You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

It was all champagne and silliness on the final stage of the 2008 Tour de France. Team CSC did a

2008 TdF Champion - Carlos Sastre

2008 TdF Champion - Carlos Sastre

brilliant tour capturing the Overall Championship in Carlos Sastre, the Young Rider Classification in Andy Schleck and the best team. Executing a masterful plan, Carlos was reserved for a definitive stage win, to get the required margin. Sacrificing team mates were the difference, driving the pace, protecting their leaders and getting into key breaks to offer assistance when required. The ultimate sacrifice was Frank Schleck giving up his chance for the podium to a better time trialist in Sastre. That the team could ask it of him is one thing, that he did it, demands respect. Sastre’s excellent time trial demonstrated that the right choice was made.  Hats off to Sastre and CSC.

As for the green jersey, it is won by Oscar Freire. Oscar was consistent and persistent. He was regularly in the top ten and willing to dash for intermediate sprints along the way. In my mind it was more of a team win then an individual win. The team put him in position and went to measures to either set him up for intermediates or stole the points from others. Oscar was not the best sprinter, having only won a single stage (no small thing still). He was how ever strong enough for top 5 consistently. Secondly, he finished the tour with the ability to contest time after time. Congrats to him and the rest of Rabobank.

There are many that are at his footsteps and I’d be surprised to see him win it again. I would have liked to see McEwen freer to contest. He was unfortunately saddled with supporting Cadel rather then making his mark. Unfortunately, Tom Boonen wasn’t permitted to race because he would have challenged Oscar as well. From a sprinting perspective, Cavendish made the tour for me. Shades of McEwen, a young Zabel and even Abdoujaparov come to mind as you watch Mark peel away the competition. They simply can’t hang on to his wheel. I will be watching him at Beijing.

Stage 21 Winner - Steegmans

Stage 21 Winner - Steegmans

The stage today didn’t really get going until the peloton arrived in Paris. I don’t know about you, but the Champs Élysées circuit fascinates me. The 6.5km loop permits the riders to see each other coming or going. There is no getting lost in the trees or around turns. As such, breaks are harder than usually to get away. Today was a case in point. There were stacks of attempts to escape none of them sticking for any length of time. It was the rare successful Quick Step train by led by Matteo Tosatto and Steven De Jongh that put Steegmans in exactly the right spot to hold of an impressively charging Ciolek. Oscar pulled out a third followed by McEwen and Hushovd. It was a fabulous finish in Paris.

Well that does it for the 2008 Tour de France. Thanks for checking in on my little log from time to time for news about the race. I will be continuing writing about significant competitions including the 2008 Summer Olympics, Triathlons and the World Championships. Please come back for more of the Velo Noise perspective.

Allez915

Stage 21 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/6yc5pp

Stage 21 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/657rch

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/65vhno

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6lcaur

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 21 Results:

1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step, 3.51.38 (37.04 km/h)
2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Columbia, st.
3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, st.
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, st.
6 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, st.
7 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
8 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
9 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, st.
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, st.
11 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, st.
12 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre, st.
13 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
14 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas, st.
15 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.

Overall Standings, Yellow Jersey:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 87.52.52
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.58
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.13
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.10
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.05
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.28
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6.25
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 6.55
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 7.12
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 9.05

Team Competition:

1 Team CSC Saxo Bank, 263.29.57
2 AG2R-La Mondiale, 15.35
3 Rabobank, 1.05.26
4 Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.16.26
5 Silence – Lotto, 1.17.15
6 Caisse d’Epargne, 1.20.28
7 Team Columbia, 1.23.00
8 Lampre, 1.26.24
9 Gerolsteiner, 1.27.40
10 Credit Agricole, 1.37.16

Green Jersey (Best Sprinter):

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 270 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 220
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 217
4 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 181
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 155
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 136
7 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 131
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 129
9 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 119
10 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Columbia, 116

White Jersey (Best Young Rider):

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 88.04.24
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 1.27
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 17.01
4 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 24.09
5 Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spa) Agritubel, 1.08.34
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia, 1.13.55
7 John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Barloworld, 1.24.49
8 Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram, 1.38.17
9 Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Française des Jeux, 1.38.22
10 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 1.44.07

Pokadot Jersey (Mountain Climbing):

1 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 128 pts
2 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 80
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 80
4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom, 65
5 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 62
6 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 61
7 John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Barloworld, 61
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 58
9 Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Française des Jeux, 52
10 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 51

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As was said all day long today by comment makers, wearing the yellow brings out the best in riders.

