Stage eight - Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz 189 km
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Thanks for joining us for today's stage. Plenty of drama to mull over, notably the collapse of Armstrong's hopes and signs of weakness from Contador. The report is now live -
Lance Armstrong's Tour de France hopes disappear
- and I'll be adding more to it shortly. Tomorrow is a rest day for the riders after what has been an eventful and tough opening week.
General classification:1. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC Racing) 37h 57m 09s
2. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) +20"
3. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) +1'01"
4. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) +1'03"
5. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) +1'10"
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can/Garmin-Transitions) +01'11"
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze/Liquigas) +01'45"
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Radioshack) +02'14"
9. Samuel Sanchez (Esp/Euskatel) +02'15"
10. Michael Rogers (Aus/HTC-Columbia) +02'31"
Lance Armstrong says his Tour de France victory hopes are "finished" after losing over 11 minutes on the stage.
Brad Wiggins came home 1'45 back and now sits 2'45" back in the overall classification.
Stage result:1. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) 4h 54m 11s
2. Samuel Sanchez (Esp/Euskatel) same time
3. Robert Gesink (Net/Rabobank) +10"
4. Roman Kreiziger (Cze/Liquigas) same time
5. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) same time
6. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC Racing) same time
7. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) same time
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Radioshack) same time
9. Ivan Basso (Ita/Liquigas) same time
10. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) same time
Full results on the official tour de France site
General classification:1. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC Racing) 37h 57m 09s
2. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) +20"
3. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) +1'01"
Contador comes in 10" down on Schleck. A surprise that Contador was unable to follow him. Evans moves into the yellow jersey with a narrow lead over a Schleck. Last time he was in this position it was his brother Frank who was one second behind him.
Now Sanchez pulls Schleck along. Andy Schleck jumps Sanchez to win the stage.
Schleck attacks, gets a gap on Contador. Evans can't respond and goes backwards. Contador can't close the gap.
Gesink is on the front with Contador is his wheel followed by Schleck, Evans and Leipheimer.
Now van den Broeck attacks and is countered by Gesink, taking Sanchez with him. Contador covers easily and we're all back together
Kreuziger fires it up taking Contador, Schleck and Evans with him.
Armstrong is now 7'14" back from the lead group where the pace is starting to tell with 2km to go.
Wiggo will need to battle on and limit his losses now. Up front Navarro's face screams "this hurts" as he continues to push the tempo for Contador who grits his teeth.
Wiggins losing a bike length as he fights to hold on to the back of the Contador group. His face says it's hurting as he slides backwards.
Ivan Basso grimaces as he fights to stay with the pace still being set by Navarro. Contador bounces on the pedals while Evans and Schleck fight for the best place behind him.
At 5km to go Contador might be happy to let the situation stay as it is which would put Evans in yellow. Wiggins sits mid-way down the group.
Navarro back on the front for Contador who looks around at Andy Schleck who is in his wheel. Now they catch Moinard and ride straight past him.
Moinard douses himself and pushes on alone but the chasers are in sight now.
Navarro is last man off for Contador. His rivals will be hoping he doesn't launch one of his dynamite attacks now.
Moinard and Aerts shake hands as Moerenhout is passed by the Contador group. their hopes of a stage win are almost over.
Up front we're down to two as Aerts and Moinard lose Moerenhout. Their advantage is shrinking all the time.
Wiggins is tucked in safely in the Contador group which is being pushed on by Navarro and Vinokourov. He looks composed as Rodriguez of Katusha goes on the attack from that group.
10km to go for our leaders who will be desperately hoping they can cling on for the stage win. The gap is now down to 1'22" and the chasers are showing no sign of letting up. Are they trying to set up a stage win for Contador?
Astana continue to drive the pace up front. Evans and Schleck are tucked in behind Contador while at the back of the group Sastre and Hesjedal cling on to the back door.
Now we hit the bottom of the climb to Morzin-Avoriaz. Contador still has three Astana riders setting the pace for him while his rivals mostly have only one rider with them.
So to recap:
- Aerts, Moinard, Moerenhout
- Contador, Schleck, Wiggins, and virtual yellow jersey Evans at 1'38"
- Armstrong at 3'52"
- Yellow jersey Chavanel at 4'49"
Armstrong goes down again as he gets caught behind a Euskatel rider who crashed while picking up his feed bag. He's got his angry face on. I wouldn't want to be the man sent out to ask him questions at the end of the stage.
With 20km to go it looks like the Armstrong group has slowed. Has he given up his pursuit of an eighth title?
