- The race 2011
- All about the race
It took only 16 kilometers before the true attacking action in a short but beautiful mountain stage began. And it was no less than Alberto Contador who turned on the turbo. He danced into the lead and prompted every GC rider into action. Thomas Voeckler tried with all his might to hold the wheel of the early aggressor but there was nothing he could do after having defended the yellow jersey almost all the way from Saint-Flour, through the Pyrenees but French cycling has plenty to celebrate. Even though Voeckler has surrendered his yellow jersey – as he said all along that he would do – there is a true star on the scene now. Pierre Rolland got to ride his own race and it paid off in perfect circumstances with a stunning solo victory at Alpe d’Huez. It’s the first French victory on this celebrated since Bernard Hinault 25 years earlier. Europcar has excelled in its defense of yellow but on the day that faltered, Pierre was perfect!
Although the tricolore will be waved in celebration tonight there were more blue and white striped flags featuring the red lion of Luxembourg on the mountain today. The fans came to see if Andy could move up the rankings and into the yellow jersey and indeed he could. Not only did he take the lead of the general classification but his brother moved up to second overall. All this on a day that Cadel Evans was once again one of the strongest riders in the world... only this time the Australian also suffered some misfortune. Andy leads Frank by 53” and Cadel by 57” going into the time trial of stage 20. The winner of this Tour de France is still not yet decided!
The Progress Report
After the Queen stage of the 2011 Tour de France from Pinerolo to the Col du Galibier, came another race on a course that provided riders with the opportunity to create a true spectacle. The 19th stage of the 98th Tour was from Modane to Alpe d’Huez began at 2.38pm with 168 riders still in the race. The menu included three categorized climbs on the short, 109.5km course. The ascents were the Col du Telegraphe (cat-one at 26.5km), the col du Galibier – ridden in the opposite direction to stage 18 (highest ranking, at 48.5km) and the final climb to the ‘hors categorie’ finish at Alpe d’Huez. The sun was shining at the start and the temperature was around 23 degrees Celsius. The intermediate sprint was at the 94.5km mark in Bourg d’Oisans.
Contador Attacks: Evans Caught Behind With Mechanical Issues...
As soon as the flag fell to signal the start, Hoogerland (VCD) attacked and drew three others with him: Burghardt (BMC), Buffaz (COF) and Urtasun (EUS). They were chased down by eight other riders at 3km: Izagirre (EUS), Greipel (OLO), Iglinskiy (AST), Gutierrez and Costa (MOV), Koren (LIQ), Riblon (ALM), Flecha (SKY), Pineau (QST), and Duque (COF). At 8km the 14 led by 55”. At the base of the Telegraphe climb, Chris-Anker Sorensen (SBS) attacked the peloton, by then the bunch was 2’50” behind the 14. At 15km, C.A. Sorensen (SBS) attacked the peloton then, at 16km Contador (SBS) also surged ahead. The defending champion of the Tour was marked by Andy and Frank Schleck, and Navarro (SBS) also raced into the group with his team leader. Meanwhile Evans bridged the gap to an elite attack group and his team-mate Burghardt dropped back to pace this group momentarily. Voeckler originally followed the move by Contador but he was dropped after 20km of racing. Then disaster struck for the rider in fourth overall: Evans had some issues with his rear derailleur. He stopped twice to try and remedy the situation but then took a new bike from the team car... by then Contador and co were 45” ahead.
Evans was caught by the peloton that was led by Liquigas. Contador’s group caught the leaders 4.5km from the top and powered to the front and raced in the wind for the whole climb. Izagirre attacked for climbing points and Schleck was second – inheriting the lead of the climbing classification with his eight points. Voeckler was 33” behind at the top, and the Basso/Evans peloton was at 1’36”. Evans teamed up with the Liquigas team and let the peloton between the Telegraphe and start of the Galibier climb. The average speed for the first hour was 33.8km/h. By then the yellow jersey was at 34” to the stage leaders – Contador, Schleck, Izagirre, Costa and Riblon – and the peloton was at 1’40”.
