Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) hit the jackpot on the first mountain stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, winning the stage to La Grand Bornand and pulling on the yellow jersey.
The 24 year-old from Cologne was part of the 15-rider break that characterised the stage and then attack on the tough La Colombiere climb. Gerdemann was chased hard by Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) on the steep climb and the technical descent but hung on to win the biggest race of his five-year career on Bastille Day. Completing a perfect day for T-Mobile, Gerdemann also took the lead in the best young rider competition from Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel).
After his huge effort, Gerdemann could hardly walk and was close to tears as he dedicated his victory to his family and the T-Mobile team.
?The last two kilometres of the climb seemed like two hours. I was totally on the limit. It was very hard out there but I have to thank my family for all their support and the team. Rolf Aldag (the T-Mobile directeur sportif) made sure everything was okay and really encouraged me. It?s an amazing moment for me.?
Landaluze finished second at 40 seconds, with Davide de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) third at 1-39. The main Tour contenders carefully watched each other on the first mountain stage and they finished 3-38 behind Gerdemann. As a result the young German now leads the Tour de France ahead of Landaluze by 1-24, with de la Fuente third at 2-45. Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom) was best Frenchman in fifth place on the stage and moved up to fourth overall at 2-55.
Andreas Kloden (Astana) is still the best placed overall contender despite suffering because of his crash on Thursday. He is sixth at 3-39, with most of his main rivals within 30 seconds. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) spent the stage hiding and suffering in the front group and finished in the same time as Kloden. He is now 44th at 5-16 but must be worried about Sunday’s stage.
David Millar had a slight chance of taking the yellow jersey if he’d been able gain eight seconds on Kloden but Millar struggled on the steep part of the Colombiere and finished 60th, 7-04 behind and slipped to 53rd at 7-13. Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) did better, finishing just behind the group of overall contenders, at 3-59. Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile), Geriant Thomas (Barloworld) and Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) all finished in the main gruppetto, 22-47 behind Gerdemann.
The 197.5km stage was the first day in the Alps and only included one climb near the finish. Sunday’s 165km eighth stage is from La Grand Bornand to the ski resort of Tignes and much tougher. three small climbs early on will inspire attacks and breakaway attempts, while the first category Cormet de Roselend, the Hauteville and the climb to the finish at Tignes could revolutionise the overall standings.
TOUR DE FRANCE: STAGE SEVEN RESULTS
1 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) T-Mobile 197.5km in 4.53.13 (40.41 km/h)
2 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel 0.40
3 David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier Duval – Prodir 1.39
4 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 2.14
5 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 2.21
6 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 3.32
7 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quickstep 3.38
8 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2r
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all same time
47 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 3.59
60 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval 7.04
165 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile Team 22.47
168 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld
170 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis all s.t.
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SEVEN
1 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) T-Mobile 10.43.40
2 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel 1.24
3 David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier Duval 2.45
4 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 2.55
5 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 3.05
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 3.39
7 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel 3.51
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne 3.52
9 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel 3.55
10 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 3.57
Other british riders
53 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval – Prodir 7.13
83 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 15.58
147 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis 31.19
161 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld 34.37
180 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile Team 44.44
Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kasheckin, Michael Boogerd, Cadel Evans and Iban Mayo. Photo by Luc Claessen.
Bernhard Kohl, Markus Fothen and Ivan Guiterrez. Photo by Luc Claessen.