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With two surges, Sörensen escapes first the break then from his partner in crime Calzati to take the win in Vittel.

The race started slowly today with a few break attempts but nothing sticking.  Unusually, the full sprint points were still up for grabs for the first intermediate sprint.   Cavendish took the first sprint over Hushovd in the dash for the line.  By successfully contesting the first intermediate sprint at 32km, Cavendish clearly confirmed his intent to go for Green.  As a consequence he also is agreeing to do 6 mountain stages and a TT.  For a sprinter it is not something to signup for lightly.

  • Cavendish – 6 points,
  • Hushovd – 4 points
  • Casar – 2 points

A break formed at 75km included Lefevre, Calzati and Pellizotti, as well as Markus Fothen, Pauriol and Martinez.  Chasing to get on were Avermaet, Sörensen, Freire, Mevel and Ignatiev.  Of the chasers, only Sörensen cleared the gap to joint the break at 83km and so there were seven.  A group this size and strength certainly had a chance to hold off the peloton.  The rest of the sprint points were rendered moot as the break would eat them up.  On the other hand, the Pellizotti/Martinez KOM battle came front and center.

The gap held steady grew steadily too as much as 4:16.  At the Grands-Bois climb (2.3km at 5%) it’s Pellizotti followed by Martinez. Just 6.5 km later, Pellizotti topped Morlaix climb (2.1km at 4.2%) ahead of Martinez again. Martinez lead over Pellizotti was still 18 points.  On the final climb of the day, Bourmont climb (0.8km at 11.1%), It was Pellizotti again over Martinez.  The points were Pellizotti 71 to Martinez at 88.

With 40km of flat remaining, the sprint teams were likely thinking they should rope this group in to take the stage.  With a 3:30 gap and seven strong riders in the front their work was cut out.  The gap actually grew to 3:50 over the next 20km answering the question of a chase.  Someone in the break was going to take the stage.

At the 20km mark it was the 2006 stage winner, Calzati, who jumped with the veteran Sörensen following close behind.  The lead pair had 20 seconds quickly and 5 minutes on the peloton which was resigned to roll in behind the breaks.  At 15km the gap of the two over the 5 man chase was a tenuous 18 seconds. Sörensen is burying himself to hold on to a diminishing lead in to the 5km banner.  It was then that he decided to jump on Calzati quickly kicking the gap back up to 23 seconds! The fight was out of the chase and Sörensen walked away with the stage.

The chase came in 48 seconds later with Lefevre and Pellizotti, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.  The peloton rolled in a comfortable 6 minutes back with Cavendish taking the top of the few remaining sprint points extending his lead over Hushovd a bit further.

On the daily podium today, Sörensen was heard humming a tune as he stepped up on the top spot.  It was later discovered to be an American classic…

There was no change to the GC today.  Leipheimer and Klöden hit the deck on the run in to the finish.  It didn’t look like there was any damage of consequence.  In that they were within the 3km safe zone, neither would lose time at the finish.

Pellizotti continues to demonstrate strength, which doesn’t bode well to Martinez. The Polka Dot Jersey competition is shaping up to be a highly contested prize.

Tomorrow brings the first of a string of mountain stages that calumniate with the Stage 20 climb up the Ventoux.  With so much ahead, this year’s race won’t be decided anytime soon.

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Results

1           Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank                    4:52:24
2          Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          0:00:48
3          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
4          Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
5          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
6          Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel
7          Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:01:33
8          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:58
9          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
10          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
11          Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
13          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
14          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
15          Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
16          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
17          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
18          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
19          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
20          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           200           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   190
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          116
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                            81
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
9          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
10          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55

Overall Results

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 48:27:21
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:39
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:00:46
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
7 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

Allez915

On a relatively flat stage in central France, Johan Van Summeren and Marcin Sapa escaped the peloton at 27km. They valiantly fought to stay out front but with only the two of them there was little chance of bringing it home.  Still,

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

they pedaled steadily for hours and hours achieving a maximum gap of 4:15 before they were reeled in like a marlin on 80lb test.  The fishermen of the day were the teams of Columbia, Rabobank, AG2R, Milram and Garmin/Slipstream, each trying to give their sprint monsters a chance for Glooorrreeee as it were.  They were finally caught with at 5km remaining and quickly shuffled to the back of the train…so sad, so so sad. Makes you just want to go over there and bring them a batch of warm cookies for there trouble.