Col du Galibier: Andy Schleck Becomes Virtual Leader
With 8km to climb, the five stage leaders were 30” ahead of Voeckler who climb the Galibier on his own – at times shifting to the big chainring to try and limit his losses to Contador and co. Evans relied on three team-mates to pace the peloton and was 1’45” behind his former escape companions. Voeckler eventually paid for his efforts and was dropped by the Evans group on the Galibier climb. Meanwhile, Evans raced around his team-mates and then started to reduce the advantage of Contador and Schleck. Inside the final kilometer Sanchez (EUS) attacked the Evans group was reduced to just 14 men and they reached the top 45” behind the leading four. With Voeckler gone, Rolland (EUC) started to consider himself and he raced wit the Evans group and became the leader of the youth classification after Taaramae was dropped.
Alberto Races Ahead But Cannot Follow Pierre...
With 24.8km to go, the Evans group caught the Contador group. There were 14 in the lead Contador, Andy and Frank Schleck, Sanchez, Danielson, Hesjedal, Costa, Riblon, Casar, Jeannesson, Evans, Cunego, Velits and Rolland. With 23km to go, Rolland attacked and was followed by Hesjedal. There was a general regrouping just before the final climb with Voeckler part of a large group that caught the Schleck, Contador and Evans group. At the base of the final climb Contador surged into the lead and he was followed by Rolland momentarily but then the defending champion raced into the lead. Several distinct groups formed: the stage was led by Contador, then came Rolland and Sanchez at 30” with 5km to go, followed by Velits and De Gendt (at 40”), then Schleck, Schleck, Evans, Danielson, Hesjedal, Peraud and Cunego.
Rolland Gives France A Victory, Andy Takes Yellow!
After spending eight days looking after his team leader, the super-domestique Pierre Rolland turned into a winner at the Tour de France. He not only followed the accelerations by Contador but he was able to drop him in the closing kilometers. With a little less than 2km to go, he danced ahead of the defending champion of the Tour and the main aggressor (ie. winner of the ‘fighting spirit’ award at Alpe d’Huez) and on to a fine stage win. While Voeckler finished the stage in 20th place (at 3’22) and dropped out of the top 10 of general classification, his team-mate and the stage winner moved up to 10th place overall.
Evans attacked his group in the closing kilometers and despite the ferocity of his accelerations, he wasn’t able to put any distance into Andy Schleck. The Australian finished in fifth place in the stage but at the same time as both the Schleck bothers (ie. 57” behind Rolland) and the two Leopard-Trek riders are now in first and second place overall: Andy in the yellow jersey and Frank in second place, 53” behind his brother. The Australian who had his first taste of bad luck in the 2011 Tour moved from fourth to third, 57” behind the new Tour leader.
After three weeks of loyal service to his team leader, Pierre Rolland was given the chance to race for himself and he didn’t let anyone down. The 24-year-old is the first Frenchman to win on Alpe d’Huez since Bernard Hinault in 1986.
“I said I wanted to do everything possible to defend the yellow jersey of Thomas but on the climb of the Galibier, he told me, ‘Seize your chance, don’t worry about me’. This is also where I see that he is a great champion, one who was able to tell me to go at the right time. I immediately wanted to prepare myself for something by attacking in the valley. Still, this is a climb that I know very well one that I’ve reconnitoired more than a dozen times last year.
“When I found myself with two Spaniards, I knew they knew each other very well. So I told myself that I would not finish second, it was win or nothing. I knew at turn one, I could push the big chainring early on this climb at such a pace because I did it many times in training. This is a stage that I’ve watched dozens of times on video, with Armstrong, Pantani... I studied their cadence. And now it’s me who has won! It will take me a little time before I realize what I’ve done.
“As for the suggestions that I could win the Tour de France... well, we must not forget that I’m only 24, and I have 10 wonderful years. I know I’m going to train to be at the highest level, and not have regrets when my career is over.”
