Paulinho gives Radioshack something to celebrate

Two French riders in a day-long break, Bastille Day and the Tour de France... it would have been an irresistible mix, except that Sergio Paulinho hadn't read the script. Team RadioShack's Portuguese domestique salvaged something from this year's Tour with victory in Gap this afternoon, dashing the dreams of the locals.

Fairy tales are called so for a reason - they don't happen often - and while a French winner today would have capped what has been thus far a fantastic Tour for local riders, with the exploits of Sylvain Chavanel and yesterday's stage victory for Sandy Casar, Cinderella's pumpkin was used to make soup rather than carry a local rider to a triumph in the shadow of the Alps.

Paulinho's daring in the final 10km of the stage deserved the victory it garnered however, the 30-year-old fighting for line honours with Caisse d'Epargne's Vasili Kiryienka and pipping the Belarusian at the post in what was a tight finish.

"I knew I had to attack to get away from the group, and I actually felt pretty good," Paulinho said after the stage. "I was just a little bit stronger than Kiryienka, and waited until the last moment to make my move."

The victory was an important boost in morale for the American team, whose leader Lance Armstrong had his dreams of an 8th Tour win all but dashed on the road to Morzine on Sunday.

"We did a lot of work for the team in the first week of the race. The last two stages were very important to the team, and we were quite strong. All we really wanted was to get a stage win," Paulinho said.

"In the team meeting this morning, we were told we needed to have someone in the breakaway. We also had to look out for the team classification, so when I saw a rider from Caisse d'Epargne go, that's when I decided I had to be there."

It was the second Grand Tour stage win for the man from Oeiras, whose last taste of glory in the season's biggest races came with victory in stage 10 of the 2006 Vuelta a España in Santillana del Mar whilst riding for a previous incarnation of the Astana outfit.

Now riding for Team RadioShack, the 2004 Athens Olympics road race silver medalist beat Kiryienka, Dries Devenyns (QuickStep), Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who rounded out the minor placings respectively.

While there was no change in the general classification, the keen battle for the mountains classification saw Jérôme Pineau regain the ascendancy over countryman Anthony Charteau as Mark Cavendish took ninth at the finish to collect valuable points towards his ambitions of a first points classification win in Paris.

A day to take stock

After the difficulty of yesterday's stage, there was a sense of inevitability to the formula for today's 179km journey from Chambéry to Gap: let the right break take a tonne of time ahead of the peloton, sit back and take what respite was on offer for those who didn't feel like another day of suffering.

That meant there was a real chance at the stage victory for the escape artists, which of course is appealing at the year's biggest race. Consequently, there was plenty of interest early, with numerous attacks from the likes of Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), Aitor Perez (Footon-Servetto), Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Doimo) and Jeremy Roy (Française des Jeux).

None were successful due in part to the early intermediate sprint, although with about 36km of the stage run the ingredients of what was to be the day's main break were finally mixed, shaken a little and let loose. Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Dries Devenyns (QuickStep) instigated the move that saw Paulinho and Kiryienka join in and quickly establish a lead of one minute.

Aerts was best-placed on general classification of the breakaway, beginning the day in 44th, 32:55 behind overall leader Andy Schleck - posing no real threat - and hence the big names down the road were content to let the move fly the coop in the torrid heat.

Meanwhile, down that same road, Maxime Bouet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) had missed the break and decided to ride away from the peloton; after about 20km of synchronised toil they joined the leading quartet, just before the cat 1 Côte de Laffrey.

While they were reinforcements for the break's cause, the presence of Rolland posed a threat if the stage came down to a sprint fought out amongst the sextet.

It's a blowout!

As the break approached the day's main climb, it had an advantage in excess of eight minutes, which crept up to nine with 106km of the stage remaining. At the top of the Côte de Laffrey that gap sat at a comfortable 8:40, with no interest in a chase from the main field behind.

The only semblance of racing came from king of the mountains contenders Pineau and Charteau, the French duo tied on points in that classification with the Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider wearing the jersey courtesy of a countback. They scavenged the remaining points on offer, with the Quick Step rider doing enough to take back the polka dot jersey he has worn for much of the last week.

Going through La Mure the gap between break and peloton had been extended to 9:33 and with 77km to go that nudged over 10 minutes as the main field effectively shut down for the day. As the escape hit 69km remaining it had opened the advantage in excess of 11 minutes.

As the break ticked over fifty clicks before the finish in Gap, the advantage stood at 11:13 ahead of the Saxo Bank-controlled peloton, the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady and Matti Breschel keeping maillot jaune Schleck out of the wind and any potential trouble.

The opening slopes of the Col du Noyer saw the gap break the 11-minute barrier again and having found himself in difficulty for several kilometres Bouet was dropped from the break with 1.5km remaining on the ascent, 35km from the finish. It required a big effort for the young AG2R-La Mondiale rider to get back in touch with the leading quintet, which he managed to do before the summit in a resumption of the status quo.