Here is what the break riders had to say:

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto)

“The team was not in a good mood, I had the impression that some were growing nervous. Today’s instructions were short but precise: one of us with each attack.

“After the peloton started again after a big crash, Chavanel attacked. As soon as he was caught, I jumped away on the other side of the road. Only Sapa joined me. With so far [to ride], and just having two [in the break], I knew that dreaming was useless.

I was always at top speed… it was pleasant to spend so much time at the head. I did enjoy it. An as Most Combative Rider of the Day, I had the pleasure of kissing Gert Steegmans’s girl; she is an hostess with the sponsor of that challenge.”

Marcin Sapa (Lampre)

“When I’m in a breakaway I’m happy even if, as today, it’s very tough to get amongst the action. With Van Summeren the agreement was good, but this time it [the break] was neutralized when there were a few kilometers to go”.

So here we are at 5km.  Columbia is formed up five deep with Kirchen winding it up on a downward grade hitting speeds of over 70km/hour.  I think a “holy wiener schnitzel” is in order here.  All the while Milram tried to weasel their feral claws into the leadout for Ciolek, nearly disrupting the glorious Columbia train.  It was not to be as Hincapie shepherded the whole chaotic mess through the chicane to the 500. At that point it was the Renshaw Cavendish show.  Hushovd and Farrar were lined up tight to Cavendish as Renshaw drove the field up the inclined finish pulling off in the last 200.  In the end Farrar came around strong but missed it by a length.   Hushovd didn’t have it, falling of the wheel for a fifth place finish. Cavendish and his team earned the Green Jersey their effort while Thor was singing an familiar old song …

Here is what a couple of players had to say:

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam)

“I was in good position for the sprint, but it just wasn’t my day. I am very disappointed of course, and will continue to fight for the green jersey.”

“I still want to fight for the green jersey. It’s still a long way to Paris. It was a hard fight for [Cavendish’s] wheel. It was difficult because everyone knows that is where you want to be. I will try to win another stage before this Tour is over. I will take it day-by-day.”

Julian Dean (Garmin-Slipstream)

“Today we took a different approach – I decided to wait back a little longer. Dave took me to 500 meters to go, and took me in with a heap of speed. George [Hincapie] moved off and Renshaw came over, so it took some of my speed away. But I think if that didn’t happen I could have set Tyler up for the win. He has the power and I have the power – it’s just about getting around the Columbia train.”

And a couple of GC contenders:

Alberto Contador (Astana)

“It was a transition day… boring for those who saw it on television, but it was also a day with a lot of tension at the beginning. There were some complicated falls but we avoided them.

“It calmed down up to the last 20 kilometers, where the whole world wants to be ahead to avoid losing any time and the truth is that I was fearful due to the speed we passed close to the fences. The two accidents I saw were ahead of me but I had time to stop the bike.

“I feel good, though it was one more day of punishment in the legs but also one less day of suffering. At the moment I want to think of nothing more than tomorrow, which is another difficult day and which I have to ride without losing time and without any type of falls. Then I will think about the mountains, which I want to arrive already.”

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)

“Today’s stage was a very fast, atypical and strange stage. There was a huge number of falls right from the outset and then the race was neutralized when one of the advertising balloons deflated, meaning that the pack split into two parts.

“It was a pretty strange race in which speeds didn’t fall below 45km/h on a really tough route with constant climbs and descents and badly surfaced roads… I think these stages are not really telling us anything about this Tour de France but they are adding to the tiredness of riders in the heart of the pack in the lead up to the last week of the race.

As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t have any problems today and I felt protected by my teammates again. It’s a shame that we lost Thor Hushovd’s green jersey but Cavendish is the world’s fastest rider right now and the most important thing is that we still have the chance to win it back. We will keep fighting it out to win another stage and to get that green jersey, as well as trying for other personal aims.”

Well that’s it for today.  No GC changes today.  Lots of rollers in tomorrows stage. A break should have a better chance of sticking.

Thanks to Cycling News for the Quote Clips.

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Recap

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 11 Video

Versus

Stage 11 Results

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           4:17:55
2          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
3          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
4          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
5          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
6          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
10          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
11          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
13          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
14          Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
15          Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
16          Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
17          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
18          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
19          Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
20          Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           176           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   169
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          110
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
8          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
9          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55
10          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          54

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale                    43:28:59
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana                   0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana                            0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana                            0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                            0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC                   0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                   0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas                            0:01:54

Allez915

In France, Bastille Day is a holiday celebrated much like the Independence Day here in the US.  In the states, Bastille

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

Day is probably better known as a song by Rush, at least among forty somethings and/or nonhistorians.

