- The race 2011
- All about the race
He was virtually certain that he would lose the lead of the general classification today but Thor Hushovd never surrenders but always surprises. The top five after eight stage so the 2011 Tour de France is: 1. Thor Hushovd (NOR) GRM 2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 1" 3. Frank Schleck (LUX) LEO at 4" 4. Andreas Klöden (GER) RSH at 10" 5. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) LEO at 12"
Alberto Rui Costa has given his Movistar team its first win in the Tour de France. The top 10 in stage eight is: 1. Alberto Rui Costa (POR) MOV - 189km in 4h36’46" 2. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) OLO at 12" 3. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 15" 4. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 15" 5. Peter Velits (SVK) THR at 15" 6.Dries Devenyns (BEL) QST at 15" 7. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM at 15" 8. Alberto Contador (ESP) SBS at 15 9. Andy Schleck (LUX) LEO at 15" 10. Fränk Schleck (LUX) LEO at 15"
Vinokourov faded at the end and was caught by the yellow jersey’s peloton. The Australian BMC rider was third.
Despite all the attacking it seems that Thor Hushovd will keep the yellow jersey after stage eight.
Rui Costa has won the stage. It’s the first victory for Movistar in the Tour de France.
Cunego attacked the peloton and this prompted Evans to surge. They have put distance into Contador.
Contador has caught Riblon. He has Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans right with him but Gilbert has attacked this group.
Costa is holding off the charge by Vinokourov. These two are the only riders inside the final kilometer. There is 18" between the two at the front of the race. Van Garderen has been caught by the peloton.
Richie Porte is at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton that is 1’00" behind Costa.
Van Garderen has been voted the winner of the ’Fighting Spirit’ award.
Costa is on the final ascent. He must strive to hold off the charge of an inspired Vinokourov who is 16" behind.
Vinokourov is just 20" behind Costa with 3km to go in the stage. The Portuguese rider is 30" ahead of Flecha, Van Garderen and RIblon.
The yellow jersey’s peloton has dropped Robert Gesink who has four team-mates trying to minimise his losses.
Costa is less than 4km from the finish. He leads Vinokourov - who has caught and dropped Van Garderen - by 20".
The Astana rider who started the action on the second last climb has been caught by the peloton. Costa is still in the lead of the race, then comes Van Garderen then comes Vinokourov who is now ahead of Gautier and Riblon.
The peloton is 1’05" behind Costa with 5km to go. Vinokourov has caught Riblon but Costa continues to lead the stage.
Van Garderen is 6" behind Costa with 5km to go.
15" - to Gautier
20" - to Riblon
27" - to Vinokourov and Flecha...
Costa is in the lead of the stage on the rise that comes 5km from the finish. He is about 70 meters ahead of Van Garderen. Riblon and Gautier have dropped out of contention and are about to be caught by Flecha and Vinokourov.
An attack from Gautier has caused Riblon to lose contact with the lead group. Now it’s Costa’s time. The Portuguese rider is well ahead of the American and Frenchman.
Van Garderen’s group is 35" ahead of Tiralongo, Vinokourov and Flecha.
With 7km to go, the peloton was 1’05" behind Van Garderen’s quartet. Vinokourov’s trio is 27" from the leading four.
The peloton is descending towards Besse. The BMC team has two riders at the front then it’s Martin (HTC) and Leopard-Trek right on their wheel.
Tejay Van Garderen seems intent on winning the stage. He might not achieve this - as each surge he makes is matched by Gautier, Costa and Riblon - but he WILL take the polka-dot jersey.
Van Garderen is on the attack (again!). The peloton with BMC still at the front and the yellow jersey still present is at 1’13" with 1km to go.
The four stage leaders are using attacks to maintain their advantage over the Vinokourov chase. With 10km to go, Gauter, Costa, Van Garderen and Riblon are together but each of them (except Gautier) have attacked... they have a lead of 35" on Vinokourov, Tiralongo and Flecha.
Van Garderen is attacking the lead group but he can’t shake Costa, Riblon or Gautier. Now Riblon has sped into the lead again but he too has been caught.
With 15km to go, Riblon has attacked the lead group. Van Garderen is leading the chase with Costa and Gautier are on his wheel. They are 30" ahead of the Vinokourov group.
