Tour de France 2010

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Ross Balfour

#99 | Roaring Pipes Maniacs
Great tour so far, main contender Frank Schleck is out, and Cavendish only gets his first win today!

His team insisted that Mark Cavendish was still the fastest man in the world despite a hiccup at the finish of stage four and in Montargis, the rider from the Isle of Man bolted ahead of all his rivals with 240 meters to go in the 187.5km stage from Epernay to claim his 11th stage victory in the Tour de France, his first in 2010. HTC-Columbia joined forces with Cervelo and Lampre to reel in the escape of the day and then Garmin-Transitions tried a sneaky move in the final three kilometers. Although it had numbers, Farrar was unable to finish off the job and he had to accept 10th place at the finish behind a group of sprinters that was chasing Cavendish all the way to the line. Tears fell as he stood on the podium a more humble man than the dominator of last year’s sprint stages. ‘Cav’ is back and he’s crying with joy…!

The Progress Report
The start of the 187.5km fifth stage of the Tour de France, from Epernay to Montargis, was at 12.53pm. There were 188 riders at the sign-on with Txurruka (EUS) the non-starter. On the menu on this hot day of racing, when temperature was 33 degrees Celsius at the start, were two cat-4 climbs – the cote de Orgais-l’Abbaye (18.5km) and cote de Mecrignes (36.5km) – and three intermediate sprints: in Vauchamps (27.5km), Ville-St-Jacques (126.5km) and Prefontaines (169.5km).

Gutierrez Takes Virtual Lead
At the 6km mark, Gutierrez (GCE) attacked and was joined by El Fares (COF) and van de Walle (QST). The Spaniard was the best ranked of the escape group, 50th at the start of the day, 3’24” behind Cancellara. By kilometer 21, Gutierrez was the virtual leader of the Tour as the peloton’s deficit to his escape was 5’50”. The maximum gain of the escape was 7’55” at the 28km mark and then HTC-Columbia sent Sivtsov to the front of the bunch; he was then joined by O’Grady (SAX). By 60km, the gain was reduced to 4’45”. These two were responsible for the pace of the peloton for about 80km. The average speed for the first hour was 41.2km/h; 38.3km/h for the second hour; and 41.3km/h for the third.

Setting Up The Sprint
With 50km to go, Lampre sent one rider to the front of the pack to assist in the pursuit. By then, the advantage had been reduced to 2’10”. Cervelo joined in the chasing duties with 27km to go. From there the advantage dropped steadily: 25km to go – 1’25; 15km to go – 1’10”; 10km to go – 40”. When the peloton got to within 20” (6.5km from the finish) Gutierrez attacked the lead group. With 5km to go, Gutierrez led the peloton by 12”. He was caught 4km from the line.

Garmin Lead It Out, Cavendish Takes The Win
The HTC-Columbia team didn’t have it all its way for the finale: it had the numbers at the head of the peloton but the Garmin squad squeezed up the right of the road with 3km to go. The team of Farrar had a force of five there for the final 2km and had three left as they led the peloton around the tight final turn with 600m to go. But then the wheels fell off for what looked like it might have been a surprise by the squad that hadn’t contributed to the chase of the escapees at all. Mark Renshaw proved that he is one of the the finest lead-out men in the world when he remedied what he said was an “error” from stage four – delivering Cavendish too soon – and this time he timed it to perfection. He dropped his leader off with 240m to go and then ‘Cav’ hit the turbo. He was chased all the way to the line by former team-mates Ciolek and Boasson Hagen but they didn’t have the speed to get around the master of sprinting. It is Cavendish’s 11th stage victory in the Tour de France.
Fabian Cancellara finished 32nd in the stage and will keep the yellow jersey for another day.
hm cclying always looked cool to me. looked hard too having to be up there with hundreds of cyclers that are in the same pack.

Omer Said

I always love to watch the latest laps of the tour, mid stages seem boring with just biycles are going.

Ross Balfour

#99 | Roaring Pipes Maniacs
Yeah, he was crap yesterday, hadn't the legs on Petacchi. I think Renshaw squeezed Petacchi out so he couldn't get a good run. Bring on the mountains already!!

