95th Tour de France
Stage 11 - Lannemezan to Foix - 167.5 km (104.0 mi)
16 July 2008
Coming off a rest day, all the riders were looking to this final Pyrenean stage through the foothills as a chance to get back in the rhythm and to protect positioning ahead of the tougher Alpine stages to come. The conditions were perfect for an innocuous breakaway to survive through to the finish in Foix, and the peloton did not disappoint. With Cadel Evans ahead of second-place Frank Schleck by a solitary second, and upstart Garmin-Chipotle's American hopeful Christian Vande Velde lurking close in third less than a minute behind, the threat was imminent of one or another team looking to press the advantage. In the end though, it was a breakaway which led the way into town... and a break out of the lead group in the closing kilometers saw Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) taking the victory...
Having come close to victory at the Tour on several occasions -- including his memorable second to Paolo Savoldelli on Stage 17 of the 2005 Tour from Pau to Revel -- Arvesen is no stranger to winning. Riding in the red-white-and-blue cross jersey of the Norwegian national champion, Arvesen took his first Tour stage win on a day when most of the riders were content to sit in the pack and let the scenery drift by. The day was an easy one for Cadel Evans, the maillot jaune, who was happy enough to grant the peloton a day without charging after the leaders on the road.
"It was a good day in yellow," he said. "You get a lot of respect from your peers when you have the yellow jersey. Everyone knows I am still recovering from my accident Sunday. The break going away was perfect. It's not just a race for yellow, but people are also chasing the win and the other jerseys, so the race within the race worked out great for us today... thanks to the quick-thinking Robbie McEwen, he's the lieutenant on the road."
The race began in Lannemezan with only 168 riders starting, as Barloworld's Moises Duenas tested positive for EPO and was ejected from the Tour. The remaining riders set out, some of the cyclists failing to get that memo about an easy coasting stage. The attacks started right from the drop of Christian Prudhomme's flag around the fifth kilometer. The peloton would not let them go right away -- the Credit Agricole and Rabobank teams were setting upAlexandre Botcharov green-jersey contenders Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire respectively for the first intermediate sprint of the day at Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges.
But it was neither Hushovd nor Friere taking the full six points. Leonardo Duque of Cofidis, himself just outside the top-ten in the points classification, got the jump on his more storied rivals and pipped the former and current green jerseys at the line. Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) attempted to use the ensuing chaos from the sprint point as a springboard to break clear, but he was caught less than ten kilometers after his fruitless charge.
The next break to get free would prove decisive. Around the thirty-fifth kilometer, Arvesen sprinted ahead with twelve other riders and gained an advantage. Among the riders in the group were Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), two young Italian riders who are regularly among the contenders at the spring classics throughout the continent. Gert Steegmans, Quick Step's leader after Tom Boonen's pre-start ejection, also joined the hunt.
The group soon had a three-minute lead on the peloton and was soon upon the third-category Col de Larrieu. Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole) took the summit first, and the break continued on its fevered pace toward Foix. Pozzato took the second intermediate sprint at Prat-Bonrepaux, the breakaway having now gained eleven minutes' advantage after thirty-five kilometers ahead. Twenty kilometers down the road, after passing through the feed zone at Saint-Girons, the gap had ballooned to fourteen minutes.
The first-category Col de Portel, making its inaugural appearance in the Tour de France, splintered the lead group. Amael Moinard (Cofidis) was first over the summit, attempting to solo the final fifty-seven kilometers to the finish for the victory. Behind in the peloton, 2006 Tour champion Oscar Pereiro sprung free and attempted to bridge the large gap. At the summit of the Portel, Pereiro had a two-minute gap on the peloton and was 14:35 behind Moinard on the road.
