Stage 13 - Vittel to Colmar, 200km
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That's it for stage 13 - Alex Murray is here on Saturday to guide you through from Colmar to Besancon. You may remember that, almost six hours ago, I faithfully promised I'd get as far as I could without using the J-word. Well, from the same good fellow as this morning's Peter Scrivener word cloud, comes
one for today's
live text. And still
the word "jersey" is in it! I can't win. Congratulations to Heinrich Haussler, and let's see if Cavendish can sort himself out tomorrow.
1704: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 13:
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R) 53hrs 30mins 30secs
2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) + 6secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 8
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) + 46
5. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 54
1702: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 13:
Yellow: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R)
Green: Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)
Polka dot: Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas)
White: Tony Martin (Ger/Team Columbia)
This is how we leave stage 13 - Heinrich Haussler
came home the easy winner and promptly broke down in tears, to be followed home four minutes later by Amets Txurruka. Franco Pellizotti
is now in pole position for King of the Mountains, and Thor Hushovd
has taken the green shirt from Mark Cavendish.
SeanF81 on 606:
"Tomorrow could be a classic breakaway, then there's only stage 19 and 21 to determine it. If 19 is another probable breakaway as well, then we could be down to Paris!"
1648: From James in London via text on 81111:
"Well done Haussler, he showed real determination and grit today. Thoroughly deserved."
It looks as though Cavendish and his fellow sprinters, lagging far, far behind, have only just crossed the line.
There we are, confirmation that Thor Hushovd will be decked out in green on Saturday. Having been anonymous all day, he got himself up into sixth overall, and now has 205 points to Cavendish's 200. Superbly done by the Norwegian and while five points is no gap at all, Cav will need to pick himself up a bit after this.
sylleb6 on 606:
"Hushovd takes the green over from Cav. That deserves the J word to be said!" That does appear to be the case although I've not seen the full results list yet. It's still very close, mind you - by no means a show-stopper for Cavendish. And no excuse to use the J-word. (Which was not "just", or "jacket", according to various wags throughout the day. See 1125.)
I may be jumping the gun slightly on Cav - it does depend on where he came home in relation to Hushovd. Will let you know.
There will be no change to the general classification, with Rinaldo Nocentini holding on to the yellow bib. Mark Cavendish keeps the green, but Franco Pellizotti is the new leader in the King of the Mountains competition. Britain's Bradley Wiggins, by the way, finished a very creditable eighth having kept himself under the radar but near the head of the peloton.
Brice Feillu takes third, and Chavanel just clings on to fourth. Mercifully the peloton made it through without incident. And there you have it. Gruelling, that was, whether pedalling or watching.1628:
It has to be said, some of the twists and turns at the end of this stage are a tad treacherous. Advance warning: the peloton might have trouble getting through unscathed.
Amets Txurruka takes second place. I have been asked how you are supposed to pronounce that surname - it's "Chu-rooka".
Haussler is in bits! Tears, emotion, the works. His first Tour de France stage win, and a tremendous one, to be so far ahead in such abysmal weather. He led from the start and unlike Chavanel, Perez Moreno and others, had the stamina to keep it going.
1622: CERVELO'S HEINRICH HAUSSLER WINS STAGE 13 1620:
Less than two kilometres to go, and Haussler is four minutes ahead and cruising - unlike Sylvain Chavanel, who is about to break, and could even slip back into the peloton in these final moments despite having been ahead of it almost all day.
1618: From Iain in Moorgate via text on 81111:
"I used to live in Hyde. I occasionally saw Ricky Hatton running by the park. That beats the Statue of Liberty builder hands down." Both Hyde and Abingdon very well-represented on the texts. Good work. (See 1611)
Sylvain Chavanel is in danger of losing third place to Brice Feillu, although Feillu might run out of road - he's 45 seconds back. Feillu is probably best-placed to threaten Nocentini's grip on the yellow fabric, but there's no way he'll make up the time necessary unless something bizarre happens.
