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Today's stage takes us 192 km with lots of climbing!
As we join the race, we have two Polish riders in the lead: Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) and Sylvester Szmyd (Movistar). They lead by about two minutes over a large chase group, with the peloton another 4 minutes back.
Today's course is, shall we say, an interesting one. It consists of five laps of a 38.4km circuit course, and ten ascents of the same category one climb – so two times per lap.
With two laps and 77 km still to go, the two leaders have about a minute over a large chase group, with the peloton at 4:30.
We had an early break of four riders: Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura), Bertjan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DMC), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) and Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Polsat Polkowice). They had a maximum gap of just over three minutes.
But nothing was to be easy today. They were caught and after a number of groups formed, and a large group of 32 formed. Huzarski was in that group today, and eventually took off on his own. He was later joined by Szmyd.
The gaps are falling, with Huzarski and Szmyd now having only 40 seconds, and the peloton 3:55 back.
As you probably know by now, there is scant information available from the race. But we do our best to keep you informed!
The two leaders have built their lead back up to 1:15, but the peloton is getting closer, at 3:45.
NetApp's Huzarski, who was in the first group to get away today, has held the red jersey for most active rider for the whole race and is now assured of going home with it. He took that jersey on the first stage, and also won the KOM jersey that day, but had to give it up the next stage. The Polish rider is of course eager to do his best in his homeland race.
It really is hard to know what is going on..... either the two leaders have over a minute gap, or they have just been caught.
Apparently they have been caught.
It was the second day in a break group for Atapuma. His team manager claimed that he was “mobbed” out of the group yesterday. You decide.
With 60 km still to go, we have a lead group of 26, and the peloton is 2:45 back.
The race twitter now reports that many riders are being dropped from that large lead group.
Let's take a look at the top five in the various categories, starting off with GC:
1 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 25:49:41
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:01
3 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:05
4 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:07
5 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:08
Huzarski has a firm grip on the sprint classification.
1 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura 13 pts
2 Jacek Morajko (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice 8
3 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team 7
4 Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice 6
5 Pawel Cieslik (Pol) Poland 3
The nine leaders have a two minute gap.
Tomasz Marczynski of Vacansoleil wears the mountain jersey, but with ten climbs today, there may well be a change.
1 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 39 pts
2 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack Leopard 37
3 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 20
4 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura 15
5 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13
It is a bright sunny day today!
The first chase group can't really be called the peloton any more. There can't be more than 30-40 riders there.
Our lead group is: Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat), Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack), Leopold Koenig (NetApp-Endura), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia), Alex Howes (Garmin Sharp), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Sergei Chernetskiy (Katusha) and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida)
They are on the bell lap now! With a gap of 2:01.
With two stage wins, it is no surprise that the mighty Thor leads the points ranking.
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 55 pts
2 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano 42
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 41
4 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 39
5 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 39
The gap is now at 1:36.
Howse and an OPQS rider are trying to get off the front of this lead group, but they are caught again.
And let's add some more riders to the lead group:
Kevin De Weert (OPQS), Michal Golas (OPQS), Mathias Frank (BMC), Francis De Greef (Lotto Belisol), Sandy Casar (FDJ)
There have been numerous attacks and counter-attacks out of the lead group, but it looks more like each of them checking the others out.
Howes taks off again, but Kiserlovski and one other join him.
Only 26 km to go, and it looks like this lead goup is still all together.
Two riders off the front of the field: Movistar and BMC.
Only 7 leaders in front now, we hear, and even that small group is breaking up. König and Howes lead another attack. Gap is now at 1:20.
iserlovskig was teh one who took off, and he has now been joined by two others, with 23 km to go.
Howes is also in this new brea, we can't yet pick up the name of the third rider.
No, not Howes. Let's go with König, Kiserlovski and Santaromita.
We are not getting any time gaps here, but it looks like this trio has a nice little lead on their next chasers.
Howes, Golas and one other are about 10 seconds back, and the field is now at 1:20, we hear.
The leaders are heading through narrow, twisty roads, which should help their cause. Konig continues to push the pace.
The gap from the front group to the lead chase is now 38 seconds according to the race organisation, but that chase group is getting smaller and smaller.
Atapuma goes on the attack on this climb, and Chernetskiy has made it up from the chase group just as everything starts to fall apart for this breakaway.
Chernitskiy has bridged across to Atapuma on the worst part of the climb - the false flat that follows is allowing them to gain time on the chasers. They've got neutral support in behind them.
An attack from the yellow jersey group from Christophe Riblon (AG2R) - he gets away just before the crest.
The sun is getting low in the sky over the peloton, the long shadows and golden glow making for dramatic images of the lush, green countryside.
Izagirre sees his yellow jersey possibly slipping away, so he moves to teh front of the chasing field and picks up the pace, to try and catch Riblon.
Chernetski and Atapuma are really flying along here.
A crash from a Saxo rider, may be Maika. But he is up and going again.
Only 8 km to go, and it is beginning to look as if these two might come through to the end. It is an uphill climb, and that would certainly suit Atapuma.
Riblon has caught the first chase group, which is the remnants of the break group. And he promptly goes on ahead of them.
Remember, Riblon came into this stage in fourth place, only 7 seconds down. So he is looking to take over the race lead.
The two leaders are on a rare flat section at the moment but will start climbing -- for the final time -- very shortly.
They have 18 seconds on the chasers.
They have 18 seconds on the chasers.
Three km to go for our two leaders.
It looks as if the two chasing groups have come toghgehter, and are only 15 seconds or so behind Atapuma and Chernetski.
2.5km to go and definitely uphill here.
The riders are strung out on this final climb. Atapuma takes off once again, with 2.3 km to go.
Atapuma now has a narrow lead over Riblon. The Frenchman may catch him in a second.
Now the two are together, going up this climb.
1.5km to go. Riblon and Atapuma in the lead.
The final km!
Riblon leads the way.
ATapuma holds on to Riblon, waiting for a final sprint?
And he goes! Atapuma sprints easily away and takes the win!
The yellow jersey crosses the line at about 22 seconds.
That ought to give Riblon the yellow jersey.
König takes third, with Ullis fourth and Majka fifth..
Our top ten on the day:
1 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia 5:19:36
2 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:02
3 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura 0:00:22
4 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:22
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:22
6 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:22
7 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:22
8 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:22
9 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:22
10 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:00:22
And the new top ten in GC:
1 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 31:09:20
2 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:19
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:20
4 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:24
5 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:27
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:33
7 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:33
8 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:36
9 Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:40
10 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:08
It is hard to believe, but that is Colombia's first victory this season!
Tomorrow is the time trial, which will decide our final GC. Be sure to join us again then!