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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

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Dave Wiens on Leadville 100 MTB Race: Link
This is a nice article in Velonews about Dave Wiens’s perspective on the Leadville 100 Mtb Race being held

Dave Wiens 2008 Leadville 100 Bike

Dave Wiens 2008 Leadville 100 Bike

this weekend. Ya just got to like this guy. He seems really down to earth and unconcerned about the attention the race is getting due to Lance Armstrong’s participation. The whole 40+ thing has me rooting for him for sure. According to the article he will be riding a Rotwild carbon fiber full suspension bike.

Olympic Road Race – More on the Spanish Team Perspective: Link

Reading this article I’m still wondering what the math is that picks one of the Spanish team as leader over the others? I realize Valverde is fresh off a superb win at the San Sebastián Classic. Yet each of the riders has over the top credentials. Sastre has won the 2008 Tour de France, Freire won a stage and placed top five in several others, Sanchez finished seventh at the Tour de France and Contador won the 2007 Tour de France and won the 2008 Tour of Italy. It will be interesting to see how they work together. I suppose it could come down to how folks are doing in the moment as Contador said yesterday.  More than likely the leader will be  selected via some behind the scenes politics in that a team typically needs to commit to a leader early enough to make a difference.

Valverde identifies several riders who may contend for a medal including the Luxembourg contingent of Schleck brothers, who I think might be very eager to make a statement, Kim Kirchen who is well suited to this type of race. He also mentions that the German and Italian squads are strong. Noticeably absent from his list was Leipheimer, Vande Velde and Cadel Evens who haven’t done too badly this year either.

Google Earth Plot of the 2008 Beijing Road Race Course: Link

Allez915

With the Olympics just around the corner I’ve been doing some homework on the various cycling events and participants. One of the first events on the Olympic schedule is the men’s and women’s road race. The men’s road race is scheduled for Aug 9th followed by the women’s race on the 10th. I’ve worked up a brief profile of the course for you.

The course is one of the most challenging courses of the modern Olympics. The men’s race is just over 150 miles long with over 11,500 vertical feet of climbing. The woman’s race is 77 miles with over 4,100 vertical feet of climbing.  The race starts near the Forbidden City, heading northwest through Beijing and various points of interest, toward the Great wall near the Badaling. The course is relatively flat for the first 80km. It then rises 230m over the next 10km as the course approaches the circuit at 90km.  The circuit is a 24km loop which is ridden seven times by the men and two times by the women. The circuit is basically up one side of a mountain and down the other with no real flat sections.

2008 Olympic Road Race Elevatin Profile

2008 Olympic Road Race Elevation Profile

The circuit initially rises nearly 1,700 feet over 6.2 miles for an average grade of 5.2%. The circuit accent is followed by a short roller then an 8.2 mile descent to the valley bottom. The decent supposedly heads straight into the prevailing wind in that area, providing little relief to the riders. The finish follows the last circuit decent and appears to have a slight rise to the line. The weather is expected to be hot and humid with pollution being the wild card. The course looks to favor the climber over the sprinter. Position over the last circuit ridge will be critical to have a shot at a medal. The descent to the finish will be brutal.  Only the most courageous will be in a position to contest.

This is a course that could offer an advantage to a team which works together by protecting the strongest rider. The question is will a country’s contingent compete as a group or as individuals? There are a mere three medals to award for this event. Of course that means teamwork will be rewarded with a medal for some and a badge of national pride for others. It seems a little unfair to the supporting riders who effectively will be sacrificing their chance at an Olympic medal.

From news reports, it looks as though Spain has teamwork strategy in mind. The Spanish team has qualified for five seats in the road race including Carlos Sastre, Alberto Contador, Oscar Freire, Alejandro Valverde, and Samuel Sanchez. This is a Who’s Who of professional cycling. These guys are not domestiques and don’t generally perform the supporting role. Any of them has a potential to win or place in the race. How will they decide who leader will be? According to Contador, the “team” will decide during the race who will contest. Leaving one to imagine how this dialog will go down during the event. Somebody is going to be truly disappointed.

Why not introduce a team road event? There is some precedent for it. Team cycling events have been held since the start of the modern Olympics in various forms. From 1912 to 1956 there was a men’s team road race event. Then from 1960 to 1992 there was a 100km team time trial which was subsequently replaced by the individual time trial in 1992. In fact, the US won a bronze medal in the ’84 Olympic TTT with none other than Davis Phinney participating on the team. On a tangent, Connie Carpenter-Phinney won gold in the first women’s road race in 1984. The son of Connie and Davis, Taylor Phinney, is competing in several track events this year in Beijing. Be sure to check him out on the track. I have yet to find out why the team road events were ended though some accounts point to doping or race fixing. It only seems right to acknowledge a team’s contribution in the road race. My vote is for a team medal.

Links of Interest:

Other Velonoise:

Lance Sighting – Posted on Aug 4th 2008. http://tinyurl.com/5mppqj

Here is a peak at one of the bikes Lance is considering for the Leadville 100 this weekend. It is the 23lb, 26” Trek

Lance's Trek

Lance's Trek

Top Fuel 9.8 full suspension bike. He is also considering a Gary Fisher Superfly 29-inch hardtail which might be a better fit for the course considering the trail is supposed to be in relatively good condition baring a few short rutted sections. Included in the post is a blurb about his training

Cadel Update – Posted on Aug 4th 2008. http://tinyurl.com/5pcva7

Here is a short post about Cadel being fit to compete at the Olympics next week. He is qualified and able to compete in the road race and the time trial. Here is an article which sketches out the whole knee injury situation: http://tinyurl.com/62y6xb.