Barring any calamity, Haussler will lead the riders into Colmar - he's 10km from the finish line. A bit about Colmar: it has a population of 67,000, was the birthplace of the man who created the Statue of Liberty, and is twinned with both Hyde and Abingdon. Anyone from Hyde or Abingdon in the house to give Colmar some love?
King of the Mountains points for Franco Pellizotti
there - 12 in fact, since points are doubled on the category two Col du Firstplan as it's the last climb. I'm doing the maths... looks to me as though he might have ownership of the polka dots after this stage.
Haussler is over the Col du Firstplan and heading for home with 15km to go.
Sylain Chavanel has given up the ghost and gets a cheeky tap on the back from Amets Txurruka as the latter surges forward, with only Haussler ahead of him.
1558: From Ant in Stafford via text on 81111:
"Re 1544 - They used to have a combined shirt in the tour awarded to the best placed rider across all categories. Used to look pretty snazzy." The harlequin, if I recall. Meanwhile, Liz in Bristol asks how Bradley Wiggins is doing. The answer is, he's not done a lot but has kept himself near the front of the peloton for most of the stage. Solid, yet unspectacular.
There are 20km or so left and this is the state of play. Heinrich Haussler is three minutes ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and, having been up front from the start, is on course to win the stage with ease. Chavanel is a further two minutes ahead of Brice Fiellu and Amets Txurruka. Briton Charlie Wegelius has his nose ahead of the peloton, who are roughly eight minutes behind Haussler.
Spurious grounds for a Brit up graphic but it's the only chance I'm getting. Charlie Wegelius has broken out of the peloton and is making progress... surely far too late to make any impact, but on he goes anyway. And now Andy Schleck has pulled over to change his bike, which is not at all what he needed.
There are 25km left in this one and Haussler is making his way up Col du Firstplan, utterly untroubled by anyone else. More worried Cav fans are asking what the rules on "sweeping up" are. Basically, all the sprinters are back in what is known as "l'autobus", where they will stick together and not worry too much about time. Technically you need to hit a certain finishing time to avoid the cut-off, but if there are enough sprinters back in that group, the organisers won't cut them all out. Cav should be safe.
Earlier it was asked what happens if a rider is leading more than one classification at the end of a stage - which top(s) do they wear? The answer, courtesy of my colleague Martin Gough, is it runs in order of importance: yellow, green, polka dot, white. As the leader, you pick the most important one. Whoever is second (or third, fourth etc if necessary) in the other categories picks up those colours.
I think this has been tremendous from Haussler. He's been up front all stage, in rubbish conditions, and the peloton haven't been given a look-in. Just under 30km to go and he's a minute ahead of Chavanel now.
1536: From Alex in London via text on 81111:
"Why has no one from the team gone back to help Cav - is it the no radios rule having an effect?" The no-radio rule has been dropped for the time being, I believe, given its popularity the first time round. I've no definite answer to your question but I imagine Cav is happy to write this one off. As he has said himself, it's all about Paris for him now.
Heinrich Haussler is still ahead on his own as he heads over Col du Bannstein, with the final climb, the category two Col du Firstplan, in his sights. Chavanel is 50 seconds behind.
I wonder how far I'd get if, at the start of a Tour de France live text, I set myself up on an exercise bike with a keyboard. Five or so hours, try to keep going at a reasonable pace all the time the riders are out on the stage (while trying to type). Let the trip computer work out the distance you would have travelled. How far would you get?
npd1972 on 606:
"So when does the Tour start this year? Someone has to attack Astana on Stage 15 or 16."
Haussler's reaching the bottom of this descent and will soon be back on another climb, up the category three Col du Bannstein. Chavanel is 20 seconds behind with the peloton a further five minutes back.
1526: From anon via text on 81111:
"What is the chance of either an Armstrong or a Contador decisive, or any, attack today? This is getting dull."
1521: From John in Perth via text on 81111:
"Where is Hushovd? Is Cav likely to lose green today?" No, he won't. We've had all three sprints today and neither Cavendish nor Hushovd featured, so things will stay the same at the top of the points leaderboard.