Hushovd is marking Evans who has four team-mates ahead of him at the front of the peloton that’s 1’15" behind Van Garderen’s group. Hushovd said that he hopes his yellow jersey will go to David Millar but if the race stopped now, it’s likely that Vinokourov would be in the lead of GC.
Kolobnev has been swallowed up by the Evans peloton. There are 40" between the first four and the chasing four.
Gesink had slipped behind the peloton led by the BMC team but the Dutchman is back with that group that’s currently 1’40" behind the stage leaders.
Van Garderen, Gautier, Riblon and Costa are 1’00" ahead of Vinokourov, Tiralongo, Flecha and Zandio with 17km to go in the stage. The peloton is at 1’40".
Vinokourov currently has a lead of 30". His group of three is about to catch Zandio. The Kazakh was 11th overall at the start of the stage, 32" behind Hushovd.
The peloton has caught the polka-dot jersey and Rolland.
With 20km to go, the peloton is 1’55" behind the leading group which is now composed of four men: Van Garderen, Riblon, Costa and Gautier.
With 20km to go, Vinokourov, Flecha and Tiralongo are 1’25" behind the stage leaders.
Costa and Van Garderen are together inside the final 20km of the stage. They are:
10" ahead of Gautier and Riblon
30" to Zandio...
Near the top of the third climb, Robert Gesink was dropped by the peloton. This happened on a climb that shares his name... but the white jersey is now trying to rejoin the group that is led by BMC.
1. Van Garderen (THR) 5pts 2. Costa (MOV) 3pts 3. Riblon (ALM) 2pts 4. Gautier (EUC) 1pt
The BMC team has led the peloton over the top 2’10" behind the stage leader. Gesink has been dropped...
Txurruka, Tiralongo, Hoogerland, Rolland, Flecha now have Vinokourov in their group.
At the top, Van Garderen had a lead of about 30 meters on Costa.
Vinokourov is speeding past remnants of the escape group. He is 1’55" behind the stage leaders.
The two stage leaders are inside the final 1km of the climb. Vinokourov has just attacked the peloton and no one has been able to chase him down although one Saxo Bank rider did at least react to the move.
Van Garderen (HTC) leads with Costa (MOV), then comes:
Gautier (EUC) at 10"
Riblon (ALM) at 20"
Zandio (SKY) and Kolobnev (KAT) at 25"
Zingle (COF) at 30"
Rolland (EUR), Txurruka (EUS) and Tiralongo (AST) at 40". The final trio are about to be caught by Hoogerland and Flecha.
Txurruka (EUS), Tiralongo (AST) and Rolland (EUC) are 1’45" behind the Van Garderen trio. Hoogerland and Flecha are at 2’10".
There are numerous riders forming a grupetto at the back of the peloton. Casar has raced passed them all and is now back in the peloton that’s led by Martin (HTC) and two BMC riders.
The polka-dot jersey has attacked the peloton. He has Flecha along with him 1’15" behind Van Garderen’s trio.
With 29km to go, van Garderen is putting time into Costa and Gauter but the Portuguese and French riders are fighting back to the lead of the stage...
Van Garderen has Costa and Gautier with him at the front of the stage. They are inside the final 30km.
Casar has been forced to wait for a new bike just at the base of the climb. The peloton was 1’55" behind at the start of this challenge.
The attack by Van Garderen has caused three to lose contact: Zingle (GOF), El Fares (COF) and Engels (QST) couldn’t maintain the pace set by the American.
Gautier is leading the escape on the early slopes of the third climb but van Garderen has launched an attack down the left of the road.
The Omega riders at the front are rapidly decreasing the advantage of the escapees. The work is surely being done in the hope that they can launch Jurgen van den Broeck on an attack to try and improve his position in the general classification. He began the stage ranked 13th overall, 39" behind Hushovd. We can now see a number of general classification teams moving to the front of the bunch: BMC, Rabobank, Astana, Liquigas, RadioShack... who’s your pick for the win today? We’ll get the answer in a little less than 32km.
Zandio is at the front of the escape group as it prepares to climb the col de la Croix Saint-Robert. The leaders have an advantage of just 2’05".
There are now three Omega Pharma-Lotto riders at the front of the peloton. Just behind is Navardauskas (GRM), Eisel (THR) and Gilbert (OLO) looking like his going to try something soon...
