- The race 2011
- All about the race
In a stage that many believed was too hard for pure sprinters, Norway’s bright young home Edvald Boasson Hagen held off a late charge from Matt Goss to claim the first Tour de France stage win for his Sky team. The Norwegian celebrations should last long into the evening as third place in Lisieux was taken by Thor Hushovd, the general classification leader who doesn’t understand the word ‘surrender’… or, if he does, it’s not something he tends to do. On a wet, long day in the saddle, the pace was fast at the start with an average speed of 49.4km/h in the opening hour but then an escape was allowed to gain an advantage of over 10 minutes. Never mind, they would never stay ahead: HTC refused to allow that to happen even if their sprinter, Mark Cavendish was dropped early. They had aspirations with their Tour debutant Goss who ever nearly delivered a victory. As good as the Tasmanian was, he couldn’t get ahead of the powerhouse from Norway who won a Giro d’Italia stage with Goss’ team before joining Sky in 2009.
The Progress Report
The longest stage of the 2011 Tour de France began at 11.54am with 194 riders still in the race. The non-starter was Ivan Velasco (EUS) who quit because of a broken collarbone sustained in a crash. The stage featured three climbs: cat-3 Cote de Saint-Michel-de-Montjoie (at 99.5km) the cat-3 Cote du Bourg-d’Oilly (at 156.5km), and the cat-4 Cote du Billot (at 197km). The intermediate sprint was in Vassy at 131km. The conditions were mild with a temperature at the start of around 20 degrees Celsius. It was dry in Dinan but there was a wind blowing from the north-east.
Five Establish The Escape
The first attack of the stage came around the 5km mark and was instigated by Roux (FDJ). He was joined by Westra (VCD); this pair was joined in the lead (at 7km) by Duque (COF), Malori (LAM) and Hoogerland (VCD). Other riders attempted to bridge to the front group but none were successful in the first 20km when the original escapees had a lead of 55”. Around the 30km mark, the peloton called a truce of sorts and the advantage grew quickly: 2’40” at 35km; 4’20” at 40km; 5’45” at 44km… the average speed for the first hour was 49.4km/h! Rain started to fall during the second hour and, by then, the escapees had build the biggest advantage so far in the 98th Tour: 9’10” at 66km. At 75km the Garmin team assumed position at the head of the peloton and began to limit the gains of the escape. The average for the second hour was 41.8km/h.
The maximum gain of the escape was 11’35” (at the top of the climb). Just before the cote de Saint-Michel-de-Montjoie, there was an attack from Hoogerland who raced ahead to claim first place and increase his tally of climbing points to three. The Garmin and HTC teams then shared the workload at the head of the peloton until Movistar arrived with about six kilometers to go to the intermediate sprint. Roux took the 20 points in Vassy with a fine sprint against Duque. Meanwhile the Movistar team led it out for the peloton and Cavendish was marked closely by Rojas. The HTC leader easily accounted for the Spaniard in a clean sprint and added 10 points to his tally in the green jersey competition. The average for the third hour was 36.6km/h.
Hoogerland Poised For Polka-Dot Top…
On the second climb, the five escapees rode tempo until about 350m from the line when Roux launched off the front to beat Hoogerland over the line. The Dutchman still acquired a point and was poised to inherit the polka-dot jersey thanks to his efforts in the escape today. With 70km to go, the peloton was 2’35” behind the escapees. With 60km to go, Westra attacked the lead group and was marked by Malori. The peloton was 1’40” behind. The average for the fourth hour was 40.6km/h. Roux returned to the peloton with 45km to go, Hoogerland was caught 42km from the finish when Malori and Westra were 3’00” ahead of the peloton. Duque returned to the peloton 40km from the end. Westra led over the final climb and continued to work with Malori until 18.5km to go when the Italian attacked and the Dutchman waited for the bunch.
Roux attacked the peloton (again) with 13.5km to go. He was caught (again) at 10km to go.
