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Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 19 of the Tour de France. The 204.5km stage is from Bourg-d'Oisans at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, to Le Grand-Bornand. It is another testing day in the mountains.
The riders are lining up at the start after descending from Alpe d'Huez in the team buses. Many are still tired after the double climb but face an even tougher stage today.
The stage includes five major climbs: the Hors category Col du Glandon (after 33.5km), The Hors category Col de la Madeleine (83.5km), the Cat 2 Col de Tamie (143km), the Cat 1 Col de l'Epine (165km) and the Cat 1 Col de la Croix Fry (191.5km).
Put all together the stage includes more climbing that Thursday's stage to L'Alpe d'Huez.
The peloton is now riding in the neutralised section.
Race director Christian Prudhomme drops the white flag and the race is on. Here we go! Allez!!!
And we quickly have the first attacks.
Before the stage lots of riders were warming up on the rollers, some getting ready to go on the attack, some hoping to get ready for a battle of survival.
Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) and Jon Izaguirre (Euskaltel) are the first to attack but other riders are chasing them The speed is very high despite the first climb, the Col du Glandon, starting very soon.
A group of 30 riders is trying to go clear but the peloton is in hot pursuit.
This is a brutal way to start the 19th day of racing.
Garmin-Sharp is on the attack again today. Ryder Hesjedal is in the mix and trying to make a selection.
The peloton eases and more riders jump away. Jonny Hoogerland is there for Vacansoleil.
Bak and Izaguirre lead the chasers by 10 seconds with the peloton at 30 seconds.
There are some interesting riders in the chase group, including Christophe Riblon who won at Alpe d'Huez yesterday.
Riblon wears the polka-dot jersey today. He is third in the competition behind Froome and Quintana but they are wearing the yellow and white jerseys. Riblon will be hoping to take some points at the summit of the Col de Glandon.
Froome leads the climber's competition with 104 points, Quintana has 97 and Riblon 77.
The attackers have 1:10 on the peloton but the situation is still evolving.
Team Sky is reading steady at the head of the peloton, preferring to stay united as a team, so that they will have riders to help Froome in the final part of the stage.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) is again trying to get across to the break but he missed it the first time and seems unlikely to make it now.
Hesjedal is now upfront with Izaguirre and Remi Cousin (Team Europcar).
The peloton is at 1:30 and the gap is growing.
Cousin has blown and has been dropped by the leading duo. The chasers are still trying to catch them and escape the peloton's control.
Race radio has confirmed that there are a whopping 41 riders in the chase group. They are 30 seconds down on Hesjedal and Izaguirre and 2:00 ahead of the peloton.
Hesjedal is working hard to make his attack stick. He's spinning a low gear but putting down a huge effort.
The 2012 Giro d'Italia has battled through a difficult season, bouncing back from crashes that took him out of the Giro and the Tour de Suisse. He's been on the attack several times in the mountains and deserves his chance of glory today.
Hesjedal stands out for his lanky physique and his white sunglasses.
Susan taking over for a spell.
Our two leades are working well together, and have 1:30 over the chasing group with Riblon and 4:13 over the peloton.
And here are the names of some of those in that huge chase group, thanks to letour:
De Marchi (CAN), Moser (CAN), Bak (LTB), De Clercq (LTB), Bakelants (RLT), Kloden (RLT), Didier (RLT), Cousin (EUC), Kadri (ALM), Riblon (ALM), Hernandez (TST), Paulinho (TST), Costa (MOV), Plaza (MOV), Coppel (COF), Cunego (LAM), Serpa (LAM), Nordhaug (BEL), Hoogerland (VCD), Morabito (BMC), Feillu (SOJ)...
