders in the lead of the stage now are:
Hoogerland (VCD) Those who have lost contact with the leader on the Izoard are: Bookwalter, Irizar and Navardauskas - at 30" Perez Moreno - at 55".
The RadioShack rider in the lead needs a new wheel after getting a flat rear tire.
Ruben Perez Moreno has been dropped from the leading group of 14 early on the climb of the col d’Izoard.
Gilbert’s move is over and he is now back with the peloton.
In the valley leading to the Izoard climb, Gilbert (OLO) is speeding ahead of the peloton with the polka-dot jersey - and his team-mate - Vanendert right on his wheel. There is a group of about 10 riders now breaking free of the peloton.
Gilbert, Vanendert, De Weert and Voeckler are leading a move that has just caught the Leipheimer group of seven.
Tony Martin (THR) has crashed on the descent but he has gotten back up quickly and is racing again.
There are three riders from Sky now setting the pace of a group that includes Voeckler. They have caused some splits in the bunch but, on the descent, it should reform soon...
The 14 stage leaders which also includes Irizar (RSH) are 1’25" ahead of Delage and Duque.
3’25" ahead of Burghardt (BMC) and Hondo (LAM).
3’45" ahead of Delaplace (SAU)
4’45" ahead of Gesink (RAB), Zeits (AST), Di Gregorio (AST), Leipheimer (RSH), Arroyo (MOV), Jeannesson (FDJ) and Moncoutie (COF).
5’15" ahead of the peloton.
Westra has just been caught by the peloton that’s now being led by Flecha (SKY).
The 18th stage is led by:
Perez Moreno (EUS)
Hoogerland (VCD) ... they are 1’25" ahead of Delage (FDJ) and Duque (COF).
Westra has dropped out of the Leipheimer group on the descent. Meanwhile, up front, Iglinskiy is about to be caught by a group of about 10 riders which now includes Bookwalter and Erviti who were dropped near the top of the climb.
Iglinskiy is now soft-pedaling and waiting for his former escape companions.
The Tour is back in France after it’s excursion into Italy for the stage finish yesterday and stage start today.
The seven counter-attackers are 4’55" behind Iglinskiy at the top of the first climb. The chase group is:
Di Gregorio (AST)
Westra (VCD) The peloton has reached the top of the 2011 Tour 5’35" behind the stage leader.
The Kazakh at the front of the stage is increasing his advantage with a rapid descent. Iglinskiy took maximum points on the highest climb of the 2011 Tour. He is now ahead of 10 who are remnants of the original 19-man escape.
The Kazakh in the escape group has led over the top of the first climb. The results are: 1. Iglinskiy (AST) 20pts 2. Hoogerland VCD) 16pts - at 10" 3. Devenyns (QST) 12pts 4. Monfort (LEO) 8pts 5. Urtasun (EUS) 4pts 6. Silin (KAT) 2pts
The seven counter-attackers who are 4’40" behind the escapees at the 105km mark have been caught by Di Gregorio. The peloton is at 5’05".
Posthuma (LEO) is at the front of the lead group and O’Grady (LEO) is at the front of the peloton that’s 5’25" behind as the escapees get to the 1km to climb sign.
Remy Di Gregorio (AST) has attacked the peloton for a second time on the first climb. He’s now in pursuit of Gesink’s group of seven.
The counter-attacking group that’s just ahead of the peloton with the yellow jersey is now composed of seven riders:
Westra (VCD) They are 25" ahead of the peloton.
Three more have dropped out of the lead group. The latest victims of the steep gradient of the col Agnel are Erviti (MOV), Irizar (RSH) and Bookwalter (BMC).
There is another group now speeding ahead of the peloton. It includes Gesink (RAB) and Moncoutie (COF).
Leipheimer and Riblon have been joined in the counter-attack by Westra (VCD). The rest appear to have surrendered and are returning to the peloton with the yellow jersey.
The average speed for the third hour of stage 18 is 34.5km/h.
Two of the seven counter-attackers are now drifting back to the peloton. Koren and Zeits (who started the move) are the riders to be dropped by the Gilbert group of five.
The peloton is 25" behind the seven counter-attackers. The Leopard-Trek team is taking responsibility for the chase and currently it’s O’Grady at the front of the bunch that’s 6’10" behind the 17 stage leaders.
Of the 19 in the lead, two have been unable to maintain the pace. Delaplace (SAU) and Hondo (LAM) are now drifting behind the 17 other escapees.
The seven counter-attackers are 6’25" behind the escapees and the peloton is at 6’45".
