July 20, 2004
Awesome photo of L'Alpe d'Huez
Forgot to link an amazing aerial shot of L'Alpe d'Huez that accompanied the Christian Vande Velde diary entry today. I didn't see it anywhere else on the VeloNews site. The switchbacks count down from the top, so switchback 1 is the last one near the top.
Click through to see the full-size shot.
Sprinters look to Stage 18
Assuming Robbie McEwen survives the TT up Alpe d'Huez tomorrow, where can his pursuers make up points to take the green jersey away?
Stage 16 and 19 are time trials, so no points are up for grabs. Stage 20 is flat, and suits McEwen well; no one is going to build a big point differential on the stage to Paris.
Stage 17 is the last leg-breaker of the Tour, with an hors category, three 1st category, and a 2nd category climb. There's an early (9 km in) sprint, and one just before the last climb of the day, where Zabel or O'Grady are more likely to score than McEwen. Unfortunately for the sprinters, the finish of Stage 17 is only 13 kms down from the top of the 1st category Col de la Croix Fry.
So Stage 18 looks crucial from here. The biggest climb on the day is the 2nd category Col de la Faucille, after the 1st intermediate sprint. From there, it's mostly downhill to the finish, but with two 3rd category climbs before the 2nd intermediate sprint that might enforce a break in the peloton.
It is the stage that could completely turn the battle for the Maillot Vert, with the category 2 Col de la Faucille likely to be crucial. If O'Grady or Zabel make it over with the front group, and McEwen and Hushovd don't, whoever crosses the line first could grab all the points and put himself into green.
The rider and the rocker
Graham Watson Stage 15 photo gallery
Meet the podium women
USA Today quickie on the "pecking order in the world of professional kissers."
First, Credit Lyonnaise, the yellow jersey women, who also take on a variety of other promotional duties before working up to the podium.
Next, Champion's polka-dot podium women, who do some other meet-and-greets, as well.
Third, PMU's "racier" green jersey podium women, who also do "wild dance routines ... in the publicity caravan."
Finally, Aquarel's white jersey podium women, who also help pass out the company's bottled water.
None should be confused with Podium Girl Gone Bad.
Christian Vande Velde on his day in the break
American Christian Vande Velde was the best-placed rider on Roberto Heras's Libery Seguros during all the action, but may have pushed the pace a little too hard, as he finished 9:44 back, in 57th overall. Vande Velde writes in his rider's diary at VeloNews that he has trouble staying fed and hydrated in the heat, and only realizes he's nearing the bonk when he starts getting goosebumps.
In the last hour of the race today I started to feel like a goose out there as I became dehydrated and tired from the efforts of the race and challenges of the course.
I began to drift off and tried to ride with Ullrich as he came blasting by. After a while, though, I fell back and soon Lance's group came charging up with Floyd setting a ripping tempo on the climb. He looked over at me and told me to get on his wheel if I didn't want to be dropped. I took his advice and hung on.
The Postal team was impressive once again today, keeping Lance well protected in the front of the race and setting a tempo so strong nobody could attack and if they did try an attack they didn't get far up the road.
Intro to L'Alpe d'Huez
USA Today offers a nice intro to L'Alpe d'Huez, including Andy Hampsten's legendary win there in 1992, and Pantani's and Armstrong's records on the mountain: Pantani - 37:35, Armstrong - 38:01.
It's going to be interesting to see how times are tomorrow, when riders will start the climb comparatively fresh, but will ride alone almost the entire way.
It is the race's best-attended segment and draws the most rabid fans. Even the grand finale on Paris' Champs-Elysees draws a crowd half the size.
And for all of Paris' romance and glamour, L'Alpe d'Huez's mountain setting may be the Tour's most dramatic. In addition to the scenery, fans along the route, a two-lane, asphalt road, are within touching distance of the riders as they pass. In some sections of the course, riders appear to be laboring through a tunnel of humanity.
Tour de Fonts
Online font foundry dinctype has introduced a free collection of five fonts, their Paris Collection, in recognition of the Tour de France.
The 5 faces in the family are Champs-Élysées, City of Lights, Sexy Eiffel Tower, Rimbaud, and Tour de Lance. The collection is available in Mac or Windows TrueType formats, and all faces include a full set of international characters.
Alpe d'Huez start times
They'll go off at 1-minute intervals until the top 23, then 2-minute intervals after that, starting at 2 p.m. in Bourg d'Oisans or 8 a.m. Eastern. Armstrong should depart at 10:58 Eastern.
