The Tour has reached the Mediterrenean and the city of Marseille is the starting point for the 11th stage of the race. Another flat stage lies ahead for the field of 171 remaining riders with a distance of 182.5 km to be covered. There's only a category 4 bump at the 38km mark and this won't bother anyone. It all depends on how seriously the peloton wants to cover any breakaway, but I suspect we're going to see another day for the opportunists.
There were plenty of attempted breaks early on and one that looked as though it was going to succeed but it turned out to be another day for the sprinters in the end.
At around the 84km to go mark a break away was established that was initially made up of Gilbert (FDJ), Wegmann (GST), Fofonov (C.A) and Florencio (BTL) before David Millar (Saunier Duval) bridged the gap to join them. They worked together to get a lead of up to around 7'30".
And then Astana put the foot down at the head of the peloton and the easy ride for the bunch was over - and how. The peloton split to pieces under the extreme pressure from the increased pace with the biggest loser being Christophe Moreau (AG2R). Within around 30km the break had been captured and the gap between the 1st peloton and the 2nd peloton had opened to around 1'35".
The strong pace and flat terrain set up a hotly contested bunch sprint and with a crash inside the final kilometre it was down to South Africa's Robert Hunter (Barloworld) to outpace Fabian Cancellara with Murilo Fischer in 3rd. The win makes him the first South African ever to win a stage of the Tour de France.
Stage 11 recap.
The big danger today was getting caught out by the big Astana move but Cadel was right there at the front of the peloton working like buggery to ensure he was in no danger of being dropped. the end result for him today was to finish with the lead peloton and remain unchanged in 4th place on the GC. (Officially he finished the stage in 22nd place). Of his rivals Christophe Moreau has dropped from 6th to 14th place going from 3'18" behind Rasmussen to 6'38".
1 Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
2 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D'Epargne) 2' 35"
3 Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval) 2' 39"
4 Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) 2' 41"
5 Alberto Contador (Discovery) 3' 08"
6 Carlos Sastre (CSC) 3' 39"
7 Andreas Kloden (Astana) 3'50''
8 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery) 3' 53"
14 Christophe Moreau (AG2R) 3' 18"
15 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Caisse D’Epargne) 6' 36"
16 Haimar Zulbeldia (Eukatel) 6' 42"
18 Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 7' 10"
19 Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) 8' 05"
Yellow (Leader's) Jersey : Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Green (Sprinter's) Jersey : Tom Boonen (Quickstep)
Polka Dot (Climber's) Jersey : Michael Rasmussen
White (Youth) Jersey : Alberto Contador (Discovery)
Team Leaders : CSC
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Friday, July 20, 2007