Stage 11 - Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence 184.5km
LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times BST)
To get involved, please use
or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)
And with that, I'll wrap up today's live text. I'm back tomorrow for stage 12. It's a 210.5km ride from Bourg-de-Péage to Mende. There's a few more bumps in the road and a strenuous category two climb up Côte de la Croix-Neuve, which is also known as Montee Laurent Jalabert at the finish. I guess that means the sprinters can sort out their differences and get rid of any extra aggression before the end of the stage. Thanks for your company today and I'll be in for the 1045 start on Friday.
Turns out it wasn't a nasty rumour after all. Race official Jean-Francois Pescheux confirmed: "Renshaw was declassified immediately but we have decided to also throw him off the race. We've only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena."
1716:RENSHAW IS THROWN OFF THE TOUR DE FRANCE 1715:
This is a big decision for Cavendish. If Renshaw is booted out, that will surely severely dent his green jersey ambitions because Renshaw, let's not forget, is his lead-out man.
This just in from news agency Reuters who have been speaking to Tour techincal director Jean-Francosi Pescheux. "Normally, he's out of the race." However Pescheux insisted the race jury's decision had not been announced.
In the meantime, here's today's top five
1. Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC Columbia) 4h 42m 29s
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita/Garmin) same time
3. Tyler Farrar (Bel/QST) same time
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) same time
5. Robbie McEwen (Aus/Katusha) same timeOverall Standings:
1. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) 53h 43m 25s
2. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) +41"
3. Samuel Sanchez (Esp/Euskatel) +2'45"
4. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) +2'58"
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) +3'31"
6. Levi Leipheimer (US/RadioShack) +3'59"
7. Robert Gesnik (Ned/Rabobank) +4'22"
8. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) +4'41"
9. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa/Katusha) +5'08"
10. Ivan Basso (Ita/Liquigas) +5'09"
Told you there may be some repercussions to that Renshaw-Dean spat. Reports from France, unconfirmed at the moment, say that the Australian has been thrown off the Tour de France for trying to headbutt Garmin's Julian Dean in the lead-up to the sprint finish. More when we get it.
Lampre's Petacchi tries on the green jersey for size and finds it fits him nicely. Cavendish is up to fourth and is on 132 points, 29 behind the Italian and 25 behind Hushovd. In the race for yellow, there is no change with all the leading contenders being awarded the same time as Cav's 4h 42' 29".
Regardless of what the outcome is from the race officials, Cavendish is up on the podium getting his end-of-stage kisses and flowers from the lovely ladies. That's his third stage win this year and 13th overall. Phenomenal sprinting.
From Matt in Stevenage, via text:
"Can they take Cav's points away if his team-mate headbutts someone?"
While we await any further news, let's check out the green jersey standings. Cavendish wins to take 35 points in the classification but the big winner is Petacchi who takes over in green with 161 points, four more than Thor Hushovd who finished seventh today.
All that meant that Cavendish was left to his own devices and had to go for the line from 375m out - a distance he said immediately after the race was: "Like a long breakaway for a rider like me." He had Alessandro Petacchi following him all the way up the finishing straight, but held on to win by a bike length. We await news of whether the officials will take any action.
Wow. Another stunning finish by Cavendish although I reckon race officials may want to look at Mark Renshaw's little spat with Julian Dean on the run-in. Dean appeared to lean in on Renshaw and the HTC rider responded by leading with his head into Dean. Renshaw used his head to nudge Dean away.
Under the 1km to go kite. Lampre leading it out with HTC right in behind. Julian Dean trying to bring Tyler Farrar though. Dean gets a little close to Mark Renshaw and the HTC rider responds by headbutting the Garmin rider. Cavendish ignores it all though and leads out the sprint. It's a little bit longer than he would have liked, and he has Petacchi in his wheel, but CAVENDISH WINS STAGE 11.
