The starting chute was noticeably missing one Mr. Levi Leipheimer, who was a DNS today after breaking a wrist in a fall yesterday. Also, Peter Wrolich didn’t take the start line citing stomach problems. But the Astana team definitely has a new look without the Californian as they head closer to the Alps, and Johan Bruyneel himself immediately said before the race that the group may take a few passing shots today to see if any weakness was reverberating through the ranks. Sure enough, once the break was away and began to form, Saxo bank showed a card and drove the pace a little bit, just to take a peek.
After 195k off the front, Haussler took the win in fine solo fashion.
The break of the day was initiated by eventual stage winner Heinrich Haussler and Christophe Moreau (Agritubel). Shortly thereafter, the two were joined by five riders – Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), Reuben Perez (Euskatel-Euskadi), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne). Garate was a little too high up in the overall GC, and in gentlemanly fashion took his leave of the group once over the first climb.
The day had two Cat 3 climbs, one Cat 2 climb, and two Cat 1 climbs, sure to be a bit of a leg bender, but the weather was horrific and the bundled up peloton didn’t seem up to taking too many chances as they stayed mostly together over the climbs at tempo. Mark Cavendish, though, did slip out of the back of the group and into the bus. This was interesting as Thor Hushovd did not and he stayed with the main group, finishing at the end of the day in 5th and taking back enough points to pull the green jersey back onto his shoulders.
As the lumpy course took its toll on the men up front, only Haussler survived as the deck of the breakaway was reshuffled and its makeup changed as Brice Feillu (Agritubel) Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) Armets Txurruka (Euskatel Euskadi) came up front.
35k to go Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) kept his foot on the gas continued to distance himself from Chavanel, who couldn’t find his rhythm on the climb. The Frenchman rocked and rolled at the summit, surely soon to be picked up by Amets Txurruka (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Brice Feillu (Agritubel).
And behind, clearly the peloton had shut down the engines in the rain as they continued to reform after the climb, swelling in numbers as more and more dropped riders made their way back to the group.
The Cervelo rider made the dicey left hand turn over a patch of cobbles with over a minute on the chasing Quick Step rider, 4 minutes on the pair of Txurruka and Feillu, and 7 minutes on piano playing peloton, and began the final ascent up the Cat 2 Col du Firstplan and he still looked very smooth on the bike.
As the group approached the Bannstein, Charly Wegelius of Silence Lotto dug deep and blasted off from the group, which had its pace being set by Astana. Andy Schleck flatted and the Saxo army dropped back to pace him back up.
Txurruka (best name in the peloton, no doubt) pressed away from Feillu on the climb, inching closer towards Chavanel while ahead, Haussler’s stage victory seemed assured as he bombed fearlessly down the slick descent and hit the 20k to go banner.
By 5k to go, Haussler was still alone and away, riding very smoothly, knowing he had the win sewn up. Chavanel continued his implosion and next was passed by Feillu. Overcome with emotion, a tearful Heinrich Haussler took his first ever Tour de France stage win in fine, soggy fashion.
Txurruka came home next, and Feillu raced as hard as he could to take 3rd and move a tad closer to the white jersey. The French have to be happy to have this bright young star on the horizon.
So Thor is in green, Nocentini stayed safe to keep his yellow jersey, Leipheimer will watch the rest of the race from the couch, and the Alps are so close you can smell them. Hang on to your hats people, come Sunday’s stage to Verbier there are going to be some fireworks!
Stage 13 Results
1. Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team in 4:56:26
2. Amets Txurruka Euskaltel – Euskadi at 04:11
3. Brice Feillu Agritubel at 06:13
4. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step at 06:31
5. Peter Velits Team Milram at 06:43
6. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team at 06:43
7. Vladimir Efimkin Ag2r La Mondiale at 06:43
8. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream at 06:43
9. George Hincapie Team Columbia – Htc at 06:43
10. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 06:43
Overall General Classification After 13 Stages
1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r La Mondiale in 53:30:30
2. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:06
3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:08
4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream at 00:46
5. Andrйas KlЦden Astana at 00:54
6. Tony Martin Team Columbia – Htc at 01:00
7. Christian Vande Velde Garmin – Slipstream at 01:24
8. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 01:49
9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 01:54
10. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne at 02:16