Time to think about a win

With 25km to go, at the top of the day's final categorised climb, the gap had blown out to 11:43 and was getting ever closer to 12 minutes with just 23km remaining. A couple of kilometres later it briefly hit that mark, but with Stuart O'Grady guiding the Saxo Bank crew down the mountain the break's advantage remained steady.

On the downhill run into Gap it was time for the desperate bids for victory to begin: Aerts hitting out with 15km to go and shedded the gallant Bouet; having spent 140km on the hard road with these five breakaway companions the experienced Belgian had summed up their weaknesses and strengths. It was then time for Devenyns to take over, the Quick Step rider countering his countryman's attack and quickly opening a gap.

Then it was Paulinho's turn to try his luck with Kiryienka on the wheel, the Russian making himself an ally and enemy with just 13km to go. The pair rapidly distanced the four men behind as hope began to fade of a French victory on the nation's day of celebration, putting 36 seconds into them with 11km remaining.

It seemed that the Belgians' enthusiasm to attack a long way from the finish had backfired, as Devenyns and Aerts were forced to chase hard with Rolland on the lead in to Gap.

Despite its chase, the trailing trio was fighting a losing battle as the three riders found themselves one minute behind with five kilometres remaining. Ahead of them the leading pair continued to work together to make sure line honours would be fought out without the company of Devenyns, Rolland and Aerts.

Having achieved that objective it was time to negotiate the expected two-up sprint, for which Kiryienka was well-equipped given his track background. But the Caisse d'Epargne rider reacted too late to Paulinho's dash for the line in the final 150 metres and paid the price for his error.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sergio Paulinho (Por) Team Radioshack5:10:56
2Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'EpargneRow 1 - Cell 2
3Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step0:01:29
4Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 3 - Cell 2
5Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:01:33
6Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:20
7Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:12:58
8Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:13:57
9Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC - Columbia0:14:19
10Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 9 - Cell 2
11Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team KatushaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 12 - Cell 2
14Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 13 - Cell 2
15Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 14 - Cell 2
16Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 15 - Cell 2
17Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 16 - Cell 2
18Kristjan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-DoimoRow 17 - Cell 2
19Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 18 - Cell 2
20Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 19 - Cell 2
21Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 20 - Cell 2
22Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-DoimoRow 21 - Cell 2
23Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioshackRow 22 - Cell 2
24Luke Roberts (Aus) Team MilramRow 23 - Cell 2
25Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) AstanaRow 24 - Cell 2
26Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) RabobankRow 25 - Cell 2
27Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 26 - Cell 2
28Robert Gesink (Ned) RabobankRow 27 - Cell 2
29Juan Manuel Gárate Cepa (Spa) RabobankRow 28 - Cell 2
30Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 29 - Cell 2
31Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick StepRow 30 - Cell 2
32Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-ServettoRow 31 - Cell 2
33David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) AstanaRow 32 - Cell 2
34Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 33 - Cell 2
35Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 34 - Cell 2
36Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 35 - Cell 2
37Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioshackRow 36 - Cell 2
38Alexandr Pliuschin (Mda) Team KatushaRow 37 - Cell 2
39Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 38 - Cell 2
40Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 39 - Cell 2
41Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioshackRow 40 - Cell 2
42Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 42 - Cell 2
44Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 44 - Cell 2
46Denis Menchov (Rus) RabobankRow 45 - Cell 2
47Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 47 - Cell 2
49Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 48 - Cell 2
50Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo BankRow 49 - Cell 2
51Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - TransitionsRow 51 - Cell 2
53Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La MondialeRow 52 - Cell 2
54Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team KatushaRow 53 - Cell 2
55Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 54 - Cell 2
56Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 55 - Cell 2
57Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 56 - Cell 2
58Bram Tankink (Ned) RabobankRow 57 - Cell 2
59Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) AstanaRow 58 - Cell 2
60Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 59 - Cell 2
61Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 61 - Cell 2
63Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 62 - Cell 2
64Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 64 - Cell 2
66Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioshackRow 65 - Cell 2
67Iban Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 66 - Cell 2
68Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - TransitionsRow 67 - Cell 2
69Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 68 - Cell 2
70Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 70 - Cell 2
72Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) AstanaRow 72 - Cell 2
74Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 73 - Cell 2
75Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 74 - Cell 2
76Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d'EpargneRow 75 - Cell 2
77Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française des JeuxRow 76 - Cell 2
78George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 78 - Cell 2
80Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 79 - Cell 2
81Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 80 - Cell 2
82Koos Moerenhout (Ned) RabobankRow 81 - Cell 2
83Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioshackRow 83 - Cell 2
85Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team MilramRow 84 - Cell 2
86Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 85 - Cell 2
87Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 86 - Cell 2
88Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 87 - Cell 2
89Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 88 - Cell 2
90Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 89 - Cell 2
91Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 90 - Cell 2
92Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 91 - Cell 2
93Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne