Day two in the mountains of this 2011 Tour de France, and the word was that stage 13 was a day for a breakaway to succeed.
Sure enough, Garmin’s Thor Hushovd – the world road race champion, and wearer of the yellow jersey for most of the first week of this year’s Tour – soloed to victory, the last man standing of an earlier 10-man breakaway. Almost eight minutes behind, in the main bunch, Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler retained the yellow jersey.
Bar stage two’s team time trial, Friday’s 152.5km run between Pau and Lourdes was the shortest stage of the race so far.
The Col d’Aubisque was the day’s only real obstacle – albeit a 1,709-metre one – with a long, downhill run nearly all the way from its summit to the finish 40 kilometres further on in Lourdes.
After a few efforts from other riders, 10 men managed to escape the clutches of the fast-starting peloton at the 50-kilometre mark, including Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, Cofidis’s David Moncoutié, the ever-active Jérémy Roy (FDJ) and Hushovd.
The leading group didn’t contest the intermediate sprint with 82 kilometres covered, and it was Boasson Hagen who rolled over the line first.
It was hotly contested behind them, though, with José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) pipping Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) for 11th place, and five points, with Rojas’s team-mate Francisco Ventoso trying, and failing, to steal more points away from Cavendish. The Movistar duo were on the receiving end of a half-hearted, waved-hand appeal from Cavendish, with him thinking they’d blocked him a little with the side hoardings jutting out on the Manxman’s side a little too much, but we’d be surprised if anything comes of it.
On the approach to the Aubisque, Hushovd decided to splinter the lead group, setting off alone on the mountain’s slower slopes, with Roy in hot pursuit, followed in turn by Moncoutié.
A day too late with 14th July – Bastille Day – coming yesterday, the fans on the Aubisque were ecstatic to see Frenchman Roy leading up the climb, followed by compatriot Moncoutié.
Roy crested the summit a little under a minute ahead of Moncoutié, with the peloton eight minutes down on Roy.
However, the long descent gave Hushovd and his never-give-up mentality – not to mention his superior descending skills – the chance to rejoin Moncoutié, and Roy was in for a two-versus-one chase to the valley floor.
Behind them, nearing the bottom of the descent, with 25km to go, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma) took a flyer out of the front of the bunch, together with Rabobank’s Bauke Mollema. Gilbert was looking for some big points at the finish towards the green jersey, with Cavendish left behind and out of the picture, but with Rojas still hanging on in the main bunch.
With three kilometres to go, and Roy still holding a slim lead, Hushovd decided he’d had enough of Moncoutié, ridding himself of the Frenchman and then blasting past a tired Roy.
Hushovd had timed things absolutely perfectly, making it look easy after 100 kilometres away in front of the clutches of the peloton, winning the stage in his world champ’s rainbow jersey, with Moncoutié coming home 10 seconds behind him, and a tired Roy in third.
The remnants of the break drip-dripped home, with Gilbert holding on from the fast-finishing peloton to take 10th place and some much needed points towards the green jersey, which Rojas led home. Voeckler finished safely in the peloton to retain the leader’s yellow jersey.
Cavendish stays in green with a thirteen-point buffer over Rojas, with Gilbert another 11 points behind. The GC riders may have had a comparatively easy day, but the points competition is really beginning to hot up.
However, Saturday’s shark-tooth profile for stage 14 from Saint Gaudens to Plateau de Beille will definitely bring back the fireworks in the fight for yellow.
Tour de France 2011, stage 13: Pau – Lourdes, 211km
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervélo in 3-47-36
2. David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis at 10 secs
3. Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ at 26 secs
4. Lars Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad at 5-00
5. Jérome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step at 5-02
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 5-03
7. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha at 5-08
8. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 5-16
9. Maarten Tjallingii (Hol) Rabobank at same time
10 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 6-48
96. David Millar (Gbr) Garmin-Cervélo at 8-03
119. Ben Swift (Gbr) Sky at 18-32
123. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Sky at same time
129. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) HTC-Highroad at 22-08
Overall classification after stage 13
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar in 55-49-57
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-49
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 2-06
4. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-14
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 3-16
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 3-22
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank at 4-00
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi at 4-11
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Rabobank at 4-35
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 4-35
39. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Sky at 21-16
59. David Millar (Gbr) Garmin-Cervélo at 38-13
130. Ben Swift (Gbr) Sky at 1-30-53
131. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) HTC-Highroad at 1-32-28
Thor Hushovd takes the stage win
thomas Voeckler: Another day in yellow
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