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The second week of the Tour starts with a short stage. It is a lumpy stage, which may well end up with a mass sprint.
This afternoon we travel a mere 158km from Aurillac to Carmaux, as we continue to head south. We hope that everyone had a good rest day and is ready to go again!
What a rude shock this afternoon! We were promised sunshine and warm temps, but what were we greeted with at the start? A hailstorm!
This is a day destined for a long breakaway. Those teams who so far haven't really accomplished anything are the most likely to send a rider up the road.
The riders are currently rolling through the neutralized zone, and competition director Jean-Claude Peschaux is reminding everyone "Safety is the main concern!"
Which we are pretty sure the riders already know...
We understand that Johnny Hoogerland of all people had to undergo an early morning doping test today!
They're off and Lars Boom of Rabobank has the first puncture of the day!
178 riders were at the start today. Yaroslav Popovych of RadioShack has been suffering from a fever for two days, and the team took him out. Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) is out after his positive doping control for a diuretic.
And unfortunately we have our first crash of the day, including Cancellara, Leipheimer, Leukemans and Galland. All but the latter jump back up and get going, but he must wait for his team car.
Juan Antonio Flecha, who has his own crash experiences, was caught behind that crash and is now in a small group trying to catch the peloton.
With 16.5 km ridden, we now have six riders in the lead, seven seconds over a group of five and the peloton at 18 seconds.
Everyone involved one way or another in the crash is now back in the peloton.
Now six leaders with one chaser but the peloton at 12 seconds.
The riders with a handful of secods over the peloton are: Di Gregorio (AST), Vichot (FDJ), Minard (COF), El Fares (COF), Marcato (VCE) and Delaplace (SAU).
Minard is not with Cofidis,but with AG2R, of course.
Rabobank's Tjallangii tried to bridge across but couldn't make it.
Leukemans and Galland, who were involved in the early crash, are now off the back of the peloton.
40 seconds now for the six leaders. Many riders are trying to join, but not getting away. Yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler has moved to the front of the field to try and quiet things down.
There is, as always, one intermediate sprint, and it comes early today. At km 37.5, to be exact.
Coming up soon!
Looks like this group is a keeper. The gap is at 2.35
Vichot attacks and takes the sprint points.
How will it play out in the field?
Looks like Gilbert has plans: Lots of hard-riding Omega Pharma-Lotto riders at the head of the peloton.
A group of 10 or so riders with lots of HTC and Lotto riders, break out for the sprint.
Cavendish takes the sprint of the field.
Things have quieted down in the field now and many riders are pulling over to the side of hthe road for a nature break.
We have four ranked climbs today, two each category 3 and category 4. Here are the details, as per the race website:
Km 62.5 - Côte de Figeac - 2.3 km climb to 6 % - Category 3
Km 70.5 - Côte de Loupiac - 2.5 km climb to 4.1 % - Category 4
Km 99.5 - Côte de Villefranche-de-Rouergue - 4.1 km climb to 5.9 % - Category 3
Km 143.0 - Côte de Mirandol-Bourgnounac - 3.9 km climb to 4.1 % - Category 4
Are you following the Cyclingnews/Easton Cylcing trivia contest during the Tour? Of course you are! Sunday's question was: Who has won the most polka dot jerseys at the Tour? Richard Virenque, who else?
Today's question will be coming up later on, be sure to see it and get a chance to win a great prize!
Green jersey Philippe Gilbert drops back to the team car for a chat. And a quick repair.
The gap has now crept up to nearly four minutes. No problem for Voeckler though: the highest ranked of the escape group is El Fares, who is more than 15 minutes down.
Di Gregorio had dropped back to his team car and now scurries back up to his break companions.
As usual, our quick pack back at who is adorned with which special jersey. Thomas Voeckler of Europcar finally wrestled the yellow jersey off the large shoulder of Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo). The Frenchman leads Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (BMC).
Speaking of Gilbert and Hushovd, they are spending a lot of time together in conversation in this stage.
And HTC-Highroad has moved in to take over the chase.
Leipheimer had pulled over and gotten help from the team car for some sort of mechanical problem. He is now heading back up to the others.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) probably doesn't agree with Kermit the Frog that “It's not that easy being green.” the Belgian is happy to be leading the points competition ahead of Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad).
