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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

The tour moved, westward away from the Pyrenees today on a path towards the Alps and some

Stage 11 Winner, Arvesen & Runner Up, Elmiger

Stage 11 Winner, Arvesen & Runner Up, Elmiger

tough stuff on stages 15, 16 and 17. The stage had a nice Cat 1 climb about two thirds in on the 167.5-km path from Lannemezan to Foix. The GC contenders were happy to give away the stage to a breakaway effort and weren’t disappointed. They let a break go at 35k which rode into the sunset. As the best placed rider was over 20 minutes back,  there was little pressure to chase. The result was that the stage became an extension of yesterday’s rest day for the GC contenders for the most part anyway. The break eventually ended up over 14 minutes ahead of the field at the finish. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that only the commentators new much about this collection of riders. The run in to the finish was interesting in that there were new riders to follow.  What else was there to do? There was no change to the overall standings.

Oscar Pereiro made a stab as a solo break couldn’t make it stick as CSC dropped the hammer to keep him in check among others. All’s quite on the GC front, with Cadel Evans in first, Schleck in second and Vande Velde in third.

Tomorrow could be a sprinters stage. It will be interesting to see if Mark Cavendish can shake out his legs to get in the mix.

Barloworld’s Duenas Nevado’s was given the boot after test results from Stage four came back positive for EPO. Apparently the mess was in his trailer. It seems a few bad eggs suck the goodness away at times. No sucking…that’s it!

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

Race Reports

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6y3kyj
Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6lmxxy
Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5ubjqn
Bicycling: http://tinyurl.com/6693su

Stage 11 Results

1 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 3.58.13 (42.19 km/h)
2 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale, st.
3 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre, st.
4 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank, 0.02
5 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole, 0.11
6 Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom, 0.14
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas, st.
8 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux, st.
9 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
10 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram, st.
11 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Crédit Agricole, st.
12 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 0.29
13 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 14.51
14 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, st.
15 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, st.

Overall Standings

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 46.42.13
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 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.10
9 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.29
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.32

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