Sky Gets A Victory Thanks To ‘Eddy’ Boasson Hagen
With 6km to go, Leipheimer crashed along a guardrail on the side of the road just as Malori was putting in his final bid for glory… but it wasn’t to be, he was swallowed up with 3km to go. With 2km to go Vanendert attacked and was chased down by Voeckler. This pair earned an advantage of about 100m but Millar, Evans, Thomas and Gilbert were at the front of a hungry peloton that refused to give them any chance of success. After the ‘Flamme Rouge’ Vinokourov tried an attack but was caught by Mollema who opened up a decent gap but not enough to hold off an elite bunch of sprinters. There were 62 in the front peloton but no one had as much class as the young Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen who came off the wheel of Thomas with 400m to go. Hushovd followed his compatriot up the left of the road and Goss closed in quickly but the Sky rider held off the charge from the Australian to claim his maiden victory in the Tour de France.
Gilbert finished seventh and Rojas fifth which means the Belgian keeps the green jersey by just one point.
Hushovd’s third place means he will keep the yellow jersey for another day.
Vacansoleil shines! Not content with having
had two men – Lieuwe Westra and Johnny Hoogerland – in the break and also
claiming the polka-dot jersey, the Dutch team also won stage six by firing a
volley of shots at the finish in Lisieux, with Romain Feillu (fourth), Marco
Marcato (ninth) and Borut Bozic (17th).
Second the day before the FDJ team has two
men in the top 10 – Athur Vichot (sixth) and Arnold Jeannesson (10th)
– but the French squad is still missing a third rider ranked high enough
to take a win in the team classification.
Only 12 of the 22 teams have at leas three
riders in the front group of 62, including five who had already occupied the
top of the standings: Garmin-Cervélo still leads Sky by two seconds in the
general rankings, Leopard-Trek by four seconds, RadioShack by 10 seconds and
HTC-Highroad by 13 seconds.
There’s only one points between first and second in the race for the green jersey: Philippe Gilbert leads over José Rojas but the Belgian isn’t committing himself to chasing the sprinters’ prize – not quite yet.
“The climb just before the finish was no as
hard as everyone was expecting. It was talked up to be something more
significant than it turned out to be. Furthermore, the stage was rather long
and we had a fair amount of tailwind and it was also pretty fast. We arrived
relatively fresh and it wasn’t such a hard day.
“At the end, my team-mate Jelle Vanendert
attacked. It was expected to increase the pace to thin out the pack and make a
selection. It didn’t turn out too bad but in the sprint I simply couldn’t find
an opening… and anyway, Boasson Hagen was was very strong. Apparently yesterday
he was prepared to go the distance and that’s why he attacked so early. Today
he attacked in exactly the right place and he was very strong. If he had done
this yesterday, he would have won too.
“I didn’t win today but I came to the Tour
to win and wear the yellow jersey which I did after riding four-and-a-half
hours so my goal had already been achieved. As for the green jersey… we’ll see
The white jersey has belonged to Welshman Geraint Thomas since stage one. Today his team enjoyed a victory and he’s relishing the conditions… even if they were soaking wet for stage six.
“I love conditions like that. A lot of the
guys complain. When it’s raining half of the peloton doesn’t want to race so
that’s the advantage that we have. Obviously myself and Edvald were really up
for today, we knew we could get up there because we’ve been feeling good and
it’s perfect finish for us. The whole team was great today, we all worked well
together: Swifty did a great job getting us to the front and keeping us out of
the wind to start that climb, then we just had the legs to hold a good position
and I could guide Eddy to the last 200 meters and he finished it off a treat.
It’s a perfect day for the team.
“It’s been a while in coming. We didn’t get
a stage win last year and this year we’ve been getting closer and closer so it’s
great to finally get that.
“These kind of roads are just like I love
racing on. You don’t have to go up 15 kilometer mountains in the baking heat and
stupid things like that so it’s just good racing and everyone’s getting stuck
in. It’s pretty stressful but we’re pretty good at fighting and staying in good
positions and putting it on the line for each other.
“There’s a great morale in the team at the
moment… from Bayern where I won, and the Dauphiné where Brad won – it’s been a
nice roll-on effect and hopefully we can keep that going with Brad now.”
He attacked in stage five and again in stage six and Johnny Hoogerland’s aggressive ways paid off with a visit to the podium to collect the polka-dot jersey in Lisieux.
"This is the first Tour de France for the
team and we’re all happy to be here in this beautiful event so it’s important
for us to be in the break to show ourselves. We have, in Feillu, a very good
sprinter who can go for the stage wins and for the mountains we have good
riders but today it was a goal for me to take this jersey. It was no so easy
because the first 35 or 40 kilometers we had to go full gas because we had just
one minute on the peloton then they let us go.
“It was very hard with the rain because I
was freezing. In the feedzone I had to put another jacket on because I was just
“In the second sprint [for climbing points]
I was losing to Roux and so Lieuwe [Westra] attacked and that was perfect.
“I’ll hold on to this jersey for tomorrow
at least – that’s for sure because there are no climbs in the stage – but I’ll
also need to recover from the two days that I’ve been in the front but I hope I
can keep it as long as possible.
“I’m not someone who can stay in the group.
It’s the Tour de France and every day that you’re in this race, there’s the
chance for a lot of good publicity for the team and so if you can also take a
jersey then it’s wonderful.
“Lieuwe was very strong in the second
mountain sprint. He is just a moto! If you give him 100 meters, you will not
see him again. Against the peloton it’s difficult but for the group in the
front, it was perfect to have him there…”
He’s won a stage with his team and finished in the top 10 every other day but a stage victory eludes Hushovd. He’s happy with his third, would have liked to win but the yellow jersey is not upset with the winner in Lisieux…
“I didn’t have the legs so I’m really
please Edvald won. I did a sprint today that was really one of my biggest goals
for this Tour de France so that’s a sprint that I could win and it was really
close today but I missed the little bit that I needed to win it.
“It’s incredible what Edvald did today. He’s
such a young rider and he’s so strong at the finish of a stage like this so of
course I’m really happy for him. I’d prefer to beat him but when somebody else
wins, I’m glad it’s him.
“Edvald has such a big capacity and it’s hard
to say what he’s capable of. It depends on where he wants to go: he can be like
a Gilbert rider or like me when it’s a finish like this.”
With a constant grin, the 24-year-old Norwegian struggled to find the words in English to describe his emotions. “It’s really nice.” That suffices for a rider who let his legs do the talking at the top of the final climb in Lisieux…
“I got it wrong in the last meters yesterday
so I was more calm today. I waited a little longer and also had the benefit of
Geraint Thomas who came up in the last three kilometers and did a really good
lead-out. It’s amazing to win a stage.
“I rode on instinct but I also had a small
plan that I had to wait a bit longer than yesterday. I had good feelings on the
climb, the legs were good, and it’s really nice when I got up front and saw
Geraint there for me.
“When we got up the climb and were on the
flat, Geraint gave valuable support. I knew from yesterday that I had good
speed for the sprint and that I had a chance today. It’s a pleasure to get the
“I went full gas when I saw the line. And
when I went over it, it was really nice. I stuck my arms up in the air and it
was really good. It’s really nice: there are two guys from Norway in the race
and we’re both on the podium. Yeah, it’s really nice.”
This is a day for Sky to celebrate. Their Norwegian wünderkind has delivered and the British team has now won a stage of the Tour de France. The top 10 in stage six is: 1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY - 226.5km in 5h13’37" 2. Matt Goss (AUS) THR 3. Thor Hushovd (NOR) GRM 4. Romain Feillu (FRA) VCD 5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) MOV 6. Arthur Vichot (FRA) FDJ 7. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) OLO 8. Gerald Cioleck (GER) QST 9. Marco Mercato (ITA) VCD 10. Arnold Jeannesson (FRA) FDJ
The rider who attacked with 800m to go yesterday has been more patient today. Edvald Boasson Hagen has won his first Tour stage and the first for his Sky team. He held off a fast finish from Goss and Hushovd.
Vinokourov tried an attack but now there’s a move from Rabobank but Thomas is right on his wheel. The sprint is about to begin with about 50 riders represented...
Millar is ahead of Evans ahead of Thomas ahead of EBH ahead of Gilbert ahead of Rojas ahead of Goss as they race to the final kilometer...
Voeckler is in the lead with 2km to go in the stage. he has a lead of about 100 meters and has Vanendert right on his wheel. It’s raining but the sun is shining... we wait to see who responds from the peloton.