And from the same source, a look at today's climbs:
Let's try that again in a readable format:
Km 33.5 - Col du Glandon (1 924 m)21.6 kilometre-long climb at 5.1% - category H
Km 83.5 - Col de la Madeleine (2 000 m)19.2 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% - category H
Km 143.0 - Col de Tamié (907 m)8.6 kilometre-long climb at 6.2% - category 2
Km 165.0 - Col de l'Épine6.1 kilometre-long climb at 7.3% - category 1
Km 191.5 - Col de la Croix Fry (1 477 m)11.3 kilometre-long climb at 7% - category 1
Jon Izagirre of Euskaltel, in the lead group, had an excellent time trial the other day. He finished 14th.
Oh dear, it is raining on the two leaders. Not we want to see on a mountain stage. They gap over the Froome group is now 5:19.
Just a reminder, as there were some changes yesterday, here is our top ten in GC:1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 71:02:19 2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:11 3 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:32 4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:44 5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:05:58 6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:08:58 7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:09:33 8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:14:26 9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:14:38 10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:14:39
Well, we do need to learn how to cope with that formtting problem, don't we....
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 71:02:19
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:11
3 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:32
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:44
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:05:58
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:08:58
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:09:33
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:14:26
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:14:38
10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:14:39
There is a long way to go still today, and a lot of clilmbing to do. And right now the gaps are 2:40 back to that large break group, and more than six minutes to the peloton.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) looks to have a pretty solid lead in the points ranking.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 380 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 278
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 227
4 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 177
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 157
Have we mentioned that is a really very, very long ascent? Hesjedal and Izagirre are only now coming to the top.
Not surprisingly, thre are lots of fans along the way. Hesjedal sprints out to take the points. Izagirre takes the time to put on a jacket.
Cyclingnews talked to Frankie Andreu, who discussed the Alpe d'Huez stage and suggested that Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) may never win another Tour. Check out the video here.
Hesjedal leads the way down on this narrow road, as he and Izagirre have a 3:10 lead over the chase group and 7:43 on the peloton.
We're really sorry about the time out we had in live yesterday. So much interest briefly melted our servers. Our IT team have been working around the clock, and thanks for your patience.
Not exactly high-tech, but it works. Some riders tuck newspapers inside their jerseys to keep their chests warm as the cross the mountaintop and prepare for the descent.
Yesterday was a tough day for Belkin, as both Bauke Mollema and Lauens ten Dam lost time. Mollema has been fighting an illness for several days now, but decided to start today anyway.
Meanwhile the leaders have arrived at the flattish section in between the two HC climbs.
A foursome has formd out of the chase group. Moser, Riblon, Rolland and Cunego are now 2:45 back, with the rest of the chase group at 3:15. The peloton is still descending, 7:52 back.
Speaking of mountains, let's take a look at the mountain rankings.
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 104 pts
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 97
3 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 77
4 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 63
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 62
Jack Baeur of Garmin-Sharp has abandoned the race. Apparently he crashed.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) has joined the Riblon chase group. They are about 2:45 back.
1:55 now fo the five-man chase group.
We have said that there is a large chase group. Here are the names, thanks to letour.fr.:
De Marchi (CAN), Bak (LTB), De Clercq (LTB), Burghardt (BMC), Moinard (BMC), Morabito (BMC), Bakelants (RTL), Didier (RTL), Kloden (RTL), Cousin (EUC), Gavazzi (AST), Geniez (FDJ), Bardet (ALM), Kadri (ALM), Hernandez (TST), Paulinho (TST), Nieve (EUS), Sicard (EUS), Costa (MOV), Plaza (MOV), Rojas (MOV), Coppel (COF), Navarro (COF), Favilli (LAM), Serpa (LAM), Martin (OPQ), Gesink (BEL), Nordhaug (BEL), Meyer (OGE) and Hoogerland (VCD)
So who is where?
Hesjedal and Izagirre in the lead.
Flecha, Riblon, Moser, Rolland, and Cunego at 2.20.