Bram Hengeveld

How do you guys fancy the tour so far? I should be extatic with a dutchy performing so well but for the first time in years i find it very very dull for a reason i can't define.

Ross Balfour

#99 | Roaring Pipes Maniacs
I love it this year, was gutted for Schleck in yesterday's stage, bit of a shame. Hope he can attack on the big climb's today. At the minute Armstrong's away out in a break-away group. He's 40minutes behind Contador so I doubt anyone will care. It's his last tour so he will probably go for the win.

Ross Balfour

#99 | Roaring Pipes Maniacs
Lance Armstrong failed in a brave bid to win a stage in his final Tour de France as Pierrick Fedrigo won stage 16 in Pau.

The seven-times champion was part of a nine-man break that contested the sprint finish at the end of the Queen stage in the Pyrenees which featured four epic climbs on the 189.5km route from Bagneres de Luchon.
But the American could not match the turn of pace of the Bbox Bouygues rider who secured France's sixth stage win in this year's race.
It was a case of déjà vu for Fedrigo as he won the Pyrenees stage to Tarbes last year on a route, like today, that also crossed the famous ascents of the Col d'Aspin and the Col de Tourmalet.
The 31-year-old burst away in the final metres to beat compatriot Sandy Casar (FDJ) and Spain's Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne) to the line after a brave solo bid by Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) was thwarted. The Spaniard attacked his fellow escapees at the foot of the descent of the Col d'Aubisque with 40km remaining but was caught as he passed under the Flamme Rouge.
Armstrong came home in sixth.
There were no changes in the top 10 on the overall standings with Alberto Contador, who expressed his regret at snatching the yellow jersey after benefiting from rival Andy Schleck's mechanical problem on the 15th stage, retaining his eight second lead over the Luxembourg rider going into the rest day.
Armstrong was at the centre of the action right from the outset. He and Bradley Wiggins were part of an escape group that formed on the Peyresourde, the 11km category one climb that started the stage.
They held a slender lead at the summit and with Alexandre Vinokourov, Ryder Hesjedal, Roman Kreuziger and Carlos Sastre - all in the top 13 in the overall standings - also in the escape, Omega Pharma-Lotto made a committed chase on the Col d'Aspin that followed shortly after to protect the GC position of fifth placed Jurgen Van Den Broeck.
Samuel Sanchez and Robert Gesink, third and sixth on GC, lost contact with the group on the 12.3km category one climb but after 55km of frantic racing, all the escapees except Casar were caught shortly before the ascent of the Tourmalet.
But Armstrong was not to be denied and he counter-attacked at the foot of the 17.1km hors category climb and swiftly joined Casar, winner of stage nine.
His Radioshack team-mate Chris Horner plus Fedrigo, Plaza, Barredo, Jurgen van de Walle (Quick Step), Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) bridged the gap and with none of the men up the road a threat to the top placed riders on GC, the pace dropped considerably in the main bunch.
The leaders reached the bottom of the Col d'Aubisque with an advantage of six minutes and they extended their advantage on the mammoth 29.2km hors category climb with veteran Moreau crossing first to claim the souvenir Jacques Goddet and put pressure on polka dot jersey holder Anthony Charteau.
Barredo, the winner of Clasica San Sebastian last August, attacked at the foot of the descent and opened up a 40 second lead as he attempted to time trial home alone to record a third successive Spanish win in Gap.
But the pursuers timed their chase to perfection and although Armstrong was foiled in his attempt to become the second oldest stage winner in Tour history, France had plenty of reasons to cheer as they celebrated three successive stage wins for the first time since 1994.
Plaza was the best placed on GC of the escapees in 20th at 14:47 and looked on course to move into the top 10 with the breakaway holding a nine minute lead on the Aubisque but Thor Hushovd led the peloton over the line, 6:45 back, which means he reclaimed the green jersey and that the top 10 on GC is unchanged going into Thursday's final stage in the Pyrenees and a potentially decisive showdown at the top of the Tourmalet.

Nice stage today, expected a Schleck attack though up the Tourmalet.
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