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Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Stage 15 Winner Alberto Contador

Nuff Said!

Stage 15 Recaps

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Stage 15 Map

Stage 15 Map

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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

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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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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

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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

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

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 10 Race Reports

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Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
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Stage 10 Video

Versus Recap

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

Allez915

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 9 Profile

Stage 8 Profile

Stage 9 Map

Stage 8 Map

Stage 8 Recap

Bicycling Mag
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 8 Results

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

Polka Dot Jersey Standings

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

Green Jersey Standings

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

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale           30:18:16
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana          0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana          0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana          0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana          0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC          0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank          0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas          0:01:54

Allez915

There is nothing more beautiful in cycling than a well executed team sprint. All the energy, chaos, danger and shear force of will to simply cross the line first is fascinating. Team Columbia’s and its sprinter extraordinaire Mark Cavendish has perfected the art. Today’s stage was a brilliant example of art in motion.

Here is a time saving recap from Versus Link

Stage 2 Race Reports
Cycling News
Velonews
Cycling Weekly
Bicycling Magazine
Yahoo Sports
Cycling Weekly (Team Columbia Must Step Up)

Stage 2 Photos

Stage 2 Results
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 4:30:02
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
5 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
6 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
7 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
8 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano
10 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Allez915

It was all champagne and silliness on the final stage of the 2008 Tour de France. Team CSC did a

2008 TdF Champion - Carlos Sastre

2008 TdF Champion - Carlos Sastre

brilliant tour capturing the Overall Championship in Carlos Sastre, the Young Rider Classification in Andy Schleck and the best team. Executing a masterful plan, Carlos was reserved for a definitive stage win, to get the required margin. Sacrificing team mates were the difference, driving the pace, protecting their leaders and getting into key breaks to offer assistance when required. The ultimate sacrifice was Frank Schleck giving up his chance for the podium to a better time trialist in Sastre. That the team could ask it of him is one thing, that he did it, demands respect. Sastre’s excellent time trial demonstrated that the right choice was made.  Hats off to Sastre and CSC.

As for the green jersey, it is won by Oscar Freire. Oscar was consistent and persistent. He was regularly in the top ten and willing to dash for intermediate sprints along the way. In my mind it was more of a team win then an individual win. The team put him in position and went to measures to either set him up for intermediates or stole the points from others. Oscar was not the best sprinter, having only won a single stage (no small thing still). He was how ever strong enough for top 5 consistently. Secondly, he finished the tour with the ability to contest time after time. Congrats to him and the rest of Rabobank.

There are many that are at his footsteps and I’d be surprised to see him win it again. I would have liked to see McEwen freer to contest. He was unfortunately saddled with supporting Cadel rather then making his mark. Unfortunately, Tom Boonen wasn’t permitted to race because he would have challenged Oscar as well. From a sprinting perspective, Cavendish made the tour for me. Shades of McEwen, a young Zabel and even Abdoujaparov come to mind as you watch Mark peel away the competition. They simply can’t hang on to his wheel. I will be watching him at Beijing.

Stage 21 Winner - Steegmans

Stage 21 Winner - Steegmans

The stage today didn’t really get going until the peloton arrived in Paris. I don’t know about you, but the Champs Élysées circuit fascinates me. The 6.5km loop permits the riders to see each other coming or going. There is no getting lost in the trees or around turns. As such, breaks are harder than usually to get away. Today was a case in point. There were stacks of attempts to escape none of them sticking for any length of time. It was the rare successful Quick Step train by led by Matteo Tosatto and Steven De Jongh that put Steegmans in exactly the right spot to hold of an impressively charging Ciolek. Oscar pulled out a third followed by McEwen and Hushovd. It was a fabulous finish in Paris.

Well that does it for the 2008 Tour de France. Thanks for checking in on my little log from time to time for news about the race. I will be continuing writing about significant competitions including the 2008 Summer Olympics, Triathlons and the World Championships. Please come back for more of the Velo Noise perspective.

Allez915

Stage 21 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/6yc5pp

Stage 21 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/657rch

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/65vhno

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

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

Stage 21 Results:

1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step, 3.51.38 (37.04 km/h)
2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Columbia, st.
3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, st.
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, st.
6 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, st.
7 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
8 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
9 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, st.
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, st.
11 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, st.
12 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre, st.
13 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
14 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas, st.
15 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.

Overall Standings, Yellow Jersey:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 87.52.52
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.58
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.13
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.10
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.05
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.28
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6.25
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 6.55
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 7.12
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 9.05

Team Competition:

1 Team CSC Saxo Bank, 263.29.57
2 AG2R-La Mondiale, 15.35
3 Rabobank, 1.05.26
4 Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.16.26
5 Silence – Lotto, 1.17.15
6 Caisse d’Epargne, 1.20.28
7 Team Columbia, 1.23.00
8 Lampre, 1.26.24
9 Gerolsteiner, 1.27.40
10 Credit Agricole, 1.37.16

Green Jersey (Best Sprinter):

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank, 270 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, 220
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, 217
4 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 181
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 155
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 136
7 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld, 131
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 129
9 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 119
10 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Columbia, 116