With the peloton now just 2’35" behind the nine escapees (who had a maximum gain of 6’10") we can expect to see at least one or two try to up the tempo in the next few minutes. They are less than 37km from the finish and will soon begin the ascent of the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert.
Astana has been joined at the front by Garmin-Cervélo and the nine escapees are now just 3’05" ahead.
The intensity is picking up and thus the watts applied to the pedal are increasing. Recently all riders on the SRM streaming today had power outputs over 500. It must have been a slight rise in the road that prompted the spike but the urgency that is part of the end of a Tour stage has also contributed to this increase.
As he leads the peloton, Tomas Vaitkus is tapping out a tempo of around 60km/h.
Vaitkus and Grivko have been joined by three more team-mates including the leader of Astana, Alexandre Vinokourov.
The two Astana riders at the front of the peloton are Andriy Grivko and Tomas Vaitkus.
The Katusha rider at the front of the stage is Aleksandr Kolobnev. The Russian team has won only one stage of the Tour in three years (for Sergeui Ivanov in 2009). Kolobnev has the qualities of a rider who could win a stage like the one to Super-Besse (ie. a strong man who can climb well on ascents with a gradient of about four or five per cent - in other words, just like the one at the finish today).
The virtual lead of Costa (MOV) is almost over. His group of nine are almost inside the final 50km of the eighth stage. They have been sharing the workload relatively evenly but the peloton is now being driven along by two Astana riders ahead of a line of BMC riders. There is 4’20" between the front group and the peloton.
The Col de la Croix Saint-Robert is the first category-two ascent of the 2011 Tour de France. It is 6.2km long with an average gradient of 6.2 per cent. The steepest kilometers are at the start (7.7 per cent). The top is at an altitude of 1,451m and it comes with 25km to go in the eighth stage.
After spending the last two hours in complete command of the peloton (ie. no other team did a turn at the front), BMC has now received support from two Astana riders.
The average speed for the third hour is 37.9km/h. The average for the first three hours: 42.7km/h.
There was a little bit of rain early in the stage and cool temperatures for the start but the sun is now shining and the temperature is around 24 degrees Celsius.
The SRM live tracker - which is streaming data from 13 riders live during today’s stage (including both Cofidis riders in the escape) - reveals that the peloton is moving along at over 50km/h at the moment. It is 4’50" behind at the 123km mark. Brookwalter (BMC) is one of the riders swapping off at the front, and you can see his power output rise and fall when he’s in and out of the wind: about 400 watts when he’s at the front, versus 250 watts when he’s following wheels.
Christophe Riblon (ALM) is the only rider of the escape group to have previously won a stage of the Tour. It was in stage 14 of last year’s race. There was a fast start when five riders eventually established an escape they were chased down by another four, including Riblon. Over the Port de Pailheres, the lead group splintered because of attacks by Raphael Valls Ferri then Riblon surged along with Jurgen van de Walle and Amael Moinard. The Frenchman began the final climb to Ax-3-Domanes with an advantage of about four minutes and held on to win the stage 54 seconds ahead of Denis Menchov.
The peloton is 4’55" behind the nine escapees at the top of the second climb (with 69.5km to go).
The two Cofidis riders at the front of the stage led out the sprint for climbing points but Kolobnev beat them to the line.
The nine escapees are 1km from the top of the cote de Rocher des Trois Tourtes (cat-4 at 119.5km).
The award for the most punctures in the peloton so far this year, goes to Cofidis. The latest to cop a flat tire is Sumuel Dumoulin.
There had been nine riders from BMC at the front for a lot of the stage. Now there are four... and the team leader Cadel Evans is actually smiling as he shares a chat with Thor Hushovd.
El Fares has returned to the lead group which is now 75km from the finish. The next climb is a little more than 5km away.
Zingle is still in the lead group of eight so it’s El Fares (COF) who has punctured. He has had a wheel change and is about to rejoin the lead group.
One of the two Cofidis riders in the escape - either Julien or Romain - has just punctured a tire.
The 22-year-old Tour debutant from HTC who is in the escape today is Tejay van Garderen. The American has had a lot of good results so far this year but he’s not yet claimed a win. He was 11th in the Tour de Suisse in June (and third in the points classification, behind Peter Sagan and JJ Rojas), fourth in the national championships in May (behind Matt Busche, George Hincapie and Ted King), and fifth in the Tour of California... Currently, he’s part of a nine-man escape group that’s 5’10" ahead of the peloton.
