Stage 14: Colmar - Besançon
By AFP & BikeRadar
Saturday, July 18, 2009 3.22pm
George Hincapie moves to second overall
Team Katusha's Serguei Ivanov of Russia on the finish line after winning the 199 km and fourteenth stage of the Tour de France between Colmar and Besancon on July 18, 2009. PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images
Serguei Ivanov of the Katusha team won stage 14 of the 2009 Tour de France, taking a solo win from his breakaway companions at the end of the 199km race between Colmar and Besançon.
Columbia-HTC's George Hincapie moved into second overall, just five seconds behind AG2R-La Mondiale's Rinaldo Nocentini.
Ahead of the first day of three in the Alps, the battle for overall victory was again put on the back burner as the teams so far devoid of stage success went on the hunt. However, after an early 13-man breakaway was reduced to 12 and went on to build a significant lead on the peloton, it was Hincapie who came through to almost replace Nocentini, as the new race leader.
With Irish teammate Nicholas Roche in the front group -- which held a seven-minute lead at the summit of the day's second and last climb 87km from the finish -- AG2R was not obliged to chase the leaders down. But after some prompting by Nocentini, and the Astana team of Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, AG2R finally put three riders on the front of the chasing bunch with a little less than 50 kilometres to race.
That signaled the chase was on, but with 40 kilometres to race and the peloton at 7:40 behind Hincapie, the American was still in the virtual yellow jersey.
Because of Hincapie's presence, Columbia was under no pressure to help in the chase meaning, theoretically, the team could keep its riders fresh for leading out Mark Cavendish for the win if it came to a bunch sprint. Hincapie, however, reaffirmed his intentions with a brief acceleration with 35km to race. His gesture looked designed to try to shake off some of the group's sprinters, like Milram's Gerald Ciolek, but it was also to signal his belief the group was not going fast enough.
With 30 kilometres to go, AG2R's efforts with Astana on their wheels appeared to be making progress, but the determination of the frontrunners kept their advantage steady, and with 13 kilometres left it was still 6:30.
A kilometre further on the front finally lost patience and attacks came and went before Ivanov's stage-winning surge.
Speaking of attacks: no one messes with five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault's podium
© AFP & BikeRadar 2009
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