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Archive for July, 2008

TDF – Stage 19: Breaking News, Easy Day

Roanne – Montlucon 102.8 miles

Breaking news: Damiano Cunego will reportedly withdraw from the Tour today as a result of his very nasty crash yesterday. We wish him well and hope to see him next year!

Dummy here forgot to pack my power cord for my laptop, so I’ll have to just get you started and pop in later, to conserve power. Sorry ’bout that, it’s what happens when I get distracted in the morning, lol!

Status: the riders have already climbed a Cat 3 and Cat 4 and are on their way through Vichy (yes, as in the waters), the Capital of occupied France and synonymous with “collaborator.” It’s a little overcast and humid, but cooler than the past few days. Today offers last chances for sprint points, so there have been cat-and-mouse games and attacks. The GC contenders, however, might be waiting to see what happens in the TT. As it stands, the prediction is Sastre taking the yellow in Paris.

OK – back in a bit. There really isn’t anything exciting to expect from today. The legs are tired; there is too much time to make up for the GC (of course, one never knows what can happen); CSC will win Team honors. What more can be said. I really am looking forward to the TT!!

UPDATE: Sylvain Chavanel is making his usual attacks, but doesn’t seem to be hurting the peloton very much. Like others, I’m wondering if we’ll ever see TTT again; those were fun to watch. But, the French have been doing all they can to restack things in their favor. Perhaps they should focus on better training for their cyclists? It’s not like they don’t have a talent pool! OK, back to the update: absolutely boring stage. How much you want to bet that Oscar Freire takes the green jersey in Paris? Back later.

Late update: by now, you already have the results. But, let’s just post them, anyway. My bet is on Carlos Sastre to stand on the podium in Paris as the Tour winner. There were surprising withdrawals after today. One more thing: people are still wondering why the Douane stopped John Schleck, the father of the Schleck boys. hmmm….

Stage results:
1 181 CHAVANEL, Sylvain FRA COF
2 168 ROY, Jérémy FRA FDJ
3 044 CIOLEK, Gerald GER THR
4 151 ZABEL, Erik GER MRM
5 114 HAUSSLER, Heinrich GER GST
6 186 DUQUE, Leonardo COL COF
7 061 POZZATO, Filippo ITA LIQ
8 081 HUSHOVD, Thor NOR C.A
9 112 FÖRSTER, Robert GER GST
10 193 DEAN, Julian NZL TSL

GC standings:
1 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 82h54’36” 00”
2 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 82h56’00” 1’24”
3 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 82h56’09” 1’33”
4 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 82h56’10” 1’34”
5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 82h57’15” 2’39”
6 191 Christian VANDEVELDE USA TSL 82h59’17” 4’41”
7 031 Alejandro VALVERDE ESP GCE 83h00’11” 5’35”
8 027 Samuel SANCHEZ ESP EUS 83h00’28” 5’52”
9 109 Tadej VALJAVEC SLO ALM 83h02’46” 8’10”
10 104 Vladimir EFIMKIN RUS ALM 83h03’00” 8’24”

Withdrawals:
NO LONGER RIDING Stage 19
132 FLECHA Juan Antonio (ESP) RABOBANK outside time limit
124 FEILLU Romain (FRA) AGRITUBEL outside time limit
119 WEGMANN Fabian (GER) GEROLSTEINER outside time limit
71 CUNEGO Damiano (ITA) LAMPRE non-starter
3 BRANDT Christophe (BEL) SILENCE – LOTTO withdrawls
Stage 17
123 CASPER Jimmy (FRA) AGRITUBEL outside time limit

TDF – Stage 18: A Little Rest for the Weary GC

Bourg d’Oisans – Ste. Etienne 122 miles

We now have the 7th owner of the yellow jersey, and a most deserving fellow is Carlos Sastre after his spectacular ride to L’Alpe d’Huez. It’s great to see a veteran finally take the gold on such a monumental stage.

It was on such a route that, as a foreign student at the Univ. of Grenoble back in the early 70’s, I first heard about the Tour de France. 100+ guys on bikes doing what? Are they nuts? This was back in the days of the great Eddie Merckx.

Today, we expect the GC contenders to take a little break and let the sprinters have at each other.

Italy is very disappointed in their countrymen on wheels; but, Damiano Cunego hangs in there, all the same, although he is outdistanced by some 22 minutes behind the lead group of Baredo and Burghardt.

