Thursday, 14 July 2011

Samuel Sanchez scores stage victory at Luz-Ardiden

As the crowds congregated on the colossal climbs of the Pyrenees the peloton carved its way from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden where Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Samuel Sanchez scored the victory ahead of Tour debutant Belgian Jelle Vanendert.

The hero of the hour however was Britain's Geraint Thomas who worked hard in the inital six man breakway, overcoming rear break problems that saw him skid onto the verge twice to regain his position; his high points of the day being his virtual yellow as the break notched up 7 minutes over the main bunch, and jumping off the front, following a brief regroup with the bunch, alongside Jeremy Roy holding out until 7km from the finish.

Despite riding face first into a parked peugeot on the same corner that Thomas experienced sticky breaks, Voeckler fought hard to maintain his overall lead. Three other riders were also caught up in the foray including Andreas Kloden.

With the Schleck brothers dictating the torturous fast pace of the last 17km climb of the Col du Tormalet,polkadotted Hoogerland and white-jersey wearer Robert Gesink were among many to be forced to sit up and drop back into the sprinters huddle known as the grupetto. Bidding their time, the Luxembourg pair waited until the ascent to the finish at Luz-Ardiden to make their attacks. With Evans matching their every move, the Schlecks aimed their damaging blows at Contador. With Frank almost catching the leaders to finish 3rd on stage 12, the Spanish two-times Tour winner Contador slipped back losing the wheels of Basso and Evans to finish 7th.

Tomorrow the peloton will make their way from Pau to Lourdes via the Aubisque. One for the breakaway specialists with no summit finish, the attacks will be limited as the climbers try to psychologically get an edge over their rivals without expending energy.

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