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Stage 16 Winner Mikel Astarloza

Stage 16 Winner Mikel Astarloza

It was a great stage win for Astarloza today escaping in the final kilometers from a 4 man group later forming into a 7 man group.  The highlight of the stage however was Lance Armstrong bridging to the Yellow jersey group on the final climb after being spit out the back moments before.  The gap had grown to nearly a minute between the Schleck brothers led break and the Peloton containing Vande Velde, Cadel and Sastre.  He looked like the Lance of old just powering to the group of seven leaders including Contador, Wiggins, Kloden, Frank and Andy.  While Sastre and Vande Velde were later able to bridge, Cadel could not, losing nearly 3 minutes to the GC contenders.  Zibriskie did an excellent turn on a completely bonkers 30km decent to lock in the Evans gap for Wiggins.  The stage was way more exciting than originally expected.  Nice to see Lance on top form and Astana in general looking more like a team.

Stage 16 Map

Stage 16 Map

Stage 16 Profile

Stage 16 Profile

Stage 16 Recap

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Stage 15 Results

1           Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi           4:14:20
2          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:00:06
3          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
4          Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
5          Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence – Lotto
6          Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          0:00:11
8          Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9          Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel          0:00:59
10          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
11          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
12          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
13          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
14          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
15          Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne
16          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
17          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
18          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
19          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
20          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
21          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC
22          Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
23          Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
24          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
25          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
26          Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
27          David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:14
28          Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank          0:03:16
29          José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
30          Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:03:55
31          Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram
32          Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
33          Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
34          Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram
35          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
36          Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
37          David Loosli (Swi) Lampre – NGC
38          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
39          Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
40          Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre – NGC
41          Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
42          Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
43          Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha
44          Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
45          Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
46          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto
47          Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana
48          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step
49          Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team
50          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram

Overall Standings

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           67:33:15
2          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:37
3          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:46
4          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:02:17
5          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:26
6          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:02:51
7          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:03:09
8          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:03:25
9          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team          0:03:52
10          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:03:59
11          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:04:38
12          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:04:40
13          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:05
14          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:05:26
15          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:05:40
16          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha          0:05:56
17          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:07:23
18          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:08:23
19          Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          0:09:14
20          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:10:00

Allez915

Blah, blah, blah and blah.

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Nuff Said!

Stage 15 Recaps

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Stage 15 Map

Stage 15 Map

Stage 15 Profile

Stage 15 Profile

Stage 15 Results

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           5:03:58
2          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:00:43
3          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:03
4          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:06
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
6          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam
7          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:01:26
8          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:01:29
9          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:35
10          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:55
11          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:02:06
12          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:13
13          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
14          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:23
15          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:02:32
16          Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:02:33
17          Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence – Lotto
18          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram          0:02:36
19          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
20          José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam
21          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:02:41
22          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
23          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
24          Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:02:52
25          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          0:03:14

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo TestTeam           218           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          200
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          126
4          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          122
5          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          110

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas           109           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          101
3          Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          65
4          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          64
5          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          63
6          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          56
7          Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step          56
8          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          52
9          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
10          Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo TestTeam          45

Overall Standings

1           Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana           63:17:56
2          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:01:37
3          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:46
4          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:02:17
5          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:26
6          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:02:30
7          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:02:51
8          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:03:07
9          Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux          0:03:09
10          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:03:25
11          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam          0:03:52
12          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:03:59
13          George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia – HTC          0:04:05
14          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:04:27
15          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:04:38
16          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:04:40
17          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:05:05
18          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:05:27
19          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:05:37
20          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha          0:05:56

Allez915

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

Sanchez showed he had the best form of a breakaway group of four in the 8th stage today.  In the final kilometer, he first closed the final 5-second gap to the escaped Efimkin then clipped Casar at the line for the win.  It was a great performance on a dynamic but uneventful stage.

