TdF’10 St.12: Mende Madness
Race Report: The race for yellow got 10 seconds tighter today as Alberto Contador threw down the smack on the steep 3km climb to the aerodrome finish in Mende, gapping all but first time stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez. It was an impressive display of explosive power that not even Andy Schleck could answer.
Would you like lumps with your Friday? The riders got them today, with three Cat 3 climbs and two Cat 2 climbs, including a nasty short but steep finish in Mende.
It was 210km of all up and down today on the road from Bourg-de-Peage to Mende in the southeast section of France, and it was all business from the get go. Deceptively tough climbs marked the course, and it was evident by Lance Armstrong’s difficulty sliding out the back with the likes of McEwen and Petacchi. Wouldn’t a thunk that one? But the 7 time champ was to recover and get back in to the main field, although the final climb also proved more than he cared to handle, coming in 3:35 after the winner.
After some shucking and jiving once the initial climbs were dispatched, 18 men went away up the road. The guilty parties were A. Vinokourov (Astana), A. Klцden (RadioShack), R. Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), V. Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) – S. Casar (FDJ), M. Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), K. Sivtsov (HTC-Columbia), M. Santambrogio (BMC), C. Barredo (Quick Step), A. Charteau (Bouygues), M. Perget (Caisse d’Epargne), C. Kern, A. Moinard, R. Pauriol (all 3 Cofidis), G. Verdugo (Euskaltel), G. Bole (Lampre), R. Valls Ferri (Footon).
As the race settled down behind, it returned to business as usual except for the jersey competitions, as Anthony Charteau (BBox) snagged a 2nd place on the Cat 2 Suc de Montivernoux to take the lead in the KOM competition. And Thor Hushovd, upset with how he handled yesterday’s sprint, which resulted in him losing the green jersey, won the sprint point at Langogne to retake the lead in that competition.
And as the course went along, the inevitable “break in the break” happened, and 4 riders snapped free of the escape group, and those four were Kloden, Vino, Hesjedal, and Kiryienka. They had etched out 35 seconds to the rest of that large breakaway group with just over 20km to go and they were committed to the move. The main bunch, now under a bit of impetus thanks to the Saxo Bank team, was back a total 3’21”. Soon, help came from other teams like Liquigas who put a man on the front to turn the screws.
The pressure got to be too much as the disappointing announcement came that Tyler Farrar had abandoned that race – pain from his broken arm being the likely culprit. No sooner had that news passed than we saw other sprinters, including Cavendish, off the back of the main field.
Teams certainly didn’t want to see the break stay away to the final nasty little climb into Mende. It was only 3km long, but it was a legbreaking 10% – especially after 207 km of racing on a lumpy course, not to mention it was a hot one out there. And the climb was named after the great Laurent Jalabert, so you know it was a tough climb suiting a punchy rider. To add to its difficulty, the road was a thin one, so positioning upon entering was key to the overall contenders.
At just under 6km to go the main field overtook the remnants of the breakaway and sat at 47 seconds back of the 4 leaders now, who were looking fairly desperate as the climb began. It sure was steep and Ryder Hesjedal was first man out the back. Then Kloden got popped, leaving Kiryienka and Vino up front. Vino looked on another level, pedaling easily and breathing through his nose.
Meanwhile the main field entered the ribbon-like climb and John Gadret of AG2R took a dig off the front of the main field. All the big names were very near the front and the pain of the very steep climb was clearly evident on their faces. Gadret dangled. Armstrong was dropped out the back like a stone. Cadel Evans inched up toward the front and hovered there near Schleck, Contador, Menchov and the likes.
Gadret’s move was nullified as the group caught him and at the same time Vinokourov went under the 3km banner having now dispatched Kiriyenka. Vino was alone and driving it freakishly up the steep climb.
The peloton – or what was left of it – had completely detonated. Big names had been distilled and shown the rear door already, and now you could add Bradley Wiggins to that list as he exited. Leipheimer got separated by a fraction as well by the top.
Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Lotto was setting the tempo, leading the big names up the hill. Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez lept away from the group and none other than Contador jumped from just behind Schleck and tore off the front, forcing Schleck to react. But Andy couldn’t quite match the move initially, and had to settle in and try to ride his tempo.
Contador hung with Rodriguez, and the two made their way up to Vinokourov now, whom the two Spaniards just went by.
Onto the flat plateau and the final 1500meters, Contador and Rodriguez made it a two up sprint, with the Katusha rider bringing home the victory for his squad, outkicking his compatriot at the line. Vino had of course recovered a bit and was just 4 seconds behind the duo at the line.
Schleck’s group swelled a bit over the summit, then the last km was dead flat. It should be, it was on a runway! The Saxo rider crossed the line having just ceded about 10 seconds, but the psychological damage was much greater. The ease with which Contador put space in between himself and Schleck would not have been as gentle in the end if it were a longer climb, like they’ll see this weekend. With Schleck was Van Den Broeck and Menchov and Samuel Sanchez. Leipheimer slid in just after that group, having recovered to lose just 17 seconds.
Keep it dialed to PEZ as Gord’s final Roadside Report lands today – (but worry not as the fearless Ed Hood takes over tomorrow for the final run to Paris.)
Stage 12 Results
1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 4:58:26
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
3 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:00:04
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:10
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
6 Samuel Sбnchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
7 Andreas Klцden (Ger) Team Radioshack
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:15
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo
11 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:00:17
12 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:00:31
13 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
14 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
15 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
16 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
17 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack
18 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
19 Luis Leуn Sбnchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
20 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
General Classification After 12 Stages
1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 58:42:01
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:31
3 Samuel Sбnchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:45
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:02:58
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:03:31
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:04:06
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:27
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:04:58
9 Luis Leуn Sбnchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:05:02
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:16
11 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:30
12 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:06:25
13 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions
14 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:44
15 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:07:34
16 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:07:39
17 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC – Columbia 0:07:47
18 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:08:08
19 Thomas Lцfkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:08:24
20 Andreas Klцden (Ger) Team Radioshack 0:09:05
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