Cavendish wins technology-free Tour de France stage
The Associated Press
ISSOUDUN, France and#8212; Teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong remained second and third in the Tour de France after a technology-free day of riding in which Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the 10th stage.
Organizers banned rider earpieces for Tuesday’s 121-mile route, forcing cyclists to devise tactics without radio instructions from team cars.
Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy kept the leader’s yellow jersey on a flat route favoring sprinters. Contador crossed the line in 40th place. Armstrong, the seven-time champion, finished in the main pack at 46th. Overall, Nocentini stayed six seconds ahead of Contador and eight in front of Armstrong.
Armstrong is coming out of 31/2 years of retirement and chasing an eighth Tour title. Contador is aiming for a second title after winning in 2007. The Spanish mountain specialist was unable to defend his title last year because his Astana team was barred from the race because of doping scandals.
Cavendish edged Thor Hushovd of Norway in a sprint finish, breaking ahead in the final 200 yards. It was the British sprinter’s third stage victory of this Tour and seventh of his career. Tyler Farrar of the United States finished third.
“It was a really hard finish, slightly uphill with a lot of corners,” said Cavendish, who rides for Team Columbia-High Road, said. “I was scared that I attacked too early but (teammate Mark) Renshaw helped me a lot.”
The Tour hoped to inject drama into this race by eliminating earpieces in the 10th and 13th stages. Many riders and#8212; Armstrong, Contador and Nocentini among them and#8212; criticized the decision.
“I think that for us and for the whole team it is not a good thing,” Nocentini said. “We spoke about the earpieces before the start. The fact is for us it’s dangerous not to have them. There are dangers on the road.”
Armstrong joked about the matter as he got off his Astana team bus and mounted his bike to go to the start line.
“I can’t hear anything; I don’t know anything. … I feel naked,” the 37-year-old Texan said. “I think it’s a lot to do about nothing.”
Astana team director Johan Bruyneel had campaigned for the ban to be overturned. But it was upheld and is also scheduled for Friday, a tricky stage featuring one big climb and possibly many attacks. Teams are still pressuring organizers to overturn the ban.
“My impression is that we’ll have the radio on Friday,” Armstrong said.
With the backing of the cycling’s governing body, Tour organizers decided last month that rider radios and TV sets in cars would be banned for two stages. Earlier in the race, Bruyneel said the Tour was not the place for such an “experiment.”
Earpieces allow riders to be linked to directors in team cars. Riders can be informed of developments and told when they need to attack or chase riders in a breakaway.
The strategy was popularized by Armstrong when he won his first Tour in 1999. Some riders and former champions say the tactic makes cycling too clinical.
“There are arguments to both sides, to have them or not to have them,” Armstrong said. “But, on balance, I think it’s better to have them. In cycling, we have other, more important, things to care about.”
On Tuesday, Thierry Hupond, Benoit Vaugrenard, Mikhail Ignatiev and Samuel Dumoulin were caught following a long breakaway with just under a mile to go. Cavendish then turned into the home straightaway and was pressured by Hushovd but held on.
“Cavendish is very, very fast, but it’s true that he also has a very quick team,” Hushovd said. “I lost four or five meters (yards) to him in the last turn.”
Cavendish, who last year won four stages but did not finish the Tour, was timed in 4 hours, 46 minutes, 43 seconds.
“We had all nine guys there at the finish, working 100 percent and delivering perfectly,” Cavendish said.
Hushovd, who kept the sprinter’s green jersey despite losing points to Cavendish, and Farrar received the same time as Cavendish. With two more flat stages Wednesday and Thursday, Cavendish has Hushovd’s green jersey in his sights. Hushovd has 147 points and Cavendish 141.
Cavendish said he feels fresh because his teammates nursed him through the Pyrenees mountain stages.
“I hope to win more (stages) in the next two days,” he said.
and#8212; AP sportswriter Samuel Petrequin contributed to this report.
1. Mark Cavendish, Britain, Team Columbia-HTC, 4 hours, 46 minutes, 43 seconds.
2. Thor Hushovd, Norway, Cervelo Test Team, same time.
3. Tyler Farrar, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, same time.
4. Leonardo Duque, Colombia, Cofidis, same time.
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain, Caisse d’Epargne, same time.
6. Lloyd Mondory, France, AG2R-La Mondiale, same time.
7. Kenny van Hummel, Netherlands, Skil-Shimano, same time.
8. William Bonnet, France, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, same time.
9. Daniele Bennati, Italy, Liquigas, same time.
10. Said Haddou, France, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, same time.
11. Gerald Ciolek, Germany, Team Milram, same time.
12. Marco Bandiera, Italy, Lampre-NGC, same time.
13. Sebastian Lang, Germany, Silence-Lotto, same time.
14. Juan Antonio Flecha, Spain, Rabobank, same time.
15. Oscar Freire, Spain, Rabobank, same time.
16. Romain Feillu, France, Agritubel, same time.
17. Nicolas Roche, Ireland, AG2R-La Mondiale, same time.
18. Ruben Perez Moreno, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, same time.
19. Mark Renshaw, Australia, Team Columbia-HTC, same time.
20. Angelo Furlan, Italy, Lampre-NGC, same time.
31. Christian Vande Velde, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, same time.
33. George Hincapie, United States, Team Columbia-HTC, same time.
34. Rinaldo Nocentini, Italy, AG2R-La Mondiale, same time.
40. Alberto Contador, Spain, Astana, same time.
41. Andreas Kloeden, Germany, Astana, same time.
46. Lance Armstrong, United States, Astana, same time.
77. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Astana, 15 seconds behind.
156. David Zabriskie, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, same time.
165. Danny Pate, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, 1:13.
(After 10 stages)
1. Rinaldo Nocentini, Italy, AG2R-La Mondiale, 39 hours, 11 minutes, 4 seconds.
2. Alberto Contador, Spain, Astana, 6 seconds behind.
3. Lance Armstrong, United States, Astana, :08.
4. Andreas Kloeden, Germany, Astana, :54.
5. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Astana, same time.
6. Tony Martin, Germany, Team Columbia-High Road, 1:00.
7. Bradley Wiggins, Britain, Garmin-Slipstream, 1:01.
8. Christian Vande Velde, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, 1:24.
9. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg, Team Saxo Bank, 1:49.
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Italy, Liquigas, 1:54.
11. Luis Leon Sanchez, Spain, Caisse d’Epargne, 2:16.
12. Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, Team Saxo Bank, 2:25.
13. Maxime Montfort, Belgium, Team Columbia-High Road, 2:36.
14. Roman Kreuziger, Czech Republic, Liquigas, 2:40.
15. Carlos Sastre, Spain, Cervelo Test Team, 2:52.
16. Vladimir Efimkin, Russia, AG2R-La Mondiale, 3:00.
17. Cadel Evans, Australia, Silence-Lotto, 3:07.
18. Mikel Astarloza, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:17.
19. Kim Kirchen, Luxembourg, Team Columbia-HTC, 3:31.
20. Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Team Katusha, 4:04.
28. George Hincapie, United States, Team Columbia-HTC, 5:25.
68. David Zabriskie, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, 30:55.
164. Tyler Farrar, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, 1:26:32.
167. Danny Pate, United States, Garmin-Slipstream, 1:30:55.
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