Stage 20 Winner - Schumacher

Stage 20 Winner - Schumacher

Sastre was a case in point. While not able to best Evans, he put in the ride of a lifetime to hold the line and retain first on GC. In the end he gave up a mere 31 seconds to a desperate Cadel Evans. Cadel, showing the wear of three weeks of nearly isolated riding, was never able to put his best into it.

It boils down like this:

  • Sastre and Kohl deliver exceptional performances to earn 1st and third on the podium in Paris tomorrow.
  • Cadel Evans, while not able to put up his best, was able to surpass Kohl to get the second step.
  • Menchov gets fourth as he was just not able to get it rolling to the level required to chase down the surging Kohl.
  • Vande Velde did a great time trial but was not able to overcome the large deficit he had racked up on the last two mountain stages. He ends up 5th on GC.
  • Frank Schleck faded badly losing four places, proving the decision by CSC to bank on Sastre. He ends up 6th
  • Kirchen placed third on the day by putting up a blistering time surpassing Vande Velde but not Cancellara. He moved to 8th on GC, moving up three places from 11th.
Stage 20 - Carlos Sastre

Stage 20 - Carlos Sastre

There were several standout performances on the Stage 20 time trial today. Danny Pate set the early mark of 1:06:44 which held for almost 45 riders. Eventually his Canadian team mate, Ryder Hesjedal, beat his time by 18 seconds. Lang, then Miller topped the boards momentarily. The world TT champ Fabian Cancellara put up a 1:04:11 to take over the top spot. The big guns struggled to beat that mark for the remainder of the day. In the end, only Schumacher could surpass his time. Schumacher performance today and on several other stages, speaks well for his GC chances in years to come.

Race Splits:

Place Rider Finish 18km Position 36km Position 47.5km Position
1 Stefan Schumacher 1.03.50 0.21.30 1 0.42.50 2 0.58.12 1
2 Fabian Cancellara 0.22 0.00 1 -0.12 1 0.14 2
3 Kim Kirchen 1.01 0.24 4 0.45 3 0.56 3
4 Christian Vande Velde 1.05 0.28 5 0.46 4 1.06 4
5 David Millar 1.37 0.43 9 0.51 5 1.24 5
6 Denis Menchov 1.55 0.22 3 0.56 6 1.38 6
7 Cadel Evans 2.06 0.38 7 1.18 7 1.52 7
8 Sebastian Lang 2.19 0.56 18 1.22 9 2.00 8
9 Bernhard Kohl 2.21 0.34 6 1.21 8 2.07 9
10 George Hincapie 2.29 0.51 14 1.29 11 2.08 10
11 Thomas Lövkvist 2.29 0.46 10 1.26 10 2.17 12
12 Carlos Sastre Candil 2.35 0.46 10 1.41 14 2.12 11
13 Ryder Hesjedal 2.37 1.12 28 1.46 15 2.28 13
14 Danny Pate 2.55 0.47 12 1.37 12 2.35 14
15 Jens Voigt 2.59 1.15 32 1.58 18 2.35 14
16 Christopher Froome 3.01 0.54 17 1.57 17 2.40 16
17 Amaël Moinard 3.05 0.53 16 2.06 22 2.44 17
18 Kanstantsin Siutsou 3.08 0.58 19 1.54 16 2.46 18
19 Sylvain Chavanel 3.11 0.41 8 1.40 13 2.47 19
20 Joost Posthuma 3.13 1.29 41 2.21 27 2.53 20

Stage 20 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 20 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/59mmlr

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6nv428

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6rqpmx

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 20 Results:

1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 1.03.50 (49.817 km/h)
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.21
3 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.01
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.05
5 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.37
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.55
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 2.05
8 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 2.19
9 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 2.21
10 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 2.28

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 84.01.00
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.05
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.20
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.00
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.12
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.28
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6.32
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 7.02
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 7.26
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 9.12

The main move of the day came when Chavanel attacked at around 80km steadily putting time on the

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

peloton. He was nearly reeled him back in when Jeremy Roy jumped from the field adding juice to the break at just the right time. The duo was able to put five minutes on the peloton with steady pace lining. The majority probably didn’t want to over do it coming into the time trial tomorrow.