There’s no bread, let them eat cake
There’s no end to what they’ll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth

But they’re marching to Bastille day, la guillotine will claim
Her bloody prize free, the dungeons of the innocent the king
Will kneel, and let his kingdom rise!

Bastille Day by Rush

In the spirit of French independence, who will rise today I ask? Who between the kings of sprint or breakaway of the masses will prevail?  Read on cycling fan and see.

The race went something like this:  Hupond got the first break at 5km after the start.  He was marked by Vaugrenard, Ignatiev and Domoulin who bridged moments later.  And so it was for 40km over a series of Cat 4 climb over undulating landscape.

At 45km into the stage, the four leaders in the break, Hupond, Vaugrenard, Ignatiev and Dumoulin, held nearly a 6 minute lead.  The four worked well together extending the lead to six minutes at one point.  Without race radios however, the peloton could not allow too much latitude for fear the break riders would sneak away.  The work to close the gap began and within just 12km, the break had only a two minute advantage.

Several teams have donated a rider to do the work of keep the break in check including Milram Quick Step, Caisse d’Epargne, Astana and Ag2r.  The break hovered between 1:30 and 3.30 minutes for the next 90 kilometers.  The peloton and Columbia in particular intended to string out the break to the final kilometers to prevent riders from attempting to bridge up.

With 30km to go, the peloton finally began to reel in the break, rapidly dropping the gap to one minute.  The gap closed as follows over the remaining kilometers:

  • 20km, 20 seconds
  • 12.5km, 42 seconds
  • 11km, 38 secs
  • 10km, 35 secs
  • 9km, 30 secs
  • 7km, 26 secs
  • 6km, 21 secs
  • 5km, 20 secs – Garmin forms on the right for Farrar
  • 3.5km, 14 secs
  • 2km, 10 secs – Columbia lines up for the sprint
  • 1.5km and done – Hincapie is at the front for Columbia in the final curve laden section doing a monster of a pull

Renshaw took over then pulled off as Cavendish engages the nitrous.   Peanuts on a Popsicle stick, he was fast!  Hushovd was on his wheel but couldn’t get past.  No luck for Farrar either, coming in third.

Cavendish takes his third stage of the tour.  The kings have taken the day.  They take their place on podium high with throngs of admirers singing their praises.

Happy Bastille Day

Point of Interest:  The race organizers deemed today’s stage, radio free day.  That meant there would be no two way communications between riders and team directors.  Riders had to use other means to keep in touch as in days of old.  Riders and team directors have complained for days on the matter for a wide range of reasons many of which seemed reasonable though none of any true consequence.  As you can imagine it was drama all day.  It seemed like every rider had something to say about it.  Some of the riders even stripped jerseys in “protest”.  In the end, the fears and concerns were overblown and overplayed.

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 10 Race Reports

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Cycling Weekly
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Stage 10 Video

Versus Recap

Stage 10 Results

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 4:46:43
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
4 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
6 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
8 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10 Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
11 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
12 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
13 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence – Lotto
14 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank
15 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
16 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
17 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
18 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
19 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia – HTC
20 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC

Green Jersey Standings

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 147 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 141
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 97
4 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 81
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 80
6 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 73
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 55
8 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 54
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 49
10 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom 47

Overall Standings

1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 39:11:04
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
6 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:01
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54

Allez915

How do you turn a mountain stage into a sprint stage?  Put the climbs in the middle and add a 30km decent to a 30km flat into the finish.  The result was that what was expected to be a battle in the GC leadership turned into a

Stage 9 Winner Fedrigo Takes a Sprint Finish over Pellizotti

Stage 9 Winner Fedrigo Takes a Sprint Finish over Pellizotti

typical sprint stage. Pierrick Fedrigo and Franco Pellizotti go one, two after working seamlessly for over 100km to hold off a fast chasing peloton.  The GC battle fizzled as the mountains were just too far from the finish.

