By Brecht Decaluwé in Dax
During today's stage, there were some gaps in the peloton which gave some GC riders with an unexpected time loss. Knowing that you can win the Tour by only eight seconds, it could prove to be very costly for some of them. The reason for the gaps was a crash, which included Levi Leipheimer. The Gerolsteiner leader finished 1'45 behind Oscar Freire, but was granted the same time of the riders surrounding him before the fall. Thus, the American lost only 26 seconds, but he is still 6'43 away from the yellow jersey.
The second part of the peloton that finished 13 seconds back, was led by T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler. He might have smiled if he saw that he was followed by Iban Mayo, Pietro Caucchioli and Chechu Rubiera. Somewhat further in that group was Denis Menchov; the Russian is now trailing Serguei Gonchar by 2'13. Markus Fothen, leader in the young rider classification, also lost 13 seconds on Thomas Lövkvist and José Rujano, but still retained the jersey. A small third group, with Michael Rasmussen, finished at 20 seconds of the winner.