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Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Nuff Said!

Stage 15 Recaps

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 15 Video

Versus

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

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

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

As was said all day long today by comment makers, wearing the yellow brings out the best in riders.

Stage 20 Winner - Schumacher

Stage 20 Winner - Schumacher

Sastre was a case in point. While not able to best Evans, he put in the ride of a lifetime to hold the line and retain first on GC. In the end he gave up a mere 31 seconds to a desperate Cadel Evans. Cadel, showing the wear of three weeks of nearly isolated riding, was never able to put his best into it.

It boils down like this:

  • Sastre and Kohl deliver exceptional performances to earn 1st and third on the podium in Paris tomorrow.
  • Cadel Evans, while not able to put up his best, was able to surpass Kohl to get the second step.
  • Menchov gets fourth as he was just not able to get it rolling to the level required to chase down the surging Kohl.
  • Vande Velde did a great time trial but was not able to overcome the large deficit he had racked up on the last two mountain stages. He ends up 5th on GC.
  • Frank Schleck faded badly losing four places, proving the decision by CSC to bank on Sastre. He ends up 6th
  • Kirchen placed third on the day by putting up a blistering time surpassing Vande Velde but not Cancellara. He moved to 8th on GC, moving up three places from 11th.
Stage 20 - Carlos Sastre

Stage 20 - Carlos Sastre

There were several standout performances on the Stage 20 time trial today. Danny Pate set the early mark of 1:06:44 which held for almost 45 riders. Eventually his Canadian team mate, Ryder Hesjedal, beat his time by 18 seconds. Lang, then Miller topped the boards momentarily. The world TT champ Fabian Cancellara put up a 1:04:11 to take over the top spot. The big guns struggled to beat that mark for the remainder of the day. In the end, only Schumacher could surpass his time. Schumacher performance today and on several other stages, speaks well for his GC chances in years to come.

Race Splits:

Place Rider Finish 18km Position 36km Position 47.5km Position
1 Stefan Schumacher 1.03.50 0.21.30 1 0.42.50 2 0.58.12 1
2 Fabian Cancellara 0.22 0.00 1 -0.12 1 0.14 2
3 Kim Kirchen 1.01 0.24 4 0.45 3 0.56 3
4 Christian Vande Velde 1.05 0.28 5 0.46 4 1.06 4
5 David Millar 1.37 0.43 9 0.51 5 1.24 5
6 Denis Menchov 1.55 0.22 3 0.56 6 1.38 6
7 Cadel Evans 2.06 0.38 7 1.18 7 1.52 7
8 Sebastian Lang 2.19 0.56 18 1.22 9 2.00 8
9 Bernhard Kohl 2.21 0.34 6 1.21 8 2.07 9
10 George Hincapie 2.29 0.51 14 1.29 11 2.08 10
11 Thomas Lövkvist 2.29 0.46 10 1.26 10 2.17 12
12 Carlos Sastre Candil 2.35 0.46 10 1.41 14 2.12 11
13 Ryder Hesjedal 2.37 1.12 28 1.46 15 2.28 13
14 Danny Pate 2.55 0.47 12 1.37 12 2.35 14
15 Jens Voigt 2.59 1.15 32 1.58 18 2.35 14
16 Christopher Froome 3.01 0.54 17 1.57 17 2.40 16
17 Amaël Moinard 3.05 0.53 16 2.06 22 2.44 17
18 Kanstantsin Siutsou 3.08 0.58 19 1.54 16 2.46 18
19 Sylvain Chavanel 3.11 0.41 8 1.40 13 2.47 19
20 Joost Posthuma 3.13 1.29 41 2.21 27 2.53 20

Stage 20 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 20 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/59mmlr

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6nv428

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

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

Stage 20 Results:

1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 1.03.50 (49.817 km/h)
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.21
3 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.01
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.05
5 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.37
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.55
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 2.05
8 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 2.19
9 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 2.21
10 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 2.28

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 84.01.00
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.05
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.20
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.00
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.12
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.28
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6.32
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 7.02
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 7.26
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 9.12

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

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

What a great stage today on France’s Massif Central.  Leon Sanchez made a magnificent run to the line on a tricky mountain stage holding off most all of the favorites.  After several attempts at a breakaway he eventually was able to escape with 5km to go holding off a charge from the power of the Tour.  Well done. 

 

Kirchen continues to impress managing match pace with the GC contenders as of yet.  He made a great effort to gain points toward the green jersey with a mad dash for the finish only to be nipped at the line by a resilient Schumacher and Pozzato.  He put time on a few of the GC contenders including. 

 

Nice work by Columbia to support Kirchen.  Hincapie, Lovkvist and Siutsou helped drive a blistering pace up the Cat 2 climb up Pas de Peyrol keeping the breaks lead to a small margin.  The team fell of the last 20km but most of that was downhill and a relatively fresh Kirchen was able to handle it without incident. 

