After the standard early attacks and sprints, a breakaway including David Millar and Jens Voight (CSC) got away with 110km to go.
Brioude - Aurillac, 159km
After the standard early attacks and sprints, a breakaway including David Millar and Jens Voight (CSC) got away with 110km to go. Understandably however, the peloton wasn’t going to let a breakaway containing David Millar get too far ahead. David started the day just 47 seconds adrift of the yellow jersey so the field weren’t letting him get more that a minute ahead.
The peloton had split into two groups, which gave Leon Luis Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) the chance to cross to the leaders and then attack. Sanchez is a previous winner of the Tour Down Under.
The front group of the peloton was stacked with GC riders. While there were only about 20 riders, the group included the Schlecks, yellow jersey wearer Kim Kirchen, Valverde, Menchov and Cadel Evans. The CSC riders were pushing this select group along despite the fact that there was still over 85km to ride. They quickly swallowed Millar and lifted the tempo once again. CSC had six riders in the group and were hoping to isolate both Evans, who had only one team mate and Valverde who had two.
In the second group, Lampre were chasing hard as Damiano Cunego had missed the jump. They needed to catch the bunch before the category two climb at the 66km to go mark. They did it, but as soon as they caught the front group, the road went upwards. Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) abandoned at this stage.
Four riders with no real threat to the overall classification went over the top a minute and a half ahead of the main group. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) got enough points to propel himself into the polka dot jersey at this stage.
Mikel Astaloza (Euskatel-Euskadi) attacked with 45km to go, five km from the summit of the main climb to the Pas de Peyrol. Astaloza is a good climber, so his move had the effect of the peloton increasing speed towards the summit.
The damp conditions from the low cloud would have made many riders nervous. Almost everyone seemed to get down OK and with 20km to go, the four riders were a minute up on the peloton containing the yellow jersey and the other GC contenders. The last climb, up to Saint-Simon would decide who took the stage.
Green jersey wearer, Thor Hushovd was sitting in the peloton, just near the front and close by was Erik Zabel (Team Milram). When the peloton hit the climb, the four leaders were only 38 seconds ahead and as expected, the big names began to lift the pace immediately.
But on the front, Davide de la Fuente jumped off only to be brought back a kilometre later by the yellow jersey containing Kirchen, Evans, Valverde and Menchov. Luis Leon Sanchez put down the hammer with four km to go. In a beautiful piece of riding he judged the finish to perfection and took the win ahead of Kim Kirchen and the rest of the GC group. Evans remained in second place six seconds down. The rest of the leaderboard remained the same apart from David Millar who fell to seventh.
The stage was also remembered for being the first of the positive doping tests, this time Manuel Deltrane (Liquigas) who tested positive for EPO. Deltrane was immediately suspended by his team.
- Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 3.52.53
- Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.06
- Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
- Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia
- Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
Overall classification after stage seven:
- Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 28.23.40
- Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto 0.06
- Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.16
- Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.44
- Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.03