Vanendert Climbs to Victory in Stage 14
Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won Stage 14 of the 2011 Tour de France.
Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won Stage 14 of the 2011 Tour de France. The Belgian turned the tables on Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), to whom he finished second in Stage 12. Vanendert won the mountainous, 168.5-km stage from Saint Gaudens to Plateau de Beille in 5:13:25. Sanchez finished second at 0:21, and Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) at 0:46. Amazingly, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) remains the maillot jaune.
An early break was expected, and it took place at eight km. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi); David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo); Jens Voigt and Linus Gerdemann (both from Leopard-Trek); Kristjan Koren (Liquigas-Cannondale); Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step); Remy Di Gregorio (Astana); Maxime Bouet and Christophe Riblon (both from Ag2r); Sandy Casar, Mickael Delage, and Arthur Vichot (all from Francaise des Jeux); Anthony Charteau (Europcar); Manuel Quinziato (BMC); Julien El Fares (Cofidis); Egor Selin (Katusha); Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM); and Xabier Zandio (Sky) went off of the front. Behind, a chase group formed that included Jerome Pineau (Quick Step); Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD); Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi); Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Rui Alberto Costa, and Francisco Ventoso (all from Movistar); and Maxim Iglinsky (Astana). Gutierrez, Iglinsky, and Ventoso dropped back to the peloton, but the others pressed on and bridged up to the break at 46 km.
On the descent of the Category 1 Col de la Core, Casar and El Fares attacked and Millar joined them. With 88 km left, the trio led their former companions by one minute and the Europcar-led peloton by more than seven minutes. Millar was dropped on the Category 1 Col d'Agnes, but Silin, Riblon, Di Gregorio, Voigt, Charteau, Zandio, Izagirre, Gerdemann, and Chavanel joined the pair.
Leopard-Trek began to drive the peloton. Ahead, Izagirre attacked on the descent of the Agnes. Voigt crashed twice on the descent. The German veteran, who was badly injured in a 2009 Tour crash, was not seriously hurt this time, but his time in the break was over.
With 34 km remaining, Izagirre led the chase group by one minute and the yellow jersey group by 5:15. In the valley leading to the Plateau de Beille, the chasers began attacking each other. The heightened tempo allowed them to catch Izagirre.
Chavanel attacked, and Moreno and Sanchez joined him. Behind, five chasers set out after the three leaders, who waited for them. The rest of the break awaited the peloton.
At the base of the Plateau de Beille, with the peloton about two minutes behind the leaders, Moreno attacked. Leopard-Trek led the yellow jersey group onto the climb. Casar and Riblon attacked, and with 10 km left, Casar led the yellow jersey group by 1:23.
Two km later, Andy Schleck made the first of a series of attacks. On each occasion, the heads of state followed him. Casar led the yellow jersey group by 0:50 with eight km remaining, One km later, the Frenchman led the heads of state by 0:47.
Then Vanendert took his shot. The yellow jersey group members were more concerned about each other than they were about the Belgian, who forged a 17-second lead and caught and dropped Casar with six km left.
With five km to go, Vanendert led the yellow jersey group by 0:28. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) made a couple of accelerations, but he accomplished nothing but the dropping of Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).
With four km remaining and Vanendert leading the yellow jersey group by 0:38, Samuel Sanchez made his move. Two km later, Basso attacked again, but the other heads of state shut down the move.
Vanendert was exultant as he crossed the finish line. After the stage, the Omega Pharma-Lotto man, who had just won his first professional victory, said, "I came to this Tour in great condition. I was very strong in the spring classics and then I took a break, with a training camp in Italy and later the Dauphine. The team supported me, and I am in my best shape now."
Vanendert added, "The other GC rivals were watching each other, so that opened up a window for me. There were a lot of attacks early. I decided to wait until we were higher on the climb before making my move."
The other big winner was Voeckler, who was not expected to keep his yellow jersey. The Frenchman said, "I was able to follow, but I was really suffering, but that was the same for everyone," he said. "The objective today was to keep the yellow jersey. I expected to lose some time today and I thought it would be a question of seconds. I never thought that I would be able to stay with the favorites."
In the overall, Voeckler leads Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Cadel Evans (BMC) at 2:06. Stage 15 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 193-km run from Limoux to Montpellier should end in a cavalry charge. Who will win it? Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)? Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and www.roadcycling.mobi to find out!