Leading the race on to the base of the Tourmalet was the veteran Jens Voigt accompanied by Franco Pellizotti and Pierrick Fedrigo. The first chase group included Broeck, Astana’s Paulinho, Garate, Van Den Broeck, Ten Dam, Martinez, Txurruka, Moncoutie, the KOM on the road Egoi Martinez, and Stage 5 winner, Thomas Voeckler.  Thirty seconds back and trying to get on was Bouet who had just passed the Cofidis rider, Duque, who was going the other way.  The peloton was 4:10 back and includes the GC favorites though several riders including Cancellara and Popovych have fallen off.  The AG2R team was doing a great job leading for their yellow jersey teammate.

At 80km, Pellizotti jumped followed by Fedrigo.  Voigt was riding within himself to keep contact without blowing up.  Halfway up the climb the peloton was still a conspicuously large group.  With 8km to go to the summit it was surprising that none of the contending teams pushed the pace forcing Astana to cover.

At the summit of the HC climb, Pellizotti and Fedrigo took the double points for 1st and 2nd place.  The first chase came across at 2:50 minutes back having just picked up a struggling Jens Voigt.  Martinez took seventh padding his lead in the KOM by 16 points.  Bouet went to all the trouble to bridge up to the chase group only to fall back to the peloton after he was dropped on a steep section.  The number of RV’s and cars that lined the final km was astounding.  The peloton climbed steadily but didn’t make up much time on the climb at 4:50 back.  The placement of the mountains in the center of the stage as expected really sucked the life out of what could have been another exciting stage.  Considering tomorrows rest day, what was the point?

The first half of the Armstrong led decent was uneventful.  Columbia was given the go ahead to catch the breaks and force a sprint for the team.   At just under 5 minutes down, their work was cut out for them.  The peloton caught the chase at 40km to go narrowing the gap to 3:50. Caisse d’Epargne came to the front in support of their sprinter Rojas.  Rabobank came to the front to help salvage some glory today perhaps as Menchov has not panned out as expected.  They were attempting to set up Oscar Freire for the sprint if possible.  At 20km to go, the break was holding a tenuous lead over the peloton of 2:30 minutes.  It was still touch and go whether Pellizotti and Fedrigo could hold out.  They certainly were giving it there all.  The teams for the breakaway riders, Liquigas and Bbox, moved to the front in an attempt to disrupt chasing peloton.

With 10 km to go the gap between the break and the peloton had dropped to 1:22.  It seemed that the break would hold at this point.  Caisse was doing the lion’s share of the work to bring the break back stringing out the peloton in the process.

  • At 7km the gap was 60 seconds.
  • At 5km the gap was 44 seconds thought the peloton was bunching
  • At 4km the gap was 42 seconds Schleck flatted outside the 3km safety zone.  The whole team fell back to help.
  • At 3km the gap was 41 seconds. Voigt dragged Schleck back in no time flat
  • At 2km the gap was 39 seconds. Liquigas did a great job of disrupting the fading Caisse chase.
  • At 1km the gap was 36 seconds.  The break was going to hold.  Pellizotti no longer took a turn at the front.  Pellizotti jumped prior to the final turn at the 500 meter mark.  Bbox’s Pierrick Fedrigo tagged Pellizotti and came around to take the line.

Rabobank’s Oscar Freire took the field sprint for third.  Rojas was only able to muster sixth.  There was no change to the GC standings.

Well it looks like GC racing will be put on hold till the Stage 13 in the Alps on Friday.  Tomorrow is a rest day followed by three stages through central France.

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Recap

Bicycling Mag
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ESPN
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Stage 9 Results

1           Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom           4:05:31
2          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
3          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank          0:00:34
4          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
5          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
6          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
7          Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto
8          Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel
9          Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
10          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi           78           pts
2          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          59
3          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          55
4          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          49
5          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          49

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team           117           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          106
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          75
4          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          66
5          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank          62

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana          0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54

Allez915

The highlights of the stage were an exceptionally well ridden break by David Millar followed by a blistering sprint by Thor “The Hamma” Hushovd. Besides that the stage was marked wreck after wreck on the rain slicked roads mostly on the later half of the race.

Hushovd does a picture sprint to take the win and get back into contention on the green jersey competition

Hushovd does a picture sprint to take the win and get back into contention on the green jersey competition

In early riding, Zabriskie, Hincapie, Fletcha, Millar and Freire all took a stab at a break today. At around the 50 km mark, by Millar, Auge and Chavanel. They quickly gained a minute on the field over the next 5k or so. The lead grew to its max of 3:30 by the 65km mark. The peloton learned from the previous day not to let the break get to far out either that or Millar was seen a significant enough of a threat to keep it close.