Under a quarter of the stage to go now and once again, Haussler gets a couple of hundred yards clear of Chavanel. There are still two climbs left.
Heinrich Haussler got away a bit there, but Sylvain Chavanel is back up with him now, as the rest of the peloton hit the descent. The pair of them are about three and a half minutes clear of the peloton, but a new chasing group - currently comprising Amets Txurruka and Brice Feillu - has formed, 40 seconds ahead of the pack.
A few of you have asked how far back Mark Cavendish can go before we should be worried. I don't think he's in that much trouble yet, but it is feasible for stragglers to get "swept up" by the organisers if they fall too far behind. At the front, Haussler and Chavanel are plunging down this descent, which is a tricky task in all that rain.
1508: From Simon in Richmond via text on 81111:
"What happens when a rider has hold of two coloured tops at once? Can they stitch half a polka dot with half a yellow?"
Riding behind the peloton we now have Mark Cavendish in a green top, and Egoi Martinez in the polka dots. Neither of them have been able to keep up, and Linus Gerdemann has slipped all the way back there too. Meanwhile, Perez Moreno is back in the peloton having been ahead for practically the entire stage. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador were both in among the points on that last climb.
tgsgirl on 606:
"Oh Linus Gerdemann, you stupid boy. Riding ahead of the peloton for a while only to go out the back immediately after. Not smart lad, not smart." Not seen much, if anything, from a certain Mr B Wiggins today either.
Franco Pellizotti and Lance Armstrong are alongside each other as they haul themselves up the final moments of this climb, and it's the Italian who takes 11 points.
1456: Sylvain Chavanel
takes 15 points as he reaches the top of Platzerwasel first. Haussler, inches behind, earns 13 points. Who will be next? Perez Moreno is still ahead of the peloton but everybody else is now back in the pack.
Approaching the crest of Platzerwasel and while Haussler and Chavanel are storming ahead, Martinez and Pellizotti, battling for the polka dots, need to really start putting their strategies into play. Pellizotti is currently in slightly the better position but it's heavy going for everyone in this weather.
In case you're passing through and expecting to find Mark Cavendish closing in on his seven millionth British record of the Tour, you can forget it today. He's no mountain man and has dropped back behind the peloton, where he has now been joined by a good eight or nine others.
There's a bit of movement at the front of the peloton - I can see Andy Schleck, Rinaldo Nocentini and Cadel Evans all lurking. But still no proper surge from any big names. Martinez and Pellizotti were part of a breakaway earlier but it faded away after mere moments.
We're just over halfway up Platzerwasel with 65km to go. Haussler and Chavanel are leading, 25 seconds ahead of Perez Moreno, who is five minutes ahead of the peloton.
And Phil is right, Perez Moreno has been dropped. There are now two riders going it alone between the peloton and the front - Gerdemann being the other - with Christophe Kern slipping back towards the pack.
whitean3 on 606:
"I'm sat in my office on the 10th floor in Basel, Switzerlnad, looking out over Alsace and the Vosges mountains. And I can tell you that there are some pretty horrible black clouds and heavy rain heading right towards Colmar in the last hour - I wouldn't want to cycle downhill in these conditions!" I started this live text by proclaiming Colmar to be the driest town in France. Except today, apparently.
1436: From Mol_Daze via text on 81111:
"Will the bad weather play into Armstrong's hands, particularly if it continues into the Alps? Surprisingly for a Texan he rides well in the wet and struggles in intense heat. He won the World Championships 16 years ago in pouring rain at Oslo, while the only time Ullrich mastered him was when Armstrong dehydrated in the long time trial in 2003."
Christophe Kern, who cuts a soggy, lonely figure, sets off ahead of the peloton to see what he can do heading up Platzerwasel. Gerdemann is ahead of him, then Haussler, Perez Moreno and Chavanel in front.
BBC Radio 5 Live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter:
"Good question about matching kit. I remember there being a matching yellow rain cape last year." Feel free to ask Phil questions via Twitter if you want the views of our man out in the thick of the action.
