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TDF Stage 20 - The Final Test For Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, Wiggins, Kloden, and Schleck

Yup, this is a biggie, folks. Today’s stage features five climbs, ending with only the third mountain-top finish of this Tour. And to make things more interesting, organizers saved the hardest for the day before the finish in Paris. To quote Octave Lapize from the 1910 Tour de France, when the race first went up the Tourmalet: "Assassins!" Image and Caption Credit: steephill.tv

TDF Stage 20 - The Final Test For Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, Wiggins, Kloden, and Schleck

At 20km to the final summit in the final climb and the teams of the lead riders are at the front of the peloton, ripping it away from the rest of the field. We pick up the final mountain stage in the penultimate stage of the Tour de France at the bottom of Mont Ventoux with the Teams of Team Garmin-Slipstream for Bradley Wiggins (4), Team Astana for Alberto Contador (1), Lance Armstrong (3), and Andreas Kloden (5) and Team Saxo Bank for Andy Schleck (2), and Frank Schleck (6).

They are flying up Mont Ventoux with the jersey's unzipped and flapping in the wind. Pumping peddles and challenges from the Schleck brothers are taking it to Contador and Armstrong and both riders are covering every move!

The unrelenting gradient, the length, and the exposed terrain make Mont Ventoux one of the more difficult climbs in cycling. From Bédoin, the Mont Ventoux gains 1622 meters and requires 22.7 kilometers of uninterrupted climbing. The average gradient is 7.6%, but nearly half the climb ascends at gradients between 9% and 10%. Though lower slopes ascend under a pine forest canopy, the majority of the climb passes through exposed open terrain as the road snakes through white limestone scree to the summit. Wind is a frequent visitor to Mont Ventoux. The Mistral winds, a dry wind out of the north, blow through the Provence region and can hit speeds exceeding 100 km/hr. When they occur, the high winds exponentially increase the difficulty of this climb. Image and Caption Credit: steephill.tv

This excerpted and edited from steephill.tv-

Profile Details - Montélimar → Mont-Ventoux

This year's edition of the Ventoux stage takes a hilly route to the Géant. It sets out from Montélimar and begins a gradual ascent to the first climb of the day, the category 3 Côte de Citelle. The Côte climbs 5.2 kilometers at a relatively easy gradient and summits at kilometer 14. It offers a nice warm-up and may send the early breakaway on its merry way.

A brief descent follows this early climb and the stage crosses bumpy terrain as it passes through Salles-sous-Bois, Montbrison-sur-Lez, and Rousset-les-Vignes. The first intermediate sprint takes place in Les Pilles at kilometer 48. From Les Pilles, the course climbs gradually to the second categorized climb of the day. A picturesque climb on narrow roads, the Col d’Ey carries at category 3 rating. It lasts 6.7 kilometers and climbs at a steady gradient of 4.8%. The narrow road wraps around the hill and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside cultivated with Lavender and vineyards.

After descending the Col d’Ey, the stage climbs again almost immediately. After passing through Eygarliers, the riders will climb the Col de Fontaube, a category 4 col. The Col de Fontaube climbs 4.7 kilometers at an average gradient of 4.2%. This is not an especially difficult ascent and none of the favorites will have any difficulty here. The Col de Fontaube summits at kilometer 87.

The next 30 kilometers cover rolling terrain. The stage passes through Aurel at kilometer 105 before climbing the fourth climb of the day. The Col des Abeilles lasts 7.7 kilometers and has an average gradient of 4%. Though some riders may be feeling the effects of the repeated climbing, the Col des Abeilles is nothing to fear. The organizers have given the climb a category 3 rating as a consequence of its length more than its pitch, which is not especially difficult. From the summit of the Col des Abeilles, there remains 45.5 kilometers to race, including 21.1 kilometers of hors catégorie goodness.