News Reports

Velonews:  http://tinyurl.com/5by5yr

Cycling News:  http://tinyurl.com/6aa55e

Yahoo Sports:  http://tinyurl.com/6bvszk
Stage Video:  http://tinyurl.com/6aa55e

 

Stage 7 Stage Results

1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne               3.52.53 (40.964 km/h)

2 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                          0.06

3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas

4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia

5 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

6 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi

8 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott

9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank

11 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott

12 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto

13 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval – Scott

14 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Quick Step

15 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank

 

Overall Results

1 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 28.23.40

2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.06

3 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 0.16

4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.44

5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.03

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

7 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 1.14

8 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step, 1.21

9 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne

10 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia

11 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.27

12 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.34

13 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.56

14 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.58

15 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 2.03

 

Team Results

1 Caisse d’Epargne, 11.38.51

2 Saunier Duval – Scott, 0.06

3 Team CSC Saxo Bank, st

4 Liquigas, st

5 Gerolsteine, 0.33

6 Rabobank, 1.00

7 Euskaltel – Euskadi, st

8 AG2R-La Mondiale, st

9 Credit Agricole, 1.27

10 Barloworld, st

The GC contenders finally get they’re moment to make a race out of the Tour.  After five days relatively flat stages, the Tour takes the racers from the north east to the central mountains introducing two Cat 4 climbs followed by two Category 2 climbs the later offering a mountain top finish off a steep 10% grade.

 

The strength of the American field revealed itself today in the names of Kirchen and Vande Velde.  Vande Velde took a flyer on the face of the final mountain holding off the field for several kilometers.  He fell off the main group afterwards but still held onto 19th only 23 seconds back.  Kirchen hung on despite a myriad of attacks leading up to the finish.  Kirchen finished 5th four seconds back of the Stage winner Ricco.

 

Ricco won the stage in spectacular fashion today demonstrating that he is possibly the best climber in the field.  Kirchen takes the yellow jersey likely as a result of a misshap with Schumacher.  Schumacher’s hit the deck 2K from the line off Kirchen’s wheel. 

 

Read Race Summary’s from the major Cycling Web sites

Velonews:  http://tinyurl.com/5ax7xs

Cycling News:  http://tinyurl.com/6lr5wn

Bicycling:  http://tinyurl.com/5co8dk

 

Team Columbia Finishers

5

Kim Kirchen (Lux)

 Team Columbia

0.04

15

Thomas Lövkvist (Swe)

 Team Columbia

0.23

43

Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr)

 Team Columbia

1.08

45

George Hincapie (USA)

 Team Columbia

1.20

96

Adam Hansen (Aus)

 Team Columbia

8.30

117

Bernhard Eisel (Aut)

 Team Columbia

14.35

163

Gerald Ciolek (Ger)

 Team Columbia

17.46

165

Marcus Burghardt (Ger)

 Team Columbia

17.46

168

Mark Cavendish (GBr)

 Team Columbia

17.46

 

Team Garmin – Chipotle

19

Christian Vande Velde (USA)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

0.23

39

David Millar (GBr)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

0.51

48

Ryder Hesjedal (Can)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

1.45

95

Trent Lowe (Aus)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

8.30

121

Danny Pate (USA)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

14.35

137

Martijn Maaskant (Ned)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

17.46

157

Magnus Backstedt (Swe)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

17.46

159

Julian Dean (NZl)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

17.46

167

William Frischkorn (USA)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

17.46

 

Stage 6 Results

1

Riccardo Riccò (Ita)

 Saunier Duval – Scott

4.57.52 (39.38 km/h)

2

Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa)

 Caisse d’Epargne

0.01

3

Cadel Evans (Aus)

 Silence – Lotto

0.01

4

Frank Schleck (Lux)

 Team CSC – Saxo Bank

0.04

5

Kim Kirchen (Lux)

 Team Columbia

0.04

6

Roman Kreuziger (Cze)

 Liquigas

0.07

7

Moises Dueñas Nevado (Spa)

 Barloworld

0.07

8

Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa)

 Team CSC – Saxo Bank

0.07

9

Denis Menchov (Rus)

 Rabobank

0.07

10

Leonardo Piepoli (Ita)

 Saunier Duval – Scott

0.07

11

Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa)

 Liquigas

0.12

12

Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa)

 Euskaltel – Euskadi

0.12

13

Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa)

 Caisse d’Epargne

0.15

14

Stijn Devolder (Bel)

 Quick Step

0.19

15

Thomas Lövkvist (Swe)

 Team Columbia

0.23

16

Iouri Trofimov (Rus)

 Bouygues Telecom

0.23

17

Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz)

 Crédit Agricole

0.23

18

Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa)

 Euskaltel – Euskadi

0.23

19

Christian Vande Velde (USA)

 Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30

0.23

20

Tadej Valjavec (Slo)

 AG2R La Mondiale

0.23

Overall Standings 

1 Kim Kirchen (Lux)  Team Columbia 24.30.41
2 Cadel Evans (Aus)  Silence – Lotto 0.06
3 Stefan Schumacher (Ger)  Gerolsteiner 0.16
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA)  Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.44
5 David Millar (GBr)  Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.47
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe)  Team Columbia 0.54
7 Denis Menchov (Rus)  Rabobank 1.03
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa)  Caisse d’Epargne 1.12
9 Stijn Devolder (Bel)  Quick Step 1.21
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa)  Caisse d’Epargne 1.21
11 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa)  Euskaltel – Euskadi 1.27
12 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa)  Team CSC – Saxo Bank 1.34
13 Maxime Monfort (Bel)  Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.40
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita)  Lampre 1.42
15 George Hincapie (USA)  Team Columbia 1.45
  

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  

 

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