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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
10 115 KOHL, Bernhard AUT GST

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 10: Shakeout in the mountains

Pau – Hautacam 156k

We’ve been waiting for this day, when the “real” contenders will be revealed after the first truly hard mountain battle to shake and wake up the competition. Caisse d’Espagne took the lead early, not so smart in my opinion, on a day that otherwise should be all about the French. It is, after all, Bastille Day, but the Pyrenees, well, they *are* the Pyrenees.

Big George Hincapie (why can’t Craig Hummer pronounce his name!) and former teammate Popovych slid behind at 55km. Valverde has been fading, but one never knows what he has up his sleeve, and Di Gregorio takes Tourmalet.

Who will take Hautacam – toss out all predictions, this has been a bumpy ride! Kirchen already seemed ready to let go of the yellow jersey, but he’s no slacker. Evans is riding amazingly well after his nasty crash and is headed for the summit with an impressive group that includes Vandevelde, Sastre and Ricco, leaving Kirchen now 2.5 mins behind. BUT – it looks as though Frank Schleck will take the yellow today!

Saunier Duval takes the summit with a Peipoli and Cobbo 1-2 punch. Evans takes the yellow by a single second!

Stage 10 results
1. Leonardo PIEPOLI
2. Juan Jose COBO ACEBO
3. Frank SCHLECK
4. Bernhard KOHL
5. Vladimir EFIMKIN

GC Standings
1 001 Cadel EVANS AUS SIL 42h29’09” 00”
2 017 Frank SCHLECK LUX CSC 42h29’10” 01”
3 191 C VANDEVELDE USA TSL 42h29’47” 38”
4 115 Bernhard KOHL AUT GST 42h29’55” 46”
5 131 Denis MENCHOV RUS RAB 42h30’06” 57”
6 011 Carlos SASTRE ESP CSC 42h30’37” 1’28”
7 041 Kim KIRCHEN LUX THR 42h31’05” 1’56”
8 173 Juan Jose COBO ESP SDV 42h31’19” 2’10”
9 171 Riccardo RICCO ITA SDV 42h31’38” 2’29”
10 104 Vlad EFIMKIN RUS ALM 42h31’41” 2’32”