There are now seven men attacking the peloton. They are:
Di Gregorio (AST)
With 5km to climb, Posthuma (LEO) is at the front of the escape.
Hivert and Bertagnoli are two riders who have recently been dropped by the peloton.
The Astana attacking rider is Andrey Zeits, not Grivko. But now there are a number of others now jumping ahead of the peloton.
Andriy Grivko (AST) has attacked the peloton and he is being followed by Philippe Gilbert (OLO). They began their move at the 99km mark.
"I feel good but the bike is not an exact science, I hope it will be like the other stages," said the super-domestique of the Europcar team, Pierre Rolland earlier today. "We will do our utmost to keep the yellow jersey. "I will stay in the wheel of Thomas Voeckler," said the rider who is in 14th place overall, 10’03" behind his team leader.
The leaders are inside the final 100km of the stage. They have ridden half of the 18th stage... Of the 200.5km stage, over 80km are uphill.
One of the favorites for today’s stage is the triple champion of the Tour de France. The Spaniard first led the Tour in stage 18 of the 2007 Tour - but he did not wear the yellow jersey that day as he inherited the lead from Michael Rasmussen who had been sent home by his Rabobank team - and he’s since collected a total of 14 yellow jerseys. The rider who currently leads the Tour has been in the yellow jersey for 19 days during his career. In the last 20 years, only Indurain, Armstrong and Cancellara have led the Tour for longer than Thomas Voeckler.
The peloton has been led by Europcar but there are now a two riders from Liquigas arriving near the front of the bunch that is 7’45" behind the 19 escapees.
The escape is currently being led by Hoogerland as they reach the steep section of the first climb.
The 19 in the lead represent 16 teams. They are ahead by 7’50" on the early slopes of the Agnel climb. The riders in the move that started just before the intermediate sprint are:
Maxime Monfort (BEL) LEO; Joost Posthuma (NED) LEO; Ruben Perez Moreno (ESP) EUS, Pablo Urtasun (ESP) EUS, Maarten Tjallingii (NED) RAB, Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) GRM, Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ) AST, Markel Izazar (ESP) RSH, Imanol Erviti (ESP) MOV, Nicolas Roche (IRL) ALM, Dries Devenyns (BEL) QST, Mickael Delage (FRA) FDJ, Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC, Marcus Burghardt (GER) BMC, Leonardo Duque (COL) COF, Danilo Hondo (GER) LAM, Egor Silin (RUS) KAT, Johnny Hoogerland (NED) VCD, Anthony Delaplace (FRA) SAU.
The pace of the peloton is around 35km/h at the moment. The early kilometers of the Agnel ascent aren’t so steep but the final section has a gradient of over 10 per cent...
The Tour will return to France at the 117km mark of the 200.5km stage.
Robert Gesink spent a few days of this year’s Tour in the white jersey as leader of the youth classification. He crashed in stage three but then suffered through the Pyrenees. He is now ranked 44th overall, 49’11" behind Voecker. He was one of the pre-race favorites but the yellow jersey is no longer an option. Could it be that, on this day when the first over the climbs can earn 20 points (on the Agnel), 20 points (on the Izouard) and 40 points (at the finish), the Dutchman is tempted to challenge for the polka-dot jersey? He has no points yet so it would be quite a conquest...
The peloton continues to be led by Europcar riders and they are closing in on the escapees (slightly) with the latest check - at 88km - putting the Roche group of 19 ahead by 8’05".
It’s common from the teams of title contenders to put riders in the early moves on the day of high mountains. We’ve seen the likes of Voigt, Hincapie, and Popovych - to name a few - do this in recent years. Once the real action heats up and the peloton thins out, these riders sit up and wait for their team leaders... The BMC, Euskatel and Leopard-Trek squads are three with GC contenders - Evans, Sanchez and the Schlecks, respectively - and each of these teams have two in the escape.
The peloton is led by the Europcar team of Voeckler. The maximum gain of the breakaway so far today was at the 83km mark, 9’10". The escapees are now 8’50" ahead of the bunch that is also on the Agnel ascent...
Both Tjallingii and Perez Moreno were in the escape group of stage 17. The Spaniard is wearing a red race number today as he was voted the winner of the ’Fighting Spirit’ award yesterday.
After his incident, Delage (FDJ) has returned to the lead group which is 8’50" ahead of the peloton which is currently at the 85km mark.
One of the riders in the lead of the stage - Delage (FDJ) - has crashed.
The escapees are 8’55" ahead of the peloton as they begin the ascent of the 23.7km long Col Agnel. Seven of the last eight kilometers of this climb which rises to the border between Italy and France are at over a gradient of over 10 per cent. This is the highest pass of the 2011 Tour de France.