Luis León Sánchez Nips Sandy Casar at the Line to Take Stage 8

Luis León Sánchez Nips Sandy Casar at the Line to Take Stage 8

Today’s stage had a category 1 climb right out of the gate.  There was a great deal of churn as riders attempted to break on the challenging climb.  The peloton split into groups as Astana tried to stabilize the pace.  Sandy Casar got the KOM points followed by Kern and Martinez on the climb.  The rest followed in a string.  Casar maintained the lead over the summit followed by a chase including Cadel Evans, Zabriskie, Egoi Martinez, Efimkin, Kern, and La Mondiale at 53 seconds back.  The peloton was a further 2:10 back.  All this was occurring at 17km into the race.

On the decent Hincapie, Hushovd, Fletcha and Cancellara joined the chase though they couldn’t put time on Casar initially.  Eventually Casar is reeled in.  The break now had 1:35 on the Yellow jersey bunch.  It seems the battle for KOM and Green jersey points was providing the motivation for the composition of the break both for and against the titles.  Astana was controlling the peloton as expected.  They had it down to 45, not giving Cadel much latitude.

At 113km to go mark the pressure of the looming peloton forced a bailout by some and a capitulation to the capture by others.  The remaining break included Fletcha, Casar, Hushovd, Hincapie, Efimkin, and Cancellara with a 20 second gap.  Hushovd took the intermediate sprint making him the Green jersey on the road.  There were many changes as riders tried to bridge the relatively small gap.  Sanchez, Ignatiev, Astarloza and Rosseler joined on at that point while Cadel dropped off.  Hushovd took top points on the second sprint line to tighten his grip on green.  The break had 1:30 at the 86km to go mark.

On the second climb of the day at 72km to go, it was Hincapie, Cancellara, Sanchez, Ignatiev, Efimkin, Flecha, Astarloza, Casar and Rosseler who was falling off but caught back on descending.  The Yellow jersey group were at 2:57, still climbing.

Andy Schleck upped the pace on the accent up the final climb of the day up the Col d’Agnès at 55km. The added pressure forced split in the peloton.  Notably the Yellow jersey fell behind the split.  It was a yeoman’s effort by the veteran Stephane Goubert to help Rinaldo Nocentini (GC leader) bridge back to the lead chase group prior to the summit.  He had lost more than two minutes prior.  That would have been it for Rinaldo had he not bridged.  Schleck’s brought the gap to the break down to 2:40 by the summit.

Several riders fell out of the breakaway leaving only Efimkin, Astarloza, Sanchez and Casar while the others fell back.  At 46km to go, Efimkin jumped halfway up the climb dropping Astarloza, Sanchez and Casar.  Astarloza and Sanchez fought back only to be dropped again by a resurgent Efimkin.  Casar fell off the pace trying to conserve energy the rest of the way up.  Efimkin was caught 2km prior to the summit and resolved to stay with the break.  Casar crested the summit shortly after and caught back on the break a few km down the mountain with a fabulous decent.

Just after cresting the Col d’Agnès with 40km to go Columbia’s Hincapie accelerated away from the chasing peloton.  He bombed the decent trying to bridge to the four in the lead break.  He knocked the gap to 1:10 before the break riders started working together to extend the lead again to over 2 minutes.  Hincapie started looking back after that giving up and waiting for the peloton to absorb him back in.  The peloton was just under 3 minutes back at 25km when the Astana lead pack finally reeled him in.

The peloton whittled away the lead slowly but surely.  At 15km the gap was reduced 40 seconds to 2:30. Nocentini’s AG2R squad assumed the lead at this point to protect the jersey on the run in to the finish.  The gap dropped below 2 minutes at the 7.5km mark

At the 4.5, Astarloza leaped but was quickly marked.  Seconds later AG2R’s Efimkin did a brilliant jump holding on to about 500 meters.  It was Sanchez who turned on the afterburners to close the gap with Casar and Astarloza close in.  Casar starts the sprint but Sanchez is just two strong and swings by in the last 50 to take the stage.  The peloton cut the gap to 1:50 by the end with no significant changes in the order.