The road descends for the next 17 kilometers to the second intermediate sprint at Mormoiron at kilometer 138.5. The road begins to climb just after the sprint, and 5.5 kilometers later, the riders will reach Bédoin. This town signals the start of the final climb of the day, Mont Ventoux.
Reference Here>>

This from VeloNews(VN), CyclingNews(CN), Versus(VS), and various resources -

(CN) 1.
13:32 GMT - 20km to go for the breakaway. Garmin are also riding hard behind, showing that they too can put the pressure on.
2.
13:34 GMT - The Roche group is now 1'05" back...that's a pity, he had a chance of getting into the top 20 in his first Tour.

Cancellara has blown now. Cavendish sits up from a group...probably the second group on the road, not certain. He smiles at the camera - no worries.
3.
13:35 GMT - Posthuma leads the break, 18.6km from the top of the climb. They have just 3'57" now, so it's very unlikely any of those will win today.

David Millar now hits the front of the Contador group, driving the speed up again. Wiggins sits on his wheel.

Up front, Arrieta jumps...Martin goes after him.
4.
13:37 GMT - Garate, Riblon and Martin are together now. They have a sidewind but it's just 14km/h at this point.

Will be interesting to see if this acceleration in pace behind will affect Contador. He's lighter than most of the other riders and might be more affected by the wind.
5.
13:38 GMT - Garate goes again....he gets a gap on Martin and Arrieta. They get him back.

Millar still leads behind, Wiggins and VDV on his wheel. They have to give their all on this climb - Wiggins has a chance to be the best-ever British finisher in the Tour if he can finish higher than fourth. Robert Millar has that distinction until now.
6.
13:40 GMT (15.9km remaining from 167km) - Millar is getting every last bit of energy out.

The leading riders have 15.9km to go...3'24 is the gap. That's not enough.
1.
13:44 GMT (14km remaining from 167km) - The crowds are really big here....huge.. Hincapie has been dropped from the Contador group. Saxo Bank are driving it now...
2.
13:45 GMT - Vande Velde, Karpets, Astarloza (Euskaltel), Jurgen Van Den Broucke (Silence Lotto) are with the Contador group...so too the Schlecks, Wiggins, and about 20 others..
3.
13:46 GMT - This is going to be absolute mayhem...the group will explode on the climb.
4.
13:49 GMT - Chris Anker Sorensen is dropped, so too Cyril Lemoine (Skil Shimano). Karpets is also gone now...
5.
13:50 GMT (12km remaining from 167km) - Martin and Garate have slightly distanced Riblon.
6.
13:50 GMT - Frank Schleck attacks! He's jumped...Armstrong goes with him...
(VN)3:51
CPelkey:

Frank Schleck is still taking digs... Contador is staying with him, too.
3:51
EuroHoody:

One Garmin got popped, looks like Vande Velde
3:51
EuroHoody: Wiggins still there
3:51
CPelkey: Andy goes!
3:51
EuroHoody: Vandenbroucke is there for Silence
3:51
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck takes over!
3:51
CPelkey:

Andy Schleck is at the front, setting tempo. He has Contador, Armstrong, Frank ....
3:51
EuroHoody: Astaloza, VdV off back
3:52
CPelkey: Wiggo is there, too.
3:52
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck ramps it up again, AC marks the move
3:52
EuroHoody: Danglers are 2:37 off the front with 12km to go
3:52
CPelkey: And again... Andy Schleck goes again. Contador is with him.
3:52
EuroHoody:

