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Tour de France 2010: Stage 11


This is one for the sprinters again. Which of the men with the fast legs has best come over the Alps? The finale should be an exciting one, with lots of big names fighting it out for the precious green jersey points.

Hello and welcome back to the Tour de France. The 11th stage sees us turn away from the Alps, and this “flat” stage is going to be one for the sprinters again. The two questions of the day are, when will the peloton catch the expected escape group, and which of the mighty sprinters will gallop to the finish line first?

There was another early, and successful, attack today. As soon as race director Christian Prudhomme dropped the flag, an attack set off. Anthony Geslin (FdJ), Stephane Auge ( Cofidis) and Jose-Alberto Benitez (Footon) had built up a gap of up to 2:45 for themselves, but it is now down to 3;10.

We are now down to 179 riders. Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) and Charles Wegelius of Omega Pharma-Lotto were not at the start.

Hunter crashed early in yesterday's stage and suffered a broken bone near the elbow. He had hoped to go ahead and ride today.

Wegelius was hit by the intestinal virus, and is unable to retain any food or drink. You just can't ride under those circumstances!

153km remaining from 184km

For those of you playing our Easton-Cyclingnews Wheelset a Day Giveaway during the Tour de France, here is your trivia question for the day:
How many times has current World Champion and BMC team leader Cadel Evans finished the Tour de France on the podium?

Looks like we started out with some techinical problems today, but thanks to those with greater minds than me, we are now up and going.

144km remaining from 184km

The UCI is still scanning bikes to see if anyone has sneaked a motor or battery in. So far no one has. Yesterday they checked out Paulinho (RadioShack), Kolobnev (Katusha), Roche (AG2R), Bouet (AG2R), Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Rolland (Bbox).

149km remaining from 184km

Brecht Decaluwe was at the start today for Cyclingnews. He tells us that HTC-Columbias Ralf Aldag said his guys have the job not to let breaks go with riders from other sprinter teams. They would work. to make it a sprint. "We will work, but not for intermediate sprints. Hopefully other teams will lend a hand."

Decaluwe also talked to Garmin-Transitions's sprinter Tyler Farrar: "It should be a sprint. There are not many sprints left in the Tour and we have not won one yet, so we are motivated for today. The important thing is not to have a big group away at the beginning."

We are coming up to our one and only climb today. Here are the details:

18 riders failed to sign in this morning. That means 16 of them forgot or were too late or or or....

There was a 50 km transfer to the start this morning, notes Milram's Christian Knees. “From the map it looks like a sprint today!” No surrprise who he picked to win today. “So go, Gerald”.

129km remaining from 184km

'And they went over in this orde:  Benitez, Auge and Geslin.

Four or five rides break from the peloton to gather the last mountain points.

Pineau was able to grab the points, and add to his total to keep the polka-dot jersey another day.

125km remaining from 184km

HTC-Columbia's Alan Peiper thinks Mark Cavendish will have a good chance today. “It's a great opportunity for Mark to get some points and close the gap in the race for Green so we can't take any chances at all with the stage. We'll be looking to control the race from the front - ideally there will be a break of about four people and then we can get Grabsch and Montfort to the front of the peloton and control the gap.

Team Sky has reluctantly but realistically given up on the idea of Bradley Wiggins finishing on the Tour podium. What to do now? Look for stage wins, of course.

115km remaining from 184km

Down, down, down the mountain they all go....

Lampre and HTC are sharing the lead work in the peloton.

110km remaining from 184km

We see World champion Cadel Evans at the back of the field.

81km remaining from 184km

98km remaining from 184km

Mathieu Perget of Caisse d'Epargne is back amongst the team cars, with his jersey pulled up.  We suspect he is gong back for radio repairs.

Mark Cavendish's next Tour stage win will be his 13th, which would put him one up on hs mentor, Erik Zabel.  It took the German seven years to garner those wins, whilst the Briton has done it in only three years.

Ah, how lovely.  The peloton just went by a field of lavender.

And here is a highly-paid water  carrier.  Alessandro Petacchi packs his jersey full with water bottles for his teammates.

Let's take a look at our three escapees.  Stephane Auge, 35, rides for Cofidis, and is in his eight Tour.  He won a stage his first time out in 2002.  In 2007 he won the combativity award for one stage, and wore the polka-dot jersey for two days.  He had that jersey for a day in 2009, too.

Geslin, 30, is with FdJ.  He turned pro with Bouygues Telecomin 2002, and stayed with them until joining FdJ last year.  He won the Brabantse Pijl last year.

85km remaining from 184km

Benitez is 28.  He turned pro with Spuik in 2005, before joining Sauner-Duval, Footon's predecessor team, the next year.  He is making his Tour debut.

81km remaining from 184km

That was it for me today.  I'm handing off to Dan Benson who will bring you safely to the mass sprint finish today.

Thanks Susan.

The bunch are still having their lunch, Saxo's Cancellara is munching away on an energy bar of some kind. How come every time I see him in the bunch he's either eating or smashing it on the front?

Basso's having a can of Coke. Wow I've really walked straight into the action haven't I?

Anyway the gap is under two minutes, now 1:57 to be precise. Nice to see Footon in the break here. Apparently the riders in the bunch are getting used to the kit now, and believe it or not it's actually looked upon now as 'not that bad' by some of the peloton.