At the entry to the feedzone, there are still nine BMC riders at the front of the peloton which is 5’10" behind the escapees.
The first Australian to lead the Tour de France, Phil Anderson, is at the race again this year hosting holidays for cycling fans. He has just ridden the last two kilometers of the stage and admits that it’s easier to do that than tackle the climb after 187km of riding beforehand. His tip for the stage is "the usual suspects... Andy, Alberto and of course Cadel." Evans is the fifth Australian to lead the Tour (as he’s done in 2008 and again last year). He is just one second behind the yellow jersey after seven stages of the 2011 Tour.
The leaders are inside the final 90km of the stage. They had reached a maximum gain of 6’10" but that’s dropped to 5’20" thanks to the speed that’s being set by the BMC riders at the front of the pack.
The escapees are about to reach the Puy-de-Dôme department. This is where Super-Besse is located. At the base of the final climb today is the town of Besse; there are several towns called Besse in France and - as Bob Roll from the US broadcaster will testify - there’s also a Besse in the Cantal department, about 100km from the site of today’s finish.
Pierre Rolland (EUC) was recently forced to stop on the left side of the road and get a mechanic to help him remove a jacket that had gotten caught in the wheel after he took it off... the procedure was a simple one but they managed to make it look complicated...
The most recent Tour stage to end at the site of today’s finish was in 2008. The rider in the yellow jersey for the seventh stage of that year’s race was Stefan Schumacher. He was present in the lead group as it began the sprint and he crashed several hundred meters before the finish after being shunted into barricades as the leaders starting winding up the pace for the sprint to the line. He quickly remounted but finished 25th, 32” behind the stage winner and dropped from first to third on GC. There is a rule that, if there’s a crash inside the final three kilometers of a stage, then the fallen riders receive the same time as the winner… but this does not apply when the finish is at the top of the climb as it is in Super-Besse.
All nine riders from the BMC team are at the front of the bunch that’s 5’25" behind the nine escapees.
The Czech from Astana, Roman Kreuziger has just dropped behind the peloton to consult the race doctor. He was one of the riders to crash in stage seven.
The escapees are 5’40" ahead at the moment. The maximum gain of nine-man break was 6’10" at the 78km mark.
The average speed for the second hour in stage eight is 41.8km/h. The average since the start of the stage is 45.1km/h.
The peloton is currently on a downhill stretch and riding at around 50km/h... a little slower than they might have been traveling had it been dry. It’s not raining at the moment but the roads are wet.
There are seven riders from the BMC team now at the front of the peloton that’s 5’45" behind the escapees. The riders who sped ahead to take points are back in the pack now.
1. Riblon (ALM) 20pts 2. Costa (MOV) 17pts 3. Kolobnev (KAT) 15pts 4. Van Garderen (THR) 13pts 5. Zingle (COF) 11pts 6. El Fares (COF) 10pts 7. Engels (QST) 9pts 8. Gautier (EUC) 8pts 9. Zandio (SKY) 7pts 10. Gilbert (OLO) 6pts 11. Rojas (MOV) 5pts 12. Ventoso (MOV) 4pts 13. Cavendish (THR) 3pts 14. Goss (THR) 2pts 15. Roelandts (OLO) 1pts
Gilbert led the peloton over the line at the intermediate sprint. Cavendish had been led by two team-mates but he didn’t bother taking on the Belgian champion at the 83km mark.
The Omega Pharma team is now setting up the lead-out for the sprint for 10th place points. Movistar and HTC riders are following their wheels.
The leaders have taken the points at the intermediate sprint. The order over the line was: 1. Riblon (ALM) 20pts 2. Costa (MOV) 17pts 3. Kolobnev (KAT) 15pts 4. Van Garderen (THR) 13pts 5. Zingle (COF) 11pts 6. El Fares (COF) 10pts 7. Engels (QST) 9pts 8. Gautier (EUC) 8pts 9. Zandio (SKY) 7pts
The nine escapees are about to contest the sprint for points in Auzances. They are inside the final 400m and so far it seems as though they’ll just roll over the line... there’s no attack as yet but here comes one from Riblon...