Lampre, HTC and Sky all have riders towards the front. Geraint Thomas of Sky is ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen as Brailsford suggested they would be. Hushovd up near the front. Bernie Eisel of HTC looking round for his team. Sky's Serge Pauwels has a little dig, but HTC get him back in. Last 2km coming up.
Chavanel and Popovych sit up pretty quickly when they realise they aren't going to hold off the HTC train. Peloton is spread across the road as we reach the final 5km. The pace dropped slightly, but here come the Sky boys. Four come through and the pace gets back up again with Lampre refusing to let anyone else dominate proceedings.
Down to 7km to go. Saxo Bank keeping the pace high on the front with Cancellara. Race leader Andy Schleck keeping out of trouble. Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel attack and Yaroslav Popovych of RadioShack jumps into his wheel. The move shakes HTC into action and Bernie Eisel and Tony Martin take up the chase.
Rabobank have three riders up at the front. Oscar Friere and Denis Menchov among them as they go under the 10km to go banner. There should be some fuel in the tank for the sprinters after today's stroll through the countryside.
Hushovd has worked his way on the wheel of Cavendish, who is well supported by Bernie Eisel, Tony Martin and Michael Rogers. World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank on the front, stretching out the race.
Green jersey wearer Thor Hushovd sitting pretty in about 10th place as the sprinters start to move forward. Saxo Bank continuing to dictate the pace. HTC riders looking round for each other after the peloton has to split and go either side of a roundabout.
Get ready for a spicy finish with attacks galore. Saxo Bank currently leading the way with their yellow jersey rider Andy Schleck tucked safely behind. Let the attacks begin though. The peloton has certainly upped the pace though as riders begin to fall out the back.
And Auge and Benitez are swallowed up by the peloton. HTC's Bert Grabsch was leading the way, but RadioShack have moved forward and taken up the pace. We have 20km to go. Two FDJ riders make a blast off the front. Perhaps they've spent the day plotting that break. It comes to nothing though as they are reeled back in almost instantly.
From Carl in Halifax, via text:
"Adrian in Addlestone (see 1555), I completely disagree, let the sprinters have their glory, just having a select 10 riders who are good climbers/TT thrashing it out every day would be even more boring. The sprints add variety, excitement, and give the other 180 riders half a chance of getting on the podium. And the flatter areas of France would be none too pleased about never getting the tour through their backyard."
From Chris in Stirling, via text:
"Re 1600: Admirable work finding something of interest to write about in this race. They're making a case to introduce obstacle stages just to novel things up."
The lead is down to a Usain Bolt 200m sprint time with 25km to go.
Our leading trio is now a duo. FDJ rider Geslin has finally seen sense and sat up. Shot of a train flying through the French countryside prompts Graham Jones on the 5 live commentary to mention that there is a level crossing at around 13km to go and that he hopes the French train authorities have been informed.
From anon, via text:
"C'mon Adrian. Can you see Cavendish et al toiling up HC climbs for 3 weeks just for a shot at the Champs Elysees? Tour De France should be for all the riders: tall or short, musclebound or rakish thin or fat. Ok, maybe not fat..."
Okay, here we go, inside the last 30km. Who would you put your house on to take this one? I know it's a bit dull and predictable, but I'm going for Cav...
The lead is the same in seconds as the number of kilometres to go. Both are briefly at 33. Lampre HTC and Garmin continue to dictate the pace of the peloton. Stephane Auge, Anthony Geslin and Jose Alberto Benitez will be caught soon enough. They are shown a board indicating that their lead has dropped to under 30 seconds. They have been out front for all but the first few metres of the 153km ridden so far today.
From Adrian in Addlestone, via text:
"Does anyone else find these stages designed for the sprinters incredibly boring? They should just ride the mountains for 3 weeks and then have a final TT in Paris."
What that little flurry of activity has done is bring the peloton to within sight of the leading trio. The advantage is down to 35 seconds.
