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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

Sastre patiently waited for his chance to shine and then delivered on L’Alpe d’Huez. The CSC

Stage 17 Winner - Carlos Sastre

Stage 17 Winner - Carlos Sastre

strategy appears to have been to fake the GC contenders into following Frank Schleck then hit em with a blistering Sastre acceleration. Make no mistake, Sastre attacked the yellow jersey group. He wasn’t trying to pace Frank. He was clearly going for the win and unless he broke ranks, he had the blessing of the team to do it. The decider may have been Sastre’s better potential in the time trials. Either way, it was a masterful team play which leveraged a hand of aces this team possesses. Cadel was happy to have the little help he had and did well to limit the damage.

The riders come out of the Alps tomorrow in Stage 18. While there are a few climbs including a Cat 2 climb toward the end, it is unlikely that the GC guys will contest. Stage 19 heads into the flat lands leaving little chance for a GC shakeup. It is more likely that the Tour will be decided on the Stage 20 time trial. So the lingering question is..was it enough?

Stage 4 results offer a glimpse of the time trial potential for Cadel and Carlos. Cadel placed third in the time trial, 27 seconds off the winning time. Sastre finished at 28th about 1:39 back for a gap of 1:12. The Stage 20 time trial is rolling but also longer at 53km versus the relatively flat 29.5km TT of stage 4. Simple math suggests a relative gap of 2:09. As Cadel is 1:34 behind on GC after today’s stage, it is a good bet that Cadel is within striking range. There are plenty of other variables you could consider when handicapping the Stage 20. I’ll leave that to those who are inclined. Suffice to say it will be a dog fight.

Stage 4 Elevation Profile

Stage 4 Elevation Profile

Stage 2 Elevation Profile

Stage 2 Elevation Profile

Sastre will have three days to enjoy the armor of the yellow and convince himself that he is more than even he thought, a time trial guy. The team dynamic is strong in CSC. Many sacrifices were made to put him in position. Carlos will be riding beyond himself with that in mind on Saturday.

Stage 17 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 17 Race Reports

Bike Radar: http://tinyurl.com/57rez3

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/6qxj8f

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/55lsfw

Versus: http://preview.tinyurl.com/57fuls

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/5g5bmf

Stage 17 Results:

1 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank, 6.07.58 (34.32 km/h)
2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 2.03
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 2.13
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
6 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 2.15
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30
10 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, st.

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 74.39.03
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

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