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Mark Cavendish, the fastest man takes stage 11 TDF

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Mark Cavendish took win number 5 today and is back in the green jeresy. No real effect on the General Classification, leaving AG2R’s Rinaldo Nocentini in yellow, and Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong within close reach of the leader’s jersey.

The Course:

Today’s stage from Vatan to Saint Fargeu was relatively flat, with rolling terrain and two Category 4 climbs: the Côte d’Allogny, which begins at kilometer 44, lasts 1.5km and averages 4.5 percent and at km 148, the – Côte de Perreuselasts (2km, 4.6 percent).

The Breakdown:

The day started out calm with very few attacks. The pace was considerably higher than yesterday, offering few opportunities for a breakaway. It wasn’t until the first intermediate sprint at Quincy (km 26.5) that Johan Van Summeren (Silence Lotto) and Marcin Sapa (Lampre) got away.

By km 55, the leaders gap had stabilized at around 4′30″. The pace stayed high, averaging around 44 km/h. At that speed, it would be hard for the break to stay out front for very long.

By the time that the feed zone at km 96.5 comes around the gap has started to drop – 3′30″. As tends to happen, the leaders get a little lift in time, because the peloton has to be more careful through the feed zone than the two riders out in front.

Much like yesterday, AG2R and Columbia are at the fore of the peloton, driving the pace up. By the 50 km mark, with the Côte de Perreuselasts ahead of them, the leader’s advantage has fallen to just over two minutes.

Ryder Hesjedal went over his bars after touching wheels with another rider, but he was back up continued down the road. Nasty looking crash, though.

While Van Summeren and Sapa pose no threat to the G.C., we did not expect that the peloton would let these two go. Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) , of course, would like another sprint win. Also, after fighting for his right to race this year, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has been relatively silent, and some were expecting that he might put on a show today. Neither Boonen or Cavendish are in the position to knock sprint leader Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) out of the green jersey today, though.

With less than 30 km to go, the gap was down to 1′15″ and a catch looked more and more likely. Columbia, Garmin and Rabobank were leading the chase. At 22 km the gap was 50 seconds. The end was near.

Fabian Cancellara was seen moving Andy Schleck to the front of the peloton. While the younger Schleck is not known as a sprinter, he may want to try something today. He’s been marked by many as a potential winner, but he’s been pretty quiet so far.

With 15km remaining, the gap is 30 seconds.

At the 5 km mark, Van Summeren and Sapa sit up and let the peloton flow around them. Garmin, Columbia and Milram all jockeyed to position themselves for the sprint. Liquigas was pushing as well, but seemed to be a little late to the dance.

Much like yesterday, it was Hushovd, then Farrar, but ultimately Cavendish making the final strong kick to cross first. Hushovd faded back to 5th at the end, so it looks like Cav will get the green jersey back.

Results:

1. Mark Cavendish

2. Farrar

3.

General Classification:

1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale, 39:11:04
2. Alberto Contador Astana, at 0:06
3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:08
4. Levi Leipheimer Astana at 00:39
5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream at 00:46

  TOUR de FRANCE

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