As usual, at least this Tour, CSC leads the peloton with Stuart O’Grady at the helm.

Sorry, guys – my cubicle got a wee bit crowded this morning, as we’re trying to set up a demo site for this afternoon. Work, yee-haw!

But, then…there were really no great expectations for today. Everyone needs a little break before the upcoming TT. Team Columbia has something to celebrate today. Frankly, they have done quite well for coming into the Tour as a new team with no expectations. Go, Columbia!

Stage results
1. BURGHARDT Marcus 42 TEAM COLUMBIA
2. BARREDO Carlos 92 QUICK STEP
3. FEILLU Romain 124 AGRITUBEL
4. LE MEVEL Christophe 87 CREDIT AGRICOLE
5. ASTARLOZA Mikel 22 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI
6. DUMOULIN Samuel 185 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE
7. DESSEL Cyril 101 AG2R-LA MONDIALE
8. KREUZIGER Roman 65 LIQUIGAS
9. HOSTE Leif 5 SILENCE – LOTTO
10. SCHLECK Andy 16 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK

GC standings – no change
1 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 79h16’14” 00”
2 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 79h17’38” 1’24”
3 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 79h17’47” 1’33”
4 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 79h17’48” 1’34”
5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 79h18’53” 2’39”
6 191 Christian VANDEVELDE USA TSL 79h20’55” 4’41”
7 031 Alejandro VALVERDE ESP GCE 79h21’49” 5’35”
8 027 Samuel SANCHEZ ESP EUS 79h22’06” 5’52”
9 109 Tadej VALJAVEC SLO ALM 79h24’24” 8’10”
10 104 Vladimir EFIMKIN RUS ALM 79h24’38” 8’24”

TDF – Michael Douglas Awards the Yellow Jersey to Sastre

Michael Douglas, referred to by Craig Hummer as “Gordon Gecko” and sporting a Garmin cap, was on hand and invited to award the yellow jersey to Carlo Sastre on L’Alpe d’Huez. I would imagine that every guy in the universe would rather have talked to Mrs. Douglas – a.k.a. Catherine Zeta-Jones – or have seen her on that podium handing over that stuffed lion, lol!

So, now that you’ve seen the shakeout on the summit of the Dragon d’Huez, who’s your bet to be wearing yellow on the podium in Paris?

TDF – Stage 17: Awaken the Dragon, Part Deux

Voekler led the chase group, that included the Schleck brothers, Evans, Kohl et al, over the summit. The peoloton are nearing the summit and one has to wonder how much longer the CSC group will be able to control them.

Kohl looks positioned to keep the King of the Mountain title into Paris.

Cancellara is playing domestique for his mates, what a guy!

Velits leads the way toward Bourg-d’Oisans. There, the beast will be awakened. Meanwhile, my butt is getting sore from sitting here and waiting for something to happen. So far, it’s been pretty much the same story – CSC in control, a couple of guys who haven’t a chance in hell break loose, the chasers are all GC contenders, people drop like flies.

Are there any Dutch out there? The Alpe d’Huez has a Dutch parish priest, and a long association with the Dutch, and is known as the Dutch Mountain.

The yellow jersey group is chasing Pineau and Velits. They include Valverde, Vandevelde, Kohl, Menchov, Evans, Cancellara and Popo. The peloton is 1:49 minutes behind.

The lakeside peace of this lovely part of the Isere will soon give way to the mountain battle ahead. Who are you pulling for to wear the yellow jersey in Paris?

Speaking of awakening the beast – my readers are starting to wake up, too, haha!

CSC just passed the 20K to go banner and continue to lead the charge toward the beast.

The battle begins!

As expected, Velits hits the wall and Pineau pushes ahead on the steepest of the climbs on Alpe d’Huez. Cancellara falls off the front, Menchov and Sastre break away. Evans and Vandevelde hang in with the Schleck crew. Hang on to your seats, boys, it’s going to be a 21-hairpin-turn ride!

The Dragon has beaten Menchov! He’s falling behind by 30 bike lengths. Just don’t come out and say the entire CSC Team has been taken mystery drugs!!

Sastre turns up the heat. Evans and Kohl have taken turns at the lead. Andy is leading his brother, again. What brotherly love! Vandevelde moves ahead (can’t wait to see the enhanced re-broadcast with Paul Sherwin jumping up and down in the background).

Valverde attacks, to no avail. Vandevelde and Evans remain calm and strong. Will CSC crack under the pressure?

