Saturday, July 17, 2010

TDF 2010 Stage 13: V is for Vindication

July 17, 2010
Pics: ASO (c) 
Two riders looked for vindication today, and they both achieved it spectacularly and with an exclamation point.

One was Astana's Alexandre Vinokorouv, who was passed yesterday on the steep climb to Mende by his Astana teammate Alberto Contador.

But today he showed he has what it takes to win, breaking away from the peloton about 8 km from the finish on the final climb at the Cote de Saint Ferreol. As he neared the finish in Revel, he looked behind him several times before coming to the line 15 seconds before the peloton--and looked again just to be sure--before he zipped up his jersey and raised his arms in victory.

Behind Vinokorouv, Mark Cavendish took the sprint to the finish, besting Alessandro Petacchi to the line, and leaving Thor Hushovd in the dust.

Even though Petacchi now takes the Green Jersey,  the Cav' proved not only that he can best any man to the line, but he can do it without his lead out man.

Two stages ago, the Manx Missile lost his main lead out star, Mark Renshaw to an ejection by the race regulators who declared that Renshaw's head butting of Garmin's Julian Dean was too aggressive and unsafe. That call was debatable given that the bigger Dean was pushing Renshaw off his line and towards the barriers, in itself a dangerous move.

Both teams, Astana for Vinokourov''s victory, and HTC Columbia for Renshaw's redemption, can preen their feathers tonight because their riders did an amazing job.

And now, Vinokorouv is sure to really support his man Contador in the mountains, while Petacchi and Hushovd will be gritting their teeth to stay ahead of Cavendish who narrowed his point deficit to 25 behind new Green Jersey holder Petacchi.

If you missed it in stage 12, the Kazahk Vinokourov had been poised to win the stage when Contador swept by him, with Joaquim Rodriguez in his slipstream,  taking second and first position in the stage.

But today the Khazakhstan rider traded a look of disappointment with one of joy and tears as he was congratulated by Contador after the finish.

But it wasn't just a stage win that mattered. Three years ago Vinokorouv was stripped of two stage wins, when he tested positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France, and was banned from the race for two years. He protested those findings, but submitted to the ban: Today the 36-year-old showed that he can take a stage and is riding with as much power and speed as he was three years ago--without artificial enhancement.

Asked if we can be sure he is clean today after the debacle in 2007, Vinokourov said, “Yes. It’s like I said after the win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, ‘Vino is coming back. This is the new Vino’." This may even be his last Tour de France, so winning has a special importance for him. 

Featuring undulating hills, this 196 km stage from Rodez to Revel promised to have a fast finish even though it would have a steep climb at 12 km from the finish, followed by a downhill and a flat section. It was an ideal stage for a both a breakaway and a sprint finish.



Together with two other former Tour stage winners, Juan Antonio Flecha put himself in a break at five kilometers from the start. After 181km of collaboration with Pierrick Fedrigo and Sylvain Chavanel, the three were caught by the peloton. All three riders have been riding very aggressively in this Tour, and must have been disappointed.

“Once you’re in the breakaway, who knows if it’s possible. The truth is that you’re out there and you’ve got to have hope otherwise it’s not worth fighting for," said Flecha.

This stage featured five climbs at Mergais (cat-4 at 24km), Begon (cat-4 at 31.5km), Ambialet (cat-3 at 72km), Puylaurens (cat-4 at 125km) and the final climb on the circuit near Revel, the côte de Saint-Ferréol (cat-3, 7.5km from the finish). The intermediate sprints were in Saint-Jean-Delnous (47km) and Caraman (158km).

At the first climb, the break was 6 minutes ahead of the peloton before Lampre came to the front and started working to ensure that they didn’t gain too much of an advantage, and hoping for a stage win for  their man Petacchi.

The break's advantage steadily dropped from 4’55” at 56 km, to 3’35” at 122 km, and then 2’35” at 136km. Later Lampre was joined by HTC-Columbia and Milram to drive the pace for a fast finish. They caught the break about 10 km from the finish at the start of the Col de la Ferreol.

A moment of hesitation in the field prompted Alessandro Ballan (BMC) to attack and he led Nicolas Roche (ALM) and Carlos Barredo (QST) over the top of the hill 7.5 km from the finish.

Behind them was Damiano Cunego (LAM), Luis Leon Sanchez (GCE) and Vinokourov.  But Ballan collapsed after the climb, retreated to the peloton and was later dropped.

Vinokourov steamed ahead and increased his lead until he was 19 seconds ahead with 1 km to go.  Behind him the peloton fractured, leaving a question mark about whether there would even be a sprint finish.

In the Polka Dot jersey competiton, Anthony Chatreau kept his lead over Jerome Pineau.

Andy Schleck is still in the Yellow Jersey, and the top five  positions in the General Classification remain unchanged.

General Classification Standings at the End of Stage 13
1. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 08' 40"
2. CONTADOR Alberto 1 ASTANA 63h 09' 11" + 00' 31"
3. SANCHEZ Samuel 181 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 63h 11' 25" + 02' 45"
4. MENCHOV Denis 191 RABOBANK 63h 11' 38" + 02' 58"
5. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 101 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 63h 12' 11" + 03' 31"
6. LEIPHEIMER Levi 25 TEAM RADIOSHACK 63h 12' 46" + 04' 06"
7. GESINK Robert 195 RABOBANK 63h 13' 07" + 04' 27"
8. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 77 KATUSHA TEAM 63h 13' 38" + 04' 58"
9. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 161 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 63h 13' 42" + 05' 02"
10. KREUZIGER Roman 44 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 63h 13' 56" + 05' 16"
11. BASSO Ivan 41 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 63h 14' 10" + 05' 30"
12. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 9 ASTANA 63h 14' 52" + 06' 12"
13. HESJEDAL Ryder 54 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 63h 15' 05" + 06' 25"
14. ROCHE Nicolas 81 AG2R LA MONDIALE 63h 15' 24" + 06' 44"
15. SASTRE Carlos 91 CERVELO TEST TEAM 63h 16' 14" + 07' 34"
16. WIGGINS Bradley 31 SKY PRO CYCLING 63h 16' 19" + 07' 39"
17. ROGERS Michael 118 TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA 63h 16' 27" + 07' 47"
18. EVANS Cadel 121 BMC RACING TEAM 63h 16' 48" + 08' 08"

Stage Standings at the End of Stage 13
1. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 9 ASTANA 4h 26' 26"
2. CAVENDISH Mark 111 TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
3. PETACCHI Alessandro 208 LAMPRE - FARNESE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
4. HAGEN Edvald Boasson 36 SKY PRO CYCLING 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
5. ROJAS Jose Joaquin 169 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
6. DEAN Julian 52 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
7. GESLIN Anthony 64 FDJ 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
8. HUSHOVD Thor 95 CERVELO TEST TEAM 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
9. BOLE Grega 202 LAMPRE - FARNESE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
10. MONDORY Lloyd 87 AG2R LA MONDIALE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
11. CIOLEK Gerald 142 TEAM MILRAM 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
12. MAASKANT Martijn 56 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
13. ROELANDTS Jürgen 108 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
14. SANCHEZ Samuel 181 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
15. MOREAU Christophe 166 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
16. GARATE Juan Manuel 194 RABOBANK 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
17. ELMIGER Martin 84 AG2R LA MONDIALE 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"
18. MENCHOV Denis 191 RABOBANK 4h 26' 39" + 00' 13"

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