Armstrong fighting back
3:53
EuroHoody: ASchleck ramps it up again!
3:53
CPelkey: Armstrong chases... almost joins and Andy hits the gas again.
3:53
EuroHoody: Contador glued to his wheel
3:53
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is back with Armstrong who is losing seconds...
3:53
EuroHoody: Kloden OFF the back
3:54
CPelkey: Armstrong has regained contact. Frank Schleck and Wiggins are there, too.
3:54
EuroHoody: Andy S, Contador, Nibali, LA, Kreuziger, FSchleck and Wiggins
3:54
EuroHoody: ASchleck ramps again!
3:54
EuroHoody: Contador follows
3:54
CPelkey: Andy Schleck has only Contador with him.
3:55
EuroHoody: Watch for Frank Schleck to bridge up - if he can
3:55
CPelkey: Frank Schleck has Armstrong glomped on to his wheel.
3:55
EuroHoody: 5 at front: LA, AC, the two Schlecks and Wiggins
3:56
EuroHoody: Nibali is there, too
3:56
EuroHoody: 6 at front for GC group
3:57
CPelkey: Frank Schleck takes a dig... Armstrong goes with him, though, as does the rest of the group.
3:57
EuroHoody: Looks like orders are for Contador to mark ASchleck, and LA to mark FSchleck
3:57
EuroHoody: Garate and Martin are still dangling at 2:15
3:57
EuroHoody: Kloden 45sec off the AC-LA group
3:58
CPelkey: The two leaders are 10km from the finish.
3:58
EuroHoody: Contador group is picking up some leftovers from the breakaway
(CN) 1.
13:57 GMT - Frank Schleck goes, Armstrong marks him... Contador, Wiggins and Nibali are there....and Andy Schleck, of course...
2.
13:59 GMT (10km remaining from 167km) - The leaders are just 2'15 ahead.. Kloden is coming back, so too Van den Broeck..

10 km for the leaders...
3.
14:00 GMT - Wiggins looks good...he's just followed so far, saving his energy....
#
14:03 GMT (8.8km remaining from 167km) - Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, first and second overall, are clear and leaving the others behind... Van den Broeck attacks...

The Armstrong/Wiggins group are going quite slow now....they have been cracked by Schleck's acceleration.. But those fighting for third overall are all together.

----------
Situation:

Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and Tony Martin (Columbia HTC)

Joost Postuma (Rabobank), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Anthony Geslin (Française des Jeux), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Maxime Bouet (Agritubel), Cyril Lemoine (Skil Shimano), Mickael Delage (Silence Lotto) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) at 0.32

Alberto Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin), Lance Armstrong (Astana), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 2.00

Bradley Wiggins and Frank Schleck only need to gain from 16 to 18 seconds respectively in order to take a podium position from Lance Armstrong.

(VN)4:04
EuroHoody: LA is 20sec behind Contador, ASchleck, with Bouet hitching a wheel from the break
4:05
CPelkey: Man, Martin looks shelled up there. He is still hanging with Garate, but the boy looks tired.
4:05
EuroHoody: Nibali is reaching ASchleck and Contador, Bouet's "free ride" is over
4:06
CPelkey: Wiggins is stepping it up at the front of the Armstrong/FSchleck group
4:06
EuroHoody: Wiggo on the front, with FSchleck, LA, Kloden, Van Den Broeck, Kreuzisger about 20sec back
4:06
EuroHoody: Garate, Martin still dangling at 1:46
4:17
CPelkey: The wind is considerably lighter .... but it is a headwind.
4:18
EuroHoody: Pellizotti has trimmed leader's gap to 1:24
4:18
CPelkey: It's Kloden and Armstrong setting tempo at the front of the yellow jersey group.
4:18
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck attacks!
4:18
EuroHoody: Frank Schleck on his wheel!
4:18
CPelkey: Andy Schleck attacks!
Frank goes too!
4:19
EuroHoody: Kloden popped
4:19
EuroHoody: Wiggins pulls up, Contador and Armstrong
4:19
CPelkey: Contador and Armstrong fight back on.
4:19
EuroHoody: Nibali there, too
4:19
CPelkey: Nibali, too
4:20
EuroHoody: As many are commenting, those four seconds that Armstrong "won" yesterday could pay huge dividends
4:20
CPelkey: Garate and Martin are about 3.3km from the summit. They look like they are marching to an execution ... and here comes Pellizotti.
4:21
EuroHoody: The Schlecks cannot shake Armstrong ... not yet, at least
4:21
CPelkey: Wiggo pops
4:21
EuroHoody: Wiggins struggling!

