Feillu Wins Stage 7 of Tour; Nocentini Takes Yellow Jersey
Brice Feillu (Agritubel) has won Stage 7 of the 2009 Tour. Feillu rode away from eight breakaway companions in the last six km to take Stage 7, the 2009 Tour's first mountain stage. The Agritubel man won the 224-km ride from Barcelona, Spain to Arcalis, Andorra in 6:11:31. Christophe Kern (Cofidis) took second at 0:05, and Johannes Frohlinger (Milram) finished third at 0:25. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) finished fourth at 0:26 and took the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).
At about 34 km, six chasers--Nocentini, Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Kern, Jerome Pineau (Quick Step), Feillu, and Frohlinger--merged with three leaders--Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r). The nine riders' lead ballooned to 14:20 at 68 km. Astana led the chase, and the bunch cut the break's advantage to 11:48 at the summit of the Category 1 Col de Serra-Seca (127 km).
Cancellara suffered a double puncture but descended the Category 3 Port del Comte furiously to return to the peloton. With 55.5 km remaining, the break led the bunch by about 12 minutes.
The nine leaders had 6:33 on the peloton with 10.7 km to go. This was where the finishing climb began. Astana continued to drive the peloton.
With five km left, the peloton was five minutes behind the break. Feillu made his move. Behind, as expected, Cancellara was dropped.
With two km remaining, Feillu led his erstwhile companions by 0:30. Behind, Cadel Evans (Silence) attacked. Lance Armstrong (Astana) took the Australian's wheel, and the rest of the bunch, led by Astana, joined the pair.
Contador attacked, and no one could follow. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin), and Evans attempted to catch the flying Spaniard, but Contador put 0:21 into the competition, taking second place overall, and enlivening the speculation about who will lead Astana.
In the overall, Nocentini leads Contador by 0:06 and Armstrong by 0:08. Stage 8, another mountain stage, will be hard, but iit will not change the overall standings. The 176.5-km run from Andorre-la-Vieille to Saint-Girons will take the riders over the Category 1 Port d'Envalira and the Col d'Agnes, but the d'Agnes occurs 40 km before the finish. Look for a group of no-hope climbers to win the day. Who will be in the group? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!