Our three leaders are almost at the summit of Les Gets. In all the action behind them, most people might have forgotten that they have 2'05" on the Contador/Evans/Wiggins/Schleck group.
The gap between Contador and Armstrong is now 1'02" as Horner works tirelessly to try and bring the Texan back.
Everywhere riders are dousing themselves in water and trying to take on fluids on the climb to Les Gets. Judging by the number of flapping jerseys and pasty chests on show, it's mighty hot on the road.
Vinokourov seems to have decided to go on an adventure at the front. I thought he was meant to be working for Contador.
At the summit the time gaps would put Cadel Evans into yellow tonight.
Armstrong is yelling at Horner as Brajkovic tries to close the gap.
The climb has whittled the favourites group down to less than 30 riders. Only Armstrong and Samuel Sanchez are absent from that group which is now on the descent towards the next challenge, the third category climb to Les Gets.
Our three plucky leaders go over the top of the Col de la Ramaz with Aerts taking the 15 points in the KoM competition. Armstrong is now 1'00" back from the favourites group.
Vinokourov plays domestique bringing bottles up for his Astana team. Last time he rode Le Tour was as a contender, now he's working for Contador.
Astana still setting the pace at the front but the gap to Armstrong isn't growing beyond 40". He's got Brajkovic and Horner setting the pace for him.
Armstrong at 40" from his rivals who are all still at the business end of things: Wiggins, Schleck, van den Broeck, Contador, Evans. Leipheimer now the best placed Radioshack rider.
Now Astana hit the front with Paulo Tiralongo and Danny Navarro. Armstrong has Chris Horner with him as Vinokourov is also going out the back of the bunch with Kloden.
Armstrong blows! He's going backward at an alarming rate. His opponents will put the hammer down to try and make sure he doesn't get back on.
Break of three has 2'50" on the bunch with the yellow jersey over 4'00" back
Fuglsang of Saxo Bank is now on the front setting the pace for Andy Schleck. they've just caught Minard and Vaugrenard from the break
Chavanel has cracked and is struggling to keep his place in the main group. Lots of riders being shelled out, including Paulinho of Radioshack who pays for the effort to get Armstrong back up to the field earlier.
With 40km to go we've got three riders from the early break still with 3'20" over the main contenders. The other four from that break as drifting slowly backwards into the embrace of the main field. Rinaldo Nocentini, who claimed the yellow jersey at the same point in the race last year is in the "autobus" group of those riding just to stay inside the time cut.
Now King of the Mountains, Pineau, is dropping off as Juan Antonio Flecha drives it on at the front. I've taken to referring to the Spaniard as "Norman Stanley" although the nickname is yet to gain any real traction.
Contador will be unhappy to see de la Fuente going out the back of the bunch already. He's meant to be one of his strongest mountain domestiques. He's not alone though as Thomas, Voigt and Popovych are all being distanced.
Thomas adds another body to the Team Sky effort at the front. Chavanel and Quickstep are in behind them. No sign of an attacks from the bunch yet as our three leaders - Moerenhout, Aerts, Moinard - are slowing being pulled back with the gap down to 3'18".
Up front Moerenhout is making a bid for Dutch glory as Aerts and Moinard pursue him up the Col de la Ramaz.
Wiggins is sitting behind Lovkvist and Flecha near the front, looking composed and turning the pedals easily. The gap is tumbling down to 3'30" now.
Time to hit F5 and manually refresh for BBC Radio 5 live sports extra coverage. You'll only need to do it the once and then you can enjoy Messrs Slater and Jones.
The sprinters' "autobus" has formed already. They'll be working out how to make sure they make the time limit and will all work together to make sure they all make it home. Cavendish, Petacchi and Hushovd have all hopped aboard already.
Geraint Thomas appears at the front of the bunch in his GB Champion's jersey as we hit the bottom of the Col de la Ramaz. the break is down to 4'05".
Armstrong looks like he took the brunt of the fall on his back. his numbers are scuffed and flapping as he sits behind Paulinho and Popovych. They've just reached the back of the bunch and head straight for the front.
If you've ever wondered just how much power it takes to keep up with the pack you can see data from several riders, including Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank, from the data on their power meters at
SRM live - Tour 2010
. The key number is the wattage and the simplest way to make sense of it is by thinking in terms of lightbulbs. For example, a rider producing 400W could power ten lightbulbs.
It looks like he got tangled up as the road narrowed. He's got four team-mates with him but this is a bad time to be chasing. Will the other teams wait or press on? Even if they wait, he's going to have wasted valuable energy getting back into the bunch.
