Menchov Wins Stage 4 of Dauphine Libere; Leipheimer Takes Overall Lead
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has won Stage 4 of the Dauphine Libere.
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has won Stage 4 of the Dauphine Libere. The Russian took a two-up sprint from Christophe Moreau (Ag2r) to win the 186-km run from Tain-l?Hermitage to Mont Ventoux in 4:50:37. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) finished third at 0:15 and has taken the overall lead.
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From the start, the racing was aggressive. At the gun, Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Florian Stalder (Phonak), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Stephane Auge (Cofidis), Lars Bak (CSC), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step), Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), and Alessandro Vanotti (Milram) escaped. Francaise des Jeux tried to keep the break close, but the fugitives led by six minutes at 107 km. At 146 km, Phonak replaced Francaise des Jeux at the front.
At the base of Mont Ventoux, the break led the bunch by 3:00. Vanotti attacked his companions, but Vasseur countered and dropped the Italian. Behind, Alexander Vinokourov (Liberty Seguros) and overall leader Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) were dropped.
Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile) attacked from what remained of the peloton. The Spaniard caught and dropped Vasseur but was overtaken in turn by Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel). With six km remaining, Azevedo led a group composed of Christophe Moreau and Francisco Mancebo (both from Ag2r), Maxim Iglinsky (Milram), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Sergio Paulinho (Wurth), Menchov, Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Bernhard Kohl and Sevilla (both from T-Mobile), and Leipheimer by 0:45.
Moreau began to hammer. Kohl, Leipheimer, and Menchov followed. Leipheimer assumed command, and the pace set by the American dropped Kohl. With four km left, Azevedo led the chasing trio by 0:15.
Half a km later, Azevedo was caught. Leipheimer continued to drive the group, and Azevedo was dropped with one km remaining. With 300 m left, Menchov burst into the lead and held off Moreau by half a wheel.
In the overall, Leipheimer leads Menchov by 0:28 and Gilbert by 1:08. Stage 5 will be another hard stage. The riders will climb the Category 4 Col de Sarraut and the Category 3 Col Lebraut before ascending the Hors Categorie Col d?Izoard and descending to a slightly uphill finish. Clearly, this is a stage for a climber or a small group of climbers to dominate. Who will do so? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!