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Archive for cadel evans

Tour de France 2011 Stage 5 Return to the sea

Yesterday, Cadel Evans ousted Contador out of a stage win by a split second (or, is that a split wheel). Way to go, Cadel, George Hincapie and Team BMC! G-C also retains the GC going into Stage 5, way to go Thor!

The boys will be carried to the start at Carhaix, then they have to make it on their own power to the seaside finish at Cap Fréhel. They’ll probably be wishing they could fly there as easily as the sea birds that make this a migratory stop; in any case, this will be a route for the sprinters, and quite possibly another wet and windy one at that. Perhaps today will prove to be another good one for Tyler, keeping Teams USA in dominant positions for the beginning of the Tour.

There still isn’t a clear overall contender for the yellow jersey win at the end. Who knows, perhaps the talented, albeit troubled, Contador will continue to dig deep to claim a 4th Tour title. We shall see. After all, this guy is amazing in the mountains, and they’re looming in the days ahead.

Note: Cap Fréhel is also known for having hosted a stage of the Womens cycling Tour of Brittany in 2005.

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 – Stage 15: Bring it On in the Alps

Embrun – Prato Nevoso 182km

OK, I lied – I did not come back yesterday, and I’ll tell you why: it was my husband’s birthday, our son’s best friend was in town, we just had other things to do. But, I did get my little 3 mile morning walk in yesterday, and a nice 6 miler this morning.

So, here we are in Stage 15 and I’m watching the video of a nasty crash on both sides of a huge rond point at somewhere around 50k to go. The initial word is that Vandevelde crashed, Garmin-Chipotle definitely did, on rain-slick roadway.

Vandevelde is back on his bike – phew!

Time for a little recap of this weekend’s events:

  • Cavendish won his 4th Stage, packed up and left for home where he will prepare for the Olympics. I was hoping he’d stick it out to Paris; but, there was always that expectation that he’d leave early. What a great way to bow out, though!
  • Baroloworld will no longer sponsor the Tour and out of cycling.
  • GC standings after Stage 14:
    1 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 59h01’55” 00”
    2 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 59h01’56” 01”
    3 191 Christian VANDEVELDE USA TSL 59h02’33” 38”
    4 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 59h02’41” 46”
    5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 59h02’52” 57”
    6 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 59h03’23” 1’28”
    7 041 Kim KIRCHEN LUX THR 59h03’51” 1’56”
    8 104 Vladimir EFIMKIN RUS ALM 59h04’27” 2’32”
    9 022 Mikel ASTARLOZA ESP EUS 59h05’46” 3’51”
    10 067 Vincenzo NIBALI ITA LIQ 59h06’13” 4’18”
  • Stage 14 results:
    1 133 FREIRE, Oscar ESP RAB
    2 186 DUQUE, Leonardo COL COF
    3 151 ZABEL, Erik GER MRM
    4 193 DEAN, Julian NZL TSL
    5 094 DE JONGH, Steven NED QST
    6 072 BALLAN, Alessandro ITA LAM
    7 026 PEREZ, Ruben ESP EUS
    8 145 PINEAU, Jérôme FRA BTL
    9 098 TOSATTO, Matteo ITA QST
    10 081 HUSHOVD, Thor NOR C.A

I just noticed that the markings on the rond point the riders just passed through – safely – has I-Ching markings…interesting…I’ll get back to this, later.

UPDATE on the earlier nasty crash involving Oscar Pereiro and Robbie Hunter: Oscar – broken shoulder and femur, he’s in hospital, otherwise okay; but out of the race. Best wishes to Oscar!

David Millar was also in that earlier rond point crash; looks like Robbie Hunter is on his bike.

So, we’re headed into Italian territory before tomorrow’s rest day.

Had to scan back through the route reports to see what happened on the HC climb: Danny Pate shoved a bunch of newspapers under his jersey for warmth on the descent. Y’know – I always wondered what that was all about!

Egoi Martinez – go Eqgoi! – took the HC points. Mark Renshaw abandoned, one less support man for Huschovd.

Martinez allowed another rider to take the next points on the Cat 3 climb. Let me double-check spelling for Arriete – Arrieta (AG2R) – how very gentlemanly of Egoi – go Egoi! Another example of why we love this sport!!

Will there be a change in the GC standings? Most likely another rider will be in yellow, making the 6th change this year. Am I speaking too soon? Are the commentators speaking too soon? Is Paul Sherwin ever wrong? haha!

CSC is making their move on the Cat 1 climb! The last of the stage – CSC wants to upset Cadel Evans with either Frank Schleck or Carlo Sastre – but, who would they be kidding. Wouldn’t Cadel already expect this?

Sprinters hate to climb.

My apologies if you’re refreshing your browser while I’m editing my commentary – my live feeds have been slow to recover from that first nasty crash around the rond point (everyone’s scrambling to figure out what happened to whom), and I’m trying to keep up with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, LOL!

Where in blazes is Team Columbia? C’mon guys!

I have to say, along with a million other fans I’m sure, that Garmin-Chipotle is certainly performing incredibly well in their first appearance in the Tour. Way to go, G-C (hey, I like that)!

Inside 10K to go and it’s finally getting fun!

Frank Schleck wants to shut down that 1 second lead of Cadel Evans.’ Meanwhile, Cadel is every vigilant; he doesn’t need to react right now, with 5K to go.

If you were Andy, would you sacrifice yourself for Frank?

Vandevelde is still hanging in; Kirchen is not having the best of days; Danny Pate is working hard.

Team CSC is on a mission!

Martinez surprised Danny Pate with an unexpected attack, but Pate is right after his wheel. Menchov went down! He’s back up, but the rain had just started – no fun on a hard uphill push!

Andy Schleck is doing his brother proud by pushing the lead group hard up the climb to the summit with 2k to go!