Astana's riders are at the front of the peloton. What should their plan be at this point, with three riders more than seven minutes ahead of the pack, and Gerdemann 90 seconds ahead of them, in this foul weather, approaching a category one?
It's that time of day where we welcome 5 Live to the party. Full commentary on this stage is starting now.
another gooner on 606:
"The Tour organisers supply the tops. They have thousands of them and print them as required. Takes just a few minutes to make the ones they need." You sound very authoritative. I believe you.
This is a good, healthy challenge from Linus Gerdemann. He's now more than a minute in front of the peloton, although the front three are keeping their advantage at just under six minutes.
The third and final sprint of the day is done, and Sylvain Chavanel
won it for six points. Haussler and Perez Moreno were second and third. Off we go up the category one Col du Platzerwasel.
1420: Fran in Worcester
joins Carlton in wondering if teams have all the relevant tops, shorts etc in green, yellow, polka dot and white as required. Mike near London texted 81111
to say that team sponsors pay for the tops, so he imagines teams submit the required sizes well in advance. I've sent
BBC Radio 5 Live's Phil Sheehan
a tweet to see if he can find out.
Linus Gerdemann has pulled away from the peloton and established himself some 30 seconds ahead, chasing the leaders, who are just under six minutes in front of him.
Puncture there for Australia's Michael Rogers, Team Columbia team-mate of Mark Cavendish.
About 80km left now, but still three climbs and a sprint (in a moment's time) to come. Haussler, Perez Moreno and Chavanel are about six minutes ahead of the peloton.
free_wheel on 606:
"Adding to the call of nature chat, Charly Gaul (1958 tour winner) was a pioneer of 'going' while on the go. It was so innovative, they nicknamed him 'Monsieur Pipi'."
Egoi Martinez got seven points in that category two climb, with Franco Pellizotti just behind him on six. Keeps it very tight in the King of the Mountains stakes.
1403: From Carlton via text on 81111:
"Who supplies the classification cycling tops? Is it the teams or the Tour as it must be a nightmare with different sizes, teams, and disciplines, etc." I'd always wondered that. Anyone?
The pack which broke away from the peloton a few minutes ago are slowly being subsumed back into the fold. One rider, Brice Feillu, remains slightly further ahead, but still far behind our leading trio.
The front three are over the summit with Perez Moreno
picking up 10 points, then Chavanel collecting nine and Haussler eight. It'll be a while before we see anyone else though - even the new chasers are nearly seven minutes back still.
Fizmo1337 on 606:
"Anyone else find it a bit sad that no one cares about Nocentini? He's a young, talented rider, in the yellow since Saturday and very happy about it, but no one is interested in him."
Starting to feel a bit livelier out there in the rain now. The front three don't have any rain jackets, unlike the rest, and their lead is slipping back to the seven-minute mark as that chasing pack of 10 or so riders makes headway up the Col de la Schlucht.
There are now eight in that group breaking away from the peloton. They're still eight minutes behind the leaders though, and 15 seconds ahead of the pack.
There's a little move out of the front of the peloton, comprising Amets Txurruka, Christophe Kern, Carlos Barredo - and King of the Mountain contenders Franco Pellizotti and Egoi Martinez.
1346: From Duncan in London via text on 81111:
"I hope the spray you are referring to is from the rain, and not the afore-mentioned 'rolling the leg up' technique." See 1335, once you've finished eating. Thanks for all your contributions on this intriguing subject, e.g. Ian ("What happens if Lance Armstrong had a dodgy prawn last night?") and David ("Shouldn't the peloton have taken my mum's advice, and 'gone before they go'?").
Rinaldo Nocentini, currently leading the general classification, is with his team at the front of the peloton, but still nine minutes behind the front three of Haussler, Perez Moreno and Chavanel, and that gap continues to increase. The leaders are a few kilometres from the top of Col de la Schlucht (category two) now.
mape_ventura on 606:
"The peloton won't be interested until the Platzerwasel, I've seen leads of up to 25 mins hauled back. There are only three of them and it's a bumpy road to the finish."