4:21
EuroHoody: Nibali on Wiggins' wheel
----
4:27
EuroHoody: He has 45sec gap with 1km to go
4:28
EuroHoody: Schlecks have to drop Armstrong if they want to move FSchleck up on the podium
4:28
EuroHoody: Wiggins is clawwwwwwwwwwwwwing back
4:28
EuroHoody: Andy setting tempo, Contador grimacing
4:29
CPelkey: Oh man... the Schleck/Contador group is coming up on Pellizotti
4:29
EuroHoody: Now we have the two Schlecks, Armstrong and Contador
4:29
EuroHoody: Martin counters!
4:29
CPelkey: Wow...
4:29
EuroHoody: Catches Garate
4:29
EuroHoody: Of these two, my personal choice to win would be Martin
4:30
CPelkey: Martin at the front. A Strong cross wind.
4:30
EuroHoody:

Pellizotti about to be caught by chasing foursome
4:30
CPelkey: And they're not that far behind the two leaders, either.
4:30
EuroHoody: Martin and Garate have gap to win the stage

4:31
EuroHoody: Pellizotti caught by Schleck group
4:31
CPelkey: Pellizotti is in there.
4:31
EuroHoody: Garate attacks on last switchback
4:31
CPelkey: Garate goes again... He wins
4:31
EuroHoody: Wins!

4:31
EuroHoody: Looking good for Armstrong to conserve third!

4:31
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck sweeps into final switchback, sprinting for third
4:31
CPelkey: Andy Schleck comes across for third.
4:32
CPelkey: Contador, then Armstrong
4:32
EuroHoody: Contador fourth, Armstrong fifth, FSchleck 6th

4:32
CPelkey: Wiggo is fighting to hold his GC spot... good work
4:32
EuroHoody: Wiggins might have kept 5th

(CN)14:31 GMT

Pellizotti has been caught...Andy S. and Contador sige by side...

Garate goes for it! He gets the win...wow, that came up fast. Martin next.
5.
14:32 GMT

Andy Schleck leads them around the last bend.....he's going for second....
6.
14:33 GMT

He gets third, with Contador on his wheel...looking very comfortable. He waves at the crowd. Armstrong is gapped but is next across the line, securing third in Paris. Frank Schleck was also there, but Wiggins lost time... He was perhaps 30 second back...
--------
Situation:

Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and Tony Martin (Columbia HTC)

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 1.42

Alberto Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin), Lance Armstrong (Astana), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Andreas Kloden (Astana) and Maxime Bouet (Agritubel) at 1.59

(VN)4:34
CPelkey:

# 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
4:34
EuroHoody: Great ride by Armstrong - keeps podium spot - not bad for a guy pushing 38!
4:35
# CPelkey: 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
# 8. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:56
# 9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:58
# 10. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:03
4:35
EuroHoody: Garate's win saves a disastrous Tour for Rabobank
4:36
EuroHoody: Wiggins keeps 4th by 3sec
4:37
# CPelkey: 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
# 8. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:56
# 9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:58
# 10. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:03
# 11. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence - Lotto at 01:39
# 12. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 01:42
# 13. Christophe Riblon Ag2r La Mondiale at 01:47
# 14. Joost Posthuma Rabobank at 01:56
# 15. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 02:26
# 16. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 02:34
# 17. Maxime Bouet Agritubel at 02:42
# 18. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 02:44
4:39
CPelkey: Well here's a look at the GC picture after this tough, tough stage:

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 3295.5km in 81:46:17
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 4:11
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 05:24
# 4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 06:01
# 5. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 06:04
# 6. Andréas Kloden Astana at 06:42
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 07:35
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 12:04
# 9. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 14:16
# 10. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 14:25
# 11. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 14:44

4:41
CPelkey: Well, we usually reserve that one for the end of an escape attempt, but as far as the GC picture is concerned, this Tour is over. All that's left is the parade into Paris.
END OF UPDATES