A light rain began at the 80km mark, which didn’t bode well relative to the hilly terrain ahead. Astana comes to the front to keep its riders out of trouble. Txurruka gets free and bridges to the break by the 110km mark. Just after the base of the final climb, Millar attacks his compatriots. He gets a gap the others can’t match. He had about a minute over the peloton with the mountain and decent, a flat section of about 10km and some steep rollers in the last 2km to conquer.

Millar’s lead over the peloton slips to 30 seconds but by the end of the decent is back up to over a minute. Millar is burying himself on the flats to hold on to the tenuous lead. After 10km of wrecks, and looking at each other, the peloton wakes up and accelerates. The question is will someone jump to snag a few seconds, will Millar take advantage of the indecisive peloton or will it go to an unexpected sprint?

As the peloton bears down on Millar, Columbia’s Martin is up front with Cavendish but where was his regular lead out guy, Renshaw? Millar was caught at the 1km after a supreme effort. Columbia’s Martin tried to control the pace through the final Km to set up the sprint for Cavendish to no avail. On the sprint, Pozzato went left and Freire went right with Hushovd on his wheel. Hushovd takes it at the line.

Hushovd narrowly missed taking over the Green jersey lead over Cavendish by one point. What was expected to be a Cavendish rout is shaping up to be a very competitive sprint competition.

The unexpected sprint wins the day.

All eyes are on stage 7 and the mountains near Andorra. Tomorrow is the day were we see who has got the legs and more importantly which of Astana’s leaders can assert control. I think Lance is counting on strategy and experience and maybe seniority to hold onto control where Contador has raw horsepower. Either way it goes, it will be exciting to watch. There are several riders including Cadel, Sastre, and Schleck who are in need of some seconds and minutes. They may just have to take a chance and scramble for it on what is likely a Astana dominated stage.

Climbs of the day
Km 32.0 – Côte de Sant Feliu de Guixols – 2.0 km climb to 5.4% – Category 4
Km 55.0 – Côte de Tossa de Mar – 3.8 km climb to 4.2% – Category 4
Km 98.0 – Côte de Sant Vicenc de Montalt – 3.3 km climb to 5.2% – Category 3
Km 110.0 – Collsacreu – 4.1 km climb to 5.2% – Category 3
Km 159.0 – Côte de la Conreria – 4.7 km climb to 4.5% – Category 4

Stage Profile

Stage 6 Profile

Stage 6 Profile

Stage 6 Recap
Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 6 Video
Yahoo Sports

Stage 6 Results
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 4:21:33
2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
4 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
6 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
7 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
8 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto
10 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
11 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
12 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
13 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
14 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
15 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step
16 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC
17 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
18 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC
19 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
20 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana

Green Jersey Overall
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 106 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 105
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 66
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 54
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 53

Overall Results
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 19:29:22
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:19
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:23
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:31
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:00:38
7 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:00:52
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:16
9 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:22
10 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:29

Allez915

The 15km time trial in Monaco exposed the field in this year’s tour.  As Phil Liggett predicted, Fabian Cancellara took the podium.  Considering his win at the Tour de Suisse this year beating out Martin, KlÖden and Cunego, the rest of

Contador Pounds the Field

Contador Pounds the Field

the field will be keeping an eye on him.  Great performance but the spots below reveal the GC potential on the non-specialists.  Contador solidified his position as Astana team lead with a blistering performance today.   Only Cancellara had the guns to keep him at bay.  Lance put in a solid performance but for the second time this year appears to be fetching bottles for his ridiculously strong team.  Astana has 4 riders in the top 10 for the love of god. Joining Contador in the top ten were KlÖden, Leipheimer and Lance.

Cadel Evans had a great performance today besting Leipheimer to take 5th.  He looks to be on form and likely able to stick with the leaders on the tough stuff.  Unfortunately his GC hopes are a tough road considering the poor performance of his team.  Not only will Lotto probably take a beating on Tuesday’s TTT but he is unlikely to have much support as the grade steepens.  While Cadel is very strong in the mountains, in the past he has been unable to attack in a way that will help him reclaim the time required to find a podium spot.

