- The race 2011
- All about the race
It was the highest stage finish in the long history of the Tour de France and before the Col du Galibier came two high mountains – the col Agnel and the Col d’Izoard. It promised to bring the crème to the top and that’s just what happened in stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France. The sweet taste of victory is savored once again by Andy Schleck who was bold enough to attack with over 60 kilometers to go in the stage. He animated the race, won the ‘Fighting Spirit’ prize, claimed his third stage win in the Tour de France... and only just missed out on taking over the lead of the general classification. No matter what the true favorites of the Tour de France do, they just can’t seem to squeeze Thomas Voeckler out of the yellow jersey. He’s now worn this prized top for more days than the triple champion Alberto Contador and it was the Spanish defending champion who suffered the biggest loss atop the roof of the Tour.While Andy raced ahead, the other favorites left all the responsibility of the chase to the rider who started the day in second place overall. Cadel Evans powered an impressive peloton from the 12km to go mark to the finish. He might have been passed in the final meters by Fränk Schleck – who gave the family a famous one-two finish on the Galibier – but the Australian should be proud of the way he conducted the chase. He has slipped to fourth overall, the lowest he’s been in the general classification since the start of the Tour but he is clearly one of the strongest riders in the world.Voeckler keeps his surprise alive and with his fifth place he will gain another day in the lead of the Tour. His advantage is 15" to Andy, 1’08" to Frank and 1’12" to Evans... the battle resumes in the stage to Alpe d’Huez.
The Progress Report
The highly anticipated 18th stage of the 2011 Tour de France – from Pinerolo to the col du Galibier – began at 11.30am. There were 169 riders in the race and the sun was shining at the start in Italy. Snow had fallen at the site of the finish in the days preceding what is the highest stage finish in the long history of the race, and while the temperature at the 2,645m high finish at the start of the day was just two degrees, it warmed up to around 25 degrees by the time the riders arrived. The stage featured three climbs of the highest ranking: the 2,744m high Col Agnel (at 107km) followed by the Col d’Izouard (at 145.5km) and the finish on the roof of the 98th Tour. Double points for the climbing classification were awarded on the Galibier. Just before the intermediate sprint, 16 men broek free of the fast-moving peloton. The escape group was Monfort and Posthuma (LEO), Perez Moreno and Urtasun Perez (EUS), Tjallingii (RAB), Navardauskas (GRM), Iglinkskiy (AST), Izizar (EUS), Erviti (MOV), Roche (ALM), Devenyns (QST), Bookwalter (BMC), Duque (COF), Hondo (LAM), Hoogerland (VCD), Delaplace (SAU). The average speed for the opening hour was 50.3km/h. By 75km, the 16 were 7’45” ahead while a counter-attacking trio – Delage (FDJ), Burghardt (BMC) and Silin – who set off at 48km. The chasing trio caught the leaders at the 82km mark. The average speed for the second hour was 34.6km/h.
Col Agnel: Favorites Mark Each Other...
The maximum gain of the escape was 9’10” at 83km. At the base of the first climb, the peloton was 7’50” behind. The average speed for the third hour was 34.5km/h. With 2km to climb, there were seven in a counter-attack that was composed of Gesink (RAB), Zeits (AST), Leipheimer (RSH), Arroyo (MOV), Jeannesson (FDJ), Moncoutie (COF) and Westra (VCD). They were 4’40” behind the stage leaders. The peloton was at 5’05”. At the top Iglinskiy darted ahead of the lead group that had been whittled down to 11 men in the final kilometers of the ascent. He took maximum points 10” ahead of Hoogerland and the other escapees 4’55” ahead of the counter-attacking group and 5’35” ahead of the peloton. On the descent, Duque, Hondo, Delaplace and Burghardt started to drift back to the peloton while 14 others insisted with the effort at the front.
Col d’Izoard: Andy Starts To Dance
At the base of the col d’Izoard, the seven counter-attackers were caught. The yellow jersey’s peloton arrived the second climb 4’30” behind the what had been a group of 14 but Perez Moreno and Tjallingii were the first to be dropped from that group. The lead group splintered and only Iglinskiy, Roche, Monfort, Devenyns and Silin remained at the front. Andy Schleck attacked the yellow jersey’s group halfway up the Izoard and there was no reaction from the others... Navarro (SBS) did, however, move to the front and start increasing the pace of the Voeckler group. At the top, Ignlinskiy took maximum points and was 1’15” ahead of Roche and Monfort and, crucially 1’50” ahead of Andy Schleck. The peloton reached the summit 4’05” behind the stage leader and 2’15” behind Andy Schleck. Uran (SKY) crashed on the descent and lost contact with the yellow jersey’s group that – with the exception of Andy Schleck – included all the riders in the top 10. Vanendert attacked the yellow jersey on the descent but his move didn’t last long. Uran rejoined the yellow jersey group before Briancon. At the bottom of the Izoard descent, Iglinkskiy led Andy Schleck, Monfort, Roche, Silin and Devenyns by 1’15”... and the yellow jersey’s group was a further 2’40” behind.