Cadel Evans is in trouble, but Menchov’s attack didn’t deter him.

Frank Schleck may be in a little trouble, sitting on Cadel’s wheel. Andy is wavering at the front of the lead group. Valverde is moving ahead.

1k to go and Danny Pate takes the lead!

Valverde has lost time, Andy has dropped back, Cadel Evans and Frank Schleck are battling for position.

I’m exhausted just watching!

Simon Gerrans takes the stage!

Gerolsteiner’s Bernhard Kohl pushes forward, trying to take the yellow jersey away!

Kohl crosses the line and Cadel must cross inside of 4’49” to keep the yellow!

Frank Schleck is in!

Results are still coming in, but this is what I have, so far:

Stage 15 results:
1 086 GERRANS, Simon AUS C.A
2 024 MARTINEZ, Egoi ESP EUS
3 199 PATE, Danny USA TSL
4 102 ARRIETA, Jose Luis ESP ALM
5 115 KOHL, Bernhard AUT GST
6 011 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC
7 031 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE
8 131 MENCHOV, Denis RUS RAB
9 017 SCHLECK, Frank LUX CSC
10 191 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA TSL

GC Standings after Stage 15:
1. SCHLECK Frank 17 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 63h 57′ 21″
2. KOHL Bernhard 115 GEROLSTEINER 63h 57′ 28″ + 00′ 07″
3. EVANS Cadel 1 SILENCE – LOTTO 63h 57′ 29″ + 00′ 08″
4. MENCHOV Denis 131 RABOBANK 63h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 38″
5. VANDEVELDE Christian 191 GARMIN CHIPOTLE 63h 58′ 00″ + 00′ 39″
6. SASTRE Carlos 11 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK 63h 58′ 10″ + 00′ 49″
7. KIRCHEN Kim 41 TEAM COLUMBIA 64h 00′ 09″ + 02′ 48″
8. EFIMKIN Vladimir 104 AG2R-LA MONDIALE 64h 00′ 57″ + 03′ 36″
9. VALVERDE Alejandro 31 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 64h 01′ 32″ + 04′ 11″
10. SANCHEZ Samuel 27 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 64h 01′ 55″ + 04′ 34″
11. ASTARLOZA Mikel 22 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 64h 02′ 39″

Well, so there it is: the yellow jersey will change hands, perhaps to Cadel’s relief. Andy did his brother Frank proud. Danny Pate was vocally disappointed (but, word is he’s typically pessimistic, anyway). CSC will most likely keep pushing toward greatness in the Alps.

The monster climb is 3 days away.

Have a terrific weekend.

TDF – Rest Day Recap

Yes, I know – I skipped a couple of stages. We had connectivity issues in my neighborhood (seems to happen this time every year, we must have a lot of cycling fans?). But, by Stage 10, you already knew the outcome. We expected Kim Kirchen to give up the yellow jersey; didn’t quite expect he’d also relinquish the green. We didn’t expect Cadel Evans’ spectacular finish. We will expect more shakeouts and shakeups in the mountains to come.

So, here we are in the Pyrenees on the first rest day and about halfway into the Tour. One of the fellows at work said he’s having a tough time caring about the Tour. Personally, I think all the cyclists in this year’s event deserve our attention. Take back the Tour? Sure, why not. I just love to watch the event. There was a time, not so very long ago, when we didn’t get this much coverage. Another reason to thank Lance Armstrong.

Is anyone playing the Kenda fantasy team game?

What are your predictions for this upcoming week of mountain stages?

TDF – Stage 7: Another First Tour Win, The First Tour Arrest

Brioude – Aurillac 159k

Commentary to follow later, meanwhile:

Stage 7 results
1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 3.52.53 (40.964 km/h)
2 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.06
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia
5 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
6 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
8 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Saunier Duval – Scott
9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank

GC standings
1 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 28.23.40
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 0.06
3 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.16
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 0.44
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.03
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.12
7 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 1.14
8 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 1.21
9 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
10 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia

Withdrawn/DNS
192 BACKSTEDT Magnus (SWE) GARMIN CHIPOTLE outside time limit
166 JEGOU Lilian (FRA) FRANCAISE DES JEUX withdraw
121 MOREAU Christophe (FRA) AGRITUBEL withdraw
106 GADRET John (FRA) AG2R-LA MONDIALE withdraw
95 FACCI Mauro (ITA) QUICK STEP withdraw
Stage 6
178 PASSERON Aurélien (FRA) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT non-starter
Stage 5
51 SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio (COL) BARLOWORLD withdraw
Stage 3
176 GOMEZ Angel (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL – SCOTT withdraw
Stage 1
184 DUCLOS-LASSALLE Hervé (FRA) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE withdraw

OK, I’m back!

Slipstream (Garmin Chipotle) made a big deal about signing on Magnus Backstedt to ride with the Tour team. Has he actually ever finished a Tour?

The mountain stages are always exciting, with the hard climbs to the summit, then the rocket fast descent. Paul Sherwin’s Freudian slip of the tongue, referring to Team Columbia as Team Discovery, made me wonder if anyone is an overall cyclist. We’ll probably never see another Lance Armstrong in our lifetime; but, to win the Tour means being as good in the mountains as on the flats as in the time trials. Can Kirchen take this Tour? There are two more weeks to go.

Sadly, Manuel Beltran (Liquigas), 26th place following today’s stage, was arrested after testing positive for EPO. If the “B” test also returns positive, he will certainly be fired from the team. This strikes another blow to the otherwise highly-ranked team, as Ivan Basso has been suspended from the Tour for two years.

Question: Do you think another “cheat” will be found in this year’s Tour? Can this be the first “clean” Tour, or do you think that’s an impossible quest?