A monster effort by Cervelo Test Team’s Heinrich Haussler kept him off the front for most of the of the race. Breaking away early on with Silvain Chavanel (QST) and Martinez, they rode together until about 146km to go when Martinez dropped back to the peloton. At 50km, Haussler started leading the break most of the time, and eventually dropped Chavanel, taking risks on the wet descents.
Today’s Stage 13 was supposed to be a radio-free affair, but whether it was the rain or the rider protests, the officials allowed them to use the electronics to keep communication with the team cars (a good thing for Andy Schleck, as he continued his record for the most flats).
From 35km to go to 29km to go, Haussler managed to add two minutes to his gap over the peloton, and many seconds over the first and second chase groups (Brice Feillu, AG2R, and Txurruka, EUS).
He started the last climb of the day, an 8.4km climb up Col du Firstplan that started 29km from the finish, with about 6-1/2 minutes on the peloton, and by 25.8km to go, his gap was up to 7’33”, then 7’46” by 25km. Haussler, known as a sprinter, not a climber, continued to impress by outriding everyone on today’s very hilly stage.
Meanwhile back in the pack, Astana (minus Leipheimer, who withdrew after breaking his wrist in a wreck on Stage 12) kept riders at the front, keeping some of the pace, but at 20.9km to go, they started letting AG2r do the work in order to maintain Nocentini’s Yellow Jersey. With Haussler and the riders in the two front breaks not a GC threat, they were content to let the lead outs get their glory, they just wanted to keep Feillu in range. Cavendish was off the back of the peloton.
At the summit of the final climb, Haussler had a 7’40” gap on the peloton and more than three minutes ahead of his closest chaser, Chavanel. Behind him, Feillu was making a solid effort in an attempt to gain time on the Yellow Jersey. He started the day 4’26” back, and at one point had put himself into the top 10. At 6.8km to go, though, he was only about a minute ahead of the peloton.
Ensuring his likely win, Haussler tucked himself into insane (considering the conditions) aero positions on the descents. At 13.8km to go, his gap had dropped to 6’28”, but by 6km to go, it was back up to 7’08” thanks to smooth pedaling and, no doubt, lots of adrenalin! He had 4’07” on Txurruka, and he just kept pushing ahead.
While AG2R was keeping the pace in the peloton, the overall speed leveled off as the GC leaders decided to save their energy for the coming mountain stages.
At 3km to go, Haussler had a 7’16” gap, which he carried all the way the across the line for an emotional first ever Tour de France stage win!
After the race, Haussler said: “I love this type of weather, it’s just really good for me.”
CTT rider Thor Hushovd took sixth (unhappily getting beat to the line by MRM’s Velits), but it was enough to give him a 5-point lead over Cavendish for the points lead. Young French rider Brice Feillu AG2R put in a solid effort for third place in the stage, giving France some hope for the future. Ã‚Â Speaking of the future, Nocentini said today’s results were a “bonus” and that any stage beyond 12 that he’s in yellow is just gravy.
Catch tomorrow’s Stage 14 from Colmar to BesanÃƒÂ§on on Versus starting at 8:30am EST.
2009 TOUR de FRANCE STAGE 13 TOP 10
2009 TOUR de FRANCE OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 13
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