Look at the spray being thrown up in the peloton, it's horrible out there. Plenty of riders in jackets, just trying to struggle through this. It's easy to see why the peloton might not be so inclined to expend energy chasing the leaders down.
1335: From Jason in Manchester via text on 81111:
"Re: nature stops (1322). It tends to start with one or two riders and will quickly become a mass stop. There may well be a shout from a couple of riders to indicate 'time to stop' - especially when there is a good lead and they are not chasing the gap down hard. Or it is done on the move by rolling the leg up, or if they are pushing hard then they just go in the shorts." I hope you're all enjoying your lunches.
BBC Radio 5 Live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter:
"The break has 8'30" now. I am backing Sylvain Chavanel for the win today. He said he was up for it. Very dark clouds and threatening to rain. Oh, and pretty windy out of town."
1329: From Will (formerly known as Neil) in Lymm via text on 81111:
"Chavanel is only 12 minutes behind the yellow 'shirt' - he could be in top spot at their current rate of progress."
The second sprint of the stage is won by Ruben Perez Moreno
followed by Chavanel and Haussler. The rest of the peloton are now eight minutes behind.
SG19 Cowshed on 606:
"Mark Cavendish is probably the fastest since Mario Cipollini. Hushovd and Farrer both need much better leadout trains, but Cav is still faster then them anyway. Cav is already one of the top three Tour de France sprinters of the past 40 years." So how good is Cavendish really, then? My colleague Martin Gough
looked into this yesterday
but what are your thoughts?
Have your say on 606
1322: From Vilhelm in Newcastle via text on 81111:
"Just wondering about the logistics of organising a peloton nature break. Does it involve the leader spreading the word in some 40kph game of Chinese Whispers?" I suspect Vilhelm may be a Will in disguise (see 1252).
Heinrich Haussler, one of the three riders now seven and a half minutes out in front, has never done better than fourth in a Tour de France stage - also in stage 13, last year.
There's another sprint coming up shortly. I'm starting to fear we may not get the fireworks today that could have been in the offing - but there's still 115km to go, so there's hope.
Now the front three are pushing for a seven-minute lead over the peloton. Impressive from Haussler, Perez Moreno and Chavanel, but we've not seen a lot from anybody else, except a very brief and abortive attempt to catch the leaders from David Millar. By the way, in the 1256 update, I'd like to point out that technically DeGuzman uses the J-word, not me. The challenge (see 1125) is still on.
It's a long old slog up to the top of Col de la Schlucht, but we're passing some fascinating places. Take Gerardmer, for instance, home to an annual horror film festival. Ideal location for Cavendish to meet that croc (see 1152). Apparently the peloton stopped to "answer the call of nature" in the delicate words of
our man Phil
over in the Vosges mountains, but that doesn't fully explain why the gap is now nearly six
1302: From Gemma in Hull via text on 81111:
"I've a feeling in my water today the Brits fight back, so I'm backing Millar and Wiggins to get stuck in. My waters have never let me down before!" Cripes. There's some encouragement for Dave and Brad, but they're in the peloton, now five minutes behind the leaders.
Those front three are carving out a ginormous lead now, approaching four minutes over the peloton. Still very wet out there.
DeGuzman on 606:
"Think Chavanel has already picked this stage before Le Tour - it's a great opportunity to set him up for the polkadot jersey. What could really harm him is an attack by real GC contenders. For me he's the favourite in the race at the moment." GC being general classification, the time-based competition for the yellow shirt which decides the overall Tour de France winner. Also a convenient shorthand when trying to avoid the J-word (see 1125 - thanks for your various bids to lure me into using it, which I shall continue to thwart).
Lots of people pointing out that every cycling fan reading this appears to be called Will. I will gladly accept contributions from people not called Will. The other four from the initial breakaway group are now ensconced back in the peloton.
The front trio of Haussler, Perez Moreno and Chavanel are now a minute ahead of the peloton on the last real flat section. Coming up we have an initially slow incline then a slog up to Col de la Schlucht (category two) including another sprint, a third sprint of the day down in the valley of Luttenbach, and after that the category one peak of Col du Platzerwasel.