De Marchi (CAN), Bak (LTB), De Clercq (LTB), Burghardt (BMC), Moinard (BMC), Morabito (BMC), Bakelants (RTL), Didier (RTL), Kloden (RTL), Cousin (EUC), Gavazzi (AST), Geniez (FDJ), Bardet (ALM), Kadri (ALM), Hernandez (TST), Paulinho (TST), Nieve (EUS), Sicard (EUS), Costa (MOV), Plaza (MOV), Rojas (MOV), Coppel (COF), Navarro (COF), Favilli (LAM), Serpa (LAM), Martin (OPQ), Gesink (BEL), Nordhaug (BEL), Meyer (OGE) and Hoogerland (VCD) at 2:55
Froome group at 8:15.
And we suspect that there is already a gruppetto behind them.
Hard to believe, but Mark Cavendish has jumped from the Froome group, together with teammates Kwiatkowski and Pineau. They have about a minute on teh group. No doubt they just want to build up a buffer before going up the Madelaine, so that Cavendish doesn't lose too much time in the end.
SVein Tuft of Orica-GreenEdge has crashed, too. Most of the damage seems to have been to his jersey, though.
The leading duo is on the next climb, but they won't stay togethter. Hesedal takes off and Izagirre can't follow.
David Millar of Garmin has punctured, but quickly gets help.
Argos-Shimano's Tom Veelers has abandoned the race. He was the "laterne rouge" or bottom-most ranked rider.
Another quick look at this climb:
Col de la Madeleine (2 000 m)19.2 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% - category H
That large chase grup is falling apart on this climb, but we don't yet know who has dropped back.
10:10 back now for the Froome group.
Lots of changes going on right now. Now Rolland is apparently the only one between Hesjedal and the big chase group - but we wouldn't want to swear to it.
We understand that Izagirre is somewhere there behind Hesjedal, but we don't know where.
This is another very long climb, nearly 20 kilometeres.
We hear that GArmin's Jack Bauer crashed into a barbed wire fence. Face-first.
Sep Vanmarcke of Belkin has joined the Cavendish group, which now has 3 minutes on the peloton, and is only 6 minutes behind the leader.
It is now over 11 minutes back to the peloton.
We wonder how long Hesjedal will last alone out there in the lead. There is still a long way to go, and lots of climbing, as well.
Evans is having problems, and has dropped off the back of the peloton. And the Cavendish group has been caught.
Rolland now only 40 seconds behind Hesjedal. We aren't sure what happened to Izagirre.
Hesjedal still has 5 km to go to the summit.
Let's make that 25 seconds for Rolland.
Rolland now has Hesjedal in his sights.
And now we have a duo in the lead.
Rolland, of course, would like to win the mountain ranking and gain as many points towards the KOM jersey as possible.
Evans is together with Stuart O'Grady (Orica-GreenEdge) and Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff). They are dropping further and further back.
It looks like the large chse group has split in half, about 18 riders in each.
12 minutes now for the peloton.
Yesterday was "the first day since the start in which I feel really good," said Moreno Moser of Cannondale. Read about it here.
The Garmin car pulls up to the two leaders. Not an easy task on a narrow road with lots of fans in the way.
Rolland pulls ahead slightly as he and Hesjedal approach the summit of the Madeleine.
Rolland takes off to gather in those points.
After crossing over, Rolland waits and thanks Hesjedal for letting him take the mountain points.
Unfortunately we have some doping news for you. The judges in the Mantova investigation has sent 27 people to trial. That includes 18 riders, amongst them Damiano Cunego and Alessandro Ballan.
The peloton now comes to the moutaintop. Everyone now faces a very long descent, followed by a flattisch section with the feed zone and the day's intermediate sprint.
That way everyone has a few minutes to catch their breath, before tackling the last half of the stage with three more climbs.
Hard to believe that this stage isn't even half over yet.
Chute! French champion Vichot goes crashes during the descent. He's hurting but seems ok.
The mountain stages in the Alps are amazing this year and Alpe d'Huez was a like one huge stadium packed with fans.
Check out this time laps video of the 13km road to the summit, including the packed Dutch corner.
