Saturday, 10 July 2010

Chavanel takes 2nd stage win and the Maillot Jaune as the race enters the Alps

Once more Chavanel ripped the Maillot Jaune from the back of Saxo Bank rider, Fabian Cancellara, as the alpine mountains began to rip into the peloton. His team mate and leader of the King of the Mountains competition Jerome Pineau had bravely fought to remain in the polka dot jersey as part of a 3 man breakaway that did well to stay out for much of the day.

In the heat that saw the last 4km turn to treacle as the tarmac melted under their wheels, the brave breakaway riders were caught one by one as attacks came off the peloton which charged over the ever increasing climbs with a phenomenal pace that saw the sprinters, and for a time yellow jersey rider, Fabian Cancellara, fall one by gone off the back. With Cancellara struggling, for a time, Britain's Garaint Thomas was the virtual yellow jersey on the road, as Cancellara seemed unable to take the gruelling pace being set out by the leaders of the pack. The Team Sky rider did his best to maintain a lead over the Suisse rider, but the effort was all to much for the young British National Champion. On the last climb he was forced to lessen his own pace as Cancellara regained his time.

The attacks off the front saw Quickstep rider, Chavanel bridge the gap to his team mate, Pineau who, having fought hard to take all the available King of the Mountains points on the stage, could hold out no more. A quick exchange of words between the team mates lead to Chavanel being given the green light to go for it, and the Frenchman was off, a stage victory almost certain.

Behind him Valls Ferri (FOT) tore down the final decent, taking 2nd place. Voeckler, who had earlier attacked off the front of the peloton, taking a handful of riders with him, was rewarded with fourth place. While the polka dot jersey remained safely with Pineau and the green on the back of Hushovd, Thomas' efforts and subsequent time loss saw Andy Schleck (Sax) take the Maillot Blanc of the young riders. With Cancellara finishing in the peloton behind the attackers, Chavanel was rewarded with a return to the coverted Golden Fleece.

Tomorrow the race will head into the Alps proper, with 4 climbs, off which the 3rd is a category 1 climb of Col de la Ramaz, and 3 sprint opportunities, the final just 14km before the finish in Morzine-Avoraiz. This stage will see the peloton ascend high altitude that will be a possibilty for some attacks, perhaps including defending champion, Alberto Contador (Ast). For the first time in sixteen years, Avoraiz welcomes the Tour. Latvian Piotr Ugrumov, who was the Tour’s runner-up in 1994, triumphed before winning the following day’s stage as well. With a repos the following day, tomorrow's stage winner will be able to enjoy some respite before attempting to repeat Ugrumov's feat.

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