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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Map

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Profile

Stage 12 Results

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

Green Jersey Standings

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

Overall Results

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

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

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

Stage 10 Winner Mark Cavendish

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

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

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

Bastille Day by Rush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Bastille Day

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

Stage 9 Map

Stage 9 Map

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Stage 9 Profile

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Stage 10 Results

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

Green Jersey Standings

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

Overall Standings

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

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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

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Brice Feillu steps out of his brothers shadow today to bring the honor of a stage win to his family and team.  Feillu was part of a nine-man

Feillu splintered a nine man break to take Stage 7

Feillu splintered a nine man break to take Stage 7

break that whittled down on the mountain top finish in Arcalis.  Initially looking weak, Feillu surprised all by jumping halfway up the above category climb.  He held on to take the stage.  The rest of the break straggled in behind him.  Contador fired the third shot in the battle for Astana preeminence (the first being the time trial – expected & second Lance’s crosswind attack – on the margins).  He took it upon himself to attack rather than cover attackers in the most blatant self-serving move to date.  Outside of the politics, it was a brilliant move.  He clearly has the legs to challenge the best.

As it happened:  At about 45km a stable break formed to include Gutierrez, Martinez, Riblon, Nocentini, Kuschynski, Kern, Pineau, Feillu and Frohlinger.  The highest placing of the group was Nocentini at 3:13.  As such none were considered a threat by the GC contenders and were allowed to go up the road in the name of stabilizing the peloton.  The group extended their lead to more than 12 minutes over the next 140km.

The peloton largely stuck together with Astana taking the helm as if they held Yellow.  Saxo’s absence from the front was telling relative to their expectations of Cancellara.  With 25km to go, Astana started to turn up the dial as Paulinho, Popovych and Zubeldia set a blistering pace.  As they fell off one by one, the pressure ratcheted up but the gap had not fallen enough to clear all of the break riders from the GC standings.  The GC chase group, including all the favorites, continued to grab back time rapidly but was running out of real estate.  Ahead in the break, Feillu jumped at 5.5km fracturing the group in the process.  The GC chase heavy still with Astana riders stuck together until the Cadel took a shot.  He was marked rapidly but seconds later Contador took off.  Contador in his trademark acceleration pealed off the front leaving the chase in the dust.  He grew the lead steadily to the line putting distance all the favorites including his coleader, Lance.

Contador came close but did not gain enough time to garner the yellow.  The GC did shake up a little as the break rider, Nocentini, held enough of a gap to put himself in yellow.  Contador leaps Lance with Leipheimer and Wiggins rounding out the top 5.

When interviewed, Armstrong, Leipheimer and even the director Johan Bruyneel said that Contador was off script.  He was expected to work with the team as a group and prepare to cover the moves of the GC threats.  Contador’s was rather guarded in his after race interview.  He said he was testing his legs and was hopeful to put some distance on his competitors.  As if heeding Hinault’s words in commentary this morning, he effectively threw the gauntlet down.

Other Riders in the GC group look very good.  Though none has truly played their hand. Cadel Evans jump at the 2km mark showed excellent form though a straining chase group including Andy & Frank Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Levi Leipheimer, Tony Martin, Lance Armstrong, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, Vladimir Karpets and Christian Vande Velde were able to marked him. Team Garmin continues to looks strong with a strong performance by Wiggins and Vande Velde.  I think this group was content to shake out their legs in readiness for the next two mountain stages.  There is as they say, a long way to go.

Contador crosses the finish a few seconds shy of yellow

Contador crosses the finish a few seconds shy of yellow

I’d love to be a fly on the wall on the Astana team bus tonight.  Things will probably get heated.  The individual and team expectation seem to be at odds.  Compounding the problem are matters of trust.  I wonder if Contador thinks the director favors Lance and as such is holding him back.  When riders are expected to sacrifice for the team, resentments are bound to follow especially when rolls are not defined. This seems like Lemond/Hinault all over again i.e. the senior statesman vs. the talent.  Were Contador to have earned the Yellow Jersey, Lance and the other riders’ options would be limited.  They would be expected to fall in line and support their rider.  As it is, the riders will feel less encumbered by prescribed strategy especially in the face of Contador’s defection from the team.  It will be interesting to see what face is put on this in the morning.

Now the final matter for today, what the heck is up with Boonen?  He can’t seem to catch a break in the last three days.

  • Stage 5 – two flats
  • Stage 6 – wreck
  • Stage 7 – another wreck
  • Not a single sprint point to date.

I’m throwing all the mojo I can muster at Booney to overcome his poor fortune and get in the mix.

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Stage 7 Profile

Stage 7 Profile

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Stage 7 Map

Stage 7 Recap

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Stage 7 Results

1           Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel           6:11:31
2          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          0:00:05
3          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          0:00:25
4          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          0:00:26
5          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:00:45
6          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          0:01:05
7          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          0:02:32
8          José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          0:03:14
9          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:03:26
10          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:03:47
11          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
12          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream
13          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
14          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
15          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
16          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC
17          Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
18          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
19          Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
20          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream

Polka Dot Jersey Overall

1           Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel           49            pts
2          Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale          46
3          Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          46
4          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          43
5          Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale          34
6          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          32
7          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          23
8          José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          20
9          Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas          17
10          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          15

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           25:44:32
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
11          Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step          0:02:10
12          Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia – HTC          0:02:21
13          Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:02:25
14          Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas          0:02:40
15          Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team          0:02:52
16          Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram          0:02:54
17          Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas          0:03:03
18          Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto          0:03:07
19          Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi          0:03:10
20          Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC          0:03:16

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

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

Contador Pounds the Field

Contador Pounds the Field

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

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

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

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

Stage 1 Race Reports

Stage 1 Video

Stage 1 Results

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

Allez915

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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