Tomorrow’s stage presents the Col d’Aspin (12km at 6.6 percent) and the Col du Tourmalet (17km at 7.5 percent) both notoriously difficult climbs.  The tour organization strangely placed the climbs smack in the middle of the stage, which will limit any damage done by an enterprising rider of breakaway.  I expect there will be a few GC contenders who will have to give it a go.  In previous years Discovery would send up a sentinel who could fall back for support.  This year, politics may prevent all be a few nonthreatening teammates from the task.  Still it is a possibility.   My guess would be Popovych who made a similar attempt on stage 16 of the Giro this year.  He was caught on the mountain top finish by Sastre with just 2.5km to go after giving it all he had.  I think he would enjoy the green light to give it another shot.

As for the Astana drama, both Lance and Alberto were conciliatory in their morning interviews.  Apparently “it’s all good”.  Bruyneel, in an effort to build trust I suppose has offered that both riders will have an opportunity to challenge for the Yellow, So much for Leipy and Klöden’s ambitions.  Article by Martin Rodgers describing the goings on.

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 8 Profile

Stage 9 Map

Stage 8 Map

Stage 8 Recap

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Stage 8 Results

1           Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne           4:31:50
2          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
3          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
4          Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale          0:00:03
5          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:01:54
6          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7          Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
8          Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
9          Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
10          Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

1           Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne           59           pts
2          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          54
3          Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel          49
4          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
5          Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux          43
6          Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          38
7          Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale          35
8          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          34
9          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          32
10          Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          26

Green Jersey Standings

1           Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team           117           pts
2          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC          106
3          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram          66
4          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          65
5          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank          55

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           30:18:16
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

Cavendish utilized his team to perfection winning his second stage in as many days.  The real news was a crosswind induced break that led to an irreparable split in the field that shook up the GC standings.

It was another hot stage today in southern France.  The 196km Marseille to Le Grande Motte route was rolling on the first half and dead flat on the later half.  Strong crosswinds were expected on the flats which have the potential to force echelon formations and possibly induce breaks in the peloton.

Stage 3 Winner, Mark Cavendish

Stage 3 Winner, Mark Cavendish

A single break got away from the gun which included Moreno, Bouet, De Kort and Domoulin.  They held a lead over much of the stage with a gap of as much as 11 minutes.  The peloton was content to pedal at a comfortable pace, seemingly not worried about the break.  About halfway through the stage Saxo Bank, Rabobank then Columbia moved to the front in sequence to do the work of reeling in the escapees.  The lead steadily fell over the next 70km.  As the Columbia led peloton approached the break, the pace and cross winds, fractured the field.  Almost all of the Columbia team made the front group of 29 as well as Cancellara, Cavendish, Martin and Hushovd.  Three Astana riders made it including Armstrong, Zubeldia and Popo. Many contenders were in the chase group including Contador, Evans, Sastre, Leipheimer, the Schlecks and several of the sprinters. The gap hovered between 20 to 40 seconds into the final kilometers.  Even with strong chase effort the lead group held on to the line taking 40+ seconds out of the chase.

Cavendish was well positioned for the sprint with a single rider left on lead out.  Hushovd was on his wheel but didn’t have enough to get by.  Another great win for Cav.  Cancellara made a nice effort to snag 6th.  The GC changed considerably with Armstrong and Martin moving up and Contador, Kloden, Evans and Leipheimer moving down.

I’ll be very interested in reviewing the video and race reports today.  It seems Armstrong was urging his team on in the lead group even though his team lead, Contador, got caught in the chase group.  Hopefully an interviewer will extract an explanation.  Regardless, Lance has situated himself to possibly take the Yellow Jersey tomorrow with a high probability win tomorrow in the TTT.  That of course would have him protected as leader till the mountain top finish in Arcalis on Stage 7.  All bets are off at that point.

P.S. After reading and viewing interviews and commentary, It seems to me that Lance thought under the conditions that it was wise to stay up front in case a split developed.  Contador had been near the split but missed by a hair.  At that point, Lance mostly hung on to the Columbia freight train and ended up with a windfall.  Lance was unapologetic mind you but seemed to have a proper perspective of the time gain relative to the weeks ahead in the context of team politics.  Contador didn’t seem concerned in the least.