Arriving at the final climb, the third-category Col Del Bouich, Moinard saw his lead begin to dwindle. By the top he was only ahead by one minute, the chasers hungry for their own stage win in Foix. As the riders descended toward the finish, the gap shrank rapidly. Fifteen kilometers from the finish, the lead had dissipated to thirty seconds; Alessandro Ballan was really driving the chase, melting the seconds away from the gap. Martin Elmiger (AG2R) and Arvesen bridged the gap to Moinard with only three kilometers to go. The depleted strength of the soloist failed him, and Moinard was soon falling back in the break. Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) and Ballan bridged up to Elmiger and Arvesen, and the stage was set for a four-up sprint for the victory.
Each rider lunged for the line. It originally looked like the Swiss rider had taken the win, but eventually a photo finish determined that it was the Norwegian taking the sprint -- by a mere TWO CENTIMETERS. The peloton rolled in lazily behind, almost a quarter-hour in arrears, unaffected by the result on the day. The highest-placed rider coming out of the break, Botcharov, still sat over six minutes behind Evans after the stage. Will the attacks against the Australian come heavier tomorrow?
Results - Stage 11
- Kurt-Asle Arvesen (NOR) Team CSC -- 3.58.13 (42.19 km/h)
- Martin Elmiger (SWI) AG2R La Mondiale
- Alessandro Ballan (ITA) Lampre
- Koos Moerenhout (NED) Rabobank -- +0.02
- Alexandre Botcharov (RUS) Credit Agricole -- +0.11
- Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA) Bouygues Telecom -- +0.14
- Filippo Pozzato (ITA) Liquigas
- Benoit Vaugrenard (FRA) Francaise des Jeux
- Fabian Wegmann (GER) Gerolsteiner
- Marco Velo (ITA) Milram -- all s.t.
- Cadel Evans (AUS) Silence-Lotto -- 46.42.13
- Frank Schleck (LUX) Team CSC -- +0.01
- Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle -- +0.38
- Bernhard Kohl (AUT) Gerolsteiner -- +0.46
- Denis Menchov (RUS) Rabobank -- +0.57
- Carlos Sastre (ESP) Team CSC -- +1.28
- Kim Kirchen (LUX) Columbia -- +1.56
- Juan Jose Cobo (ESP) Saunier Duval -- +2.10
- Riccardo Ricco (ITA) Saunier Duval -- +2.29
- Vladimir Efimkin (RUS) AG2R La Mondiale -- +2.32
- Oscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank -- 138 pts
- Kim Kirchen (LUX) Columbia -- 128
- Thor Hushovd (NOR) Credit Agricole -- 117
- Erik Zabel (GER) Milram -- 99
- Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d'Epargne -- 96
- Mark Cavendish (GBR) Columbia -- 86
- Riccardo Ricco (ITA) Saunier Duval -- 85
- Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld -- 82
- Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis -- 70
- Cadel Evans (AUS) Silence-Lotto -- 70
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
- Riccardo Ricco (ITA) Saunier Duval-Scott -- 77 pts
- David De La Fuente (ESP) Saunier Duval -- 65
- Sebastian Lang (GER) Gerolsteiner -- 57
- Bernhard Kohl (AUT) Gerolsteiner -- 56
- Frank Schleck (LUX) Team CSC -- 46
- Leonardo Piepoli (ITA) Saunier Duval -- 41
- Juan Jose Cobo (ESP) Saunier Duval -- 36
- Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Caisse d'Epargne -- 31
- Cadel Evans (AUS) Silence-Lotto -- 30
- Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas -- 30
BEST YOUNG RIDER
- Riccardo Ricco (ITA) Saunier Duval -- 46.44.42
- Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas -- +1.49
- Maxime Monfort (BEL) Cofidis -- +4.18
- Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Liquigas -- +4.31
- Andy Schleck (LUX) Team CSC -- +6.05
- Eduardo Gonzalo (ESP) Agritubel -- +15.46
- Thomas Lovkvist (SWE) Columbia -- +26.07
- Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Caisse d'Epargne -- +34.19
- Remy Di Gregorio (FRA) Francaise des Jeux -- +36.46
- Trent Lowe (AUS) Garmin-Chipotle -- +48.37