And as I type that, Caisse d'Epargne's Mathieu Perget makes a mad dash from the front of the peloton. He is followed by a couple of other riders and they are soon dragged back to the warmth and comfort of the main bunch. It may wake a few people up though and stop all the chitter-chatter.
This is quite possibly the most pedestrian stage I've seen on the Tour. According to the official Tour de France timing chart, the riders are due to finish between 1600 and 1625 BST. But with 40km still to go and an average speed of around 37km during the course of the day, we could be in for a late finish.
Put your F5 key away, we're back on auto-refresh. Apologies for that. On the road, the leaders are 65 seconds clear.
From Cahir O'Higgins, via text:
"Good work from Nicholas Roche, really has got his act together over the last couple if years, chapeaux."
Riders entering Crest which is dominated by a huge tower. Several people on top dancing and waving to the circling helicopter. I've had to avert my gaze as I'm not a big fan of heights at the best of times and they were a long, long, long way up.
mysticshrimp on 606:
"It used to be that the Green jersey was more about consistency than sprinting. In fact, quite a few sprinters only competed for the first week then dropped out after a couple of mountain stages. It was the all-rounders who used to win Green. You have to admire the current sprinters who now seem able and willing to survive the whole tour."
Auge, Geslin and Benitez are heading towards the final sprint in Mirabel-et-Blacons. Cofidis rider Auge takes the six, Benitez the four and Geslin the two. The peloton glides past a field full of sunflowers before going through the sprint line for no material gain. We have 53km left and the leaders are 106 seconds clear.
Mark Cavendish riding alongside seven-time winner Lance Armstrong. A few words, a little chuckle and then it's back to the work at hand. With 60km to go, the Manxman must be happy with the way the stage is panning out. The auto-refresh function on this page appears to have packed in. We're trying to work out what's happened, but in the meantime, it's back to the old F5 refresh route I'm afraid.
Lots of people cooling off in the River Drome, apparently oblivious to the passing peloton which is refusing to get too close to the leading trio. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador having a little chat as they enjoy a more leisurely ride today. Lead is 100 seconds and we are 10km from that final intermediate sprint.
A little reminder that BBC Radio 5 live's Simon Brotherton will be commentating on the conclusion to today's stage. If you manually refresh, you should see a little console above. The stream is available to UK users only and starts at 1515 BST.
From Ed in Bristol, via text:
"Cav could really do with Hushovd and Petacchi taking each other out in the sprint today. Can't see him making up the 40 odd pts any other way."
We are 20km from the second and final intermediate sprint of the day. If HTC Columbia want to try and help Cav get some extra points, they'd better get a wriggle on. They are 93 seconds behind the leading trio. Garmin's David Zabriskie is leading the main bunch.
From B Smith in London, via text:
"When watching the highlights yesterday we were questioning do you get anything like a certificate for completing the tour? Can anyone enlighten us on this?"
From anon, via text:
"Maybe Wiggo should have stayed at Garmin where there was stability in an existing structure and where a team was being built round him. Sky...new to to the tours not been great."
Back to the race. Nothing has changed. It's a bit like Waiting for Godot is this. Although at least we know something will happen, eventually. Geslin, Auge and Benitez are dangling on a string at two minutes clear. The peloton is happily pedalling along with a Lampre leading from HTC and Garmin with a trio of Liquigas riders tucked in behind.
Im_partial on 606:
"I liked the old rules when you could also get a time bonus at the sprint point - you sometimes saw GC guys go for it to grab back a few seconds, and certainly in the early days of the race the sprinters were keen as it could potentially find them in yellow."
From Captain paperclips in London, via text:
"Just got back from a hearty lunch break of my own words there seeing as they've failed to get them back yet. However it's got to be just a matter of time."