Stage 3 Race Reports

ESPN (best of the reports)
Velonews
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
Yahoo Sports
Cycling Weekly (Lances Motives…Not to Top Contador)

Stage 3 Video

Versus Race Recap
Versus Post Race Recap

Stage 3 Results

1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia – Htc in 5:01:24
2. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team
3. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano at 00:00
4. Samuel Dumoulin Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at s.t.
5. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step at s.t.
6. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at s.t.
7. Fabian Wegmann Team Milram at s.t.
8. Fumiyuki Beppu Skil-Shimano at s.t.
9. Maxime Bouet Agritubel at s.t.
10. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram at s.t.

GC Standings

1. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank in 9:50:58
2. Tony Martin Team Columbia – Htc in 9:51:31
3. Lance Armstrong Astana in 9:51:38 at 00:40
4. Alberto Contador Astana in 9:51:57 at 00:59
5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin – Slipstream in 9:51:58 at 01:00
6. Andréas KlÖden Astana in 9:52:01 at 01:03
7. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram in 9:52:01 at 01:03
8. Cadel Evans Silence – Lotto in 9:52:02 at 01:04
9. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:08 at 01:10
10. Levi Leipheimer Astana in 9:52:09 at 01:11
11. Michael Rogers Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:11 at 01:13
12. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas in 9:52:11 at 01:13
13. George Hincapie Team Columbia – Htc in 9:52:15 at 01:17
14. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas in 9:52:16 at 01:18
15. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank in 9:52:20 at 01:22
16. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel – Euskadi in 9:52:23 at 01:25
17. David Zabriskie Garmin – Slipstream in 9:52:26 at 01:28
18. David Millar Garmin – Slipstream in 9:52:27 at 01:29
19. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step in 9:52:29 at 01:31
20. Haimar Zubeldia Astana in 9:52:29 at 01:31

Allez915

In the Men’s race, Cancellara put the hammer down to take the Men’s Olympic Time Trial. It was another

Olympic Time Trial Medalists

Olympic Time Trial Medalists

superb performance by the Swiss rider will add a gold metal to his bronze earned a few days ago on the road race. Cancellara collapsed and gasping put it all out there accelerating to the line.

Larsson surprised the field posting an incredible time that proved to be the mark to beat. He held off the big guns to earn a silver medal. Levi Leipheimer accelerated throughout the course to demand a place on the podium. He explained that he drew strength from the disappointment of missing this year’s Tour.

Contador started out strong but faded steadily. Cadel Evans put in a strong performance but just couldn’t get into the winners circle. Schumacher could not get it together finishing a disappointing 13th. Cummings and Zabriskie were just not able to get in the game.

Time Trial - Time Check Positions

Time Trial - Time Check Positions

Articles:
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
Yahoo Sports
Velonews

Gold Medalist Kristen Armstrong

Gold Medalist Kristen Armstrong

In the Women’s Race, Emma Pooley put up the time to beat riding fifth out of the gate. In the end only Kristin Armstrong of the USA was able to best the time. Karin Thürig won bronze edging out Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli and Christine Thorburn by a handful of seconds. This was a great ride by the US placing 1st and 5th.

Judith Arndt put in a great ride but could manage only sixth. Christiane Soeder finished 7th. You could argue that the road race took something out of her. Hanka Kupfernagel struggled to hold on to 11th