The field did get busy chasing eventually trying to keep it contained to some degree. They were able to drop the gap to near four minutes. At that point Chavanel and Roy put on the burner on bringing the gap back over 5 minutes with about 28km to go. From then on the advantage decayed steadily to the line but was enough to permit a little goofing around in the final kilometer.

Coming into the sprint Roy was following Chavanel and wouldn’t come through. Chavanel slowed, put it in a big gear and eyeballed Roy in anticipation of the move. He smartly hugged the left barrier allowing only one direction of attack. Roy jumped at 200m but didn’t have the juice to get by Chavanel.

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

The field eventually resigned themselves to crumb scrapping starting from third place. The sprint wound up nicely with teams for Zabel, Hushovd, Ciolek, Duque and Freire jockeying for position. In the end Ciolek had the better line and hit the gas in another fine finish for Team Columbia.  Zabel was there but unable to get by. Freire got boxed out. The others finished top ten.

There was no change to the GC resulting from today’s stage. The final GC test is set for tomorrow in the form of a 53km time trial.  Speculation was thick today from the commentators during the race. They think that while Cadel has the edge, Sastre’s performance is less predictable.  The Yellow jersey can do strange things.  Most are betting on Cadel.  He is my bet as well.  Menchov has a good chance for a podium spot while Vande Velde has his work cut out to oust Cadel, Schleck or Menchov from the three top spots.  Good bet he finishes the day in 4th or 5th on GC.

Stage 19 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 19 Race Reports
Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5tjd35
Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5aj26x
Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6gd5ke
Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 19 Results:
1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, 3.37.09 (45.73 km/h)
2 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux, st.
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Columbia, 1.13
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, st.
5 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, st.
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas, st.
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, st.
9 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
10 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin Chipotle – H30, st.

Overall Results:
1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 82.54.36
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

Burghardt and Barredo gave the fans a treat to close stage 18 today. After cat and mouse for 20km the two employed

Stage 18 Winner - Burghardt of Team Columbia

Stage 18 Winner - Burghardt of Team Columbia

track tactics to setup for the final 500 meters. Burghardt overpowered a very disappointed Barredo from the forward position to get the win. Team Columbia has had a stellar Tour to date with 5 wins, holder at times of the Green, White and Yellow Jersey on top of becoming the poster child for dope free racing. I mean this is a Tour they can write home about.

Barredo escaped the peloton at about the 70km. Soon after, Burghardt and Feillu escaped as well though Burghardt later dropped Feillu bridging to Barredo on the decent of the col de Parmenie. Astarloza and Le Mevel escaped about then and tried to bridge to the leaders catching up with Feillu by 85km. The peloton was seven or eight minutes back at that point though the lead grew as high as ten minutes before CSC fired up the big engines. Burghardt and Barredo held of the chasers to contest the sprint. Feillu, Le Mevel and Astarloza came in a little more than three minutes later. The peloton with a small leading group sprinted in a little less than four minutes later.

There was no real action in the GC as the key riders marked each other closely. The only real shift was that Cunego wrecked at 28km cracking his chin. Three of his teammates fell back to support him though he still lost nearly 13 minutes to the peloton. Cunego has really struggled this tour without much to show for it. I’m afraid too much expectation was placed on him.

Stage 18 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/56q2cn

Stage 18 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/69lm2e

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5nfl37

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6ksbmj

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6qr2jq

Stage 18 Results:

1 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia, 4.30.21 (43.61 km/h)
2 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step, st.
3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 3.33
4 Christophe Le Mével (Fra) Crédit Agricole, st.
5 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.35
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 6.39
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, st.
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, st.
9 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence – Lotto, st.
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.