Hesjedal and Rolland have 90km left to race. However it includes three nasty climbs in the final. A lot is going to happen before this stage ends in Le Grand-Bornand,
The Saxo-Tinkoff team is still leading the peloton on the long descent of the Madeleine. It is difficult to see what they are trying to achieve.
We're hearing that it is starting to rain at the finish. It could add an extra twist to what has been a thrilling Tour de France.
Ryder Hesjedal is still working hard in the break with Rolland.
Hesjedal's sunglasses have caught peoples' attention as much as his attacks. In this video he talks about them, his future at Garmin-Sharp and the Tour de France.
Watch the video here.
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Sadly we have another crash and retiree. Marcel Sieberg of Lotto Belisol has also been forced to retire.
Hesjedal and Rolland are passing through Albertville, the Alpine city that hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics.
The chasers behind Hesjedal and Rolland now includes 27 riders. Several of the early move were dropped on the long climb of the Col de la Madeleine.
Oops! Rolland stops for a rear wheel change. It wasn't a super fast change and so the Europcar rider will have to chase to catch Hesjedal.
Intelligently Hesjedal waited for Rolland and the two are back working together.
The chase group is now down to 23 riders.
They are: Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Bart De Clercq (Lotto Belisol), Marcus Burghardt and Amael Moinard (BMC), Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier and Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Leopard), Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Jesus Hernandez (Saxo-Tinkoff), Mikel Nieve and Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rui Costa, Ruben Plaza and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Jerome Coppel and Danni Navarro (Cofidis), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), Simon Geschke and Albert Timmer (Argos-Shimano), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), Brice Feillu (Sojasun).
The race is back on the climbs and Rolland has gone on the attack. He's dropped Hesjedal on the Col de Tamie.
We will see if he can stay away. However there's still 66km to go.
Hesjedal has already lost 50 seconds as Rolland commits to trying to win alone.
Hesjedal has been caught by the chasers after 130km on the attack.
We have another retirement: Christophe Le Mevel (Cofidis).
Hesjedal has now lost contact with the chase group.
The main peloton is 11:00 down on Rolland. Behind them is another group, the start of a the day's gruppetto. It includes Mark Cavendish (OPQS) and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC).
The chasers top the Col de Tamie and are 1:45 down on Rolland.
Pierre Rolland is riding a special Colnago bike.
Check out this video from our sister site Bikeradar.com
Nico Roche is again on the front for Saxo-Tinkoff. Contador is sat behind Froome, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) near him. Sagan looks very fresh.
Upfront Rolland is massaging his left calf. The chasers are closing the gap on him.
The peloton has crossed the sumimt of the Col de Tamie. Lots of riders are taking on drinks from team cars.
The chasers are sharing the work behind Rolland and will surely soon sweep him up. Then the real battle for the stage victory will begin.
Behind in the peloton, attacks may also come, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) looking to move past Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) in the overall classification.
Rolland has race number 51, often the number of the overall winner. However the Frenchman is not a threat this year. He will have to fight to even win the stage today.
Saxo-Tinkoff is tasking the race to Team Sky. They have taken over at the head of the peloton and have upped the pace. We may see an attack on the next climb, the Col de l'Epine. It's 6.1km long at 7.3%.
Rolland's lead is down to 1:20.
The Saxo-Tinkoff train sweeps up a tired Ryder Hesjedal.
Saxo-Tinkoff's work is having some effect. Siutsou of Team Sky has been dropped.
The chase group is down to 19 riders now and they are determined to hunt down the Frenchman.
He has extended his gap slightly on the climb but can he hold off 19 rider. Several riders have teammates too.
Cofidis is riding for Navarro and Movistar is riding for Costa in the chase group.
Saxo-Tinkoff continue to ride on the front of the peloton. Froome only seems to have Porte with him now.
Saxo-Tinkoff rode a superb race during the second week but were unable to make an impact on Alpe d'Huez. Indeed Contador lost time to Froome and his second place is under attack from Quintana (Movistar).