1244: From Will in Bromley via text on 81111:
"On a separate note to today's stage, I saw Cav's score of 200, and it got me wondering what the record is. In the last few years, the highest was McEwen in 05 with 288. The actual record was set in 1959 with a score of 613 from Andre Darrigade, and the lowest winning total was 74 in 1960 by Jean Graczyk!"
Here goes a breakaway from the breakaway. Haussler, Chavanel and Perez Moreno are now 10 seconds ahead of their other four escapees, who are themselves 15 seconds in front of the peloton.
1239: From Tony in Hove via text on 81111:
"So with Levi out that means Bradley Wiggins is now fourth on the road. More great news for the Brits in this year's Tour de France." Indeed. A reminder, if you're just joining us, that Levi Leipheimer has pulled out with a broken wrist, which is being operated on as I type.
We've passed the 55km mark, so more than a quarter of the way through the stage, and that lead group still has a 25-second lead. A long way to go yet though, including four more climbs.
Ooh hang on, a bit of action here. Britain's David Millar has left the peloton and is on the charge, trying to reach the lead group of seven. He's four seconds ahead of the peloton but 22 seconds behind the escape group... and now he's been caught again. Nice try.
1230: Juan Manuel Garate
wins the first climb for four points, followed by Ruben Perez Moreno, Sylvain Chavanel and Christophe Moreau. No damage done to either the green or polka dot overall leaderboards so far.
1229: From Mark in Basingstoke via text on 81111:
"What is the point of a sprint halfway up a climb? Surely that is like having King of the Mountain points on a flat stage."
The escape group's lead is down to 17 seconds climbing Cote de Xertigny (firmly in croc territory now - see 1152). A couple of punctures too, for Grischa Niermann and Johan Vansummeren, who are both playing catch-up with the peloton.
The first sprint of the day is won by Christophe Moreau
. He takes six points, Heinrich Haussler four, and Sylvain Chavanel two. No Cavendish or Hushovd, who are both back in the peloton, as are all the big names.
We're just approaching Cote de Xertigny (category three) and the lead seven have slipped to 35 seconds ahead of the peloton.
1217: From Will via text on 81111:
"I see Armstrong has no prediction on his Twitter site today, is this due to the shock news of Levi or an indication that he maybe fancies it for himself today? I'm going to go for Lance in yellow at close of business."
cycleboydaveyg on 606:
"Regarding Levi's comments on his impending surgery. Has he had the screw approved by the UCI?"
The rain is still falling and the lead group of seven can't get much further than 40-45 seconds ahead of the peloton, with the first proper climb a few kilometres away. Those seven in full: Heinrich Haussler, Jens Voigt, Juan Manuel Garate, Ruben Perez Moreno, Rigoberto Uran, Sylvain Chavanel and Christophe Moreau.
From Levi Leipheimer on Twitter:
"About to have surgery, they're putting a screw in the Scaphoid, transverse fracture. They're taking very good care of me here in France."
I should probably clarify who Thor is (see below). Mark Cavendish won't have to contend with a crocodile and the Norse god of thunder, but he does have Norway's Thor Hushovd battling for the honour of wearing green. Cav took it back off Hushovd after stage 11, then kept Hushovd at bay for the duration of stage 12. Cavendish now has a lead of 10 points.
bigcog on 606:
"Re: 1152. I'd say Cav bedecked in green head to foot must be a prime candidate for a stray crocodile to get friendly with. He could have more than just Thor snapping at his heels."
The Count on 606:
"I'll go with making an adventurous call. Contador will attack on the Firstplan somewhere around 4km from the top." The Firstplan being the final climb of the day.
Coming up for 23km gone, and the riders are heading up the first small incline of the day. Remember, there are five big climbs today, with the highlight being the category one Col du Platzerwasel, which I will be able to spell without looking it up by the end of the stage. The escape group are holding steady at 45 seconds ahead of the peloton.