Armstrong involved in a crash on the exit to a roundabout.
The gap is starting to come down. It's now 6'19" with 53km to go. Rabobank and Cervelo have both come forward and are starting to help out with the chase.
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan via Twitter:
"We're on 'medium schedule' so a finish at around 1630 BST."
We'll have live commentary here and on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra from 1500BST. You'll need to refresh the page to see it in the top right corner.
Quickstep seem happy to keep the gap at over six minutes as the break approach the final intermediate sprint at Viul-en-Sallaz. This is the time for the domestiques to make sure that their team leaders have enough food and drink for the Col de la Ramaz.
With 66km to run, we're approaching the first big challenge of the day. All the teams will be looking to get their men near the front so that they can stay out of trouble and cover any attacks from the main field. The break still has nearly 7'00" over the bunch.
An interesting argument for Evans going on the offensive today:
kW on 606:
"Orthodox strategy says Evans will mark other GC's today. Yet if he takes the initiative and has a go on last climb - this will force Bertie to let rip, and likely gap other GC's. This will disrupt plans, and may even put a target on Bertie going into Alps. Only way i see any non Bertie GC winning the tour is if they work together."
Another crash as Frohlinger fails to avoid the road furniture and goes sprawling across the tarmac. His team-mates will be annoyed as he's just sprayed at least three fresh bottles across the road.
Cadel Evans is back among the cars. He's got an ugly rip in his shorts on his left hip from a crash earlier today. Race situation with 75km to go
A break of seven - Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank), Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Amael Moinard and Sebastian Minard (both Cofidis) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale) - have 6'50" on the bunch which contains all the main favourites.
Fabio Fellini, the Footon-Servetto rider who went down heavily at the start of the stage is battling on despite borderline indecent holes in both his jersey and shorts. It's his first Tour, like the rest of his team, and he'll be determined to at least finish today rather than quit on the road. The injuries to his left side look rather unpleasant.
The big teams are starting to get organised and like an army falling in on the parade ground, distinct units are starting to form in the bunch. Armstrong's Radioshack have massed behind Quickstep at the front, sticking to the same positioning near the front that was the hallmark of Lance's seven wins.
Lunch seems to have slowed the main bunch as the break has now got 6'43" with 84km to go. Or perhaps they're just biding their time ahead of the Col de la Ramaz, the first proper test of the day.
The break picks up their lunch and has extended their gap to 5'41" over the peloton which is looking fairly strung out as it wheels along. Cavendish is smiling as he sits towards the back. He'll not be looking forward to the climbs to come and will have to work hard to make the time limit.
A few of the Dutch riders are showing their support for the football team by sporting orange bartape. Moerenhout's just about works with the orange of Rabobank but Karsten Kroon of BMC told Radio Tour that his won't be staying, regardless of the result:
"Even if the Dutch win - I'm taking it off tomorrow because it looks terrible."
Next on the menu is lunch for the peloton. The day's sole feed zone comes at La Rippe with 95km to go. The bunch are now pootling under the intermediate sprint banner and look in no hurry to close the gap to the break which still has 4'28".
The break rolls through the sprint as if it's not there, depriving the roadside fans of a bit of spectacle.
Time for a quick points recap. The order over the last climb was Riblon, 3pts: Moerenhout, 2pts; Moinard, 1pt. They're now approaching the first intermediate sprint of the day.
Plenty of riders taking on food and water at the moment as well as cooling packs to try and keep their body temperature from rising. The technology and science has come some way in recent times which means that they are no longer simply a pair of tights stuffed with ice.
One rider who has been floating under the radar is Jurgen van den Broeck. He's two seconds behind Contador and is the Omega Pharma-Lotto team leader. He was 15th at the Tour last year and is an excellent climber. He could be one for the stage win today.
As the peloton comes through Lancrans, the break have pushed the gap out to 4'22". It may stay this way until we reach the Col de la Ramaz which is where we expect the action to start:
From Paddy, Gaz and Jeansy at Les Gets, via text:
"Ramaz is a beast. Nailed it pre breakfast this morning and fancy that stage will be sorted pre Avoriaz . Tartiflette for lunch is better than a mussette of gels though."
Just looking at it on the
official stage profile
it looks like a brute.
Polka dot jersey Pineau is back at the front as the gap settles at a few seconds over 4'00". He'll be frustrated not to pick up a few more points today on these early climbs. The next one is the fourth category Côte de Grésin in about 10km.
