The main general classification riders marked each other closely in Stage 7 of the Tour de France this afternoon as Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step overhauled team-mate Jerome Pineau on the day’s final climb, the Category 2 Cote de Lamoura, to win in Station des Rouses in the Jura Mountains. In doing so, Chavanel moved back into the race leader’s maillot jaune that he had worn on Tuesday after winning at Spa the previous day.
Then, the French rider, the sole survivor of a day-long breakaway, had profited from a nervous peloton, led by Team Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara, effectively neutralising the race following a series of crashes in the Ardennes, allowing him to solo to the stage win.
The Quick Step rider, who had staged a remarkable recovery after suffering a fractured skull in late April, sported the maillot jaune for just 24 hours before Cancellara took it back from him on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles that were so decisive in Tuesday’s Stage 3 to Arenberg Porte de Hainaut.
However, today there was no question today of him benefiting from any largesse on the Team Saxo Bank rider’s part as Cancellara, spending the 21st day of his Tour de France career in yellow – the end of his stints in the jersey often coinciding with the arrival of the mountains – fell off the back of the main bunch on the day’s penultimate climb, the Col de la Croix de la Serra.
Although the Swiss rider used his descending skills to rejoin the group on the way to the foot of the final ascent, he was struggling once more as the road went upwards again, and eventually came home nearly a quarter of an hour behind the winner, marshalled by team-mates Jens Voigt and Matti Breschel.
After crossing the line, Chavanel revealed that as he reached his team-mate Pineau, the latter urged him to “Go, go!” having himself run out of steam after going of the front of the race with four other riders just five kilometres after the start of the 165.5km stage in Tournus.
That Pineau was in that break was little surprise – yesterday, the Frenchman had put the peloton on notice yesterday that he planned to get into an early attack in an attempt to hold onto the polka dot jersey for as long as possible, and he kept good to his promise, heading his fellow escapees over the day’s first five climbs.
Rafael Valls Ferri of Footon-Servetto came home second, 57 seconds down on Chavanel, while Rabobank’s Juan Manuel Garate was third, a further 30 seconds down, some 10 seconds ahead of a chasing pack that included a number of the main general classification riders.
Astana had forced the pace at the head of that group on the final ascent, with Alberto Contador closely marked by the three riders who occupied the places behind him when last year’s edition of the race finished – Team Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck, Lance Armstrong of RadioShack and Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins as well as BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans.
The latter now moves up to second in the general classification, after Geraint Thomas, previous occupant of that position, struggled on the final ascent, eventually coming in more than five minutes behind the winner, and the Team Sky rider also drops to eighth in the young riders classification, with his white jersey going to Andy Schleck
While the main pretenders to Contador’s crown may have kept their powder dry today, there are likely to be fireworks tomorrow on the first of two big mountain stages in the Alps, with 189km of riding including the Category 1 Col de la Ramaz coming 35km before a similarly categorised summit finish in Morzine-Avoriaz."
Top 20 Tour de France 2010 Stage 7
1 CHAVANEL Sylvain QUICK STEP 4h 22' 52 2 VALLS FERRI Rafael FOOTON-SERVETTO + 00' 57 3 GARATE Juan Manuel RABOBANK + 01' 27 4 VOECKLER Thomas BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM + 01' 40 5 PERGET Mathieu CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 01' 40 6 MORENO Daniel OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO + 01' 40 7 FEDRIGO Pierrick BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM + 01' 47 8 HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN-TRANSITIONS + 01' 47 9 PLAZA MOLINA Ruben CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 01' 47 10 CAPECCHI Eros FOOTON-SERVETTO + 01' 47 11 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 47 12 GERDEMANN Linus TEAM MILRAM + 01' 47 13 CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 01' 47 14 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 01' 47 15 GAUTIER Cyril BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM + 01' 47 16 ARMSTRONG Lance TEAM RADIOSHACK + 01' 47 17 MONIER Damien COFIDIS + 01' 47 18 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO + 01' 47 19 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 01' 47 20 SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK + 01' 47
Top 20 General Classification after Stage 7
1 CHAVANEL Sylvain QUICK STEP 33h 01' 23 2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 01' 25 3 HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN-TRANSITIONS + 01' 32 4 SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK + 01' 55 5 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 02' 17 6 CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 02' 26 7 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO + 02' 28 8 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 02' 28 9 VAN SUMMEREN Johan GARMIN-TRANSITIONS + 02' 33 10 MENCHOV Denis RABOBANK + 02' 35 11 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PRO CYCLING + 02' 35 12 KREUZIGER Roman LIQUIGAS-DOIMO + 03' 10 13 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 03' 11 14 ARMSTRONG Lance TEAM RADIOSHACK + 03' 16 15 LÖVKVIST Thomas SKY PRO CYCLING + 03' 20 16 VALLS FERRI Rafael FOOTON-SERVETTO + 03' 39 17 LEIPHEIMER Levi TEAM RADIOSHACK + 03' 39 18 GARATE Juan Manuel RABOBANK + 03' 44 19 BRAJKOVIC Janez TEAM RADIOSHACK + 03' 46 20 ROGERS Michael TEAM HTC-COLUMBIA + 03' 46
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.