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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

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