White Jersey (Best Young Rider):

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 88.04.24
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 1.27
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas, 17.01
4 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 24.09
5 Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spa) Agritubel, 1.08.34
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia, 1.13.55
7 John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Barloworld, 1.24.49
8 Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram, 1.38.17
9 Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Française des Jeux, 1.38.22
10 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 1.44.07

Pokadot Jersey (Mountain Climbing):

1 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 128 pts
2 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 80
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 80
4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom, 65
5 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 62
6 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 61
7 John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Barloworld, 61
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 58
9 Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Française des Jeux, 52
10 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 51

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

The main move of the day came when Chavanel attacked at around 80km steadily putting time on the

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

peloton. He was nearly reeled him back in when Jeremy Roy jumped from the field adding juice to the break at just the right time. The duo was able to put five minutes on the peloton with steady pace lining. The majority probably didn’t want to over do it coming into the time trial tomorrow.

The field did get busy chasing eventually trying to keep it contained to some degree. They were able to drop the gap to near four minutes. At that point Chavanel and Roy put on the burner on bringing the gap back over 5 minutes with about 28km to go. From then on the advantage decayed steadily to the line but was enough to permit a little goofing around in the final kilometer.

Coming into the sprint Roy was following Chavanel and wouldn’t come through. Chavanel slowed, put it in a big gear and eyeballed Roy in anticipation of the move. He smartly hugged the left barrier allowing only one direction of attack. Roy jumped at 200m but didn’t have the juice to get by Chavanel.

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

The field eventually resigned themselves to crumb scrapping starting from third place. The sprint wound up nicely with teams for Zabel, Hushovd, Ciolek, Duque and Freire jockeying for position. In the end Ciolek had the better line and hit the gas in another fine finish for Team Columbia.  Zabel was there but unable to get by. Freire got boxed out. The others finished top ten.

There was no change to the GC resulting from today’s stage. The final GC test is set for tomorrow in the form of a 53km time trial.  Speculation was thick today from the commentators during the race. They think that while Cadel has the edge, Sastre’s performance is less predictable.  The Yellow jersey can do strange things.  Most are betting on Cadel.  He is my bet as well.  Menchov has a good chance for a podium spot while Vande Velde has his work cut out to oust Cadel, Schleck or Menchov from the three top spots.  Good bet he finishes the day in 4th or 5th on GC.

Stage 19 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/cjp6a

Stage 19 Race Reports
Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5tjd35
Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5aj26x
Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6gd5ke
Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6blrlc

Stage 19 Results:
1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, 3.37.09 (45.73 km/h)
2 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux, st.
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Columbia, 1.13
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram, st.
5 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, st.
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas, st.
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole, st.
9 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner, st.
10 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin Chipotle – H30, st.

Overall Results:
1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 82.54.36
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

Burghardt and Barredo gave the fans a treat to close stage 18 today. After cat and mouse for 20km the two employed

Stage 18 Winner - Burghardt of Team Columbia

Stage 18 Winner - Burghardt of Team Columbia

track tactics to setup for the final 500 meters. Burghardt overpowered a very disappointed Barredo from the forward position to get the win. Team Columbia has had a stellar Tour to date with 5 wins, holder at times of the Green, White and Yellow Jersey on top of becoming the poster child for dope free racing. I mean this is a Tour they can write home about.

Barredo escaped the peloton at about the 70km. Soon after, Burghardt and Feillu escaped as well though Burghardt later dropped Feillu bridging to Barredo on the decent of the col de Parmenie. Astarloza and Le Mevel escaped about then and tried to bridge to the leaders catching up with Feillu by 85km. The peloton was seven or eight minutes back at that point though the lead grew as high as ten minutes before CSC fired up the big engines. Burghardt and Barredo held of the chasers to contest the sprint. Feillu, Le Mevel and Astarloza came in a little more than three minutes later. The peloton with a small leading group sprinted in a little less than four minutes later.

There was no real action in the GC as the key riders marked each other closely. The only real shift was that Cunego wrecked at 28km cracking his chin. Three of his teammates fell back to support him though he still lost nearly 13 minutes to the peloton. Cunego has really struggled this tour without much to show for it. I’m afraid too much expectation was placed on him.

Stage 18 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/56q2cn

Stage 18 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/69lm2e

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5nfl37

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

Yahoo Sports: http://tinyurl.com/6qr2jq

Stage 18 Results:

1 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia, 4.30.21 (43.61 km/h)
2 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step, st.
3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel, 3.33
4 Christophe Le Mével (Fra) Crédit Agricole, st.
5 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 3.35
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 6.39
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, st.
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, st.
9 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence – Lotto, st.
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.

Overall Team Standings:

1 Team CSC Saxo Bank, 237.42.06
2 AG2R-La Mondiale, 9.27
3 Rabobank, 1.01.17
4 Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.07.57
5 Caisse d’Epargne, 1.11.56
6 Silence – Lotto, 1.13.29
7 Lampre, 1.18.16
8 Team Columbia, 1.23.09
9 Credit Agricole, 1.25.27
10 Gerolsteiner, 1.29.14

Overall Standings:

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 79.16.14
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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