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Archive for l’alpe d’huez

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 SĂ©bastien (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.