The average speed for the second hour of stage 18 is 34.6km/h. The average for the first two hours: 42.6km/h.
Bookwalter (BMC) is the second rider from the lead group to call for mechanical assistance in less than a minute.
The best placed of the escape group, Nico Roche needs mechanical assistance. He has a problem with his derailleur.
The 19 in the lead represent 16 teams. The riders in the move that is 8’15" ahead of the peloton at the 78km mark are:
Monfort and Posthuma (LEO)
Perez Moreno and Urtasun (EUS)
Bookwalter and Burghardt (BMC)
At the base of the col Agnel (83km) the counter-attack has caught the lead group of 16. (We’ll name all 19 escapees in the next news flash.)
Burghardt, Delage and Silin are now just 53" behind the 16 men at the front of the stage. The Frenchman has already been on the attack for 765km of the 2,982.5km raced in the Tour of 2011 before today, and Delage just can’t seem to resist the urge to chase down the escape.
The peloton is now at 73km 7’25" behind the escapees who attacked at the 44km mark. The counter-attackers are 1’00" behind Roche’s group of 16. Rain is falling at the site of the finish but it’s only a bit of drizzle (after a few flakes of snow earlier today).
The three in the counter-attack - Silin (KAT), Burghardt (BMC) and Delage (FDJ) - are now 1’43" behind the 16 stage leaders. The chasing trio began their move only a few kilometers after the intermediate sprint but they haven’t been able to gain any time on the escape that is now 6’15" ahead of the peloton.
“It’s the same descent for everyone, but I didn’t take many risks," said Alberto Contador after stage 17 yesterday. "It was a dangerous descent but I had the situation under control without passing the limits. “It was very difficult to gain time because many riders were behind to chase and it was easy for them but the important thing is to try every day. It seems as though the Schlecks are awaiting me to attack but I just do my kind of race and that’s all.”
When the Tour last visited the col Agnel, the first man over the top was Egoi Martinez who was part of a four-man escape that was established in the first 20km of the stage that concluded in Prato Nevoso. The winner of that stage was Simon Gerrans. A victim of a crash on the descent in Italy was the 2006 Tour champion Oscar Pereiro. After his fall, the peloton slowed and finished the downhill riding at a steady pace to ensure the safety of all riders... this allowed Gerrans, Martinez, Danny Pate and their escape companion to increase their advantage. That stage was in the 2008 edition but the Agnel climb will be ridden from the other direction today: ie. climbing in Italy, descending in France.
The 16 escapees have increased their advantage on the peloton which is now 4’55" behind Roche’s group. The counter-attack is at 1’50".
The 16 escapees raced into the lead of the stage at the 44km mark. The best on GC is Nicolas Roche (ALM), in 21st after 17 stages, 14’06" behind Voeckler. Roche was on the attack yesterday and he finished the Pinerolo stage in 14th, 4’00" behind the winner (Boasson Hagen).
“I don’t know if Cadel has changed from before,” John Lelangue of the BMC team told LeTour.fr this morning, “but I know he’s still like he was last year. Crashes are the plague of the Tour but so far Cadel has escaped them all in this year’s race. “Since last year’s Tour we have had many debriefings and set an agenda to ensure that Cadel arrived at this race with the best possible conditions. We set a series of races like Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphiné as well as gatherings in the mountains and many reconnaissance rides. Everything has been done to arrive at the Tour in the best possible shape. For now, nothing has gone wrong but there are still three crucial days ahead.”
There are three counter-attackers who are 1’35" behind the 16-man lead group. The counter-attack is comprised of Delage (FDJ), Silin (KAT) and Burghardt (BMC).
The 16 escapees are now 3’25" ahead of the peloton.
The riders in the lead of the 18th stage after a little over an hour of racing are:
Monfort and Posthuma (LEO)
Perez Moreno and Urtasun Perez (EUS)
Delaplace (SAU) They are ahead of three counter-attackers: Delage (FDJ), Silin (KAT) and Burghardt (BMC).
The average speed for the opening hour of the 18th stage is 50.3km/h.
Of the 16 in the lead of stage 18, the best on GC at the start of the day was Nicolas Roche who is 21st overall, 14’06" behind Voeckler.
There are 16 men in an escape that’s currently 45" ahead of the peloton.