72km remaining from 184km

Bad new for Garmin-Transitions this morning was that Robbie Hunter wasn't able to start. Hunter, who, how should we put it, has a colourful twitter account, broke a bone in his arm in a crash yesterday.

The guys out front are riding into a headwind so it's tough out there, especially on these wide roads.

Contador and Schleck are next to each other having a little chat. Both riders seem to have a fair amount of respect for each other. They bumped into each other in recon rides during June and often swap text messages to each other. Friendship will be put aside when they race in the Pyrenees though.

Another picturesque scene as the peloton rides through the French countryside. On one side a lake and on the other rolling hillsides.

64km remaining from 184km

Lots of transfer news in world of cycling at the moment but another story that's causing headlines is this. Former UCI grand fromage exchanging emails with Flloyd Landis.

Cavendish and Armstrong are talking in the bunch. Looks pretty relaxed and happy. Cavendish is the big favourite for today's finish. It's a perfect opportunity for a sprint and having bounced back and won two stages in the race already, he'll be confident of making it three.

Sastre is near the front. A difficult year for the Spaniard so far. He struggled with his health in the Giro and he's been off the pace so far this year. It feels much longer than two years ago since he won the Tour de France.

We've got a sprint coming up in 500 meters. Doubt the three leaders will contest the points.

So assuming we do have a sprint today, who are tipping for the win? Let me know at

Rémi Pauriol has a flat and needs some help from the team car. All done and now he's chasing back through the cars.

Chepe Gonzalez won a stage into Valence in 1996. Anyone remember his celebration? Pretty good I thought, arms everywhere.

Here's our first prediction: 

48km remaining from 184km

Dave Zabriskie pulling on the front now for his man Farrar. Zabriskie has been quiet in this year's Tour. Some had him down as doing a strong ride in this year's race. He's been a good teammate but hasn't done much on an individual level.

Here's a look at how things stand in the green jersey competition. It could change hands today.

No Cervelo action at the front of the bunch yet. Either Thor knows he's not going to win today or as speculation we've heard suggest, he's not at 100 per cent right now.

What about Oscar Freire? He's been no where in the sprints in this year's Tour so far. Perhaps it could be his day...

 But don't expect it to all go the sprinters way today. No doubt we'll have some suicide attacks in the final few kilometers of the stage. Vino? Jens?

Another prediction:

39km remaining from 184km

FYI Bruyneel tipped Cavendish for today's stage too. A lot of you agree with him according to the tweets you've sent in.

What did we do before Twitter existed? How did we cope?

35km remaining from 184km

Bunch are heading north now towards the finish. There is a descent before the finish by the way so that could play a part today.

32km remaining from 184km

23km remaining from 184km

Zabriskie stil on the front and Bole comes through and takes a turn. Milram up there as well.

We've got one little climb at about 12km to go, then a descent and a tailwind finish. They'll be flying by then.

27km remaining from 184km

25km remaining from 184km

22km remaining from 184km

Shack near the front now too, helping to keep the pace high (ish) and keeping their leader out of trouble.

Columbia setting the pace now. Four or five Shack riders just behind. Vino near the front too.

Liquigas and Milram moving their men to the front. Katusha jerseys hovering close by too.

FDJ send two men out from the bunch.

They dont have a sprinter so they might as well give it a go but they're already caught.

Saxo are looking after Schleck now, he's got five riders around him to make sure that he's okay.

Long line now so the bunch are finally working.

16km remaining from 184km

Contador is trying to move up on the outside, Saxo setting a blistering pace.

15km remaining from 184km

Eisel is near the front now, Cav will be close to him. Thor is on his own, he's on Cav's wheel. smart move.

Hunt is there but is isolated from his leader.

Cancellara now on the front taking up the challenge

Riders getting dropped here.

Pineau one of the riders dropped. 

10km remaining from 184km

Contador is messing with his ear piece but he has to focus here, it's not an easy run in and Saxo are putting down the hammer.

HTC letting Saxo do all the work here.

9km remaining from 184km

Chavanel attacks. Popo on his wheel and HTC finally come through

7km remaining from 184km

The two riders have a gap of around 50 meters but they'll be caught very soon.

5km remaining from 184km

One rider we've not talked about is McEwen, could it be his day today?

Armstrong near the back of the bunch and Lampre lead the bunch now.

4km remaining from 184km

Lampre keep Sky in check with a little look and surge. Hunt pulls off he's cooked and Van Summeren is there for Farrar.

Thomas is moving up, Hagen on his wheel. So many sprinters in the mix here.

2km remaining from 184km

1km remaining from 184km

Renshaw now moving up Dean there with Farrar.

Renshaw and dean clash heads

They almost come down. Cav now comes out but has he gone too soon. Petacchi is on his wheel. Farrar is fading.

Cav is going to take it.

Huge gap.

Hushovd in 7th. That's Cavendish's third stage win of the race.

A great finale. Cavendish taking the win. He had to go early there, with over 300 meters to go. He caught the other napping.

Petacchi moves into green with his second place, Hushovd was boxed in there.

A 13th stage win for Cavendish. He now surpasses Erik Zabel's 12.

Well, thanks for joining us today and please tune in tomorrow for another day at the Tour de France.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC - Columbia
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
5 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Team Katusha
6 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
8 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram

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