Serguei Ivanov used all his experience to out-wit a break away group of 11 riders and take stage 14 of the Tour de France in to Besançon today.
The Russian national champion hit his rivals with a perfectly timed attack from just outside the 10km to go banner and soloed to the finish line. His lead quickly went up to 30 seconds as the tired legs he’d left behind struggled to match his time trialling skills.
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Others gave chase, but as Hayden Roulsten and Albert Timmer bobbed and weaved their way in pursuit, Ivanov looked rock solid. The Russian moved expertly from one side of the road to the other, using the bends and contours to hide himself from those behind. It was a perfect piece of riding.
A break away group that know’s it won’t get caught by the peloton will often play cat and mouse for several kilometres before a rider gets away, but such was the timing of Ivanov’s move that the Russian was only the second rider to attack.
Nicolas Roche had tried on a small rise with 11km to go, but made little impression. he strung out the group, but when it slowed Ivanov saw his chance. “I wasn’t feeling the strongest today, and I knew that I could only win if i chose a good moment [to attack],” Ivanov said afterwards. “It was just feeling, and the experience of many, many years as a professional.”
Ivanov’s escape was helped by the fact that two men in the break weren’t as interested in the stage as they could have been. George Hincapie was the virtual leader on the road once the break had a lead of over 5-25 minutes on the peloton, while Françiase des Jeux’s Christophe le Mevel also stood to move in to the top ten on General Classification.
With the lead standing at over six minutes as the leaders fought out the final kilometres, there was a very real chance that Hincapie could take over the race lead just one day before the Tour hit the Alps.
It made for an intriguing finale as Ag2r chased desperately, helped only by Garmin-Slipstream, with Hincapie’s Columbia HTC team mates just behind. Eventually they had to come to the front to lead out Cavendish, but tried to do so at a slower speed so as not to eat in to Hincapies time.
In the end the bunch just made it, and Nocentini held on to the leaders’ yellow jersey by just five seconds from Hincapie who now lies in second spot. Le Mevel also moved in to the top ten, he is now in fifth spot, 43 seconds behind Nocentini.
Cavendish relegated for moving off his line
Unfortunately for Columbia not only did they miss out on the yellow jersey but Cavendish slipped further behind in the green jersey competition after being relegated to 154 position on today’s stage.
The British sprinter won the bunch sprint for 13th place just ahead of Hushovd who currently holds the points jersey, but was later disqualified for blocking Hushovd.
Although Cavendish did visibly move to his right in the final metres, he was expecting Hushovd to come up on his left shoulder, which is the one he was looking over.
As a result of the relegation, Hushovd now holds an 18 point lead in the points jersey competition with only one sprint stage left.
While Hushovd is battling it out with Cavendish, some of the other sprinters seem to have changed their tactics in their bid for a stage win. Both Daniele Bennati and Gerald Ciolek got in the break today, but even then their bid was unsuccessful.
As the group splintered in the final kilometre, chasing Nicolas Roche, the pair finished an unconvincing ninth and tenth.
Death of spectator casts shadow over the stage
Sadly the stage was marred by the death of a 61-year-old female spectator. The lady was killed and two other people were injured when they were hit by a police motorcycle while watching Saturday’s stage.
The woman was hit as she crossed the road in the town of Wittelsheim, around 25 miles into the stage. The motorcycle then slid and collided with two more people who were injured, one of whom has a broken leg.
Stage 14: Colmar – Besançon 199km
1. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha 4-37-46
2. Nicolas Roache (Ire) Ag2r La Mondiale at 16 seconds
3. Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team
4. Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Slipstream
5. Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis
6. Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre
7. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
8. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia HTC
9. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10. Gerals Ciolek (Ger) Milram
70. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream at 5-36
116. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream
131. Charly Wegelius (GBr) Silence-Lotto at same time
Overall classification after stage 14
1. Rinalado Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale 58-13-52
2. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia HTC at 5 seconds
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 6 seconds
4. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 8 seconds
5. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux at 43 seconds
6. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream at 46 seconds
7. Andréas Klöden (Ger) Astana at 54 seconds
8. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia HTC at 1 minute
9. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-24 minutes
10. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-49 minutes
Serguei Ivanov takes the stage after soloing to the line from the day’s break
Stage 14 scenery
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