Thanks to reader Edward Maxted, who has sent me a spreadsheet predicting who will win the race for the green points jersey. He says he is a "little perplexed by all the speculation concerning Mr Cavendish and his attempt to win the green jersey. I, for one hope he triumphs, but as a mathematician I have an added interest in how the points are distributed each day." He has Cav winning today's stage, stage 18 and the final stage on the Champs Elysees, ending up on 239 points overall. However, he reckons Hushovd will take stage 13 and end up on 247.
While the rest of us look longingly at the mountains that frame this section of today's stage, the riders continue on their downhill path towards Bourg-les-Valance. Plenty of food and drink on board now and will the peloton look at bringing this back before the second intermediate sprint or keep themselves back for the big finish? Lampre, HTC Columbia and Garmin all have one rider each on the front. Lead just over two minutes.
Approaching the halfway point of today's stage as the road runs alongside the meandering River Drome, past lavender fields, and on towards today's feedzone.
From Nick in Ipswich, via text:
"What do people think of Team Sky's debut? Wiggins hasn't prospered like last year. Thomas showed well with immense promise, but was blown away at the weekend. Will they support Hagen? Does the brilliant Brailsford need to re-think Sky's strategy?"
From BBC Radio 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter:
"Wouldn't say it's a particularly high rate of abandons this year, especially in light of some of the crashes. These guys don't give up easy." We are down to 179 riders, from the 198 who were scheduled to start the race.
The sprint is "won" by FDJ's Geslin for six points with Cofidis rider Auge picking up four for second and Footon's Martinez two for third. That had to be one of the dullest intermediate sprints of all time. Even the fans in Montlaur-en-Diois failed to muster much enthusiasm. The good news for the leaders is that there is under 100km to go. The bad news is that they are unlikely to remain out front for much longer.
Peloton eases off the gas a little after deciding they were getting a little close to the leading trio. The lead is back up at two minutes.
mysticshrimp on 606:
"Today's intermediate sprints are only worth 6,4 and 2 points I think, compared with 35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 for the finish. Cav needs all the points he can get, but only seems willing to work for the stage victories."
HTC Columbia leading out the peloton and the lead is suddenly coming down at a rate of knots. Almost chopped in half over the last few kilometres. There's 10km to the first sprint and 110km to the finish.
Quick update on Wegelius - the Omega rider was the first of the eight Brits in this year's race to call it a day. He's been ill so the team are giving him a rest. Lead is a little more than three minutes.
The leaders are working well together as the peloton gives chase down the snaking D993. Plenty of hairpins to prevent too quick a descent and the lead is flicking between 2'30" and 2'50".
Pineau claimed one point for his effort. Benitez picked up four points, Auge three and Geslin two. Riders hurtling down the other side towards the first intermediate sprint which comes up in around 20km time.
Footon's Jose Alberto Benitez goes over the top first, followed by Cofidis rider Stephane Auge and FDJ's Anthony Geslin. They are just over two minutes clear of the peloton. Four riders, including King of the Mountains jersey wearer Jerome Pineau, shoot of the front of the main bunch near the summit and the Frenchman duly takes the fourth place.
Time to give the sun graphic an airing as it's another baking hot day in southern France. The leaders are almost over the Col de Cabre. At 1,180m it's almost 700m higher than today's start point to give you some idea of the steady climb from Sisteron.
From Tom in Romsey, via text:
"Ciolek used to lead out Cav and he's no mean sprinter for Milram now. You get the feeling that Petacchi's range would make a decent lead out."
Just seen TV pictures of Cavendish before the start of today's stage. He had this to say: "Halfway through and everyone's pretty dead. We're concentrating on stage wins after a poor first week and we'll see what happens and if the green comes at the end of it." He did look pretty dead as well. Maybe it was an early morning interview and he'd not had his weetabix yet.
From Jon boy in Southampton, via text:
"Well that's today's urgent report blown out of the water. Come on Cav, give us a win and make tomorrow's reprimand worthwhile."
