2011 Tour de France – Stage 7 Wrap-up

Pavé would like to thank Handspun, Clément, and Laekhouse for supporting our coverage of the 2011 Tour de France.

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Today’s 218-kilometer Stage 7 from Le Mans to Chateauroux was expected to be relatively straightforward compared to what we’ve seen so far in the first week of the 2011 Tour de France. And while the stage result was what many were expecting, what happened on the way certainly was not. Here’s a quick rundown of what we saw:

1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Marc Madiot once say that he likes to hold his riders back from breakaway during the Tour’s first week, keeping them fresh for second and third? With not one but two men in today’s long move, Madiot seems to have reconsidered his strategy. While you can’t fault the boys for trying, you have to wonder if the team will have any legs left after the race hits the Pyrenees.

2. Tom Boonen abandoned the race today due to the injuries he sustained from a crash during Stage 5. First, give Boonen credit for signing a new contract before the race. If hadn’t, such a disastrous Tour might have done to his asking price.

3. Quick Step’s entire tour is currently in jeopardy, with the loss of Boonen and the flagging fortunes of French Champion Sylvain Chavanel.  Chavanel appears visibly uncomfortable due to his dislocated shoulder, and while he’s making every effort to stay in the race, its clear he’s in significantly pain.  Can he hold in there long enough to attempt to save the tour for Quick Step in week two or three?  If he does abandon, will someone like Niki Terpstra be able to avoid another photographer-on-motorcycle attack to salvage their tour?

But the day’s biggest disaster struck the peloton later as a massive pile-up with 40km ruined the Tour de France of several major contenders.

By the time the dust settled, Bradley Wiggins had abandoned the race with a broken collarbone, and almost half of the race–including Radio Shack’s Levi Leipheimer–lost over 3 minutes after being held up by the melee. Even worse for the The Shack, Chris Horner was the day’s last rider to finish and was later diagnosed with a concussion and broken nose, two injuries that could force the American GC-hope to abandon the Tour as well. Then again, even if he remains, his GC hopes are effectively finished.

As it stands, here’s the virtual GC heading into’s tomorrow’s summit finish to Super Besse:

1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01
2. Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:00:04
3. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:10
4. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:20
6. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:00:32
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:39
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:03
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:12
10. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:01:42
11. Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:57
12. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
13. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:36
14. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:04:28
15. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:04:29
16. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:05:35
17. Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 0:12:59

As incredible as it sounds, some fairly large time gaps already exist. That said, don’t expect fireworks tomorrow. Super-Besse failed to provide major time gaps in 2008, when Stefen Shumaker lost the yellow jersey after crashing in the final sprint. That said, the run-in this year is different, with the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix Saint-Robert coming right before the final climb. I expect we’ll see a group of about 20-30 riders hit the line together, with Frank Schleck taking the stage and Cadel Evans the yellow jersey.

Who do you think will win tomorrow?  Will the fortunes of Quick Step improve?  Has Radio Shack finally been whittled down to one general contention rider?  Let us know in a comment below!

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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4 Responses to 2011 Tour de France – Stage 7 Wrap-up

  1. Jason says:

    It really is unfortunate for Wiggins and Horner, as both men were riding with what was probably the best form of the their careers. The first week of the Tour is always chaotic somebody has to be "the nail", but it's too bad it had to be two such like-able guys this year.

  2. Jean-Pierre says:

    well, there goes wiggins. i was actually crushed when he was holding his shoulder. the sky guys were just waiting for their leader. really thought wiggins could do something special this year.

    never loved horner but yeah, at 39 and after that monster win at ToC, its a real shame to see him gone too.

    super strong HTC team today…not just avoiding crashes but all 9 guys up front at the end.

  3. Jeff says:

    I'm with you J-P. With what everyone has been saying about him being on the form of his life, Wiggins could really have been poised to fulfill the potential we saw a couple years ago.

  4. Pappy says:

    Yeah, too for Wiggo, but he'll survive. he's got a superstar ego and a huge salary, so don't feel so bad. It's same to say that he wasn't about to challenge for the win or even the place.

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