Menchov returns! Sastre is the virtual yellow…but, things change when the beast awakens, and the beast is wide awake!

hehe…CSC got to cheer Sastre under their bridge before Team CSC got there.

Unless he falls, Sastre will be the lead after today, and on the mountain. Sanchez followed by Andy Schleck complete the first three to the finish.

Valverde is in…followed by F. Schleck…

Stage results
1. SASTRE Carlos 11 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 6h 07′ 58″
2. SANCHEZ Samuel 27 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 6h 10′ 01″ + 02′ 03″
3. SCHLECK Andy 16 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 6h 10′ 01″ + 02′ 03″
4. VALVERDE Alejandro 31 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 6h 10′ 11″ + 02′ 13″
5. SCHLECK Frank 17 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 6h 10′ 11″ + 02′ 13″
6. EFIMKIN Vladimir 104 AG2R-LA MONDIALE 6h 10′ 13″ + 02′ 15″
7. EVANS Cadel 1 SILENCE – LOTTO 6h 10′ 13″ + 02′ 15″
8. MENCHOV Denis 131 RABOBANK 6h 10′ 13″ + 02′ 15″
9. VANDEVELDE Christian 191 GARMIN CHIPOTLE 6h 10′ 13″ + 02′ 15″
10. KOHL Bernhard 115 GEROLSTEINER 6h 10′ 13″ + 02′ 15″

GC Standings
1 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 74h39’03” 00”
2 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 74h40’27” 1’24”
3 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 74h40’36” 1’33”
4 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 74h40’37” 1’34”
5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 74h41’42” 2’39”
6 191 Christian VANDEVELDE USA TSL 74h43’44” 4’41”

Team CSC has kept the yellow jersey, even though it changes shoulders. Kirchen’s hopes are 8 minutes behind, Vandevelde needs to make up 4 minutes, while Evans is a minute behind.

The forthcoming Time Trial can’t make up for too much, disasters notwithstanding.

OK, my boss has been patient enough with me this morning; I need to get to work! Cya later, thanks for reading!

TDF – Stage 17: Enter the Dragon d’Huez

Embrun – l’Alpe d’Huez 210.5K

A CAT 3 precedes 2 HC climbs before meeting the dragon l’Alpe d’Huez. I have a feeling that we’ll know who will win the yellow jersey in Paris after today. Team CSC has been a formidable force this year. Both Schleck brothers are in the top 20 GC to make their parents, and all of Luxembourg, proud. Christian Vandevelde and Big George Hincapie turned in good, yet disappointing performances, and Kim Kirchen hung in Stage 16.

Here’s the starting jersey lineup:
GC Standings
yellow 17 SCHLECK Frank TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 68h 30′ 16″
green 133 FREIRE Oscar RABOBANK 219 pts
red 115 KOHL Bernhard GEROLSTEINER 85 pts
white 16 SCHLECK Andy TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 68h 39′ 17″
team TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 205h 22′ 34″

Withdrawals
Stage 16
162 CHAVANEL Sébastien (FRA) FRANCAISE DES JEUX withdrawls
63 CHICCHI Francesco (ITA) LIQUIGAS outside time limit

Let’s roll!

An early start on the broadcast this morning found me still asleep, sorry! Got to bed late last night. But, here’s where our boys on wheels are now:

The Cat 3 and the Giant of the Alps, Gallibier, the third highest climb of the Tour, are done. Hoschovd is slipping behind; Kirchen had mechanical trouble, but is catching up now. Before I left my house this morning, Paul Sherwin wasn’t so sure that CSC’s strategy was the best for today. I’m sorry to have missed any shots of Briancon; I used to spend some time there, during my university days.

There are more doping rumors circulating, this time about Christophe Moreau, who had mysteriously withdrawn, and even about Schumacher! But, those rumors have apparently been quashed.

Schumacher is visibly angry with the breakaway group, and apparently had some words with the Euskatel rider on the descent from Telegraphe hill. Cadel Evans isn’t happy about the cameramen getting in his way.

The lead group, Schumacher, Velits and Ruben Perez have just gone through the feed zone. Their chase group is 1 min 7 secs behind, while the peloton is distanced by nearly 5:30 minutes.

Did you see Augustyn’s spectacular drop off the side of the mountain yesterday? I wonder who went after his bike! Good to have seen Augustyn make his way, with a bit of spectator’s help, back up to the road and walking about.

