Climbs! A bit of a change after Gert Steegmans' 2 sprint wins in a row. An early break got away and went all of the way. McGee dropped off on the last climb but played his part in the successful break, leaving Carlstrom to take the win. An extract from the CyclingNews report:Something must have changed in cycling: long lasting breakaways can now succeed. Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) and Clement Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano) were well inspired to go clear after only eight kilometres with Bradley McGee (Team CSC). The duo lost the Australian on the day's final climb, and battled for the stage win in Saint-Etienne at the end of another hard day of racing. Lhotellerie was stuck on the front in the finale and managed to keep 43 seconds lead over the chasing group in which Sylvain Chavanel took the lead over from Thor Hushovd, but could not prevent Carlstrom from coming past at the line.
Big gains today for Chavenal, Sanchez, Moreau, Cunego and Popovych. Evans (supporting Popovych, the latter now moving into the Top 10 on GC) and Millar are now at over 7 minutes back from the new overal leader, Chavenal. Lowe (who fell) is over 4minutes back on GC. Slightly better, Gerrans is at 3:10. McGee himself is now 24mins off the lead but taking mountains points, which has to be a good sign of a return to past form - and hopefully no back pain. Keep away from hefting those potted plants, Brad.
The Top 10 on GC (via CN):
1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 12.37.01
2 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.03
3 Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.08
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 0.14
5 Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Quick Step 0.18
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Silence-Lotto 0.19
7 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 0.21
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
9 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC 0.22
10 Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Quick Step 0.34