Did Jerome Pineau of Quick Step crash? He is back at the team car getting some repairs to his shorts.
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), who made that dramatic flight into the barbed wire on Sunday, has hung on to start today's stage in the polka-dotted jersey of the King of the Mountains. He leads new yellow jersey Voeckler and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad).
Speaking of mountains, the leaders are now on their way up the first climb of the day, the category 3 Cote de Figeac.
Robert Gesink of Rabobank is best young rider, followed by Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ).
Marcato jumps to grab the two mountain points. Delaplace takes the remaining one point.
Twenty riders have so far left the race. Think that's a lot? It's not. The tenth stage today has 188 riders, and here is how it compares to the last few years:
2010 – 181 riders
2009 - 179 riders
2008 – 169 riders
2007 – 171 riders
David Millar is at the very tail end of the field. He too is suffering from crash injuries, having removed virtually all the skin from one elbow.
No sooner is the first climb conquered, the second one is right there. The category four Cote de Loupiac shouldn't be too much of a challenge, though.
Di Gregorio and Minard have a chat on their way up.
Di Gregario calls again for his team car.
Ah, he needed the stage map, and discusses it with the team leader in the car.
There is nly one point to be gained at this Cat. 4 climb, and it goes to Marcato again.
The gap has now crept down to under three minutes.
Oh, the irony. Thomas Voeckler is known for his breakaways -- but that is exactly what he can't do as race leader. One of the disadvantages of wearing the yellow jersey...
Robert Gesink of Rabobank has stopped to have his handlebars adjusted. He was involved in the early crash today, so perhaps something happened there. He is now working his way up through the team cars, with three teammates there to help him.
We were frankly horrified to see the big crash on Sunday. So was Cadel Evans.
With 80 km to go, the gap is back up to 3:47.
Shoe problems for Jerome Coppel of Saur Sojasun. That's a tricky thing to mess with while riding.
Alberto Contador is a bit further down in the GC than one might have expected, but don't count the defending champion out yet. Even with knee problems, he is already planning his attacks the rest of the way.
On a personal note, we would like to wish a happy birthday today to Cyclingnews' Sue George and Peter Hymas.
HTC-Highroad again at the head of the field, with the gap at 3:37.
Vacansoleil-DCM DS Hilaire Van der Schueren took a look back at the auto crash which took out Johnny Hoogerland and talked about its consequences for his rider, his team, the race and cycling in general.
A puncture for a Liquigas rider -- Alessandro Vanotti.
Bernie Eisei of HTC-HIghroad is the next to puncture.
Beautiful sunshine again now as Di Gregorio slides slightly through a corner....
Gianni Bugno, head of the cyclists' union, calls for more safety measures. He also says that recent events are good cause to re-think the radio ban.
The lead group is now on its way up the third climb of the day, the Cote de Villefranche-de-Rouergue, category three.
We see Hoogerland in the field, looking rather mummy-like. But we are happy to see him there at all!
Did we mention he has 33 stiches in his legs? Ouch! And is still riding!
The gap has dropped by about a minute, to 2:45. The peloton has let this group go, but not too far.
Tyler Farrar is falling off the back of the field on this climb. Ryder Hesjedal and David Millar are with him.
Millar loads up with bidons as long as he is back there.
Another mountain ranking for the lead group. And another two points for Marcato.
The gap keeps on coming down, with HTC-Highroad pulling the peloton along, followed by BMC.
The question is, of course, who is HTC-Highroad riding for today -- Cavendish or Goss?
Again some mechanical work for Di Gregorio. He is having a time of it today.
Once again Cyclingnews and Easton Cycling have teamed up for a contest during the Tour. We have some great prizes line up for you, ranging from a signed BMC team jersey to the grand prize, a complete BMC Teammachine SLR0. For more, just click here.
All you have to do is answer one trivia question and you are automatically entered. And you get 21 chances, one per stage!
Here is today's trivia question in the Easton/Cyclingnews Tour de France Trivia Challenge: Who was the Lanterne Rouge in last year's Tour?
If you need a hint, click here.
You are entered for the random drawing for prizes by filling in your answer here. Good luck!
What do the riders do on a rest day besides, well, rest? Take a look at our photo gallery and find out for yourselves.