Here is another interesting article about his wife’s position on the media attention he has been receiving lately: http://tinyurl.com/5jdc8y.

Allez915

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

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

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 12 Winner Mark Cavendish

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

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

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

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

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

Stage Recap Articles

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

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

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

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

Stage 12 Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

043

CAVENDISH, Mark

GBR

THR

03:40:52

00:00:00

2

162

CHAVANEL, Sébastien

FRA

FDJ

03:40:52

00:00:00

3

097

STEEGMANS, Gert

BEL

QST

03:40:52

00:00:00

4

151

ZABEL, Erik

GER

MRM

03:40:52

00:00:00

5

133

FREIRE, Oscar

ESP

RAB

03:40:52

00:00:00

6

063

CHICCHI, Francesco

ITA

LIQ

03:40:52

00:00:00

7

081

HUSHOVD, Thor

NOR

C.A

03:40:52

00:00:00

8

186

DUQUE, Leonardo

COL

COF

03:40:52

00:00:00

9

193

DEAN, Julian

NZL

TSL

03:40:52

00:00:00

10

114

HAUSSLER, Heinrich

GER

GST

03:40:52

00:00:00

11

006

MC EWEN, Robbie

AUS

SIL

03:40:52

00:00:00

12

123

CASPER, Jimmy

FRA

AGR

03:40:52

00:00:00

13

058

HUNTER, Robert

RSA

BAR

03:40:52

00:00:00

14

105

ELMIGER, Martin

SUI

ALM

03:40:52

00:00:00

15

072

BALLAN, Alessandro

ITA

LAM

03:40:52

00:00:00

Overall Results:

Pos.

No.

Name

Nat.

Team

Time

Gap

1

001

EVANS, Cadel

AUS

SIL

50:23:05

00:00:00

2

017

SCHLECK, Frank

LUX

CSC

50:23:06

00:00:01

3

191

VANDEVELDE, Christian

USA

TSL

50:23:43

00:00:38

4

115

KOHL, Bernhard

AUT

GST

50:23:51

00:00:46

5

131

MENCHOV, Denis

RUS

RAB

50:24:02

00:00:57

6

011

SASTRE, Carlos

ESP

CSC

50:24:33

00:01:28

7

041

KIRCHEN, Kim

LUX

THR

50:25:01

00:01:56

8

104

EFIMKIN, Vladimir

RUS

ALM

50:25:37

00:02:32

9

022

ASTARLOZA, Mikel

ESP

EUS

50:26:56

00:03:51

10

067

NIBALI, Vincenzo

ITA

LIQ

50:27:23

00:04:18

Ricco was in great form today stepping away from a tentative peloton in search of a stage win.

Riccardo Ricco Wins Stage 8

Riccardo Ricco Wins Stage 8

Earlier in the stage, there was a break of three included Lang, Jalabert and Kuschynski who escaped the peloton at 25km.  It ran smoothly for miles in that none were a threat to the GC.

It fell apart at around 165km when Lang rode the others off his wheel on the first cat 1 mountain of the tour, the Col de Peyresourde.  The peloton stayed pretty much together on the col behind them.  Lang maintained his lead down the Peyresourde and halfway up the Col d’Aspin.  Ricco bridged to Lang before the final summit and didn’t look back.  At the same time, the peloton narrowed the lead to less than two minutes before the summit as well.

By 15km to go all the chasers were reeled in it leaving Ricco as only rider ahead with over a minute lead.  He held the lead for the remainder of the stage.  Valverde for all the Caisse d’Epargne team maneuvering was unable to manifest a challenge to the GC contenders.  Caisse d’Epargne clearly has the strongest GC team though today they were no match for the Ricco attack and decent.  Still they are able to support in ways no other team could match.

Kirchen was able to stay with the main contenders over the d’Aspin retaining the yellow jersey.  He rocketed down the mountain with the rest to the finish.  He looked on the defensive for the final col and it’s decent.  His team seems to be unable to support him when the going gets up.  Interestingly, he regained the green jersey from Oscar Freire.  Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde has moved up to third on GC as Schumacher fell off the lead group on the run in to the finish.

Hincapie seems to be reserved for support on another day maybe tomorrow.  He helped Lovkvist to the finish over six minutes back.  Cadel wrecked at 135 though it didn’t look to affect his performance.

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

Race Reports

Cycling News:  http://tinyurl.com/66x4jf

Velonews:  http://tinyurl.com/5dhtlt

Official Tour Website:  http://tinyurl.com/6salpo

Yahoo Sports:  http://tinyurl.com/57ol9g

Stage 9 Results

1 Riccardo Riccò (Ita), Saunier Duval-Scott, 5.39.28 (39.59 km/h)

2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), AG2R La Mondiale, 1.03

3 Cyril Dessel (Fra), AG2R La Mondiale, 1.17

4 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz), Crédit Agricole

5 Christian Knees (Ger), Team Milram

6 Maxime Monfort (Bel), Cofidis

7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Caisse d’Epargne

8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Liquigas

9 Damiano Cunego (Ita), Lampre

10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Silence-Lotto

Overall Results

1 Kim Kirchen (Lux), Columbia

2 Cadel Evans (Aus), Silence-Lotto, 0.06

3 Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin Chipotle – H30, 0.44

4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger), Gerolsteiner, 0.56

5 Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 1.03

6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Caisse d’Epargne, 1.12

7 Stijn Devolder (Bel), Quick Step, 1.21

8 Oscar Pereiro (Spa), Caisse d’Epargne, 1.21

9 Samuel Sánchez (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1.27

10 Carlos Sastre (Spa), CSC-Saxo Bank, 1.34

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