Speaking of potential ambushes, be on the lookout for crocodiles. This stage passes through Xertigny, which had to drain its village pond last month because of reports of an escaped croc on the rampage. It was never found. Get your sprinting gear on, Cav.
Have a read in Le Parisien
(if you can read French)
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606:
"Today is a potential ambush day. There's enough there to force a selection among the favourites and the conditions are looking likely to play a part. Punctures and bikehandling could play a role if it is properly wet. Bradley Wiggins is now in a position where it's not entirely fantasy to imagine he could stand on the podium in Paris, is it?" Alex will be here over the weekend with all the action. If you need a bit of help understanding what's going on, he has also written a
to the Tour.
The lead group of seven are now 35 seconds ahead. None of the big names being talked about today - Martinez, Pellizotti, even Britain's Bradley Wiggins with Levi Leipheimer out of proceedings - are getting involved.
1140: From Will in Manchester via text on 81111:
"Re 1125. Just practise your French a tad more - maillot jaune, maillot verte etc..." Seems a bit like cheating to me, but I may have to call on that little ruse.
Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) started this early bid for freedom, and he's now at the back of a group led by Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.
Already we're getting an attempt at an escape group, with seven riders forging out ahead.
Talking of mountains to climb, you may also be interested in the cricket, where Tom Fordyce is watching the second day at Lord's, while Sam Lyon has every putt, chip and Sandy Lyle apology from the Open golf.
invisiblebike on 606:
"Just wonder if Levi's very unfortunate injury gives a psychological advantage to Alberto Contador, as Lance now has one less close lieutenant, especially as it comes on the day we enter the mountains?"
Here we go then, the peloton are off. Five climbs, plus sprints, and it's 200km until we reach Colmar some time just after 1600.
We're moments away from starting, so just time to tell you I've set myself a challenge. Word clouds are usually sublime in their pointlessness but, on your right, is
one showing our good friend Scriv's Tour live text
from Thursday (if you're reading on a mobile, imagine a shambolic mess of words with "JERSEY" writ large in the middle). As a result, from this point on, I'm going to try to get through the whole day without using the J word. Should be interesting.
I should add that Levi Leipheimer is not the only casualty. Austrian rider Peter Wrolich is also out, so we are down to 164 cyclists at the start.
Weather today - it's gonna rain. Indeed it already is at the starting point in Vittel, and the forecast is overcast with showers elsewhere. This stage takes the Tour from a town widely associated with mineral water to Colmar, the driest town in France. Fact. Riders in the neutral zone right now, proper start at 1125-ish.
And with that mention of the maillot jaune below, here is how we stack up ahead of stage 13, which kicks off in Vittel in about 10 minutes' time:TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 12:
Yellow jersey: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R)
Green jersey: Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia)
Polka dot jersey: Egoi Martinez (Spa/Euskaltel)
White jersey: Tony Martin (Ger/Team Columbia)
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 12:
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R) 48hrs 27mins 21secs
2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) + 6secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 8
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Astana) +39
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) + 46
winnerfrogman on 606:
"I'd love to see the maillot jaune Nocentini give the tour a huge present by launching an attack today, forcing the big guns out of their shells. Highly unlikely I know, but would it really be that bad a tactic?"
After a few stages which, if we are honest, could have been more gripping, this stage has some real potential. Two category three climbs, two category twos, and the category one Col du Platzerwasel. Be on the lookout for action between Franco Pellizotti and Egoi Martinez, both keen to be crowned King of the Mountains. Who else could feature?
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Lance Armstrong has
uploaded a photo
of his unfortunate team-mate Leipheimer. But for everyone else, the Tour continues with Friday's medium mountain stage from Vittel to Colmar.
Stage 13 - unlucky for some? Astana's Levi Leipheimer is out of the Tour with a broken wrist after that crash three kilometres from the end of Thursday's festivities. Speaking exclusively to
56,600 Twitter followers
he said: "I can't describe how disappointed I am." Lots of sympathy tweets from fellow riders.