Sastre 21st and Menchov 53rd each gave up a minute or more to leader.  Sastre had a great Giro showing best of the bunch form on the mountains.  This field is stronger still.  While Levi and Lance maintained their relative placing in the field of racers from the Giro to the Tour, this trio appears to have faded from top form.  Sastre in particular has shown an ability to bury himself on a time trial when necessary.  This day it was not to be.  He has some ground to make up.  His team didn’t fair to well either today.  The stage is set for widening the gap on the TTT.   What is up with Menchov?  I find it hard to understand his lack of form.  He has some ground to make up and probably more still on Tuesday.

The Stage 4 team time trial set for Tuesday should prove out that Astana is the cream of the field. Team Garmin and Team Columbia looked very strong today and aught to be able to elevate the team riders as a whole in the TTT as well.  I for one can’t wait.  There will likely be a stack of green and yellow riders at the top of the GC on Wednesday morning.  Many of the American riders should have a great showing.

Stage 1 Race Reports

Stage 1 Video

Stage 1 Results

1. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank in 19:32
2. Alberto Contador Astana in 19:50
3. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream in 19:51 at 00:19
4. Andréas KlÖden Astana in 19:54 at 00:22
5. Cadel Evans Silence – Lotto in 19:55 at 00:23
6. Levi Leipheimer Astana in 20:02 at 00:30
7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas in 20:04 at 00:32
8. Tony Martin Team Columbia – Htc in 20:05 at 00:33
9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas in 20:09 at 00:37
10. Lance Armstrong Astana in 20:12 at 00:40
11. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank in 20:13 at 00:41
12. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel – Euskadi in 20:16 at 00:44
13. David Zabriskie Garmin – Slipstream in 20:19 at 00:47
14. David Millar Garmin – Slipstream in 20:20 at 00:48
15. Jérôme Coppel Francaise Des Jejuna in 20:23 at 00:51
16. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step in 20:28 at 00:56
17. Christian Vande Velde Garmin – Slipstream in 20:29 at 00:57
18. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank in 20:32 at 01:00
19. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram in 20:35 at 01:03
20. Rémi Pauriol Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne in 20:37 at 01:05
21. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team in 20:38 at 01:06
22. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha in 20:39 at 01:07
23. Alessandro Ballan Lampre – N.g.c in 20:42 at 01:10
24. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia – Htc in 20:42 at 01:10
25. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence – Lotto in 20:43 at 01:11

Allez915

I’ve been refurbishing a stable of bikes for a client to get them ready for the summer. There were eight bikes in all, six which were being ridden by members of the family to one degree or another. The bikes include two hybrids, three kids’ mountain bikes and two Trek 2100’s. It was requested that one of the hybrid bikes be derustified top to bottom. That bike took hours and quite a bit of EBay and internet time to find compatible parts. The other hybrid was well used and needed a scrub, lube and a few basics. The three kids and the road bikes were in near new condition requiring basic service to bring them to road ready.

It was the last two bikes that got my interest. The first was a Trek 950 mountain bike. This bike was ridden by my clients’ son who had passed away some years before. They wanted to restore the bike to its best self as a remembrance best I could tell.

He had taken the bike to the city and had taped nearly every tube with yellow duct tape in an effort to disguise it from would be thieves. He had also used an old chain to secure the saddle to the frame. I had to wrestle with how far to go to preserve the bikes’ original character but still bring it back to life. I opted to replace as little as possible in an effort to preserve its unique personality.

They gave me this bike stripped of the tape but not of the glue. I stripped the bike to the frame, cleaning each part to put it in the best shape possible. I used carb cleaner remove the tape glue leaving a rather nice royal blue finish on the bike. I then added a couple of new handlebar grips, tires/tubes and a wheel truing.  There you have it a new Trek steed. Below is a picture of the finished bike.

Refurbished Trek 950

Refurbished Trek 950

The prize for doing the 950 was to get to work on the last bike. The last bike was an old Columbia kid’s bike circa late seventy’s maybe. This gem was the sons’ first bike. It was a faded red color with ripped up tires, rusted chain & chopper bars and banged up and rusted wheels. This poor thing had seen better days.

I was able to derust the bars and wheel rims using tin foil and simple green. Rust on chrome comes off nicely that way.  Some tripple zero steal wool will also work but leaves a bit more mess. The rest of the work included a top to bottom scouring, a new chain, tires/tubes and a spit polish. Here is a picture of the final bike.

