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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

Allez915

On a relatively flat stage in central France, Johan Van Summeren and Marcin Sapa escaped the peloton at 27km. They valiantly fought to stay out front but with only the two of them there was little chance of bringing it home.  Still,

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

Stage 11 Winner Mark Cavendish just holds off Farrar at the line

they pedaled steadily for hours and hours achieving a maximum gap of 4:15 before they were reeled in like a marlin on 80lb test.  The fishermen of the day were the teams of Columbia, Rabobank, AG2R, Milram and Garmin/Slipstream, each trying to give their sprint monsters a chance for Glooorrreeee as it were.  They were finally caught with at 5km remaining and quickly shuffled to the back of the train…so sad, so so sad. Makes you just want to go over there and bring them a batch of warm cookies for there trouble.

Here is what the break riders had to say:

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto)

“The team was not in a good mood, I had the impression that some were growing nervous. Today’s instructions were short but precise: one of us with each attack.

“After the peloton started again after a big crash, Chavanel attacked. As soon as he was caught, I jumped away on the other side of the road. Only Sapa joined me. With so far [to ride], and just having two [in the break], I knew that dreaming was useless.

I was always at top speed… it was pleasant to spend so much time at the head. I did enjoy it. An as Most Combative Rider of the Day, I had the pleasure of kissing Gert Steegmans’s girl; she is an hostess with the sponsor of that challenge.”

Marcin Sapa (Lampre)

“When I’m in a breakaway I’m happy even if, as today, it’s very tough to get amongst the action. With Van Summeren the agreement was good, but this time it [the break] was neutralized when there were a few kilometers to go”.

So here we are at 5km.  Columbia is formed up five deep with Kirchen winding it up on a downward grade hitting speeds of over 70km/hour.  I think a “holy wiener schnitzel” is in order here.  All the while Milram tried to weasel their feral claws into the leadout for Ciolek, nearly disrupting the glorious Columbia train.  It was not to be as Hincapie shepherded the whole chaotic mess through the chicane to the 500. At that point it was the Renshaw Cavendish show.  Hushovd and Farrar were lined up tight to Cavendish as Renshaw drove the field up the inclined finish pulling off in the last 200.  In the end Farrar came around strong but missed it by a length.   Hushovd didn’t have it, falling of the wheel for a fifth place finish. Cavendish and his team earned the Green Jersey their effort while Thor was singing an familiar old song …

Here is what a couple of players had to say:

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam)

“I was in good position for the sprint, but it just wasn’t my day. I am very disappointed of course, and will continue to fight for the green jersey.”

“I still want to fight for the green jersey. It’s still a long way to Paris. It was a hard fight for [Cavendish’s] wheel. It was difficult because everyone knows that is where you want to be. I will try to win another stage before this Tour is over. I will take it day-by-day.”

Julian Dean (Garmin-Slipstream)

“Today we took a different approach – I decided to wait back a little longer. Dave took me to 500 meters to go, and took me in with a heap of speed. George [Hincapie] moved off and Renshaw came over, so it took some of my speed away. But I think if that didn’t happen I could have set Tyler up for the win. He has the power and I have the power – it’s just about getting around the Columbia train.”

And a couple of GC contenders:

Alberto Contador (Astana)

“It was a transition day… boring for those who saw it on television, but it was also a day with a lot of tension at the beginning. There were some complicated falls but we avoided them.

“It calmed down up to the last 20 kilometers, where the whole world wants to be ahead to avoid losing any time and the truth is that I was fearful due to the speed we passed close to the fences. The two accidents I saw were ahead of me but I had time to stop the bike.

“I feel good, though it was one more day of punishment in the legs but also one less day of suffering. At the moment I want to think of nothing more than tomorrow, which is another difficult day and which I have to ride without losing time and without any type of falls. Then I will think about the mountains, which I want to arrive already.”

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)

“Today’s stage was a very fast, atypical and strange stage. There was a huge number of falls right from the outset and then the race was neutralized when one of the advertising balloons deflated, meaning that the pack split into two parts.

“It was a pretty strange race in which speeds didn’t fall below 45km/h on a really tough route with constant climbs and descents and badly surfaced roads… I think these stages are not really telling us anything about this Tour de France but they are adding to the tiredness of riders in the heart of the pack in the lead up to the last week of the race.

As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t have any problems today and I felt protected by my teammates again. It’s a shame that we lost Thor Hushovd’s green jersey but Cavendish is the world’s fastest rider right now and the most important thing is that we still have the chance to win it back. We will keep fighting it out to win another stage and to get that green jersey, as well as trying for other personal aims.”

Well that’s it for today.  No GC changes today.  Lots of rollers in tomorrows stage. A break should have a better chance of sticking.