At the back of the peloton, Hoogerland (VCD) is having a hard time trying to take off a long-sleeve polka-dot jersey. It took about three minutes but the Dutchman has achieved the task.
The question we’re asking readers of the Tour’s official site today is:
Of these riders who has the best chance of taking yellow in stage eight?
Jakob Fuglsang Be sure to click the button next to the rider you believe is likely to inherit the lead of the general classification. (The selection offered are those ranked second to sixth after seven stages.)
The BMC team has been at the front of the peloton for most of the day. Garmin-Cervelo stated yesterday that there was no intention for them to defend Hushovd’s yellow jersey today. The expectation is that the GC lead will change today and Evans (BMC) is in the best position. Currently, Brent Brookwalter is one of the riders setting the pace and his power output is around 400 watts while others in the peloton are out of the wind and putting out about 260 watts.
The leaders are less than 10km from the site of the intermediate sprint. This is in Auzances at the 83km mark. They have been on the attack since the sixth kilometer. The riders in the escape are: Riblon (ALM), Costa (MOV), Zandio (SKY), Engels (QST), El Fares (COF), Zingle (COF), van Garderen (THR), Gautier (EUC) and Kolobnev (KAT).
The BMC team continues to set the pace of the pack which was 5’30" behind the nine escapees at the 65.5km mark (ie. the top of the first climb).
In the year that Cadel Evans (BMC) had the number-one ‘dossard’ in the Tour, 2008, he was ranked fourth overall before the start of the stage to Super-Besse. The Australian finished third on the top of the climb that concludes today’s stage. Ahead of him were Riccardo Ricco and Alejandro Valverde – two riders who have since served suspensions for doping. At the end of the seventh stage in 2008 in which Evans finished four seconds ahead of Fränk Schleck (4th) and Kim Kirchen (5th), the Australian moved up to second on general classification, six seconds behind Kirchen.
Today is the 83rd birthday for the ‘Eagle of Toledo’ Federico Bahamontes. The Spaniard won the Tour in 1959. He was also the King of the Mountains of the race six times – 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963 and 1964.
There are BMC and Quickstep riders at the front of the peloton that’s inside the final kilometer of the first climb. It is 5’15" behind the nine escapees.
Julien El Fares (COF) has won the climbing point on the cote d’Evaux-les-Bains.
The escapees are 5’15" ahead of the peloton. The nine leaders are near the 1.7km long ascent of the cote d’Evaux-les-Bains. The top is a the 65.5km mark and the peloton has just reached the 60km mark.
It’s been dry early in the eighth stage but rain has started to call...
The 18th stage of the 2008 Tour finished in Montluçon. That was the day that Sylvain Chavanel won his first stage of this race... beating one of the more attacking riders of this year’s edition, Jérémy Roy. Montluçon is not far from where the route takes riders in today’s eighth stage.
When the 13th stage of the Tour de France concluded at the site of today’s finish, the winner was Rolf Sorensen (DEN). He beat a Portuguese rider - Orlando Rodrigues - and two Frenchmen: Richard Virenque and Luc Leblanc. Two Grand Tour champions were placed fifth and six: Paolo Savoldelli (ITA) and Miguel Indurain (ESP). George Hincapie, who is a domestique for Cadel Evans in 2011, was in the peloton that day. He finished 129th at Super-Besse.
One year ago today, after the finish of the stage of the Tour de France, Rui Costa was involved in an altercation with Carlos Barredo at the finish. The pair exchanged a few blows and both were issued fines by the race jury - but allowed to stay in the Tour... Today the Portuguese Movistar rider is fighting to keep his escape group clear of the peloton. The nine stage leaders are 4’30" ahead of the bunch which means that the virtual leader of the Tour at this moment is ’Boxer’ Costa.
The average for the opening hour of racing in stage eight is 48.4km/h.
With the escape group now 4’10" ahead of the peloton, the Portuguese rider in the lead, Rui Costa (MOV) is the virtual leader of the Tour de France. He began the stage ranked 43rd, 4’02" behind Hushovd.
