Anyone paying close attention to the finish of yesterday’s stage may have noticed a slight split in the bunch as the riders crossed the line. On the right side of it, Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and most of the race favourites, on the wrong side of it, Bradley Wiggins and Levi Leipheimer.
The gap was only a couple of bike lengths long, but it initially cost Wiggins 15 seconds as the race jury decided there were two seperate groups crossing the finish line in Issoudun. The result knocked Wiggins down to seventh overall, 1.01 minutes behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini.
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15 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Tour has been lost by less in the past, and any rider going for the general classification has to be constantly alert and in a good position to avoid throwing away precious seconds.
However, a decision was made this morning to reverse this result, meaning Wiggins has been re-instated at fifth overall at 46 seconds.
Time gaps are measured from the first rider to cross the line at the head of each seperate group. It’s down to the jury’s discretion to decide where each group starts and finishes. Immediately after the stage the race jury decided that Simon Spilak in 53rd position was far enough behind Mickaël Delage in 52nd position to constitute a second group.
Therefore everyone behind Spilak was given a time 15 seconds slower than stage winner Mark Cavendish
Crash didn’t cause split
Splits in the peloton often occur in the final kilometres, but usually down to crashes. The rules state that if a rider is held up by a crash in the final three kilometres of a stage they are given the same time as the winner.
There was a crash yesterday, a Katusha rider went down on a right had bend, but it did not cause the split. It seems to have been caused by the twists and turns that littered the final kilometre.
This is how the general classification now looks, the only change being the re-instatement of Wiggins and Leipheimer:
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r in 34-24-21
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 6sec
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 8sec
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 39sec
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 46sec
6. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 54sec
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-HTC at 1-00
8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-24
9. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-49
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 1-54