Overall Team Standings:

1 Team CSC Saxo Bank, 237.42.06
2 AG2R-La Mondiale, 9.27
3 Rabobank, 1.01.17
4 Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.07.57
5 Caisse d’Epargne, 1.11.56
6 Silence – Lotto, 1.13.29
7 Lampre, 1.18.16
8 Team Columbia, 1.23.09
9 Credit Agricole, 1.25.27
10 Gerolsteiner, 1.29.14

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 79.16.14
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

Sastre patiently waited for his chance to shine and then delivered on L’Alpe d’Huez. The CSC

Stage 17 Winner - Carlos Sastre

Stage 17 Winner - Carlos Sastre

strategy appears to have been to fake the GC contenders into following Frank Schleck then hit em with a blistering Sastre acceleration. Make no mistake, Sastre attacked the yellow jersey group. He wasn’t trying to pace Frank. He was clearly going for the win and unless he broke ranks, he had the blessing of the team to do it. The decider may have been Sastre’s better potential in the time trials. Either way, it was a masterful team play which leveraged a hand of aces this team possesses. Cadel was happy to have the little help he had and did well to limit the damage.

The riders come out of the Alps tomorrow in Stage 18. While there are a few climbs including a Cat 2 climb toward the end, it is unlikely that the GC guys will contest. Stage 19 heads into the flat lands leaving little chance for a GC shakeup. It is more likely that the Tour will be decided on the Stage 20 time trial. So the lingering question is..was it enough?

Stage 4 results offer a glimpse of the time trial potential for Cadel and Carlos. Cadel placed third in the time trial, 27 seconds off the winning time. Sastre finished at 28th about 1:39 back for a gap of 1:12. The Stage 20 time trial is rolling but also longer at 53km versus the relatively flat 29.5km TT of stage 4. Simple math suggests a relative gap of 2:09. As Cadel is 1:34 behind on GC after today’s stage, it is a good bet that Cadel is within striking range. There are plenty of other variables you could consider when handicapping the Stage 20. I’ll leave that to those who are inclined. Suffice to say it will be a dog fight.

Stage 4 Elevation Profile

Stage 4 Elevation Profile

Stage 2 Elevation Profile

Stage 2 Elevation Profile

Sastre will have three days to enjoy the armor of the yellow and convince himself that he is more than even he thought, a time trial guy. The team dynamic is strong in CSC. Many sacrifices were made to put him in position. Carlos will be riding beyond himself with that in mind on Saturday.

Stage 17 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 17 Race Reports

Bike Radar: http://tinyurl.com/57rez3

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6qxj8f

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/55lsfw

Versus: http://preview.tinyurl.com/57fuls

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/5g5bmf

Stage 17 Results:

1 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank, 6.07.58 (34.32 km/h)
2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 2.03
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 2.13
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
6 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.15
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30
10 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, st.

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 74.39.03
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

A brilliant performance by Andy Schleck of team CSC up the final climb of the

Stage 16 - Scheck, Kohl & Menchov

Stage 16 - Scheck, Kohl & Menchov

day helped keep brother Frank in Yellow today on Stage 16. Menchov and Vandevelde were on the negative side as each lost time on GC. Menchov was dropped on the final decent, Vandevelde on the climb prior. Vandevelde had a spill on the high part of the decent as he raced to make up ground. Unfortunately he ended up losing over two and a half minutes to Frank. Menchov held his losses to 35 seconds. Cadel, Sastre and Kohl put in excellent performances today retaining their positions on the GC. The GC guys finished about a minute and half behind several shattered breakaway groups.