Articles
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
Yahoo Sports

Men’s Time Trial Results
1. CANCELLARA (SUI); Result: 1:02:11.43
2. LARSSON (SWE); Result: 1:02:44.79 (+0:33.36)
3. LEIPHEIMER (USA); Result: 1:03:21.11 (+1:09.68)
4. CONTADOR (ESP); Result: 1:03:29.51 (+1:18.08)
5. EVANS (AUS); Result: 1:03:34.97 (+1:23.54)
6. SANCHEZ (ESP); Result: 1:04:37.24 (+2:25.81)
7. TUFT (CAN); Result: 1:04:39.44 (+2:28.01)
8. ROGERS (AUS); Result: 1:04:46.85 (+2:35.42)
9. CLEMENT (NED); Result: 1:04:59.42 (+2:47.99)
10. GESINK (NED); Result: 1:05:02.88 (+2:51.45)
11. CUMMINGS (GBR); Result: 1:05:07.91 (+2:56.48)
12. ZABRISKIE (USA); Result: 1:05:17.82 (+3:06.39)
13. SCHUMACHER (GER); Result: 1:05:25.38 (+3:13.95)
14. GRABSCH (GER); Result: 1:05:26.20 (+3:14.77)
15. NIBALI (ITA); Result: 1:05:36.01 (+3:24.58)
16. HESJEDAL (CAN); Result: 1:05:42.33 (+3:30.90)
17. TAARAMAE (EST); Result: 1:05:47.33 (+3:35.90)
18. KARPETS (RUS); Result: 1:05:52.38 (+3:40.95)
19. SOERENSEN (DEN); Result: 1:05:55.42 (+3:43.99)
20. MENSHOV (RUS); Result: 1:06:10.54 (+3:59.11)
21. KIRYIENKA (BLR); Result: 1:06:12.19 (+4:00.76)
22. BRUSEGHIN (ITA); Result: 1:06:20.95 (+4:09.52)
23. KIRCHEN (LUX); Result: 1:06:29.63 (+4:18.20)
24. MIZUROV (KAZ); Result: 1:06:32.05 (+4:20.62)
25. BOTERO (COL); Result: 1:06:35.43 (+4:24.00)
26. MONFORT (BEL); Result: 1:07:12.71 (+5:01.28)
27. BODROGI (HUN); Result: 1:07:27.49 (+5:16.06)
28. SPILAK (SLO); Result: 1:07:34.86 (+5:23.43)
29. JURCO (SVK); Result: 1:07:52.92 (+5:41.49)
30. MEDICI (ARG); Result: 1:07:53.09 (+5:41.66)
31. GEORGE (RSA); Result: 1:07:55.21 (+5:43.78)
32. GRIVKO (UKR); Result: 1:08:01.25 (+5:49.82)
33. VANDBORG (DEN); Result: 1:08:10.20 (+5:58.77)
34. NIEMIEC (POL); Result: 1:08:43.43 (+6:32.00)
35. ASKARI (IRI); Result: 1:08:46.30 (+6:34.87)
36. BELOHVOSCIKS (LAT); Result: 1:08:54.96 (+6:43.53)
37. KOSTYUK (UKR); Result: 1:09:04.04 (+6:52.61)
38. KVASINA (CRO); Result: 1:09:06.49 (+6:55.06)
39. BEPPU (JPN); Result: 1:11:05.14 (+8:53.71)

Mens Time Trial Splits

First check at km 10.8
1 Alberto Contador (Spain), 17.49 (36.370 km/h)
2 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden), 18.07
3 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), 18.17
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA), 18.19
5 Cadel Evans (Australia), 18.24
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spain), 18.31
7 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), 18.36
8 Cummings (Great Britain), 18.40
9 Robert Gesink (Netherlands), 18.42
10 Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark), 18.44

Second check at km 23.5
1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), 30.36 (46.078 km/h)
2 Alberto Contador (Spain), 30.52
3 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden), 31.02
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA), 31.20
5 Cadel Evans (Australia), 31.38
6 Steve Cummings (Great Britain), 31.39
7 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), 31.50
8 Samuel Sánchez (Spain), 31.52
9 David Zabriskie (USA), 31.56
10 Robert Gesink (Netherlands), 32.02

Third check at km 34.6
1 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden), 49.52 (41.631 km/h)
2 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), 49.58
3 Alberto Contador (Spain), 50.09
4 Cadel Evans (Australia), 50.37
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA), 50.44
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spain), 51.17
7 Svein Tuft (Canada), 51.39
8 Robert Gesink (Netherlands), 51.40
9 Michael Rogers (Australia), 51.46
10 David Zabriskie (USA), 52.03

