About 4 km from the finish in Lourdes it almost looked like Jeremy Roy of team Francais des Jeux could win the stage, with perhaps some help from David Moncoutie of Cofidis who in a two man chase with Thor Hushovd would not work to take the Norwegian to the finish line.
But Hushovd was too strong for both Frenchmen.
Still, the French national pride went up a few notches as French nationals secured three of the four ranked jerseys, with Roy winning the Red Polka Dot jersey, Thomas Voelcker still in the Maillot Jaune, and Roy’s teammate, Arnold Jeannesson in the White jersey for best young rider.
Roy also spent the better part of the three climbs in the second half of this stage out in front, and first up the mountain summits.
But after the last climb and coming off the descent into Lourdes, Thor Hushovd and David Moncoutie were riding together, and the gap was narrowing, from 18 seconds, to 14, then 13. Moncoutie stopped working with the Norwegian, either to protect himself or to protect the Frenchman up front.
But at 2.6 km to the finish the Norwegian world champion had had enough with Moncoutie, and took off, easily catching and passing Roy, and after flying through the small, twisting streets to screaming crowds, passed the finish line easily.
David Moncoutie of Team Cofidis came in second, followed by Roy who touched his heart as he crossed the finish to show his pain in not winning.
Among the general classification contenders, Thomas Voeckler kept his French side of the bargain and stayed in Yellow, with Frank Schleck still in second position, Cadel Evans third, and Andy Schleck third.
But it was Roy who really won the hearts of France today in his amazing solo ride over the top of the Col d’Ausbisque all the way to 2.6 km from the finish. For his efforts, he won the Red Polka Dot Jersey.
As he crested the the summit of Col D’Aubisque, Roy had an 8 minute plus advantage over the field.
As Thor Hushovd and David Moncoutie neared the finish, Moncoutie did not help to catch Roy, possibly because in a conspiratorial gesture to his compatriot up front, but maybe really because he knew in a sprint Hushovd would be the winner.
Hushovd took off at 2.8 km from the finish, and caught and passed Roy at 2.3 km from the finish. Moncoutie could not match Hushovd’s acceleration, but he shouldered on and also passed Roy in the pursuit.
Play by Play
The 152.5 km stage from Pau to Lourdes included three climbs with a descent to a flat finish, and because of its geography and the wits of the Frenchmen, kept the French on their fingers until the last few moments.
At the 20 km mark from the start, there were nine men with a slight lead off the pack. Behind them in the peloton, Andreas Klöden was suffering. Soon there were 15 men in a break that was instigated by Chavanel (QST).
That break was subsumed by the peloton at 25 km, but followed by other attacks, and a crash at 29 km that claimed a few riders.
At 48 km from the start Jeremy Roy was out in front of a group of about 15 riders by 15 seconds, and ahead of the peloton by 20 seconds. It was characteristic by now for the French rider to take risks.
So far in this year’s Tour he had won three of the 11 ‘Fighting Spirit’ awards, a prize presented to the rider that a panel of 11 experts deem to have been the most aggressive in each stage. Today he won his fourth.
Roy was caught by Gusev (KAT), and two other riders – one from Cofidis, one from Saur, then later that group grew to 8 men at 55 km from the start, and soon after it grew to 10. That group consisted of Tjallingii (NED) RAB, Hushovd (NOR) GRM, Fofonov (KAZ) AST, Davide Moncoutie (FRA) COF, Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY , Bak (DEN) THR, Jerome Pineau (FRA) QST), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) LAM, and Gusev (RUS) KAT.
Steadily the small group ahead of the peloton started to gain over the climbs. Roy (FDJ) led over two climbs today, and took the points for the cote de Belair at 65 km.
At the 64 km mark, the peloton was 4 minutes behind the break. And at the intermediate sprint point in Bielle, 82.5 km from the start, the break was ahead by 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
At the base of the Aubisque, an hors categorie climb, and the third climb today, Hushovd (GRM) attacked the lead group, and developed a 20 second lead on Roy and Pineau and the rest of the escape group.