Stage 16 Winner Cyril Dessel followed by Sandy Casar

Stage 16 Winner Cyril Dessel followed by Sandy Casar

As for the action up front, Dumoulin, Rosseler, Le Mevel, Schumacher and Voeckler escaped the peloton at 40km. A second chase formed behind them of 20 riders including Freire, Hincapie and Pate. Schumacher broke free of the original 5 at 60km holding out till 130km when he was finally absorbed by the first chase. The second chase grew over that time to 29 riders including Dessel, picked up the leftovers of the Schumacher group. Eight of those got a gap and picked up Schumacher. That group included Hincapie, Sivtsov, Arroyo, Portal, Popovych, Augustyn, Valjavec and Casar. Augustyn bolted for the summit of the final mountain and got it but missed a turn on the decent and slid down the mountain without his bike. The remaining Eight split into two groups, the first of which included Popovych, Dessel, Arroyo and Casar. Arroyo made the first move but was countered by Dessel at the line.

The stage is set for a fabulous showdown on L’Alpe-d’Huez. For Schleck, Sastre and Kohl it is probably their last chance to put time on Cadel before the time trial on Saturday If Cadel can hang on tomorrow, only a major mistake by him or an inspired performance by possibly Menchov could keep him from rising to Yellow.  The other contenders are just not competitive with Cadel on the Time Trial and baring riding beyond themselves are unlikely to hold him off. The dark horse is Valverde or Vandevelde who could through caution to the wind and reap reward, though the chance of that is slim at this point.

Stage 17 Elevation Profile

Stage 17 Elevation Profile

Stage 16 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/5zgqqf

Stage 16 Race Reports:

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/5jmesz

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5h5bu6

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/6zupde

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/5udqjd

Stage 16 Results:

1 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, 4.31.27 (34.70 km/h)
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux, st.
3 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
4 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Silence – Lotto, 0.03
5 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 0.24
6 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
7 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, st.
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 1.03
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
10 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, st.
11 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
12 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
13 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre, st.
15 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
16 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Bouygues Telecom, st.
17 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.32
18 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Columbia, st.
19 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 2.03
20 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre, st.
21 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
22 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram, 2.36
23 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Crédit Agricole, st.
24 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 3.21
25 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 4.04
26 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b
H30, st.
27 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 4.13
28 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, st.
29 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, st.
30 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.27

Overall Standings:

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 68.30.16
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.13
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.15
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 3.23
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.11
9 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.38
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 5.23

Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

The riders faced a rather unpleasant start to the stage 15 with rain, cold and possible snow on the climbs. Four riders escaped the peloton at 15km including Martinez, Pate and Arrieta followed by Gerrans who bridged up a few minutes later. The grouped worked exceptionally well retaining a substantial lead most of the way to the finish. The break had a 12 minutes lead at the base of the final climb which was whittled down to about 4 minutes after the GC guys came in. Arrieta fell off as the break neared the final kilometers. Gerrans craftily accelerated to the line ahead of Martinez and a fading Pate to take the win.

The slippery roads and sharp descents caused many to go down and including the previous Tour

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

winner Oscar Pereiro. He lost his line on a hairpin and flipped over a guardrail launching down an embankment to the switchback below. He was originally thought to have broken a femur but it was determined that it was his shoulder bone. As it is, he is out of the Tour. There were other crashes including a massive pavement hugger on both sides of a roundabout at about 50k to go taking down several of the GC contenders.

The real fireworks came as CSC led a blistering attack up the Prato Nevoso led by Andy Schleck of CSC-Saxo Bank. The remainder of the peloton blistered away leaving the Evans, Menchov, Vande Velde, Bernhard Kohl, Valverde, Sastre, Frank Schleck and Andy Schleck, Kreuziger and Sánchez. Menchov attacked this group though he fell allowing the group to regain position. Kohl, Menchov and Sastre eventually escaped with Valverde bridging to get on with a few km left. Menchov fell off the back as the break approached the line. As Cadel and Frank approached the line 30 seconds back, Frank dashed to the line to take the last few seconds to take yellow. It was a very exciting finish

Cavendish bid farewell to the Tour before race start as was widely predicted. He would likely have been competitive at the finish in Paris though the beating of three mountain stages and a time trial might have done him in anyway. The price to play on the final day was just too steep literally. I think prioritizing Beijing was an obvious good choice. He will be missed.

