Friday, July 27, 2007

Fri, Jul 27: TdF Stage 18

Stage 18, 211km long, Cahors to Angoulême, is under way.

16:30 CEST, 51 km remaining. Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom), Axel Merckx (T-Mobile), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux) are 17:27 ahead of the peloton. Casar had crashed earlier.

No live video feed is working for me this morning, and live audio now as well.

17:01 CEST: the main NOS live feed is now working, at least intermittently, along with the Eurosport audioplayer (which hasn't worked until two days before the end of the Tour).

31 km remaining, the gap is at 16:37. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) has something to prove today; if he finishes with that gap, he might show up in the top 10; he was 27:50 behind after Stage 17.

With 25 km remaining, the gap is down to 14:31. Boogerd with a flat, but the three other leaders take it easy to let Boogerd catch up.

24 km, 14:00. Boogerd back in front.
19 km, 12:13.
14 km, 11:12.
11.5 km remaining for the leaders, the peloton is 10:55 behind, and just passed the 20 km marker. No chance that the peloton will catch the breakaway.

Boogerd launched an attack with 9.5 km to go, testing a few legs.
7 km, 10:20; peloton has 15 km to go.

6.2 km, Lefèvre attacks, gets a 2-3 second lead. Boogerd chasing, then Merckx, and Casar trying to hang on. Now they're all back to ether at 4.6 km remaining.

4 km to go.
3.5 km, Boogerd in front. Now Merckx goes again.
3 km, Casar takes a short cut and attacks. Casar gets a good lead.
2 km to go, Boogerd trying to bridge the gap, Merckx last.
1 km, they almost caught Casar. Casar caught but still leading the bunch.

500 m. 300 m.

Sprint! Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux) wins Stage 18. Merckx, Lefèvre and Boogerd follow.

The peloton came in in the meantime, and Boonen gets in before Hunter. Cadel Evans gets 3 seconds on Contador.

Provisional results:

1 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 5.13.31 (40.38 km/h)
2 Axel Merckx (Bel) T-Mobile Team 0.01
3 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
4 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 8.34
6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
8 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
9 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile Team
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole

No change in the GC. Tomorrow is the moment of truth, when Stage 19 gets under way with the final and decisive time trial.

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