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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

Today’s stage promised to be both explosive and decisive. The reason of course was the infamous pair of above category mountains on the schedule, the Col du Tourmalet followed by the Hautacam.Tourmalet is an 18km uphill at almost 8 percent which reaches to 7,000 feet while Hautacam is a 17km climb at a 7 percent grade with some fierce double-digit grades along the way. There were two Cat three climbs along the way but as you can see from the elevation profile, they look like rollers by comparison.

Stage 10 Elevation Profile

Stage 10 Elevation Profile - I mean, are you kidding me...get the oxygen!

The yellow jersey changed hands from Kim Kirchen to Cadel Evans as a result of a brilliantly

Evans, Vande Velde & Menchov

Stage 10 Contenders: Evans, Vande Velde & Menchov

executed plan by team CSC. CSC’s Jens Voigt and the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, pushed the pace to limit, unexpectedly popping Valverde, Cunego and Schumacher up the first climb. The other contenders including Evans, Ricco, Kirchen, Vande Velde, Menchov and Sastre were able to match the pace. There was the crazy Tourmalet decent which denied the dropped riders the opportunity to catch back on and even distanced them by an additional minute. Then there was the initial part of the climb up Hautacam which recaptured all the remaining break riders while dropping the yellow jersey, Kirchen. This two phased attack was led primarily by Cancellara the Swiss time trial champion. Jens Voigt continued the attack at an equally difficult pace putting the rest of the GC guys on the red line.  It was the “see you guys later” move by Frank Schleck who finally did the rest of the field in. Only a few could follow including

Stage 10 Winner, Peipoli

Stage 10 Winner, Leonardo Peipoli

the eventual stage winner Piepoli, with team mate Cobo of Saunier Duval-Scott, Kohl of Gerolsteiner and Efimkin of Ag2r. Frank almost rode himself into yellow in the process but missed it by one second to a rebounding Cadel. Vande Velde was a great story today. He was right in there to the line demonstrating he has the stuff to find his way to the podium.

There was a ton of action during the stage and it is hard to describe all the moves in this short brief. I’ve included the links to several race reports from the various news outlets as usual to give the detail.

Race Video: http://tinyurl.com/59r9kc

Race Reports:

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

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

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

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6kcpg3

Stage Results:

1 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 4.19.27 (36.08 km/h)
2 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott, st.
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.28
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.06
5 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.05
6 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott, 2.17
7 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, st.
11 Moises Dueñas Nevado (Spa) Barloworld, 2.27
12 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.49
13 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 3.40
14 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.58
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 4.19

Overall Results:

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 42.29.09
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

American Placing Overall:

3 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.38
57 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 39.51
119 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.25.36
149 William Frischkorn (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.40.53

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