Women’s Time Trial Results
1 Kristin Armstrong (United States), 34.51.7 (40.459 km/h)
2 Emma Pooley (Great Britain), 0.24.3
3 Karin Thurig (Switzerland), 0.59.3
4 Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France), 1.00.9
5 Christine Thorburn (United States), 1.02.5
6 Judith Arndt (Germany), 1.08.1
7 Christiane Soeder (Austria), 1.29.0
8 Priska Doppmann (Switzerland), 1.36.1
9 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kazakhstan), 1.37.8
10 Susanne Ljungskog (SwedenSweden), 1.41.8
11 Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany), 1.43.4
12 Tatiana Guderzo (ItalyItaly), 1.46.3
13 Linda Melanie Villumsen Serup (DenmarkDenmark), 1.58.9
14 Marianne Vos (Netherlands), 2.07.0
15 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain), 2.22.6
16 Natalia Boyarskaya (Russia), 2.22.9
17 Min Gao (ChinaChina), 2.23.5
18 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands), 2.59.9
19 Marta Vilajosana (SpainSpain), 3.03.3
20 Maryline Salvetat (FranceFrance), 3.18.0
21 Emma Johansson (SwedenSweden), 3.37.1
22 Oenone Wood (Australia), 4.01.8
23 Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania), 4.03.7
24 Alexandra Wrubleski (CanadaCanada), 4.23.7
25 Lang Meng (ChinaChina), 5.59.9

Allez915

2008 Olympic Medals

2008 Olympic Medals

I came across an interesting site which handicaps races of all types for online betting sites.  The average odds for the Olympic Time Trial at the site at the time of the post are listed below. The odds makers have all the favorites that we have been reading about for many weeks on the top of the list. 

The Men’s race looks to be wide open. Of the several riders who have a chance, here are my picks. I think Schumacher will win gold based mainly on the tour time trials where he really took it to the field including Cancellara. I think Leipheimer will win silver due to time trial and climbing skills. Cancellara’s is my pick for bronze due mainly to his effort in the road race and that he is a monster of course. Kim Kirchen is my spoiler for silver or bronze. He showed his mettle with two exceptional performances at this years Tour de France. He is on form and able to power on the mountains.

To be frank, I think the US would have been better off with Vande Velde for the time trial. He has nearly matched Kirchens TT performances this year and is excellent form. I would have put him in as spoiler as well. That said, Zabriskie may derive motivation to prove, as he has been saying, that he is in contention.

Underlying this situatuion is the selection process. I am not trying to second guess the US Olympic Committee or diminish the exceptional talants of Dave Zabriskie. I recognize that the process by which athletes are selected attempts to balance many factors and rightly so. Key among them is to select an athlete early enough for them to prepare adequately. In addition, an early select offers the potential for the athlete to time training for peak performance. Of course the other side of it is that an early selection has the disadvantage of missing the rider who is healthy and peaking. An early select may commit the team to a rider who does not mature as expected.

Unfortunately the ‘balance’ is cemented in the form of a selection process unique to each sport. It is an attempt to build the most competive team as fairly as possible. A process that for some sports limits flexibility. That is what we have in this case. 

It could be worse. Consider gymnastics. The fairness in submitting the the Karolyi’s to hand pick a team seems a bit suspect. Worse yet is having coaches invite players to a selection camp as was done for women’s basketball team selection. That situation lead to some major drama. I expect that the process will be adjusted and fine tuned many more times in the future.

Ok, sorry for the tangent.

As for the women’s race, I like Kristen Armstrong. She is more than capable of stomping this course and will. I have Soeder’s for silver based on a driven road race performance on top of strong time trial performance at worlds. World time trial champ Kupfernagel is my pick for bronze.