When the Tour visited Super-Besse in 2008, Alberto Contador was not in the race. But he is one rider who is expected to do well today. Saxo Bank’s press officer asked him what he expects in stage eight before the start of the race today. "I did this climb once and I know it’s tough," said the defending champion of the Tour. "There might be a little tension in the field and whether anyone of the favorites will be dropped will depend on whether the race is hard from the gun. "I’m feeling good but with the rain, it’s harder to recover from day to day. Yesterday afternoon I was feeling much worse than the day before..."
Of the nine in the lead of the eighth stage, only Christophe Riblon (ALM) has previously won a stage of the Tour de France. The rider who has won medals at the track world championship in the past, was first to the top of the Ax-3-Domanes climb in the Pyrenees at last year’s Tour.
The escapees are now 3’15" ahead of the peloton.
One of the most dominant racers of the 2011 season is Philippe Gilbert (OLO). When he last contested the Tour de France (in 2008), the race came to Super-Besse for stage seven. On that day, the new Belgian champion was 136th in the stage over 17 minutes behind the stage winner. He was a member of the FDJ team at the time...
The bunch is now 2’40" behind the nine escapees. This check was taken at the 32km mark.
“Until this point it’s been really, really good,” said the rider who many believe is going to take the yellow jersey at the end of stage eight, Cadel Evans (BMC) “I like to say that it’s gone as we planned and as we prepared for but that’s a lot easier said than done. We saw what it was like yesterday and the day before – it’s been a really nervous Tour so to get through so far… full compliments to everyone, those on the bikes but those behind the scenes as well. “I want to get through and see what comes. There’ll certainly be a GC shake up but how much we’ll see when we get there.”
The nine in the lead are:
Rui Alberto Costa (POR) Movistar
Christophe Riblon (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale
Xabier Zandio (ESP) Team Sky
Addy Engels (NED) Quickstep
Julien El Fares (FRA) and Romain Zingle (BEL) Cofidis
Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad
Cyril Gautier (FRA) Europcar
Aleksandr Kolobnev (RUS) Katusha. They are 2’00" ahead at the 27km mark.
The bunch is being led by the BMC team of Cadel Evans, who is ranked 2nd overall. The nine escapees are now 1’15" ahead.
The counter-attack by Coyot has amounted to nothing. He has been caught by the peloton.
The nine escapees - Riblon (ALM), Costa (MOV), Zandio (SKY), Engels (QST), El Fares (COF), Zingle (COF), Van Garderen (THR), Gautier (EUC), Kolobnev (KAT) - are 50" ahead of Coyot and 1’00" ahead of the peloton at the 20km mark.
Coyot (SAU) is 30" behind the escapees and the peloton is at 50". Now there’s been another counter-attack launched... this time by a rider from FDJ.
There are now just nine ahead of the peloton with an advantage of 26". The three who were chasing have been caught by the bunch at the 16km mark.
There are three riders now trying to bridge the gap from the peloton to the lead group.
Of the nine in the lead early in stage eight, the best on GC after the first week of the 2011 Tour is Rui Costa (MOV). The best young rider in the Criterium du Dauphine is 43rd overall, 4’02" behind Hushovd.
The bunch is now 35" behind the nine escapees. The Vacansoleil team has no rider in the move and the Dutch squad is now at the front of the pack.
The riders in the lead of the eight stage are:
El Fares (COF)
Van Garderen (THR)
Kolobnev (KAT) They are 22" ahead at the 13km mark.
The nine are being hunted down by the peloton that is just 13" behind.
The nine escapees are just 15" ahead of the peloton which is being led by a rider from BMC.
The escapees are near the 10km mark already. We don’t yet have the names of the escape group...
Riblon (ALM) is the rider who instigated the first successful escape of stage eight. He has been joined by eight others. They are currently only 15" ahead of the peloton. We await confirmation of the names of those on the attack.
“Definitely for Klödi,” was Leipheimer’s appraisal of what his RadioShack team will now do, given that two of the four possible GC leaders from the US team have been forced to abandon in the first week. “[Andreas] looks strong and has ridden really well this first week. He’s great at sniffing out the safe spot in the group and he’s coming into form at the right time. "So first for Klödi, then we’ll look for stage wins, we have the team GC on our minds. We’re here to fight. I’m thankful I’m still in the race," concluded Leipheimer with his appraisal of stage seven. "It was warfare out there."
There have been a few early escape attempts but none have been successful so far. Four kilometers have been covered at a rapid pace...
