97th Tour de France
Stage 7 - Tournus to Station des Rousses - 165.5 km (102.6 mi)
10 July 2010
It was yet another great day for the French masses assembled along the roadsides as the first uphill stage commenced at the Tour de France on Saturday. For his second stage win of the Tour, matching Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish in accomplishing the feat, Sylvain Chavanel unleashed a perfect counterattack on the slopes of the Cote de Lamoura to solo into Station des Rousses nearly a minute ahead of his nearest challenger and over fourteen minutes ahead of the maillot jaune, Fabian Cancellara. In the process, he nabbed back the yellow jersey he only got to wear for a day earlier in the week and showed ahead of the high mountains that France is taking their domestic grand tour seriously this year.
Of course, these weren't the biggest climbs the peloton would see this weekend, the really high Alpine ascents coming tomorrow and Monday, but the ride from Tournus would be anything but easy for the field. It was the perfect opportunity for another Frenchman having great success so far this first week to start the second weekend with a bang. Three Category-2 climbs would be among the six on offer today, and with that in mind maillot a poix Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) was among the five riders jumping off the front of the pack just a few kilometers after passing through the neutral zone and onto the open road. Joined by Christian Knees (Milram), Danilo Hondo (Lampre), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Pineau and company had gained a minute on the peloton by the tenth kilometer.
By the time Hondo Beat out Dumoulin and Perez at the first intermediate sprint point in Cormoz, just under thirty kilometers into the stage, the leading quintet had gained five minutes between themselves and the peloton. The roads remained relatively flat during the first hour of the race, the second intermediate sprint in Saint-Amour coming quickly after the first with yet another Hondo victory. By this point in the race, at the base of the opening climb of the Category-3 Cote de l'Aubepin (4.9km at 5.0%), the Juras heralded the start of the uphill hardships of the 2010 Tour with the five leaders battling eight minutes ahead of the main field.
Jerome Pineau, bedecked in the polka dots of the current leader in the King of the Mountains competition, had every intention of padding his lead when he got into the breakaway of the day. He easily took the summit ahead of Knees, Perez and Dumoulin, everyone reintegrating on the descent to recommit to their mutual interests after the uphill contest. He would take the next climb, the Category-4 Cote des Granges (5.9km at 3.5%), as well. But behind in the peloton, Bbox-Bouygues Telecom had committed Yukiya Arashiro and a couple other lieutenants to the chase. Saxo Bank kept the pace right behind to protect Cancellara, and the field started shaving seconds off the gap.
The breakaway would stay clear long enough for Pineau to grab the maximum mountain points over the first five climbs of the day. Hondo made sure to collect the last intermediate sprint in Molinges to nurse his way back into the top 25 in the points classification and now just 85 points off the pace. With the eighteen points he netted on the road today, the Italian veteran put himself in position to emerge among the top ten if he can reach Paris. The big winner amongst the front-running five, though, was Pineau. Already in polka-dots, he bolstered his lead in the competition ahead of the higher mountains and allowed for two French riders for Quick Step to stand atop the podium today in Station des Rousses.
The ultimate winner would prove to be Chavanel. At the base of the penultimate climb, the Category-2 Col de la Croix de la Serra (15.7km at 4.3%), French rider Thomas Voeckler (Bbox-Bouygues) -- hero of the 2004 Tour after his ten-day ride in yellow -- attacked hoping to bridge over to his compatriot in the polka dots. Along for the ride came Caisse d'Epargne's Mathieu Perget, this year's Giro King of the Mountains Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Lampre's former Giro winner Damiano Cunego. By the summit, the group would be just 48 seconds behind Pineau and Hondo... and they had another companion from the peloton, Chavanel, who bridged up and stole third place at the summit of the Croix de la Serra.
Heading to the final climb of the day, with the summit just a few kilometers from the finish line, Chavanel took a flyer and rocketed off after his teammate hoping to link up in a two-man time trial to the finish. But once Pineau was reached, it became apparent that nothing was left in his tank for the 14km of the Cote de Lamoura. Chavanel blazed right past, soloing onward with a second stage win in sight. Voeckler and Cunego linked up to pass Pineau as well, a half-minute behind Chavanel. But the Frenchman was a man possessed, distancing himself from every other rider with each turn of the pedals.
Crossing the line in Station des Rousses alone, just as he did into Spa, Chavanel gave his countrymen another victory to celebrate. And just as he did then, he wrangled the yellow jersey away from Fabian Cancellara with a perfectly-timed counter as the first mountain finish really unfurled all the secrets of riders' form ahead of the higher hills. For the 31-year-old veteran who has worn the polka-dots before and who was the most combative rider in 2008, it was another superbly-executed stage that netted its just rewards. The man from Chatellerault now gets a fight of a different size hoisted on his broad shoulders, the golden fleece a beacon singling him out in a peloton hungry to make amends on Sunday's mountainous challenges...
RESULTS - STAGE 7
- Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) 5:37:42
- Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto) +0:57
- Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) +1:27
- Thomas Voeckler (Bbox-Bouygues) +1:40
- Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne)
- Daniel Moreno (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
- Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox-Bouygues) +1:47
- Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
- Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne)
- Eros Capecchi (Footon-Servetto)
- Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) 33:01:23
- Cadel Evans (BMC) +1:25
- Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) +1:32
- Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) +1:55
- Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) +2:17
- Alberto Contador (Astana) +2:26
- Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega) +2:28
- Nicolas Roche (AG2R)
- Johan Van Summeren (Garmin) +2:33
- Denis Menchov (Rabobank) +2:35
Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
- Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) 118
- Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) 114
- Robbie McEwen (Katusha) 105
- Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) 92
- Mark Cavendish (Columbia) 85
- Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) 82
- Sebastien Turgot (Bbox-Bouygues) 79
- Geraint Thomas (Sky) 74
- Gerald Ciolek (Milram) 71
- Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) 69
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
- Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) 44
- Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) 36
- Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne) 28
- Thomas Voeckler (Bbox-Bouygues) 21
- Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 20
- Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto) 18
- Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) 16
- Danilo Hondo (Lampre) 16
- Daniel Moreno (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 12
- Christian Knees (Milram) 11
Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) 11
BEST YOUNG RIDER
- Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) 33:03:18
- Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) +1:15
- Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto) +1:44
- Robert Gesink (Rabobank) +2:07
- Cyril Gautier (Bbox-Bouygues) +2:25
- Geraint Thomas (Sky) +2:42
- Pierre Rolland (Bbox-Bouygues) +2:44
- Julien El Fares (Cofidis) +10:40
- Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) +13:01
- Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Caisse d'Ep) +13:17
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