Chavanel Wins Stage 7 of Tour, Reclaims Yellow Jersey
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) has won his second stage and his second yellow jersey of the 2010 Tour de France.
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) has won his second stage and his second yellow jersey of the 2010 Tour de France. With 14 km left, the Frenchman overtook teammate Jerome Pineau and soloed home to win Stage 7, a rugged, 165.5-km ride from Tournus to Station des Rousses, in 4:22:52. Rafael Valls Ferri (Footon-Servetto) finished second at 0:57, and Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) took third at 1:27.
The hostilities began early. In the first km, Pineau, Christian Knees (Milram), Danilo Hondo (Lampre), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) escaped from the peloton. The five fugitives led the field by more than eight minutes at 40 km. Bbox Bouygues Telecom, which was not represented in the break, was forced to chase. The gap was down to six minutes at 85 km and four minutes at 105 km.
With 43 km left and one minute separating break and bunch, Thomas Voeckler and Cyril Gautier (both from Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne), and Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharma-Lotto)attempted to bridge up to the break. The peloton's pace, the hills, and the heat were too much for maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who dropped from the bunch. He would get back on for a time but would be dropped for good and would lose 14 minutes to Chavanel by the end of the stage.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Valls Ferri joined the chase group, while Dumoulin dropped out of the break. Later, Knees and Perez were dropped as well.
Chavanel, Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha), and Garate attempted to bridge up to the Voeckler group. Chavanel succeeded. With 25 km remaining, on the descent of the day's penultimate climb, the Category 2 Col de la Croix de la Serra, Pineau and Hondo led the Voeckler group by 0:45 and the bunch by about 2:30.
Early in the climb to the finish, Pineau dropped Hondo. Behind, Chavanel dropped his companions. With 17 km left, he trailed Pineau by 0:38. Within three km, however, Chavanel had made good his deficit and taken the lead. Valls Ferri sallied away from the Voeckler group, which disintegrated.
Chavanel led Valls Ferri by 0:30 with eight km left and by 0:55 with four km to go. The Quick Stepper, who was once considered one a potential Tour champion, rode like one today en route to a much-deserved victory.
In the overall, Chavanel leads Cadel Evans (BMC) by 1:25 and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) by 1:32. Stage 8 will be a standings shaker. The 189-km ride from Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz will be the first Alpine stage of the 2010 Tour, and it will feature two Category 1 climbs in the last 50 km, including the climb to the finish. The Tour truly begins with this stage, which will decide the fates of some would-be contenders. Who will wear the yellow jersey tomorrow night? Evans? Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)? Alberto Contador (Astana)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!