The first week of the 2011 Tour has not been a good one for RadioShack. On Friday Yaroslav Popovych, Haimar Zubeldia, Markel Irizar and Levi Leipheimer were all caught in a crash around the 120km mark. Then came a big crash with 35km to go that put 80 riders well behind the lead group. "Remarkably," the team explained, "within three days a strong four-man approach was reduced to one team leader, with Andreas Klöden the only one of the original starters still in GC contention for Team RadioShack."
Chris Horner was unable to start in stage eight of the Tour de France, explained the team’s press officer Philippe Maertens. He was involved in a crash at 35km from the finish in Châteauroux. The 39-year-old winner of the Tour of California this year was able to complete the stage, finishing 12 minutes behind the peloton. After the stage he was brought to the hospital in Châteauroux where a concussion, a nose fracture and a calf hematoma were diagnosed. Horner remained foggy about his surroundings and the events of the day several hours after the stage ended.
Vacansoleil has a rider in the lead of the climbing classification. With points on offer at the 65.5km mark (1, for the first at the top of the cat-four cote d’Evaux-les-Bains), 119.5km mark (1, for the cat-four cote du Rocher), 164km mark (5, 3, 2 and 1 for the first four at the top of the col de la Croix St-Robert, the first cat-two climb of the 2011 Tour) during the stage, we can expect to see plenty challenging Johnny Hoogerland for the polka-dot jersey. There are also 2 and 1 points on offer at the finish, which is ranked cat-three. Only two other riders have multiple points: Anthony Roux (FDJ) with three and Cadel Evans (BMC) with two.
The official start time for the eighth stage was 12.26pm. There are 189 riders in the race, the non-starter is Chris Horner of the RadioShack team.
Alas, Geraint Thomas’ tenure in the lead of the youth classification ended in a manner that’s not befitting the rider who has been one of the most consistent in the 98th Tour. He was caught in the second group that finished 3’06” behind the stage winner in Chateauroux and the Welshman who was the only rider to have worn the white jersey in 2011 slipped from seventh overall right down to 38th place. The new leader of the classification that’s open to riders born after 1 January 1986 is Robert Gesink of the Rabobank team. He leads Rein Taaramae (COF) by 1’53” and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) third at 2’17”.
An HTC rider has called for the team car as the peloton makes it’s way through the 3.2km neutral zone.
The points classification is shaping up as a battle between four men: Rojas (MOV) leads with 167 points, former leader Phil Gilbert (OLO) is second with 156, double stage winner Mark Cavendish (THR) is benefitting from his acquisition of points in both the intermediate sprints and stage finishes and he now has 150 points, while the overall leader Thor Hushovd (GRM) is fourth with 130 points.
There was a significant reshuffling of the top 10 of the general classification after the seventh stage of the 2011 Tour de France. Thor Hushovd (GRM) continues to lead with an advantage of one second on Cadel Evans (BMC) and Fränk Schleck (LEO) is still third at four seconds. David Millar (GRM) is the rider that Hushovd nominated as the rider he would most like to succeed him as race leader. The Scot is ranked fourth, eight seconds behind his team-mate. Andreas Klöden (RSH) is now officially the leader of his team after the retirement of Chris Horner, who broke his nose and sustained cerebral contusions – on a list of other injuries – in a crash in stage seven. Sky’s trio in the top 10 after six stages are gone: Wiggins has abandoned the Tour, Thomas is now 38th and Boasson Hagen 39th.
The temperature a few minutes before the start of stage eight in Aigurande is just 15.5 degrees Celsius. There is a threat of rain but for the moment it’s dry before the beginning of the 189km stage to Super-Besse in the Puy-de-Dôme department. As we wait for the official start, we will review the various prize classifications for the Tour de France after one week of racing in the 98th edition.
The leader of the general classification since stage two, Thor Hushovd of the Garmin-Cervélo team insists that his time in the yellow jersey is going to end today. He wanted to defend the lead until the mountains and with stge eight finishing at Super-Besse, the ski station in the Puy-de-Dôme, it’s going to be time for the general classification riders to demonstrate how well they’re going after a week of racing. Stage eight is due to start at 12.20pm. There is a 3.2km neutral zone and then racing will begin. Live coverage will start shortly.