HTC亦喜亦悲 Mark Cavendish第十一站再下一城, Mark Renshaw忠心護主以頭撞人付出禁賽代價

Manx Missile fires another winning shot to the line

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) won the eleventh stage of the Tour de France between Sisteron and Bourg-lès-Valance in a fast bunch sprint. The Manx Missile took his third victory in this year’s race ahead of two-time winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions).

After some tough days in the Alps the sprinters made their return to the Tour de France. A stage long breakaway did its best to stay away, but with opportunities for the fastmen limited in this race there was only ever going to be one outcome.

“It’s nice to keep winning,” said Cavedish after his victory. “I’ve got a dedicated group of guys and I’ve got to thank them all. Michael Rogers has passed the Alps and now he’s pulling massive turns; he’s always helping anyway, but today he did big, big turns and obviously the other guys wound themselves up as well.

“It takes a great group of guys to keep putting themselves out there. I’m really happy,” he added.

“I had to go from a bit further out today: 350 meters to go,” explained the Manxman, “while normally I go between 250 and 200… so it was really, really long. It was more like a breakaway in terms of sprinting.

“Mark held Julian Dean off and opened the door for me to go.

Cavendish’s win moves him up to fourth in the points jersey classification but, thanks to missing out on the first few stages, he is still 29 points shy of the lead.

“Now it’s about getting stage wins,” he said. “If the green jersey comes, it comes, but it’s a great battle. Thor [Hushovd] and Alessandro [Petacchi] are great sprinters and it’s actually fun to watch that battle unfold.”

Attacks from the gun, but more in hope than expectation

As soon as the flag was dropped at the end of the 3km neutral section, Stephane Augé (Cofidis) attacked. He was joined immediately by Anthony Geslin (Française des Jeux) and Jose Benitez (Footon-Servetto) and the stage’s breakaway was formed.

With none of the riders any threat whatsoever to the lead of Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), the trio’s advantage grew steadily until it lead by 5’05” at the 47km mark. Riding predominantly into a stiff headwind though, and with the sprinters wanting to stretch their legs after the mountains, they were unable to stretch it any further.

The HTC-Columbia and Lampre-Farnese Vini teams began to peg them back on behalf of their sprinters Cavendish and Petacchi. The lead dropped quickly but the peloton allowed the three riders to dangle between 2 and 3 minutes ahead, not wanting to catch them too soon and provoke a further attack.

Polka-dots provoke rare action in the peloton

On the stage’s one real obstacle, the 3rd category Col de Cabre after 56.5km, the breakaway trio took the first three places and most of the points. As the peloton neared the top an attack came from polka-dot jersey wearer Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), with teammate Carlos Barredo, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Pineau’s mountains rival Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouyges Telecom).

Pineau easily managed to easily outsprint Charteau to take the one remaining point and secure the jersey for another day. The four riders drifted back in to the peloton on the descent, having provided the only real action in the main field since the breakaway escaped.

With the majority of the rest of the stage predominantly downhill, the peloton continued to hold the leading trio at around 2 minutes. As they descended the Cabre the lead was 2’25”, as they approached the first intermediate sprint in the town of Montlaur-en-Diois after 83.5km it was down to 1’35”; a few kilometres later though, with 100km to go, it was back up to 3 minutes.

Toying with the breakaway with a long way to go

At the feed zone in the sinister-sounding town of Die, with 83.5km to go, the lead was down to 2’30” again; the peloton was toying with the breakaway riders, allowing them to stay out front but knowing that they could catch them any time they wanted.

Garmin-Transitions’ Dave Zabriskie came forward to take a long turn on the front. The US time trial champion was making no great effort though as he clutched a bad of ice to try to keep himself cool. Nevertheless, the leading trio’s advantage fell steadily to 1’35” with less than 70km to go.

HTC-Columbia’s former World time trial champion Bert Grabsch was the next rider to take over on the front of the peloton. With 47km to go the deficit was reduced to 1’15”, but a brief attack from Mathieu Perget (Caisse d’Epargne) with 41km to go caused the German to increase his pace slightly. The gap went down to 40 seconds but once Perget had been caught it stretched to 55 seconds with 35km to go.

With the breakaway’s capture now getting close, the three riders began to attack one another in an attempt to get away alone. Augé was the first to go, after Benitez increased the pace, but he was countered by Geslin; the Bbox Bouyges Telecom rider was clearly too tired to make it stick though, and drifted back to the peloton which was jus 15 seconds behind with 27km to go.

Augé and Benitez were caught just 22km from the finish. This was a little earlier than HTC-Columbia would have liked though and they were forced to counter an attempted attack from Jérémy Roy and Anthoy Roux (both Française des Jeux) before things settled down.

As the course’s direction changes, so does the wind’s

With 16km to go, as the course turned across the wind, Saxo Bank began driving on the front in the wind and a number of Astana riders were dropped off the back of the peloton in the crosswinds. Alexandre Vinokourov brought Alberto Contador to the front of the bunch though, so that he would not be caught behind any splits that occurred.

As the course turned once again, putting the wind on the riders backs the Danish team relaxed its fierce pace and left the front of the peloton to the sprinters’ teams once more.

With 8km to go Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) attacked in search of a third stage win, just as HTC-Columbia was getting itself reorganised; the Frenchman was chased and joined by Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), but the move was to last for less than a 2km as the white, yellow and black team pulled them back.

Cavendish was nestled comfortably in the HTC-Columbia train behind his lead out man Mark Renshaw. Lurking behind the young Manxman though were most of the other sprinters, waiting for him to make his move.

With 5.5km to go the Lampre-Farnese Vini team took over for Petacchi with Hushovd’s Cervélo TestTeam in there to help. With 2km to go HTC-Columbia came back, but the blue and fuscia team was not willing to give up the front and the two teams shared the work on the way to the line.

Team Sky was the next to move forward with Serge Pauwels leading the peloton into the final 2km, but Lampre-Farnese Vini and HTC-Columbia took over once more.

A big sprint, but not without controversy

Renshaw was leading Cavendish into the final few hundred metres, getting ready to launch the Manx Missile in the usual way; Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) came up alongside him though, with his sprinter Farrar and came very close to Renshaw’s right side.

The Australian and New Zealander came very close to one another and Renshaw used his head to push back Dean; Cavendish then launched his sprint, from further out than usual, and Renshaw moved across in front of Farrar as he was accelerating himself. For the combination of both these actions, Renshaw was thrown off the race.

On the opposite side of the road Danilo Hondo was leading out Petacchi, but once Cavendish was up to speed the veteran Italian was unable to get on terms and the Manxman won by a distance once more. Farrar also had to come around Hondo as he slowed, but still did enough to take third.

Hushovd found himself unable to compete with the fast men at the front once more, only managing 7th, and Petacchi’s second place was enough to overtake the Norwegian in the green jersey classification.

All of the overall contenders finished in the peloton at the same time as Cavendish and so Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) holds on to his yellow jersey, 41 seconds clear of Alberto Contador (Astana).

Result stage 11
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Columbia
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre Farnese-Vini
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions
4. Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
5. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
6. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bbox Bouyges Telecom
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam
8. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
10. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram

Standings after stage 11
1. Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Team Astana @ 41s
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 2’45”
4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank @ 2’58”
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 3’31”



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