World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara made another strong bid for a win in stage eleven to Montpellier, where he made came within inches of besting reknowned sprinter Robert Hunter (Barloworld). The Swiss rider, who already surprised all the sprinters with a kilometre long attack to win stage three, made a huge run to the line in the final 100 metres, hurtling past a fading Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) but falling just short of the win.
"I wanted to win this stage so badly and dedicate it to Stuart O'Grady," Cancellara declared on the team-csc.com website. O'Grady is currently recuperating from a bad crash on stage eight that put him out of the tour. "I'm happy enough to be able to dedicate him a second place," said Cancellara.
The loss of O'Grady affected the Swiss rider deeply. "Stuart's my roommate [on the Tour -ed.] and in this big family we're all part of here we miss him a lot and wish him all the best. He's a great teammate in so many ways – both on and off the road."
"All riders know the kind of pain we all face on those mountains and at the end of a stage like the one today, but the pain which Stuey's feeling at the hospital right now is totally different. It's been on my mind a lot lately. I felt so bad for Stuart, when he crashed and I wanted to go back to him, but I'm really happy he's doing better."
Team CSC also made its way to the top of the team classification after the always aggressive Jens Voigt went on the attack on stage ten from Tallard to Marseille. While Voigt placed fifth out of the breakaway, his performance bumped the team from fourth place to first, moving ahead of the Discovery Channel, Caisse d'Epargne and Astana teams who all missed the move. CSC maintained its five minute lead over Caisse d'Epargne on the tumultuous stage eleven which saw a big split in the peloton, which caught out favourite Christophen Moreau, and a crash inside the final kilometres that sent Fränk Schleck to the ground.
Despite the crash inside the final 3km of the stage, Fränk Schleck and team leader Carlos Sastre both advanced one spot in the general classification thanks to the demise of Moreau, and are now sixth and 12th overall.