From Chris in Stirling, via text:
"Can't see Hushovd giving up intermediate points without a fight. Cav could spend a lot of energy for a couple of intermediate points, and then Petacchi takes the stage win points."
The leading trio of Auge, Geslin and Benitez are on the climb up Col de Cabre. Remember, it's 5km to the summit and a cat three climb so not that taxing for our riders. It's the only climb of the day and a 120km free wheel into Bourg-les-Valance follows.
Not a lot happening on the road, leaders drifting out to the biggest lead of the day at 4'50". So a bit more from Brailsford on getting Edvald Boasson Hagen up near the front at the end. "If it comes to a sprint, we'll take it on," he told the Tour de France website. "We're going to have Columbia and Cervelo battling it out but we're going to commit to it and get Juan Antonio Flecha and Geraint Thomas and potentially Michael Barry and Steve Cumming to take on the the other teams. That's the game plan."
From Rob in Glasgow, via text:
"Renshaw used to lead out Hushovd and Cav could beat him then as we'll so its not just about the lead out (see 1213). Renshaw is very very good but the most important thing is the relationship between the pair."
From Ross in Blackburn, via text:
"Who is the current lanterne rouge and how far down are they in the GC? I think the race for last place is always overlooked!" Lampre's Italian rider Adriano Malori is the man with the red light at the moment - he's 2hrs 2'29" down on race leader Andy Schleck.
FatBoyW on 606:
"Wish I could get out of here and on my bike. Definitely a day to ride rather than spectate (until the last 10K anyway)."
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has picked his top three for today. Cavendish for the win with Petacchi and Edvald Boasson Hagen in second and third. He then corrected himself, perhaps after a nudge from Boasson Hagen, saying that his rider would beat Petacchi. Lead has jumped back up over four minutes. Probably more to do with the varying degrees of the slope they are currently going up than anything else.
DeGuzman on 606:
"Could someone press the FFW button. Looking forward to tomorrow's Montee Jalabert."
From Steve Bluntisham in Cambs, via text:
"I wish Cav would go for more intermediate sprint points, it frustrates me to see Hushovd picking up points at most sprints and Cav not appearing to go after the green jersey. Come on Cav!"
Getting towards the bottom of the Col de Cabre. The gradient of the road is getting ever-so-slightly steeper with each passing kilometre. About 10km before the real climb kicks in. Lead has been pulled back to 3'45".
From Dan in Wakefield, via text:
"If Cavendish has any real ambition of winning the green jersey, he needs to pick up some intermediate points. Perhaps the HTC team will try to lead him to contend all available points today to get him back in contention before it is too late?"
From Captain paperclips in London, via text:
"Although not quite to the level of Astana riders, who seem happy to constantly throw themselves to the lions at Alberto or Vinkos whim, HTC are well drilled and there's little doubt they'll have them back and panting in the next 25."
The peloton appears to have eased off slightly, allowing French duo Geslin and Auge and Spain's Benitez to open up a lead of more than four minutes with 35km gone.
From Chris in Bournemouth, via text:
"re the cav and ren double act (see 1213): Is this a new idea to have an "enforcer"? Did the other greats have an unsung hero (super mario or zabel for example)?"
The peloton has the leaders on an extremely tight leash today. The lead, which got up to 3'45" a few kilometres back, has been dragged back to 2'45" at the 23km mark. Cavendish's team continues to tap out the pace and they are clearly taking no chances, particularly with the long descent. Any thoughts on HTC Columbia closing this break down before the summit of the Col de Cabre and putting their man in place for the intermediate sprint points?
Current green jersey owner Thor Hushovd wants another stage win on this year's Tour, whether he is targeting today in unclear, but here's what he had to say. "The big battle for the green jersey started today," he said after stage 10. "Now every point matters. We'll have to battle every day and I have to grab points when I can. I am going to try and win another stage. That would be the best way to gain some points."
Around 22km ridden today and Geslin, Auge and Benitez continue on their merry way but the peloton is refusing to let them have too big a lead. Cavendish's HTC Columbia team and the Lampre riders are controlling the pace.