Columbia Kids Bike

Columbia Kids Bike

It was a real pleasure to work on the bike as it brought back memories of my first bike and its later modified incarnation. My first was a sky blue Schwinn Jr. Sting-Ray with chopper bars, a white banana seat and sissy bars. Here is a picture of a similar bike in red. I loved that bike and rode it everywhere.

Schwinn Junior Sting-Ray

Schwinn Junior Sting-Ray

After I had grown out of the bike, my brother modified it to be more of a BMX bike. Here is a pic of something similar to what he put together.

Modified Schwinn Sting-Ray

Modified Schwinn Sting-Ray

I had always thought it was cool of my dad to give me and my brothers a free hand to work on our bikes. I think both of us took pleasure in it at the time and made good use of the skill in later years.

Allez915

On the longest stage of the tour, Mark Cavendish and Team Columbia work the train to perfection getting the win.  With an exceptional lead out by George Hincapie and excellent support by Kim Kirchen, Cavendish was dropped at the 150m mark in prime position to bring it home.  At the moment Cav took over, Hushovd all ready had him by a half a bike.  Cav punched the crank and within 50m he had distanced all sprint contenders and took the line, Wow.  He has the legs to contest and that means we’ve got a new rider to watch on the flatlands this tour.

 

This was a really dry stage today. Unless you enjoy the banal banter of the race announcers, save you’re viewing time for a stage with more potential.  Three minutes of highlight footage is all you really need.  Not much but a long breakaway to follow and no-namers at that.  The sprint will be the highlight of the day.

 

Team Columbia impresses me more and more.  There GC hopes appear to be on the back of Kirchen.  Kirchen, riding for T-Mobile, was 7th at last year’s tour and clearly capable of besting that effort.  I expect he will be marking Evans, Valverde and Menchov among others when the road turns upward.  Tomorrow’s stage introduces two 2nd category climbs that may hint at Kim’s strength and competitiveness.  It will be interesting to see how the team is used to set Kim up for a run.  I’m sure Hincapie will provide pace for one of the mountains.  Let’s see who is on point for the other probably Lövkvist.

 

2008 TdF Stage 6 Elevation Profile

2008 TdF Stage 6 Elevation Profile

 

Team Columbia is well positioned with three riders in the top 10 with Kirchen 2nd, Hincapie 7th and Lövkvist 8th.  All of them are in the mix to be competitive for GC though Kirchen will be supported in the mountains most likely.

 

Noticeably absent from today’s finish were team Garmin/Chipotle.  Only Julian Dean placed in the sprint finish in 10th.  There are two riders in the top 10 overall including Millar and Vande Velde.  I expect Millar will fade in the mountains like past years but Vande Velde could show us something.  Let’s see tomorrow.

 

Links for Stage 5 Press Releases

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

Cycling News:  http://tinyurl.com/5lps4f

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

 

Stage 6 Results
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia 5.27.52 (42.45 km/h)
2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank  
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram  
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole  
5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Barloworld  
6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld  
7 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone  
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto  
9 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas  
10 Julian Dean (NZ) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30  
11 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner  
12 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step  
13 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
14 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux   
15 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Agritubel  
     
Overall Standings
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 19.32.33
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 0.12
3 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.12
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 0.21
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 0.33
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.37
7 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia 0.41
8 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia 0.47
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0.58
10 José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.01
11 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.12
12 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 1.13
13 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 1.18
14 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.22
15 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.24
     
Team Standings
1 Barloworld   16.23.36
2 Agritubel    
3 Rabobank    
4 Gerolsteiner    
5 Silence – Lotto    
6 Credit Agricole    
7 Garmin Chipotle    
8 Team Columbia    
9 Bouygues Telecom    
10 Liquigas    
11 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone    
12 Team Milram    
13 Quick Step    
14 Lampre    
15 Euskaltel – Euskadi    
16 AG2R-La Mondiale    
17 Caisse d’Epargne    
18 Francaise des Jeux    
19 Saunier Duval – Scott    
20 Team CSC Saxo Bank    

 

 

 

Allez915

After a half hour hunting a live feed from of the tour, I finally hooked into a choppy feed from Eurosport Live.  Took some effort to ignore the rather adolescent chat room that accompanied the site but who’s complaining.

 

Got to love the underdog.  Stefan Schumacher gets it done on the 4th stage of the TdF.  Maybe somebody else in computerland saw or made a prediction of Schumacher dropping the hammer in this stage but I didn’t.  He stormed to the top of the pile in Lance like proportions bringing a 35:44 for the 29.5km TT for an average of 49.534 km/hr or over 30MPH.  He bested a close group of riders including Cancellara +33, Menchov +34, Voigt +35, Vande Velde +37 and Hincapie +41.  Other riders came in later to challenge but couldn’t quite get it done. 