That third col was 16.4km long with an average gradient of 7.1 per cent. The lead group ended up splintering with Hushovd and Roy at the front, followed by Tjallingii (RAB), Moncoutie (COF) Fofonov (AST), Boasson Hagen (SKY), Pineau (QST), Petacchi (LAM), Bak (THR) and Gusev (KAT).
Meanwhile Mollema, Delage and Bouet had broken from the peloton and were five minutes and 50 seconds behind Hushovd and Roy.
As they breached the Aubique, Roy dropped Hushovd, and went over the top on his own: he was followed by Moncoutie (COF), Hushovd (GRM), Gusev (KAT), Pineau (QST), Bak (THR) and Boasson Hagen who was 3 minutes and 55 seconds behind.
Towards the finish with 10 km to go, Hushovd was 18 seconds back from Jeremy Roy, and it was looking like it wasn’t going to be possible for the Frenchman to hold him off. Moncoutie did not go out in front for Hushovd, but they were locked in at 15 seconds behind Roy at 6.5 km to the finish.
OVERALL STANDING AT END OF STAGE 13: Source: ASO
|1.||VOECKLER Thomas||181||TEAM EUROPCAR||55h 49′ 57″|
|2.||SCHLECK Frank||18||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||55h 51′ 46″||+ 01′ 49″|
|3.||EVANS Cadel||141||BMC RACING TEAM||55h 52′ 03″||+ 02′ 06″|
|4.||SCHLECK Andy||11||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||55h 52′ 14″||+ 02′ 17″|
|5.||BASSO Ivan||91||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||55h 53′ 13″||+ 03′ 16″|
|6.||CUNEGO Damiano||161||LAMPRE – ISD||55h 53′ 19″||+ 03′ 22″|
|7.||CONTADOR Alberto||1||SAXO BANK SUNGARD||55h 53′ 57″||+ 04′ 00″|
|8.||SANCHEZ Samuel||21||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||55h 54′ 08″||+ 04′ 11″|
|9.||GILBERT Philippe||32||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||55h 54′ 32″||+ 04′ 35″|
|10.||DANIELSON Tom||52||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||55h 54′ 32″||+ 04′ 35″|
STAGE STANDING AT THE END OF STAGE 13: Source: ASO
|1.||HUSHOVD Thor||51||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||3h 47′ 36″|
|2.||MONCOUTIE David||157||COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE||3h 47′ 46″||+ 00′ 10″|
|3.||ROY Jérémy||138||FDJ||3h 48′ 02″||+ 00′ 26″|
|4.||BAK Lars||172||HTC – HIGHROAD||3h 52′ 36″||+ 05′ 00″|
|5.||PINEAU Jérôme||127||QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM||3h 52′ 38″||+ 05′ 02″|
|6.||HAGEN Edvald Boasson||114||SKY PROCYCLING||3h 52′ 39″||+ 05′ 03″|
|7.||GUSEV Vladimir||194||KATUSHA TEAM||3h 52′ 44″||+ 05′ 08″|
|8.||PETACCHI Alessandro||169||LAMPRE – ISD||3h 52′ 52″||+ 05′ 16″|
|9.||TJALLINGII Maarten||49||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||3h 52′ 52″||+ 05′ 16″|
|10.||GILBERT Philippe||32||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||3h 54′ 24″||+ 06′ 48″|
|11.||MOLLEMA Bauke||45||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||3h 54′ 27″||+ 06′ 51″|
|12.||ROJAS Jose Joaquin||88||MOVISTAR TEAM||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|
|13.||GALLOPIN Tony||156||COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|
|14.||BOLE Grega||163||LAMPRE – ISD||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|
|15.||VANENDERT Jelle||38||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|
|16.||MONFORT Maxime||15||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|
|17.||VOECKLER Thomas||181||TEAM EUROPCAR||3h 55′ 13″||+ 07′ 37″|