From Phil in Swindon, via text:
"Why do they even bother with a breakaway in a stage like this? Surely it's just a waste of their energy? No way will the sprinter's teams ever let it succeed, they'll just taunt them with a lead that's never quite big enough!" Phil - it's about getting some much-needed TV exposure for their sponsors. And sometimes they do manage to stay away, although that is hugely unlikely today!
From Ange, Upper Crust, Watford Junction, via text:
"Get stuck in there Cav! Give us a phat one!"
Of our leading trio, Jose Benitez is the best placed, although I don't think Andy Schleck and his Saxo Bank team will be too concerned given he is 92 minutes and three seconds back in the overall standings. The lead is holding steady at around 3'30".
From Ben in Milton Keynes, via text:
"How good would Cav be without Renshaw? Is there a better lead out man?"
It's not a day to worry about the yellow jersey. Luxembourg's Andy Schleck starts as race leader and should, barring him falling off and breaking several bones, end the day in yellow.
The opening 50km or so are steadily uphill until the riders reach the 5km climb up Col de Cabre. It's the only classified climb of the day and ranked at category three so will pose few problems. The leaders have an advantage of approaching four minutes after 12km.
mape_ventura on 606:
"The full HTC train will be out on show at the end of today after having basically a rest yesterday. Can't see past a Cav win."
Our leaders are already opening up a lead of around two minutes. Cofidis rider Auge made the initial dash and he was quickly joined by FDJ's Geslin and Footon's Benitez. Bit more on Hunter - he has pulled out with a fractured arm - can't blame him really I suppose.
1202: Here's how you can get involved during today's 184.5km ride from Sistero to Bourg-les-Valence: Please use
or text us your views & comments on 81111
(UK) or +44 7786200666
(worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)
So, who's your money on today? Will anyone be able to stop the Renshaw/Cav double act from succeeding again? Will the likes of Garmin have finally sussed out HTC Columbia's plans for a sprint finish - namely getting Renshaw to trail other team's lead-out men before powering through and bringing Cav to the front a couple of hundred metres from the line.
Britain's Charlie Wegelius has pulled out of the Tour. The Omega rider was just over 77 minutes behind race leader Andy Schleck, so I think it's safe to say he wasn't going to be troubling those chasing a podium place. South Africa's Robbie Hunter has also abandoned. Today's stage has begun with the predictable attack. Anthony Geslin, Stephane Auge and Jose-Alberto Benitez are the trio on the move.
There's only one cat-three climb, in the opening 60km of the day, and then a steady descent into Bourg-Les-Valance, with two intermediate sprints, for the remaining 120km or so. We should be in for a big old sprint finish. The race organisers apparently toyed with another stage in the Alpine foothills before settling on this route. Probably a good idea considering how yesterday turned out. Not taking anything away from Sergio Paulinho's victory, but it wasn't the most gripping of days, was it?
"It's the first sprint day for a few days and we'll do our best for a win," said Cavendish ahead of today's 11th stage, which has been specifically set-up for the sprinters. If he does win, it will be the 13th Tour de France stage win of his career, surpassing his sprint mentor at HTC Columbia Erik Zabel's total of 12. The riders are currently rolling through today's three-and-a-bit kilometre neutral zone in preparation for an 1155 start.
Morning all. Wednesday wasn't the easiest of days for the sprinters, particularly with the category-two climb up Col du Noyer in the final 40km. But Cav's finish showed the HTC Columbia rider still harbours green jersey ambitions, although he starts the day back in fifth place, 41 points behind leader Hushovd and 34 behind second-placed Petacchi. There are 35 points on offer for today's stage winner.
A fantastic effort by Mark Cavendish, outsprinting green points jersey rivals Alessandro Petacchi and Thor Hushovd, to finish ninth in yesterday's stage into Gap.