Men’s Field
Fabian Cancellara – 1.67 to 1
Stefan Schumacher – 4.75 to 1
Michael Rogers – 15 to 1
Christian Vandevelde – 19 to 1
Levi Leipheimer – 22 to 1
Alberto Contador – 22 to 1
David Zabriskie – 23 to 1
Cadel Evans – 23 to 1
Santiago Botero – 23 to 1

Women’s Field
Kristin Armstrong – 3.38 to 1
Hanka Kupfernagel – 3.38 to 1
Christiane Soeder – 5.46 to 1
Priska Doppmann – 5.46 to 1
Mirjam Melchers – 10.50 to 1
Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli – 10.50 to 1
Emma Pooley – 10.50 to 1
Zulfiya Zabirova – 10.97 to 1
Susanne Ljungskog – 12.88 to 1

Articles:
Guardian Article about the British Chances
CBS Sports Article on USA Zabriskie and Thorburn Chances
Cycling News Article on the Olympic Time Trial

2008 Olympic Time Trial Start List
Women
11:30:00 25 Alexandra Wrubleski (Canada)
11:32:00 24 Lang Meng (China)
11:34:00 23 Natalia Boyarskaya (Russia)
11:36:00 22 Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania)
11:38:00 21 Emma Pooley (Great Britain)
11:40:00 20 Maryline Salvetat (France)
11:42:00 19 Emma Johansson (Sweden)
11:44:00 18 Min Gao (China)
11:46:00 17 Karin Thurig (Switzerland)
11:48:00 16 Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
11:50:00 15 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kazakhstan)
11:52:00 14 Linda Melanie Villumsen Serup (Denmark)
11:54:00 13 Judith Arndt (Germany)
11:56:00 12 Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)
11:58:00 11 Jeannie Longo-ciprelli (France)
12:00:00 10 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands)
12:02:00 9 Priska Doppmann (Switzerland)
12:04:00 8 Oenone Wood (Australia)
12:06:00 7 Marta Vilajosana (Spain)
12:08:00 6 Kristin Armstrong (USA)
12:10:00 5 Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden)
12:12:00 4 Christiane Soeder (Austria)
12:14:00 3 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)
12:16:00 2 Christine Thorburn (USA)
12:18:00 1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany)

Men
Wave 1
13:30:00 39 Matias Medici (Argentina)
13:31:30 38 Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan)
13:33:00 37 Hossein Askari (Iran)
13:34:30 36 Svein Tuft (Canada)
13:36:00 35 Matija Kvasina (Croatia)
13:37:30 34 David George (South Africa)
13:39:00 33 Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)
13:40:30 32 Matej Jurco (Slovakia)
13:42:00 31 Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)
13:43:30 30 Steve Cummings (Great Britain)
13:45:00 29 Brian Vandborg (Denmark)
13:46:30 28 Raivis Belohvosciks (Latvia)
13:48:00 27 Robert Gesink (Netherlands)
Wave 2
14:30:00 26 Simon Spilak (Slovenia)
14:31:30 25 Rein Taaramae (Estonia)
14:33:00 24 Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)
14:34:30 23 Ryder Hesjedal (Canada)
14:36:00 22 Andrey Mizourov (Kazakhstan)
14:37:30 21 Przemyslaw Niemec (Poland)
14:39:00 20 Maxime Monfort (Belgium)
14:40:30 19 Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
14:42:00 18 David Zabriskie (USA)
14:43:30 17 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary)
14:45:00 16 Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark)
14:46:30 15 Bert Grabsch (Germany)
14:48:00 14 Denis Menchov (Russia)
Wave 3
15:30:00 13 Samuel Sánchez (Spain)
15:31:30 12 Santiago Botero (Colombia)
15:33:00 11 Marzio Bruseghin (Italy)
15:34:30 10 Michael Rogers (Australia)
15:36:00 9 Vladimir Karpets (Russia)
15:37:30 8 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)
15:39:00 7 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden)
15:40:30 6 Levi Leipheimer (USA)
15:42:00 5 Stef Clement (Netherlands)
15:43:30 4 Alberto Contador (Spain)
15:45:00 3 Cadel Evans (Australia)
15:46:30 2 Stefan Schumacher (Germany)
15:48:00 1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)

Allez915

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

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