Arvesen Wins Stage 11 of 2008 Tour de France
Kurt Asle Arvesen (CSC) has won Stage 11 of the Tour de France. The Norwegian took a three-up sprint at the end of a daylong break to win the hilly, 167.5-km run from Lannemezan to Foix in 3:58:13. Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) finished second, and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) took third. Cadel Evans (Silence) remains the maillot jaune.
The racing began as soon as the race cleared the neutral zone in Lannemezan. Rabobank and Credit Agricole cooperated to chase down at least half a dozen attacks. At 35 km, Arvesen attacked, and the break of the day formed. The escapees were Arvesen, Alexander Botcharov and Dmitri Fofonov (both from Credit Agricole), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Marco Velo (Milram), Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), Ballan, Elmiger, and Gert Steegmans (Quick Step). At 49.5 km, the baker's dozen led the field by 4:00.
The break had no GC threats in it, and Silence did not chase. The fugitives' advantage ballooned to 15:10 at the base of the Category 1 Col de Portel, which had never been used in the Tour before. Moinard reckoned that he had no chance with riders such as Ballan and Pozzato in the break and attacked on the climb. He led the rest of the break by 2:00 at the summit.
Behind, Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked from the peloton. The bunch kept the 2006 Tour de France champion on a short leash and reeled him in at about the same time that Moinard breasted the summit of the Category 3 Col de Bouich. With 10 km left, Moinard's advantage was down to 0:15.
With four km later, Arvesen and Elmiger caught and dropped Moinard, and Ballan joined the pair with two km left. In the last km, Moerenhout joined the trio, and the four began to play cat and mouse. With 200 m left, Arvesen attacked and held on for the win.
In the overall, Evans leads Frank Schleck (CSC) by 0:01 and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) by 0:38. Stage 12 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 168.5-km run from Lavelanet to Narbonne will see some early friskiness, but the field should come together in time for a sprint finish. Who will win the stage? Oscar Freire (Rabobank)? Robbie McEwen (Silence)? Robert Hunter (Barloworld)? Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!