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Archive for Valverde

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 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?

TDF – Stage 6: Kirchen captures yellow

Did you miss me? I was really busy at work, today; even had lunch with a buddy from my Austin Plone User Group who, I learned, is an avid distance cyclist and takes to the hills around here with the best of them. This is, after all, Lance’s hometown.

Neither rain, nor wind, nor heat of sun was going to stop Kim Kirchen from taking the best of Super-Besse. He may not have taken the stage, but he did take back the green, and the best prize of all, the yellow jersey for the day. What a lucky break that he didn’t go down with Schumacher on that most unfortunate fall just inside the last kilometer up to the finish!

Bravo, Valverde, for pushing up right behind Ricco to a hard finish line, with Cadel Evans at his side. While new faces are capturing the stages, the veterans are still proving they have the right stuff to keep things fresh and interesting.

Tomorrow’s stage heads toward the Pyrenees, one of my favorite segments of any Tour. Why? The pure beauty and challenge.

Standings
1. Riccardo RICCO
2. Alejandro VALVERDE
3. Cadel EVANS
4. Frank SCHLECK
5. Kim KIRCHEN

GC standings
1. Kim KIRCHEN
2. Cadel EVANS
3. Stefan SCHUMACHER
4. Christian VANDEVELDE
5. David MILLAR

Question: Do you miss the in-car videos of Johan Bruyneel careening around the mountains while chatting up his riders?

TDF 2008 – Stage 3: Feillu takes the maillot jaune for France

St. Malo – Nantes

I’m relegated to following live commentary today, so all I know is that the maillot jaune has passed to French cyclist, Feillu (AGR), and the stage won by Dumoulin (Cofidis), which should make their country proud and very happy. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the predictions for tomorrow’s time trial place Millar, Evans, Kirchen and Valverde at the top of the list of contenders to capture the golden fleece.

Can’t wait to watch the enhanced Versus broadcast tonight!

Sound off: Granted, Greg LeMond was the first American cyclist to win the Tour, and 3X; but, is he simply trying to re-establish his voice in Lance’s absence? Does anyone really care all that much? Is he a whiner, or what!?

TDF 2008 – Stage 2: Versus jersey changes hands

Auray – St. Brieuc

What I’m enjoying the most is that this Tour is not so predictable as in the past because the human variables have changed drastically as the organization embarks upon a “brand new start.” On a blustery, partially rainy day with a lovely start from Bernard Hinaut’s home town (what’s with that little silver plate presented to the legendary cyclist?), the mighty Thor stole the finish line from a potential Columbia win. Team Columbia, with Kirchen (place 2) and Ciolek(place 3), makes another good showing on their second day, leaving teammate Cavendish, one of today’s favorites to take the finish, out of the top 10. Perhaps Big George Hincapie’s unparalleled experience and wisdom is proving a powerful influence on this new team. As for Garmin-Chipotle, where the heck are they?

Overall, Valverde keeps a 1 second advantage and the mellow yellow. Kirchen takes the green jersey, hail Columbia! (And Craig Hummer takes the Versus commentator’s yellow jersey out of suspension and away from Paul Sherwin.) Whatever happened to Al Trautweig?

Sound off: What do you think about no Prologue and no time bonuses for the top 3 finishers in this year’s Tour? Do you think the French organizations are simply trying to stack the deck in their favor?

TDF 2008 – Stage 1: and the winner is Valverde

2008 Route
Brest to Plumelec

A bit of wind on a beautiful day to start the 2008 Tour de France from historic Brest, Bretagne, and then a crash takes out Duclos-Lasalle. Cadel Evans, Tour favorite, and Robbie McEwen, sprint master par excellence, led the peloton into the last few kilometers to the finish at Plumelec, and another crash nearly claims another rider. Then we saw Team Columbia (High Road) push forward causing us to believe we may be singing “Hail, Columbia!” Up pops Erik Zabel with less than a kilometer to climb. Kim Kirchen led briefly until Alejandro Valverde dominated the finish.

Congratulations to Valverde for taking the first yellow jersey of this Tour. Good for Columbia, Kirchen (place 4) may have more to show us as the Tour continues. It’s going to be a very interesting 3 weeks. At least I can find one set of blue jerseys in the pack (yellow band on Columbia sleeve). As for Chipotle, I’m still trying to identify their jersey as they fly past cameras!

Anyone out there have photos to share?