The lead group is approaches Croix de Fer – the Iron Cross (yikes), the second HC climb. Man, after Gallibier, I can’t imagine how sore those collective legs must feel…and the worst is yet to come!

Just in: Saunier Duval are ceasing operations immediately, fallout following the Ricco and Piepoli doping scandal.

Bernhard Eisel crashes at a rond point, the second for Columbia riders today! Adam Hansel was the earlier rider who crashed. Di Gregorio, who looked so promising earlier in the day, has fallen behind after being dropped on the last descent, and is being paced by his FDJ team car; but, he still chases the lead two by 3 minutes.

Magnus Backstedt is in one of the studios feeding live reports and commented that Croix de Fer is the hardest climb in the Tour. Yeh, we knew that, Magnus – the guys out on the side of that mountain know that (now, if they didn’t before). Tell us something new. Like: have you EVER finished a Tour de France?

The commentators are hoping Denis Menchov can pull off a stage win. We’ll see – he hasn’t had the best of luck going downhill! Schumi is in a foul mood, hehe.

Speaking of foul mood – I can’t stand these coffee withdrawals I’ve been having since trying to go off the brew! So, I’m going to cave in and make some. Also – I’m going to start a second section of this report when our boys on wheels are about to wake the Dragon. Right now, they’re about halfway up HC #2.

Velits hangs in with Schumi as Perez drops back by 1:25 minutes. Oscar Freire is behind the peloton, which is led by Cancellara. If you think the CSC pace hurts now, just wait! But, it’s been a bit much for Stuart O’Grady, and he dropped off the back of their pack.

39 miles to the finish, with the sleeping dragon in between. Velits has left Schumi behind with less than 7k yet to climb to the summit. I wonder what Hincapie and Valverde are thinking about the peloton…

Kirchen and Sastre are trailing the peloton.

One commentator remarked that there are spectators packing the road from out of nowhere, lol! The stragglers, including Cadel Evans, Kohl, Vandevelde, are perking up.

Velits takes the summit!

And I am going to start Part Deux of Enter the Dragon d’Huez.

TDF – Stage 16: They’ll be coming around the mountains

Cuneo – Jausiers 157K

Two, count them – two – HC climbs, and this isn’t even L’Alpe d’Huez!

What happened while I was battling traffic on the freeway:

Cadel said he’s a bit tired and nervous, and is looking for CSC to continue their strong run in the mountains. Frank Schleck is not expected, at least by the commentators, to be able to hold onto the yellow jersey into Paris. Menchov is the man expected to excel today. Big George Hincapie was among the few, the good, the determined to keep attacks under check. The weather is expected to be just as hot as here in Central Texas – but the “heat” on the climbs will be unbearable for some of our riders, today, I am most certain of that.

This is a stage for the climbers, after all, and they’re all out toward the front: Voekler, Schumacher, Egoi, Popo, Siutsou. Schumacher took the first HC, La Lombard.

Watch out for that fast descent, Popo slipped, but is back on his bike.

Schumacher leads.

Cuneo…Cunego…the Italian “Little Prince” just couldn’t pull out a victory in Cuneo. C’est dommage.

The peloton is somewhere around 9 mins behind Schumacher as they go over the top of La Lombard. Cancellara had a puncture in his tire. yikes!

Schumacher is in the feed zone, facing a short flat preceding the next HC climb at Cime de la Bonette. Former Tour champion Steve Roche doesn’t think Schumacher can hang onto his lead.

Stage 15 saw Denis Menchov take a bad spill, just when he was ahead of the GC! This stage hasn’t been kind to riders, either.

Cunego is in the chase group which is less than 5 minutes behind Schumacher and closing. But, so are Hincapie and Siutsou (both Team Columbia), Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), Voekler and the company of other strong climbers.

A new name comes into the chase for the yellow as Valjavec (AG2R) leads in time over Frank Schleck. But, things happen in the mountains. Hold onto your seats, they’ve begun this last steep climb.

Danny Pate has been dropped behind the first chase group, along with Dumoulin. Well, they’re in good company with each other!

There are now three chase groups and roughly 12 minutes gap between Schumacher and the peloton.

REMEMBER – refresh your browser often, as I’m typing as fast as I can while getting live comment!

Schumacher is starting up la Bonette! Hoshovd falls off the peloton! Team CSC pushes on (oh, please let’s not hear that Nibali or anyone on that team has tested positive for doping!)!!

