LUZ-ARDIDEN, France (VN) — Tom Danielson charged into the top-10 overall and became Garmin-Cervélo’s lone GC bet.
The Tour rookie stayed with the top favorites until the late-stage accelerations came with about 3km to go. He rolled across the line 11th at 1:03 back and rose to ninth at 4:35 back.
Garmin’s two designated GC leaders before the start of the race — Christian Vande Velde and Ryder Hesjedal — each said they are now committed to helping Danielson make a push for the top-10 overall.
Both Vande Velde and Hesjedal have been dogged with crashes and injury, while Danielson has gotten through the first half of the Tour relatively unscathed.
“I have really taken a beating, so I was glad to be there for Tom today,” Hesjedal told VeloNews at the line. “We’ll all be riding for Tom now. He showed it today. He’s riding great.”
Vande Velde, who rode to a breakout fourth in 2008, said he’s crashed five times in the first half of the Tour.
“Tommy is going great, so we’re going to work for him now,” Vande Velde said. “My crashes just caught up with me. Tommy is our best bet now for the GC. We will all support him now.”
Danielson says he’s on the form of his life, but realizes there’s a long way to go before Paris.
At the finish line at Luz-Ardiden, he was lamenting the time he forfeited in stage 1, when he was caught up behind a crash with less than eight kilometers to go and lost nearly two minutes.
Barredo: ‘A new Tour starts for us’
Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) was waved off by Robert Gesink on the Tourmalet with the tall Dutchman got gapped as Leopard-Trek drilled the pace.
That gesture put the final nail in the coffin for the GC hopes for Rabobank, which came to the Tour with dreams of reaching the podium with Gesink.
“The falls just added up and Robert just couldn’t be where he needed to be. Today, a new Tour starts for us,” Barredo told VeloNews. “We spoke a little bit, and he told to ride away and to try to stay in the front group. That he had nothing left to do.”
It was also tough on Luís León Sánchez, who tumbled from second place to 37th overall.
“Now we are going to look for stage victories. We all came here to work for Gesink, but the Tour is like that. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction, then you have bad set back, some bad luck, and everything is turned upside down,” Barredo said. “I am good. I have a little bit of scrapes and cuts from a crash, but I am feeling good. There are a few stages that I can try to win. We’ll see if I can get into a breakaway.”
Apology for Hoogerland
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) was once again the center of attention in Thursday’s climbing stage. The battered and bruised Dutchman has become a sensation in Holland since he was knocked off his bike by a French TV car in Sunday’s stage and flew into a barbed wire fence.
Hoogerland raced without bandages and nasty scars and cuts could be seen on his legs as he came across the line at Luz-Ardiden. His run in the polka dot jersey is over, meaning he will have to retire his polka-dot Ridley frame, but he went down swinging, trying to bridge out to a breakaway on the day’s first climb.
Hoogerland received a note of apology from the driver of the French TV car, whose identity remains shrouded in mystery. One French newspaper said it was a former pro rider who was behind the wheel when they sideswiped Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha in Sunday’s stage. Hoogerland told Dutch journalists he still had not opened the letter to read it.
Yellow: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) bravely defended the yellow jersey, much to the delight of French fans on Bastille Day. Voeckler actually expanded his lead, as second-place Luis Leon Sanchez, who started at 1:47 back, plummeted out of the top-30. Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek) moved into second, now 1:49 back.
Green: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) finished in the gruppetto and widened his lead after taking the group sprint for the intermediate sprint. He lead Jose Rojas (Movistar), 260-242.
Polka-dot: Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) surged into the jersey with 40 points with summit-finish victory. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) slipped to fifth with 22 points.
White: Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) moved into the lead after Robert Gesink (Rabobank) lost more than 17 minutes on the stage. Jeannesson now leads Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) by 1:37.
Most aggressive: Geraint Thomas (Sky) won the day’s honor
Top team: Leopard-Trek moved into the lead, 1:05 ahead of Europcar.
Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) fined 50CHF, penalized 5 points and 10 seconds on GC for pushing off a team car
Jeremy Roy (FDJ) won a 5,000 euro prime for winning the Souvenir Jacques Goddet as the highest point in the Pyrenees.
Crash at 139km: Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), cuts to right shoulder; Andreas Kloden (RadioShack), cuts and scrapes to right elbow and shoulder; Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), contusion to right wrist; Rui Costa (Movistar), knee pain, possible tendonitis
Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun), knee pain
Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar), digestive problems
Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), digestive problems
Two riders are out of the race. Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) did not start and Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) was “hors delay” after crossing the line in 59:13. The time cut was set at 43:21. Some 175 riders remain in the race.
Sun returns to the Tour for Friday’s climbing stage over the Aubisque, with temperatures of 12C on the summit and 26C at the finish. Swirling winds between 10-20kph in the valleys and 40kph on the Aubisque.