 

The elevation profile shows that this course as a rather flat unassuming loop. In truth the winds were strong and the course more rolling than expected.  The result was that while the contenders still gravitated upward there were some surprises including in the top spot.

 

2008 TdF Stage 4 Elevation Profile

2008 TdF Stage 4 Elevation Profile

As hoped for, team members from both Team Columbia and Garmin – Chipotle put in some excellent performances.  Danny Pate threw the gauntlet down early demonstrating strength for Garmin/Chipotle.  It wasn’t till the big guns came out much later that he was bested and only by a small margin at first.  Danny hung in for 14th, a very respectable placing for the TdF.  Well done. 

 

Other American team members also got in on the action including Pate’s Garmin compatriots Vande Velde 8th, and Millar, with stellar 3rd a mere 18 seconds off the leader.  Columbia’s best placers include Lövkvist 11th, Hincapie 9th and Kirchen with 2nd only 18 seconds off the leader and slightly ahead of Millar.  American teams are clearly strong and deep as today’s results show.  They are 1st and 2nd on the team overall.  We shall see if that holds up on the more difficult stages to follow.

 

At first it seems Schumacher has no GC illusions from his first interview on Eurosport.   Later on it is published that he will give up the yellow kicking and screaming. I suppose his director had a chat with him in between.  Here nor there, he got it done and deserves his time in the limelight. 

 

Stage Results
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 35.44 (49.5 km/h)
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 0.18
3 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.18
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 0.27
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 0.33
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.34
7 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 0.35
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.37
9 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia 0.41
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0.47
11 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia 0.47
12 José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0.50
13 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.08
14 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 1.10
15 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 1.18
Overall Results
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 14.04.41
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 0.12
3 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.12
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 0.21
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 0.33
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.37
7 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia 0.41
8 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia 0.47
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0.58
10 José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.01
11 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.12
12 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC – Saxo Bank 1.13
13 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 1.18
14 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.22
15 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.24
Team Results
1 Team Columbia 1.48.58
2 Garmin Chipotle 0.19
3 Team CSC Saxo Bank 0.51
4 Gerolsteiner 1.30
5 Caisse d’Epargne 2.06  

 

I went in to the 2008 Tour de France wondering if I would be as invested in the race as in past years.  I find that I’ve been hedging commitment to the race for several weeks leading up to the start.  After some thought, several reasons jump to mind. 

·         There is the closure of the Discovery team and the subsequent scattering of the team members to the three winds. 

·         There is the hardheaded ASO decision to deny Astana the opportunity to race and along with it two of my favorites, Contador and Leipheimer as well as the ever fascinating director Johan Bruyneel. 

·         There is the decision of Versus to deny the cable impaired a live online video feed relegating us to the semi-live twitter like updates from the major news and team outlets.  

·         Let’s not forget the yearly sponsor and rider changes to navigate. 

 

So with all this nonsense to contend with, who could figure where I’d be three stages in?  Yes, you guessed it, as buried in it as a solo break 5K out with a 2 minute gap. 

 

The two American teams Team Columbia (High Road) and Team Garmin – Chipotle are square in the middle of it.  They have several riders including today’s 2nd place finisher Will Frischkorn and yesterday’s 2nd and 3rd place finishers Kim Kirchen and Gerald Ciolek who are bringing me along for the ride. 

 

I’m not sure how these teams will play out in the GC but they have clearly come to challenge individual stages.  There is a rather rebellious side to each of these teams that hint at more fun to come.  

 

The interview at the end of the stage with Frischkorn was fascinating.  Clearly still wound up from the stage finish, he recounted the story of the finishing kilometers as a series of missteps.  He just knew that he could get it right if they just rewind to 5K out and restart. He wore the disappointment of opportunity lost on his sleeve.  He is a novice to grand tour riding which was a refreshing contrast more controlled interviews of the favorites.  It was very entertaining. 

 

Tomorrow’s time trial will finally stack the players in this year’s race.  I’m hopeful George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Christian Vande Velde, and David Millar will shake it up a bit finding their way into the top 10 or 15.  Either way this year is wide open, enjoyably so.

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