Don’t you just hate it when you get interrupted by an impromptu meeting? arrgghh!!

But, I did see that my man Popo was outrun by Cyril Dessel to take the stage. However, Hincapie was only 25 seconds back.

Frank Schleck holds onto the yellow jersey by 7 seconds over Kohl, 8 seconds over Cadel Evans. Every second counts here.

Stage results
1 101 DESSEL, Cyril FRA ALM 04:31:27 00:00:00
2 161 CASAR, Sandy FRA FDJ
3 032 ARROYO, David ESP GCE
4 007 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR SIL
5 047 HINCAPIE, George USA THR
6 038 PORTAL, Nicolas FRA GCE
7 109 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO ALM
8 111 SCHUMACHER, Stefan GER GST
9 016 SCHLECK, Andy LUX CSC
10 115 KOHL, Bernhard AUT GST

GC
1 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 68h30’16” 00”
2 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 68h30’23” 07”
3 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 68h30’24” 08”
4 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 68h31’05” 49”
5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 68h31’29” 1’13”
6 191 Christian VANDEVELDE USA TSL 68h33’31” 3’15”
7 041 Kim KIRCHEN LUX THR 68h33’39” 3’23”
8 031 Alejandro VALVERDE ESP GCE 68h34’27” 4’11”
9 027 Samuel SANCHEZ ESP EUS 68h34’54” 4’38”
10 109 Tadej VALJAVEC SLO ALM 68h35’39” 5’23”

TDF – Rest to Meet the Dragon

With the dragon mountain, L’Alpe d’Huez, just two days away, the riders need this rest day. Their rest would be like hard workouts to most of us…make that VERY hard workouts!

Current standings:
yellow 17 SCHLECK Frank TEAM CSC 63h 57′ 21″
green 133 FREIRE Oscar RABOBANK 219 pts
red 115 KOHL Bernhard GEROLSTEINER 85 pts
white 67 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS 64h 02′ 43″
team TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 191h 43′ 49″

All withdrawals to date:
NO LONGER RIDING
Stage 15
91 DEVOLDER Stijn (BEL) QUICK STEP withdrawls
89 RENSHAW Mark (AUS) CREDIT AGRICOLE withdrawls
43 CAVENDISH Mark (GBR) TEAM COLUMBIA non-starter
37 PEREIRO SIO Oscar (ESP) CAISSE D’EPARGNE withdrawls
Stage 14
126 JALABERT Nicolas (FRA) AGRITUBEL withdrawls
Stage 12
179 PIEPOLI Leonardo (ITA) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
177 JUFRE POU Josep (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
175 DEL NERO Jesus (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
174 DE LA FUENTE David (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
173 COBO ACEBO Juan Jose (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
172 BERTOGLIATI Rubens (SUI) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
171 RICCO Riccardo (ITA) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
55 COOKE Baden (AUS) BARLOWORLD withdrawls
Stage 11
59 LONGO BORGHINI Paolo (ITA) BARLOWORLD withdrawls
56 DUENAS NEVADO Moises (ESP) BARLOWORLD non-starter
53 CARDENAS Félix (COL) BARLOWORLD withdrawls
Stage 10
147 TROFIMOV Yury (RUS) BOUYGUES TELECOM withdrawls
Stage 8
62 BELTRAN Manuel (ESP) LIQUIGAS non-starter
Stage 7
192 BACKSTEDT Magnus (SWE) GARMIN CHIPOTLE outside time limit
166 JEGOU Lilian (FRA) FRANCAISE DES JEUX withdrawls
121 MOREAU Christophe (FRA) AGRITUBEL withdrawls
106 GADRET John (FRA) AG2R-LA MONDIALE withdrawls
95 FACCI Mauro (ITA) QUICK STEP withdrawls
Stage 6
178 PASSERON Aurélien (FRA) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
Stage 5
51 SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio (COL) BARLOWORLD withdrawls
Stage 3
176 GOMEZ Angel (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT withdrawls
Stage 1
184 DUCLOS-LASSALLE Hervé (FRA) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE withdrawls

Good luck to the Cav on his upcoming Olympic performance, what a ride he had in this year’s Tour! Wishing the injured riders well and speedy recovery. As for those who continued to injure the sport – well, there’s one outfit that believes in second chances. However, it remains to be seen who would still be worth offering that option.