With two stages yet to go, one classification of the 2011 Tour has already been decided: Samuel Sanchez is the King of the Mountains. He was second at Alpe d’Huez but will win the polka-dot jersey...
“On the ascent of Alpe d’Huez, Alberto went first then I followed a little later and I took Pierre Rolland with me, but didn’t manage to win the stage. This morning I first wanted to see if I had recovered well from yesterday’s stage, which was a bad day for me.
“It is always matter of pride to be on the podium in Paris. And I now wear a jersey with some prestige – it’s a victory for me and for my team. I take it as a reward for all the work that has been done on this Tour. Now I think back and I’ll see what state I am tomorrow for the race again the clock, and with what aim.
“If I must take stock, it is far from negative: I’ve won a beautiful stage to Luz Ardiden, taken the the polka-dot jersey and I finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France. I think Jelle Vanendert had a bad time on the ascent of the Galibier, but he will be a true force to be considered in the coming years.”
Garmin-Cervélo was already leading the team classification before the stage to Alpe d’Huez but the US-registered squad won the day again by finished 1’28” ahead of its French rival, AG2R La Mondiale. The climbers who excelled yesterday did it again in the 109.5km dash to Alpe d’Huez with Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson arriving at the same time and Christian Vande Velde finishing not far behind. They earned 10th, 11th and 19th, respectively.
With this stage win, Garmin-Cervélo has increased its advantage in the general rankings, 11’58” ahead of AG2R La Mondiale and 12’57” ahead of Leopard-Trek... and then the differences are huge: 40’46” to the fourth place Europcar team.
With several specialists in the race against the clock, the winners of the team time trial appear destined to win the team classification in 2011.
He’s won three mountain stages during his time at the Tour de France but Andy Schleck would be the first to admit that Cadel Evans is a stronger time trial rider. Still, the Luxembourger is confident that he can hold on to the yellow jersey in the time trial of stage 20...
“I spoke with Cadel and asked him why he was not pulling and he didn’t respond so I was a little bit annoyed so I said, ‘I didn’t really have anything to do with the guys in front, Alberto is not here and he’s not still a danger for the overall.’ I didn’t really want to pull too hard anymore because I thought he was going to attack... which he did but he couldn’t drop me.
“Many riders say that the yellow jersey gives you wings and I hope that will be the case tomorrow.
“I couldn’t have told a writer to create a better Tour de France. It’s all there – the suspense is perfect. You could say ‘It’s only a minute’ or you can say ‘It’s a minute!’ It’s a little bit of fun but I count on myself for the time trial... I’ll do a good ride. I think I can hold on to the yellow jersey. I’ve been chasing it for a while.
“Every second counts and I’ve worked a lot on my time trial and I’ll go full-gas tomorrow and hope that it’s enough.
“I haven’t been so close to winning the Tour ever before, so I had this day and my shape is great and this is a realization of everything that I had in mind – to take yellow in the Alps and now it’s happening. Of course tomorrow is going to be a lot of hard work but I’m confident. I showed great form until now and I’ll do the same again tomorrow.”
On the day of many stories in only 109.5km of racing the top 10 is: 1. Pierre Rolland (FRA) EUC 109.5km in 3h13’25" 2. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 14" 3. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 23" 4. Peter Velits (SVK) THR at 57" 5. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 57" 6. Thomas De Gendt (BEL) VCD at 57" 7. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM at 57" 8. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO at 57" 9. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 57" 10. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) GRM at 1’15"
Pierre Rolland has won his first Tour de France stage. He has outclassed Alberto Contador to claim stage 19 in a little over three hours and 13 minutes. The average speed for the 109.5km stage is 34.0km/h. He is indeed the Best Young Rider in Le Tour 2011.
Indeed, Pierre Rolland has arrived! He is the new leader of the youth classification, the first French stage winner of the 98th Tour and a true star!
For the moment it looks as though Rolland has what it takes to win the 19th stage. He is 12" ahead of Sanchez but he and Contador are attacking each and chasing the stage win.
Just inside the final 2km Evans and Andy Schleck are 1’00" behind Rolland.