The gap has really dropped now, to less than one and a half minutes.
Hoogerland wasn't the only one involved in that incident Sunday. In fact, it was Juan Antonio Flecha who was actually hit by the car. He has now discussed the matter, and said that the driver never even stopped to see what had happened.
Liquigas, Sky and Katusha have also sent riders up the front to help HTC-Highroad.
Team Sky also has two options for today. Ben Swift is the "traditional" sprinter, but this may be more one for Edvald Boasson Hagen again.
The gap is holding steady at 1:30. Don't want to catch them too soon, now do we?
Richie Porte of Saxo Bank-SunGard is hyped about the Tour and about Contador's chanes to win. But he expects some strong challenges from the Schlecks and Evans, as well.
What are those rainbow stripes doing at the very end of the peloton? We have gotten more used to seeing Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo at the front of the field.
Ah, he has dropped back to the team car.
Shoe problems for Thor as well. He is now driving with one shoe and one sock.....
It's getitng time now to put the pressure on, and the gap is under a minute.
Christian Knees of Sky had taken over the lead work, but now HTC-Highroad has things firmly in hand again.
Oh oh, we see some rain drops....
The sunshine from earlier is definitely gone. Let's just hope that the hail from even earlier doesn't make a return appearance!
Bauke Mollema of Rabobank is doing raingear-carrying duty.
The chase is serious now, under 50 seconds.
Two riders have taken off from the lead group, Marcato and Minard. And the sun is shining again!
Vichot has joined them.
20 km to go with a gap of 44 seconds.
The leading trio takes on the final climb of the day.
The other three are now back in the field, which is only 23 seconds back.
Omega Pharma-Lotto has jumped into the lead work. Gilbert is third wheel, with Voeckler right behind him.
John Gadret of AG2R can't hold the pace and drops back.
With the peloton breathing down his neck, Marcato jumps again to try for the remaining mountain point.
Vichot and Minard shake hands as the peloton absorbs them.
Gilbert now leads the way up in chase of Marcato.
Marcato takes it out and lets the peloton swoop past.
KOM Hoogerland is in a group which has fallen back.
The peloton has definitely split, as Gilbert attacks yet again.
Gallopin, Gilbert, Voeckler and Martin go for it, with a Quick Step rider whose name we didn't get.
They tear through the mountain ranking and keep on going.
Vocekler took the one available mountain point.
They have a decent sized lead now. Martin is a threat on GC, though, and Gilbert is always dangerous, so the field will want to catch them.
Dries Devenyns is the Quick Step rider, who now tries another attack. The otehr four won't have any of that, though.
The peloton doesn't look quite as organized as it could be.......
Cavendish is in the first chase group.
The gap is holding steady at around 15 seconds.
Voeckler is tired of doing the lead work and tells the other to help. Hushovd does so.
Devenyns is tired of the games and takes off again. Martin is right behind him.
An Euskaltel rider attacks out of the field.
The five leaders are no longer working together. Gallopin is out of the group and nearly caught again.
Gilbert now goes for it.
Gilbert leads, and pulls away.
Gilbert has a 10 second lead on the field. This is very rolling, curving course at the moment.
They are all going up a small climb here, working hard.
HTC is putting up an impossible pace at the front of the field, a two other riders try to get away.
Gilber has been caught and Ruijgh (Vac) and Kadri have a two-second lead. Oops, caught now.
Milar attacks, bandages and all!
He has a minimal lead. We assume this means Farrar is no longer in the first group.
25 riders or so in the first group?
Last km and a turn.
Sieberg of Omega Pharma.Lotto leds the way. Geipel is in there too.
Gfeipel on Cavendish' wheel.
They go for it head to head!
Both claim the win!
And it goes to Griepel! He finally beats his rival, winning by a good wheel length!
Third place goes to Rojas, with Hushovd fourth.
That is Greipel's first Tour stage win, and the first time he has beat Cavendish head to head.
Greipel and his best friend/teammate Marcel Sieberg rejoice in the finish zone.
1 André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
No change in the GC. Voeckler continues to lead ahead of Sanchez and Evans.
Here is the top ten on the stage:
1 André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
10 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
That's it for today, and weren't we all happy to have an almost crash-free stage!
Join us again tomorrow for more action.