Thanks to Cycling News for the Quote Clips.

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Map

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Profile

Stage 11 Recap

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

Stage 11 Video

Versus

Stage 11 Results

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           4:17:55
2          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
3          Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
4          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
5          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
6          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
8          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
10          Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
11          Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12          Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
13          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
14          Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
15          Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
16          Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
17          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
18          Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
19          Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
20          Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC

Green Jersey Standings

1           Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC           176           pts
2          Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                   169
3          Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne          110
4          Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream                   110
5          Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                            100
6          Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                   97
7          Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                   74
8          Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne          64
9          Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                   55
10          William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom          54

Overall Standings

1           Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale                    43:28:59
2          Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana                   0:00:06
3          Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana                            0:00:08
4          Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana                            0:00:39
5          Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream          0:00:46
6          Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                            0:00:54
7          Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC                   0:01:00
8          Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream          0:01:24
9          Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                   0:01:49
10          Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas                            0:01:54

Allez915

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

Bicycling Magazine
Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
ESPN
Velonews
Yahoo Sports

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

I’m still fascinated by the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. The race has the same feel as a premier ironman event complete with the season long training, the predawn start, hundreds of racers and the high profile riders.  But for all the hype this race is still a race for everyman/woman who apply for limited lottery slots due to the many applicants.  The hundreds who ride are out to test themselves in a way most of us wouldn’t.  And what a test it it.  The idea of a 100 mile mtb race is challenging enough for most riders.  Adding in 15,000 feet of climbing while crossing part of the Rockies is just a little more than special sauce.  It is hard enough to catch your breath on a steep, prolonged climb.  It is quite another to try and suck sparse oxygen out of the air at 12,000+ feet.  Those who have simply hiked at that altitude can attest to the challenge. I am thoroughly impressed with the field of riders who took this challenge.

I’ve been spending most of the morning hunting videos to get a flavor of the race course, the racers and the overall event. This post is an assemblage of videos posted mostly on YouTube cataloging the 2008 Leadville 100 mountain bike race. I’m hoping to save you some time sorting through videos of the race.  If you see others of interest through out a comment and I’ll add them in.

If you only have time for one video the first video is a best bet.  It is an overview from a guy who took clips from all over the course and spiced them together with headings and transitions.  The next series of videos are in sequential order as best as I could discern. The video’s were taken by spectators which introduces a feeling of authenticity that professionally prepared video just can’t match. Of course you get some extras both good and bad with the amateur stuff.  The 2nd to last video is a short piece done by Lance himself maybe for Livestrong Foundation the day after the race. I conclude with a link to an excellent article by Steve Frothingham which contains some great photos and a nicely done professional video. For a laugh I’ve also included a mashup video of Lance crushing the Alpe D’ Huez in 2001 to a Cake song.

On with the show:

Start to finish overview with some decent editing and views from several sections on the course

Prerace Meeting Clip

Race Start Clip 1

Race Start Clip 2

Ride up Columbine (interesting trailer park dog situation)

Dave and Lance hiking up a steep section

Dave just before the finish

Dave finishing the race

Lance finishing the race

Post race video from Lance

Velonews article with nice wrap-up video plus post race interviews with Dave and Lance

2001 Lance on Alpe D’ Huez (Cake – Going the Distance)

Allez915

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

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

Stage 19 Finish, Roy & Chavanel

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

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

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

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

Stage 19 Bunch Sprint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brilliant performance by Andy Schleck of team CSC up the final climb of the

Stage 16 - Scheck, Kohl & Menchov

Stage 16 - Scheck, Kohl & Menchov

day helped keep brother Frank in Yellow today on Stage 16. Menchov and Vandevelde were on the negative side as each lost time on GC. Menchov was dropped on the final decent, Vandevelde on the climb prior. Vandevelde had a spill on the high part of the decent as he raced to make up ground. Unfortunately he ended up losing over two and a half minutes to Frank. Menchov held his losses to 35 seconds. Cadel, Sastre and Kohl put in excellent performances today retaining their positions on the GC. The GC guys finished about a minute and half behind several shattered breakaway groups.

Stage 16 Winner Cyril Dessel followed by Sandy Casar

Stage 16 Winner Cyril Dessel followed by Sandy Casar

As for the action up front, Dumoulin, Rosseler, Le Mevel, Schumacher and Voeckler escaped the peloton at 40km. A second chase formed behind them of 20 riders including Freire, Hincapie and Pate. Schumacher broke free of the original 5 at 60km holding out till 130km when he was finally absorbed by the first chase. The second chase grew over that time to 29 riders including Dessel, picked up the leftovers of the Schumacher group. Eight of those got a gap and picked up Schumacher. That group included Hincapie, Sivtsov, Arroyo, Portal, Popovych, Augustyn, Valjavec and Casar. Augustyn bolted for the summit of the final mountain and got it but missed a turn on the decent and slid down the mountain without his bike. The remaining Eight split into two groups, the first of which included Popovych, Dessel, Arroyo and Casar. Arroyo made the first move but was countered by Dessel at the line.

