Cycling: Hunter wins 11th stage as Vino takes revenge on Moreau

19th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

MONTPELLIER, France, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - South African Robert Hunter of the Barloworld team won a wind-battered 11th stage of the Tour de France here Thursday after 182km of drama-filled racing between Marseille and here.

MONTPELLIER, France, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - South African Robert Hunter of the Barloworld team won a wind-battered 11th stage of the Tour de France here Thursday after 182km of drama-filled racing between Marseille and here.

The 30-year-old won a sprint finish just ahead of Swiss Fabian Cancellara with Brazilian Murilo Fischer third.

Denmark's Michael Rasmussen, of Rabobank, kept his overall lead over his main rivals intact ahead of Friday's 12th stage from Montpellier to Castres.

On a day that provided the perfect conditions for some tactical bike racing, Rasmussen and the other four top-placed riders managed to escape being snared by a cunning move executed to perfection by Alexandre Vinokourov's Astana team.

AG2R team leader Christophe Moreau, who is aiming to finish in the top three overall, however fell victim, finishing the stage over three minutes down to take a significant drop in the general classification.

The Big Frenchman had crashed early in the stage alongside AG2R teammate Simon Gerrans, and that setback - leaving Moreau with cuts and grazes to his thighs - later appeared to have been noted by a vengeful Astana.

Moreau had been the protagonist of a series of attacks on last Saturday's first stage in the high Alps which left Vinokourov, already struggling with a knee injury, trailing the yellow jersey favourites.

On Thursday, payback time came in the shape of Astana using the coastal crosswinds to split the main chasing peloton, leaving Moreau in their wake.

Astana, riding in their aqua blue shirts representing the Kazakhstan national flag, were given a hand by Discovery Channel and Barloworld in driving hard at the front from the 71km to go mark.

Moreau was well and truly trapped, the French champion losing time gradually as the wind took its toll on his smaller group of riders.

Earlier, Britain's David Millar managed to escape the peloton and join a four-man group and together they built a lead of 7min 20sec at the 72 mark.

However Millar's bid to help the breakaway go all the way to the finish for the second consecutive day was doomed by the attempts of some teams to heap the pressure on Moreay before the race gets to the Pyrenees on Sunday.

Millar sat up as the chasing peloton approached with 38km to go, and from there the Quick Step team of Belgian Tom Boonen began to pull at the front.

Astana, however, were intent on keeping Moreau at a distance and were taking their relays at the front of the main peloton along with several other teams.

With 11km to race, the gap to Moreau and the four teammates battling to limit the damage had grown to 2:35.

Vinokourov's earlier decision to up the pace - and effectively leave Moreau trailing - did not necessarily benefit the Kazakh, whose yellow jersey hopes are now hanging by the thinnest of threads.

Ahead of Saturday's 54km time trial in Albi, and then three days in the Pyrenees, Vinokourov is still over eight minutes behind Rasmussen.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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