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By Andrew Hood
Burning KohlBernhard Kohl is a man on the rise. The 26-year-old Austrian climber surged away at the base of Hautacam and rode straight into contention for the Tour de France.
Kohl entered Monday’s stage quietly poised in 13th overall at 2:03 back. Many weren’t paying attention to him, but all that changed on the twisting climb when he bolted away from the Cadel Evans-Denis Menchov group. He crossed the line fourth in the stage at 1:06 back and bounced into fourth overall at 46 seconds behind Evans.
“This is a dream. I know that I am in good shape, but I never expected this,” said a happy Kohl after the stage. “I noticed on the Tourmalet that I had good legs. The Tour is long and a lot can still happen. At least now I have a step in the right direction. I hope I can remain at the front.”
Kohl is one of the revelations of this Tour. After turning pro with T-Mobile in 2005, his breakout year came with third in the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré and victorious in the Austrian national road race. After switching to Gerolsteiner in 2007, Kohl quietly finished his first Tour in 31st.
Things could have been even better for Kohl. He was right behind teammate Stefan Schumacher when he crashed 250m from the line at Super-Besse in stage 6 and lost 31 seconds to Evans.
Bastille bustRémy Di Gregorio (FDJeux) did his level best to win Monday for the French on Bastille Day, France’s version of the Fourth of July.
Di Gregorio — who won the best climber’s jersey at last year’s Dauphiné Libéré only to crash out of his Tour debut with a broken arm ? led over the Tourmalet with a 5:50 gap to the main GC chasers.
The numbers were stacked against the lean French climber, however. He lost ground against an elite group of about 20 GC favorites and stage-hunters led by the CSC-Saxo Bank tandem of Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt coming off the long descent from the Tourmalet heading toward the base of the Hautacam.
Di Gregorio hit the base of the Hautacam (14.4km at 7.2%) nursing a 50-second lead to the chasers with 15km to go. That didn’t last long and he was soon gobbled up. He rolled up the hill to finish in 29th place, at 9:09.
“I tried, but it was really hard to arrive alone at the base of the Hautacam. Last year, I was forced to watch the Pyrénéan stages from home on TV because I broke my elbow that year, I didn’t want to leave the Pyrénées without at least trying,” Di Gregorio said. “I am content with what I did. The result is encouraging and I will try again in the Alps. It’s also not too far from where I live (in Marseille).”
The effort wasn’t all for naught. Di Gregorio won the day’s most aggressive rider’s prize.
Money, money, moneySaunier Duval-Scott’s great Tour de France is making for a lucrative adventure as well. Thanks to the team’s three stage wins and strong showings in the GC, the Spanish-based team leads the money rankings midway through the 95th edition. Next is Columbia, thanks to two stage wins and Kim Kirchen’s run in yellow. Both have earned more than 50,000 euros. Last is Lampre, with just 1,050 euros in 10 days of racing.
Earnings through 10 days:
? Saunier Duval-Scott: 50,970 euros
? Columbia: 50,680
? Caisse d’Epargne: 33,970
? Cofidis: 24,550
? Gerolsteiner: 22,360
? Agritubel: 18,200
? Garmin-Chipotle: 17,340
? Française des Jeux: 15,710
? Rabobank: 13,890
? Crédit Agricole: 13,440
? Bouygues Telecom: 12,760
? Barloworld: 11,700
? AG2R: 10,890
? CSC: 10,630
? Liquigas: 10,440
? Silence-Lotto: 8,270
? Euskaltel-Euskadi: 5,860
? Milram: 5,420
? Quick Step: 3,220
? Lampre: 1,050