Stage 15 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/55bbse

Stage 15 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5g4ssp

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/56hzza

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6puz9z

Stage 15 Results:

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Crédit Agricole, 4.50.44 (37.77 km/h)
2 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 0.03
3 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.10
4 José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale, 0.55
5 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 4.03
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.12
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 4.23
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.41
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.43
11 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 4.46
12 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.50
13 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
14 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.58
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 5.34

Overall Standings:

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 63.57.21
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.38
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.39
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 2.48
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 3.36
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.11
10 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.34

Oscar Freire takes the sprint to the line by a full bike length off the wheel of Eric Zabel. Showing

Stage 14 Photo Finish

Stage 14 Photo Finish

excellent form, Freire made a picture perfect dash winning Stage 14 for Rabobank. Zabel, the picture of concentration gets nipped at the line by Leonardo Duque who finished 2nd leaving Zabel in 3rd. Both Cavendish and McEwen were off the back on the final Cat 4 climb leaving them out of contention. With Cavendish out, Team Columbia still drove the train to give Gerald Ciolek a shot coming into the finish to no avail. Ciolek ended up out of the top 10. In the process they swallowed up a game Chavanel who took a flyer from 9km out on the down hill run to the line. He held them off for almost 7km. Well done.

Stage 14 offered up a steady climb of just under 600m from Narbonne to Nîmes over its length of 195km. There were two Cat 4 climbs the last of which broke the field apart to a degree. It was quite hot at 30c or 42c on the road.

Tomorrows 183km stage from Embrun to Prato Nevoso has some serious vertical to deal with. The 20km climb up the HC col Agnel at 6.5% and up to 12% towards the top is first at the 34km mark. The second climb is into the ski resort of Prato Nevoso which averages 8% to the finish. Expect Cadel to be under attack. There will no doubt be a shake up in the GC tomorrow.

Stage 15 Elevation Profile

Stage 15 Elevation Profile

Stage 14 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/5zyk9t

Stage Race Reports

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5d5tuw

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/68he8t

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6dv4tv

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/58ftl4

Stage 14 Results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
4 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin Chipotle – H30
5 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre
7 Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole

Green Jersey Standings

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 219 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 172
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 167
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 156
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 144
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 137
7 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 110
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 105
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 98
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 94

Overall Results

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 59.01.55
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.01
3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.46
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.57
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.56
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.51
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 4.18

Mark Cavendish appears to be unstoppable.  He was boxed tightly at 200m. As soon as a gap came

Stage 13 Winner - Mark Cavendish

Stage 13 Winner - Mark Cavendish

open, he was clear and powering to the front. It was nice to see Robbie McEwen released from Cadel support duties to contest the sprint this go around. It has been a long absence. As it was, he couldn’t match Cavendish’s speed to the line. “Cavendish is simply too strong and too fast” McEwen said. McEwen ended up 2nd and Freire finished 5th, putting in another consistent effort.

In Phil Liggett’s commentary he mentioned several times that Cav was the new McEwen. Little harsh but Cav certainly has McEwen’s acceleration from Tour’s past. Cavendish said that he was really taking a beating in the mountains which was keeping him from his best performances. I expect that a few more tour campaigns and he will be even more of a force.

As for Paris, “One day at a time” is how Mark responded to the Frankie Andrea question will you be retiring from the Tour for Olympic preparation? All I can say is too bad it is an Olympic year.

I’ve put a graph together to show how the top Green Jersey point’s leaders have place in each of the sprint stages. It is meant to show the trend of the riders over time. In Stage 3, a four man break made it to the line. I’ve netted out they’re positions relative the graph.

2008 TdF Green Jersey Sprint Stage Trends

2008 TdF Green Jersey Sprint Stage Trends

I’ll skip the run in to the sprint today as it was rather uneventful. If you are interested in the stage details, the video and race reports from news outlets are below.

Stage 13 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/59gosx

Stage 13 Race Reports

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/67mvuz

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/55wntk

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/5mbh5m

Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/6rn42k

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 13 Results

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 4.25.42 (41.10 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence - Lotto
3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
4 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
7 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
9 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
11 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
12 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
13 Iñaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
14 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne
15 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
Green Jersey Standings

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 184 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia, 156
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 156
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 141
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 138
6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 110
7 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 107
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 105
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 97
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 94

Overall Standings

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 54.48.47
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.01
3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.46
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.57
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.56
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.51
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 4.18

Cavendish racked up his third win of the tour setting a record for British cyclists in the process.