The stage is set for a fabulous showdown on L’Alpe-d’Huez. For Schleck, Sastre and Kohl it is probably their last chance to put time on Cadel before the time trial on Saturday If Cadel can hang on tomorrow, only a major mistake by him or an inspired performance by possibly Menchov could keep him from rising to Yellow.  The other contenders are just not competitive with Cadel on the Time Trial and baring riding beyond themselves are unlikely to hold him off. The dark horse is Valverde or Vandevelde who could through caution to the wind and reap reward, though the chance of that is slim at this point.

Stage 17 Elevation Profile

Stage 17 Elevation Profile

Stage 16 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/5zgqqf

Stage 16 Race Reports:

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

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/5h5bu6

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

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/5udqjd

Stage 16 Results:

1 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, 4.31.27 (34.70 km/h)
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux, st.
3 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
4 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Silence – Lotto, 0.03
5 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 0.24
6 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
7 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, st.
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 1.03
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 1.28
10 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, st.
11 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
12 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
13 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, st.
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre, st.
15 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
16 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Bouygues Telecom, st.
17 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 1.32
18 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Columbia, st.
19 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 2.03
20 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre, st.
21 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, st.
22 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram, 2.36
23 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Crédit Agricole, st.
24 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 3.21
25 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 4.04
26 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b
H30, st.
27 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, 4.13
28 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, st.
29 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis – Le Crédit par Téléphone, st.
30 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.27

Overall Standings:

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 68.30.16
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.13
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 3.15
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 3.23
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.11
9 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.38
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 5.23

Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

Stage 15 Winner - Gerrans

The riders faced a rather unpleasant start to the stage 15 with rain, cold and possible snow on the climbs. Four riders escaped the peloton at 15km including Martinez, Pate and Arrieta followed by Gerrans who bridged up a few minutes later. The grouped worked exceptionally well retaining a substantial lead most of the way to the finish. The break had a 12 minutes lead at the base of the final climb which was whittled down to about 4 minutes after the GC guys came in. Arrieta fell off as the break neared the final kilometers. Gerrans craftily accelerated to the line ahead of Martinez and a fading Pate to take the win.

The slippery roads and sharp descents caused many to go down and including the previous Tour

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

Stage 15 Oscar Pereiro Hits the Deck

winner Oscar Pereiro. He lost his line on a hairpin and flipped over a guardrail launching down an embankment to the switchback below. He was originally thought to have broken a femur but it was determined that it was his shoulder bone. As it is, he is out of the Tour. There were other crashes including a massive pavement hugger on both sides of a roundabout at about 50k to go taking down several of the GC contenders.

The real fireworks came as CSC led a blistering attack up the Prato Nevoso led by Andy Schleck of CSC-Saxo Bank. The remainder of the peloton blistered away leaving the Evans, Menchov, Vande Velde, Bernhard Kohl, Valverde, Sastre, Frank Schleck and Andy Schleck, Kreuziger and Sánchez. Menchov attacked this group though he fell allowing the group to regain position. Kohl, Menchov and Sastre eventually escaped with Valverde bridging to get on with a few km left. Menchov fell off the back as the break approached the line. As Cadel and Frank approached the line 30 seconds back, Frank dashed to the line to take the last few seconds to take yellow. It was a very exciting finish

Cavendish bid farewell to the Tour before race start as was widely predicted. He would likely have been competitive at the finish in Paris though the beating of three mountain stages and a time trial might have done him in anyway. The price to play on the final day was just too steep literally. I think prioritizing Beijing was an obvious good choice. He will be missed.

Stage 15 Video Recap: http://tinyurl.com/55bbse

Stage 15 Race Reports:

Cycling News: http://tinyurl.com/5g4ssp

Velonews: http://tinyurl.com/56hzza

Versus: http://tinyurl.com/6puz9z

Stage 15 Results:

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Crédit Agricole, 4.50.44 (37.77 km/h)
2 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 0.03
3 Danny Pate (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.10
4 José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale, 0.55
5 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 4.03
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, st.
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.12
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 4.23
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.41
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.43
11 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas, 4.46
12 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.50
13 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, st.
14 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.58
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 5.34

Overall Standings:

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 63.57.21
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 0.38
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 0.39
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 2.48
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 3.36
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne, 4.11
10 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.34

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