1. Duque (COF) 20pts 2. Posthuma (LEO) 17pts 3. Delaplace (SAU) 15pts 4. Devenyns (QST) 13pts 5. Tjallingii (RAB) 11pts 6. Bookwalter (BMC) 10pts 7. Izazar (EUS) 9pts 8. Ervetti (MOV) 8pts 9. Hondo (LAM) 7pts 10. Navardauskas (GRM) 6pts 11. Perez Moreno (EUS) 5pts 12. Urtasun Perez (EUS) 4pts 13. Iglinksiy (AST) 3pts 14. Monfort (BMC) 2pts 15. Roche (ALM) 1pts
With 1km to go to the intermediate sprint there are seven riders in an escape group. We don’t have confirmation of the names as yet.
The 12th stage of the 2007 Giro d’Italia featured the first climb of today’s stage, the col Agnel (or, in Italian, the Colle dell’Agnello) which rises to 2,744m and marks the border between France and Italy. The first rider over the top of this climb in the 2007 Giro was Yoann Le Boulanger but the Frenchman finished seventh on the day that two winners of the Giro finished in first and second - Danilo Di Luca and Gilberto Simoni, respectively. In third place was a young Luxembourger who was making his Grand Tour debut, Mr Andy Schleck. The Agnel is the highest point of the 2011 Tour de France. The top is at the 107km mark of today’s stage.
The official site of the Tour de France - LeTour.fr - conducts a survey each day of the race. Today’s question is:
Of these riders who have led the Tour before who will be in yellow tonight?
With over 10,000 votes submitted, the consensus is that it will be Cadel Evans who has 42.7 per cent of the votes so far.
Jeremy Roy (FDJ) has shown some signs of aggression but so far no rider has been able to escape the peloton for too long. The speed is high and the bunch is all together as it reaches the 36.5km mark - only 10km to go now until the intermediate sprint.
Looking at the last five or six kilometers of the col Agnel, it’s super tough. Does Richie Porte think there’ll be a split on the first climb? “Obviously some is going to light it up and I think it’ll be Leopard or someone like that. I’m not sure about how Cadel will approach it but whoever wants to win the race has to be aggressive.” Richie Porte raced with Andy and Fränk Schleck last year, is he surprised by the events of the last few days? “Every other year Andy has got it all right. I think the long climbs like these today are going to suit him a lot better. He’s a class act and he has a great team around him so we can’t rule either of them out yet...”
The HTC and Movistar teams are leading the peloton as it approaches the intermediate sprint. So far 31km have been raced at an extremely fast pace... especially when you consider what is yet to come in this stage.
If Alberto wants to win again, he’s got to make up a lot of time, LeTour.fr suggested to Richie Porte early today, but the team must have done these climbs a lot as part of the preparation. What has been learned from the reconnaissance rides? “Obviously we know these climbs well now and understand that they’re long and hard but it’s always different on race day. There’s a sprint around the 45km mark and it’s going to be another fast start and the faster and harder it is at the start, the better it is for Alberto,” said Porte. “It’s not so nice for people like myself at the time but I think we can expect to see some reasonably big time gaps. “It’s different when you’re racing at altitude too. And we’re up high today so anyone who is suffering is going to lose a lot of time.”
The start of the stage was at 11.30 and over 25km have already been covered in less than half an hour.
There SRM live tracker is showing that the peloton is currently speeding along at over 60km/h. "The faster the start," said Richie Porte earlier today, "the better it is for Alberto." The defending champion must be pleased with how the race is going while the Tour is still in Italy.
Marco Marcato (VCD) has been a regular aggressor in the 2011 Tour. He is one of the two riders who had been on the attack in stage 18 but the bunch is all back together at the 19km mark. Gianni Meersman (FDJ) was the other rider in the escape but the runner-up in the Belgian championship has not been able to stay clear of the peloton.
There are two men - Meersman (FDJ) and Marcato (VCD) - with a lead of 12" after going on the attack at the 16km mark.
When LeTour.fr spoke with Richie Porte at 9.45am today the Saxo Bank-SunGard riders had not yet had their pre-stage meeting but we asked the Tasmanian about the form of his team leader Alberto Contador, what he expected to happen in stage 18 and what his appraisal of his former team-mate Andy Schleck is after 17 days of racing. Here’s what he had to say: “It’s D-Day isn’t it?” said Porte. “I think Alberto is starting to show the sort of form that he won the Giro with. He’s playing catch up again today so it’s really no different to the last couple of days really. “If what he did in the finale of the stages to Gap and Pinerolo doesn’t intimidate the other guys then what will? I think it’s awesome to see someone like him race aggressively but, at the same time, it’s impressive to see how Cadel is going. And we can’t rule out Sanchez. It’s not going to be a push-over today.”