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Cavendish powered through the front runners, outpacing Sebastien Chavanel and Gert Steegmans to the line. The man looked like a freight train. It was fun to read all the Twitter activity congratulating Cavendish.  I’ve been wondering why he and the team haven’t been contesting for the Green jersey. In a post race interview he said that the team felt that it was plenty enough to contest the finishes. Adding intermediate sprints into the equation would dilute the focus and jeopardize they’re chances for stage wins. Well, there is always next year.

Other noteworthy finishers include Eric Zabel, who continues to consistently get in there. Today he ended up 4th. Oscar Freire was able to hang on for 5th while the green giant, Thor Hushovd managed to salvage seventh.  Robbie McEwen ended up in 11th place.

As for the rest of the race, it was a by the numbers stage on basically flat terrain. The heat and wind were the most serious impediment. A two man break got away at 40km from the start which included Arnaud Gerard and Samuel Dumoulin. They built up a lead of over 3:30 minutes and held on till about the 10km to go mark. Team tactics were in play for the intermediate and final sprints. Columbia put on an excellent show, towing their man Cavendish into superb position to contest. He did not disappoint.

Sad Note: Tour officials announced that Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval-Scott had tested positive for EPO after Stage 4. He apparently was using a new type of EPO called Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator or CERA. Now it is off to the police station and a summer of questions. I guess Saunier Duval-Scott was not able to justify remaining in the tour. The team pulled out just before the stage began.

Stage 12 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/59r9kc

Stage Recap Articles

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6qq23j

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5ul2db

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/56tr3c

Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/5zmfvn

Stage 12 Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

043

CAVENDISH, Mark

GBR

THR

03:40:52

00:00:00

2

162

CHAVANEL, Sébastien

FRA

FDJ

03:40:52

00:00:00

3

097

STEEGMANS, Gert

BEL

QST

03:40:52

00:00:00

4

151

ZABEL, Erik

GER

MRM

03:40:52

00:00:00

5

133

FREIRE, Oscar

ESP

RAB

03:40:52

00:00:00

6

063

CHICCHI, Francesco

ITA

LIQ

03:40:52

00:00:00

7

081

HUSHOVD, Thor

NOR

C.A

03:40:52

00:00:00

8

186

DUQUE, Leonardo

COL

COF

03:40:52

00:00:00

9

193

DEAN, Julian

NZL

TSL

03:40:52

00:00:00

10

114

HAUSSLER, Heinrich

GER

GST

03:40:52

00:00:00

11

006

MC EWEN, Robbie

AUS

SIL

03:40:52

00:00:00

12

123

CASPER, Jimmy

FRA

AGR

03:40:52

00:00:00

13

058

HUNTER, Robert

RSA

BAR

03:40:52

00:00:00

14

105

ELMIGER, Martin

SUI

ALM

03:40:52

00:00:00

15

072

BALLAN, Alessandro

ITA

LAM

03:40:52

00:00:00

Overall Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

001

EVANS, Cadel

AUS

SIL

50:23:05

00:00:00

2

017

SCHLECK, Frank

LUX

CSC

50:23:06

00:00:01

3

191

VANDEVELDE, Christian

USA

TSL

50:23:43

00:00:38

4

115

KOHL, Bernhard

AUT

GST

50:23:51

00:00:46

5

131

MENCHOV, Denis

RUS

RAB

50:24:02

00:00:57

6

011

SASTRE, Carlos

ESP

CSC

50:24:33

00:01:28

7

041

KIRCHEN, Kim

LUX

THR

50:25:01

00:01:56

8

104

EFIMKIN, Vladimir

RUS

ALM

50:25:37

00:02:32

9

022

ASTARLOZA, Mikel

ESP

EUS

50:26:56

00:03:51

10

067

NIBALI, Vincenzo

ITA

LIQ

50:27:23

00:04:18

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