Andy Races To A Fine Victory While Evans Cracks Contador
With 25km to go, the advantage of the six stage leaders was 3’18”. Monfort peeled off from the lead with 20km to go when the yellow jersey’s peloton was 4’00” behind. With 18km to go, the peloton was composed of: Contador, Navarro, Chris Anker Sorensen, Frank Schleck, Sanchez, Izagirre, Verdugo, Vanendert, Danielson, Hesjedal, Vande Velde, Zubeldia, Arroyo, Erviti, Basso, Szmyd, Dupont, Peraud Riblon, Thomas, Uran, Zandio, De Weert, Jeannesson, Meersma, Evans, Moinard, Morabito, Taaramae, Cunego, Loosli, Voeckler, Rolland, Karpets, Gusev, Ruijgh,and Coppel.
With 13km to go, Evans found himself on the front of the chase group and he didn’t want to be there. In the time he waited for someone else to lead, the Schleck trio’s advantage grew from 3’55” to 4’15”. With the deficit at 4’25” Evans attacked the lead group (with 12km to go).
Schleck surged into the lead on his own with 8km to go, when Evans’ group was at 3’45”. For the final 12km no rider other than Cadel Evans led the pursuit of Schleck. Everyone else wanted the Australian on the front so there he stayed, in the wind, and ignoring the fact that others were getting shelter from him. He paced an elite group to the top of the climb and his speed thinned down the group until only an elite group remained. At the 1.5km to go mark, Evans claimed a coup by dropping Contador who would then be passed by numerous riders and finish 15th, 3’50” behind an impressive Andy Schleck who won his third Tour de France stage and got to within 15” of Voeckler’s overall lead.
Voeckler finished fifth in the stage, 2’21” behind Schleck and will wear the yellow jersey in stage 19.
Each day since he took the lead of the general classification, Thomas Voeckler says that he expects to lose the yellow jersey. But the Frenchman just keeps on trucking... even on the Tour’s Queen stage.
“This is a triumph that I fought for with all my strength. I came across the line and I knew that Andy Schleck could have taken the yellow jersey but I’ve kept it by just 15 seconds. It was a certainty that Andy would attack. He had two riders in the escape, and they were used for support when the action started in our group. I took advantage of the efforts of Cadel Evans who has worked very hard to try and bring back the break. That’s racing. I hadn’t noticed that Contador had been dropped. I was especially afraid that he would put in a big attack in the last two or three kilometers.
“In the end I had no earphone, and I asked Fränk Schleck how much time his brother had in advance, but he said he did not know. Then I saw that it was just under three minutes, so I said to Pierre Rolland that we had to ride! And it worked, it’s like a miracle. For the rest of this Tour de France it does not depend on me: 15 seconds is a small margin when compared to the best climbers in the world.”
Andy Schleck has won the last two ‘epic’ stages of the Tour de France: first at the Col du Tourmalet in the 100 anniversary of the race in the Pyrenees, and now the Col du Galibier in the centenary of the Alps...
“Today is the best of my victories. So far we have seen a race that’s been waiting for a decisive moment and I decided to take matters in to my hand and that’s why I started my attack from a long way out. I then managed to build a big advantage. It was a dream for me to win here.
“When I looked at the course when it was unveiled, I knew I wanted to win this one. Now I’m ready for the yellow jersey. What I did today shows that I can take it.”
Garmin-Cervélo maintains its control of the team classification after the Queen Stage in the Alps with a strong performance on the col du Galibier. The American squad placed three men in the top 12 of the race from Pinerolo to top of the famous pass with Tom Danielson ninth, Ryder Hesjedal 10th and Christian Vande Velde 12th. Meanwhile the Leopard-Trek team is focused on the individual rankings. Even though the Luxembourgers placed first and second in the stage – with Andy Schleck winning and Fränk Schleck taking second place – they did so at the expense of their third man, Maxime Monfort who sacrificed himself for his leaders after having been in the early escape of stage 18. It’s because of this approach that the AG2R La Mondiale team took second place in the stage with Jean-Christophe Peraud 16th, Hubert Dupont 17th and Nicolas Roche 19th to finish 2’26” behind Garmin-Cervélo. The French squad is also second overall, 10’30” behind the Americans.
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.