Quickstep are on the front of the bunch keeping the gap from getting unmanageable. We've got representation for both the Dutch (Moerenhout) and the Spanish (Erviti) in the break, which is a nice touch ahead of the World Cup final. I'm not convinced they planned it this way.
The break is extending its lead, now at 4'11" with 136km left to run. Christophe Riblon might be excused for looking a little tired up there as apparently the Francaise des Jeux team were kept awake a wedding party at their hotel last night.
1238: Mol_Daze_Etty, via text:
"Re 1138 the key for Armstrong might be the weather. Amazingly for someone from Texas he struggles in the extreme heat (eg the 2003 Tour when Ullrich should have beaten him) and thrives in the rain and cold (ever since his shock victory in the 1993 World Championship in the rain at Oslo which launched his career)."
It certainly looks like it's going to be a warm stage for the riders and the GC contenders will rely on their helpers to ferry up waterbottles to them throughout.
There's a queue at the medical car as riders wait to get their scrapes tended to. The race doctor will be busy for some time. The break meanwhile stretches its advantage to 3'10".
Cadel Evans is back at the medical car getting attention. It looks like he went down in the crash at the start of the stage and has some nasty road rash up his left side. When he took the yellow jersey in 2008 he was also suffering the effects of a crash. Could history repeat itself today?
The break goes out to over a minute as yellow jersey wearer Chavanel takes a "natural break" at the roadside. Our magnificent seven escapees are; Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank), Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Amael Moinard and Sebastian Minard (both Cofidis) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale).
Peloton back together but it's strung out and gaps continue to appear. The break of seven riders is being kept on a tight leash with a paltry gap of 17" at the 28km marker.
We're over the first climb: Taramae; 3 points; Frohlinger 2pts; Moreau 1pt. Behind them the peloton has split in two and Denis Menchov is on the wrong side of it.
The break is still trying to establish itself with Taramae hammering away on his own and a group of riders including Lars Boom just behind him. Boom seems to have gone wild with the suncream and is sporting a bright white mouth in the manner of an Australian cricketer.
Always good to hear from fans out at roadside. A couple of updates already:
From Karl192, via text:
"Up on the Col de Ramaz - massive atmosphere here for this first cat 1 climb, thankfully pretty cool at the moment for the boys "
From Lou, Nick & Al, via text: "Here at the final hairpin on the climb to avoriaz the atmosphere is electric! Well worth the ride from London... Come on wiggo!"
Keep them coming via text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide).
Taramae still trying to get away as a group of a dozen or so riders sits in the gap between him and the chasing pack. There's no hanging around today, as they rattle through the early kilometres at a cracking pace.
Rein Taramae of Cofidis is trying to pull clear at the front but the bunch aren't willing to let him go.
Looks like Armstrong was among those who used the ditch to avoid the crash. Radioshack have dropped back en masse to pace him back to the bunch. That would explain his faithful lieutenant Popvych having words with the front end of the field.
Popovych of Radioshack comes to the front and seems to be having a vigorous discussion with the Cofidis rider, possibly to do with the pursuit of Kiryienka who is still motoring on oblivious to what's going on behind him.
Big crash in the middle of the bunch. Polka dot jersey wearer Pineau is down as is Team Sky's Simon Gerrans. Looks like a Footon rider went down at the front first.
They're wasting no time in attacking. the bunch is strung out already with a Caisse d'Epargne rider first to charge away, followed inevitably by a French rider from Francaise des Jeux.
According to Armstrong the first big climb will decide how today's stage plays out:
"The key I think is Ramaz, which is before Morzine. It's very difficult and there's patches that are nine, ten percent (gradient)," he said.
The heat will also play a part, it's apparently 29 degrees Celsius at the start line, which classifies as "Phew what a scorcher!" Getting enough fluid onboard will be one of the challenges for the leading riders and their teams.
So here we go, the race reaches the mountains after a long week marked by multiple crashes and the amazing comeback of Sylvain Chavanel, the current maillot jaune.
He'll have a hard time holding onto it today on the final climb to Morzine-Avoriaz, where the expectation is that the big names will test their legs for the first time.
Will Alberto Contador, 'El Pistolero' launch himself as he did on the road to Arcalis last year, or will he bide his time and allow Cadel Evans to pull on the yellow jersey again, as he did in 2008?
Britain's Bradley Wiggins is 2'35" back in the race for yellow, a minute and a bit back on Evans but only a handful of seconds behind Contador.
Lance Armstrong's challenge faltered on the cobbles 3'16" back on the race leader but that sort of time gap can disappear in the blink of an eye in the mountains.