Rolland is on he final climb: the Col de la Croix Fry. It is 11.3km long at a painful 7% gradient.
Navarro has attacked from the chase group but other riders have pulled him back.
Rolland is fighting the gradient and the fatigue of his long breakaway. However if makes it to the summit, he will retake the climber's polka-dot jersey.
He is now racing under the rain. It is pouring on the peloton. This could make the last descent to the finish very interesting.
Froome also has Lopez to help chase any attacks.
Mick Rogers brings up bottles for his Saxo-Tinkoff teammates. They are eating too as they start the climb. Is it time to attack for Contador?
Valverde is also hovering near the front.
Rollands lead is down to 20 seconds. Rui Costa (Movistar) has attacked from the chasers and is in hot pursuit.
Costa has ridden a smart race yet again, staying protected in the chase group, while his teammates did much of the chase work.
Costa catches Rolland in the pouring rain and quickly gaps him.
Costa had a quiet day on Alpe d'Huez, saving himself for today.
However Costa will have to fight for a second stag win. Kloden, Nieve and others are chasing him and have past Rolland.
Costa is five kilometres from the top of the climb but the chasers are just 25 seconds behind him.
The tension is rising behind. Lopez has been dropped, leaving just Porte with Froome. Contador has Rogers and Kreuziger ot help him.
Andy Schleck (Radioshack) is also in the front group.
Nieve has been dropped from the chase group. Only Kloden, Bakelants and Navarro remain.
Costa has gained an extra 10 seconds, taking his gap to 35 seconds.
De Clerq (Lotto Belisol) is also in the four-rider chase group.
Finally. The action begins behind with Valverde attacking alone. Gadret is trying to join him too.
Froome is happy to let both go clear. But someone might try to jump across. Maybe even Quintana.
The road is steep now. Rogers has been dropped and so will also fall out of the top ten.
Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) is also in difficulty and may slip out of the top ten.
Gadret and Valverde are now together.
Costa reaches the summit of the climb with a lead of 1:00 and dives down the wet descent.
Costa is no holding back on the descent, cutting the curves at high speed.
The speed is high behind in the peloton but there is no sign of an attack from Contador.
Costa proves again that he an expert at winning tough stages with a descent to the finish. He also won in similar style in Gap.
At last an attack behind. Rodriguez goes for it. Contador, Froome and Quintana go with him.
They quickly catch Valverde and Gadret, while Porte is dropped but is fighting to stay in contact.
Quintana leads over the top but it is surely too late to make much difference.
Costa takes the long way around a corner but is set to win the stage.
Further behind, it is Froome who ups the pace on the descent as Porte and other riders get back on.
Costa begins to celebrate, slapping hands with his DS in the Movistar team car. It is his third Tour stage win of his career.
And his second this year after also winning in Gap.
Andreas Kloden (Radioshack) takes second place at 48 seconds.
Bakelants wins the dash for third place ahead of Geniez and Navarro.
Saxo-Tinkoff is still trying to attack behind on the wet roads. Froome is a few places back but does not seem concerned.
The peloton is 4km from the finish.
Pierre Rolland finishes the stage in pain. He try to win the stage but at least picked up a haul of climbers points.
Valverde leads home Gadret just ahead of Froome and most of the other top ten riders on GC.
Mollema made it back on and so keeps his sixth place overall.
Rogers, ten Dam and Kwiatkowski will slip out of the top ten, allowing Valverde, Navarro and perhaps Talansky get back in there.
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) remains in second place, 5:11 down on Froome. However Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is only 21 seconds down and will surely attack on the climb to the finish on Saturday at Annecy-Semnoz.
Thanks for following our live coverage of today's stage.
We will have a full race report, a huge photo gallery, news, videos and interviews on Cyclingnews.com very soon.
Join us tomorrow for the 125km 20th stage from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.
It will be a short but intense stage with a 10.7km climb to the finish at 8.5%.
It is the last climb of this year's Tour de France and decide the final overall placings before the celebration stage to Paris on Sunday.