There was a volley of attacks with 20 riders trying to escape the peloton but they are all back in the bunch at the 15.5km mark.
Fabio Sabatini (LIQ) is holding down last place in the general classification. His time deficit to the race leader is 2 hours 53 minutes and two seconds. After 2,982.5km of racing that’s the equivalent of 117.19km between first and last overall.
This is the 19th day in his career that Thomas Voeckler has led the Tour de France (10 in 2004 and nine this year). That means that in the last 20 years only Armstrong, Indurain and Cancellara have worn the yellow jersey for more time than the Frenchman.
There haven’t been any early attacks in the opening stanza of the 18th stage. The bunch is all together at the 9.5km mark.
The intermediate sprint for stage 18 is in the Italian town of Verzuolo at the 46.5km mark.
The peloton is still all together early in the 18th stage. So far five kilometers of the 200.5km stage has been raced...
LeTour.fr spoke with the manager of the BMC team, John Lelangue, before the start today. “We are confident,” said the Belgian, “because we have done a good Tour so far. But I definitely want the riders to keep their feet on the ground and be careful. We cannot say that the situation is under control, because we know that everything can change... his rivals are there – whether it’s the Schleck brothers, Contador, Sanchez or Voeckler. “I pay very little attention to what is said about how we rode or what our chances of winning are. For example, I know that we were criticized when we set the pace behind the breakaway to Saint-Flour... but if we didn’t do this Voeckler might have had an advantage of more than four minutes...”
The start of the 18th stage was at 11.30am. There are 169 men still in the race as there were no overnight abandons.
The peloton is currently riding through the 4.6km neutral zone in Pinerolo. The official start is only minutes away.
Rigoberto Uran (SKY) still leads the youth classification. The Colombian is ranked 10th overall, 7’36” behind Voeckler and it’s enough to keep him in the white jersey that he’s worn since the stage to Plateau de Beille. Uran is 59” ahead of Rein Taaramae (COF) and 2’27” ahead of Voeckler’s young team-mate Pierre Rolland (EUC).
The sky is blue in Pinerolo before the start of stage 18 and the temperature is 23 degrees Celsius. The race is about to begin...
Jelle Vanendert (OLO) admitted yesterday that he had never ridden the passes that are a feature of the 18th stage. “Bizarre, huh?” laughed the Belgian after stage 17. He is the reigning king of the mountains with a tally of 74 points, two more than the winner of the other high mountain stage, Samuel Sanchez (EUS). The polka-dot jersey can be decided today and the race for the yellow jersey is going to influence the result in this classification. There are double points on offer for the Col du Galibier meaning that the allocation for the final climb is: 40pts for first, then 32, 24, 16, 8 and four for the first six at the summit.
This is a day when the sprinters will switch to survival mode. With three mountain passes this is not the terrain for the likes of Mark Cavendish (THR) who continues to lead the points classification. This is the Manxman’s seventh day in the green jersey and his tally of points is up to 320, 35 more than the Spaniard who led this category for a few days earlier in the 98th Tour, José Joaquin Rojas (MOV). The winner of stage one is still ranked third with 250 points while the two-time winner of the green jersey Thor Hushovd (GRM) is in fourth with 235 points. Yesterday’s stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) moved up from eighth to fifth thanks to his win in Pinerolo.
His advantage is dwindling but Thomas Voeckler (EUC) is still wearing the yellow jersey. His collection of Tour de France leader’s jerseys is now larger than those of the 1997 winner Jan Ullrich and even more than the triple champion Alberto Contador. The Frenchman has a 1’18” lead over the two-time runner-up Cadel Evans (BMC) who still has never been ranked worse than third overall in the 2011 Tour de France. In third place is Frank Schleck (at 1’22”) and his younger brother Andy is ranked fourth (at 2’36”). The winner of the first ‘HC’ climb in the 2011 Tour, Samuel Sanchez (EUS) is fifth overall at 2’59”. Last year’s Tour champion Alberto Contador (SBS) is sixth at 3’15”.
The start of the highly anticipated 18th stage of the 2011 Tour de France is due to get underway at 11.20am. There is a 4.6km neutral zone before the race officially begins. Snow has been falling at the site of the finish on the col du Galibier. This is the highest stage finish in the history of the Tour de France, with the arrival at an altitude of 2,645m. The stage features three climbs - all of which are the highest ranking: the col Agnel (a 23.7km ascent to an altitude of 2,744m with the top at the 107km mark), then the col d’Izouard (at 2,360m, 145.5km) and the finish on the famous Galibier pass. Live coverage of the race will commence shortly.