Times are 6 hours ahead of US Eastern time, full list linked above:
181 MC EWEN Robbie (AUS, LOT) 14:33:00
013 BOTERO Santiago (COL, TMO) 15:18:00
118 VANDEVELDE Christian (USA, LST) 15:34:00
064 JULICH Bobby (USA, CSC) 15:48:00
111 HERAS Roberto (ESP, LST) 15:53:00
023 GONZALEZ Santos (ESP, PHO) 16:01:00
006 LANDIS Floyd (USA, USPS) 16:02:00
014 GUERINI Giuseppe (ITA, TMO) 16:03:00
005 HINCAPIE George (USA, USP) 16:04:00
108 ROGERS Michael (AUS, QSD) 16:10:00
029 SEVILLA Oscar (ESP, PHO) 16:16:00
162 CASAR Sandy (FRA, FDJ) 16:22:00
141 BROCHARD Laurent (FRA, A2R) 16:24:00
009 RUBIERA José Luis (ESP, USP) 16:26:00
101 VIRENQUE Richard (FRA, QSD) 16:28:00
051 MOREAU Christophe (FRA, C.A) 16:30:00
158 RASMUSSEN Mickael (DEN, RAB) 16:32:00
027 PEREIRO SIO Oscar (ESP, PHO) 16:34:00
171 SIMONI Gilberto (ITA, SAE) 16:36:00
067 SASTRE Carlos (ESP, CSC) 16:38:00
151 LEIPHEIMER Levi (USA, RAB) 16:40:00
134 CAUCCHIOLI Pietro (ITA, ALB) 16:42:00
129 VOECKLER Thomas (FRA, BLB) 16:44:00
081 TOTSCHNIG Georg (AUT, GST) 16:46:00
002 AZEVEDO José (POR, USP) 16:48:00
011 ULLRICH Jan (GER, TMO) 16:50:00
071 MANCEBO Francisco (ESP, IBB) 16:52:00
017 KLÖDEN Andréas (GER, TMO) 16:54:00
061 BASSO Ivan (ITA, CSC) 16:56:00
001 ARMSTRONG Lance (USA, USP) 16:58:00
A quick rundown of everyone who has ever won at Alpe d'Huez, and the 6 fastest unofficial times.
Robin Williams joins the caravan
Robin Williams has joined the Tour caravan, riding today in the US Postal team car, while Sheryl Crow hitched a ride with the race doctor on the course.
Williams will join 1 million cycling fans expected to line the road up to L'Alpe d'Huez, 200,000 more than last year. Crowds are already thick enough that officials have closed the roads almost a day early, according to Maroussia Perez-Perrot, press officer at the local town hall.
Fans are camping out "in tents, in fields, on rocks," Perez-Perrot said. "It's very unusual."
Millar kicked off Cofidis, may lose rainbow jersey
David Millar appeared in court Tuesday, and admitted he had used EPO.
Cofidis reportedly sent Millar a letter informing him he has been kicked off the team on Monday, and the UCI is likely to remove his world time trial championship, which would make Michael Rogers of Australia world champion.
"Under normal circumstances we cannot use confidential testimony from a police inquiry," an International Cycling Union official told AFP.
"But if Millar confirms what he said, either publicly or at a court hearing, it's not necessary to wait for a verdict in the proceedings."
McEwen to be eliminated at Alpe d'Huez?
Claude Criquielion, a Lotto-Domo director, is quoted in cyclingnews.com as concerned about green jersey Robbie McEwen surviving the uphill time trial at Alpe d'Huez tomorrow.
Elimination will be 33 percent over the winning time. Marco Pantani's record here was about 37 minutes, while Lance Armstrong's best time up the mountain was about 37.5 minutes, which means McEwen might have as little as 50 minutes to make the 15.5-km climb.
"That means that he will have to give full gas from the first metres," said Criquielion.
That also provides a little more insight into why O'Grady and Hushovd were contesting the intermediate sprint today.
Armstrong in familiar yellow
Rather than rise to the bait, and ride one-on-one with Ullrich, Armstrong stayed in a select group with teammates and other elite riders, gradually reeled in Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Michael Rasmussen, and other riders who had gotten up the road, then matched the tempo set by Ullrich and T-Mobile teammate Andreas Klöden on the final climb before finally riding away from the pair, along with CSC's Ivan Basso, in the last 300 meters of the day.
"Johan Bruyneel (the US Postal team boss) said to me this morning he expected Jan to break," said Armstrong afterwards.
"But it was harder than I expected - more aggressive. But it's great to be back in yellow today."
Ullrich has clawed his way back into the Top 5 on the race, but hasn't put significant time into either CSC's Ivan Basso or Ullrich's teammate Andreas Klöden, and it looks like he will have to unseat one of them to move onto the podium.
Thomas Voeckler was finally unseated from the race lead, a lead that seemed precarious when he took it but led to the 25-year-old becoming the toast of France. He can take comfort in the white jersey awarded to the best rider 25 or under, a competition he currently leads by 7:41 over fdjeux.com's Sandy Casar.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Photo galleries, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
What are Semences?
John Levesque runs down the sponsors of all 21 Tour teams, and what they do.
Even if you've followed the Tour for years, you'll probably learn something; I didn't realize that Credit Agricole now owns Credit Lyonnais, the yellow jersey sponsor.
More than 7/10 tomorrow
Here's a first-person account of climbing l'Alpe d'Huez, site of tomorrow's individual time trial, and its famed 21 switchbacks. Lots of photos, and the rider/author gives something of an idea of what parts of the climb are hardest, where things ease up a bit, etc.
He ranks it a 7 out of 10, but I doubt he was riding it all-out.
Armstrong takes 2nd stage win, moves into yellow
10 men with a chance:
Armstrong and Azevedo of Postal, Basso, Sastre, and Voigt for CSC, Kloden and Ullrich of T-Mobile, Rasmussen and Leipheimer of Rabobank, Richard Virenque of Quick Step.
Sastre, Voigt, Azevedo, Rasmussen, and Virenque have fallen off the back.
Down to Kloden, Ullrich, Basso, Armstrong, and Leipheimer.
500 meters to go; Leipheimer is off the back. The T-Mobile's are pushing the pace, now Basso has sprinted away, and Armstrong turns on full steam. Basso can't hold him off; Armstrong has his 2nd stage win of the 2004 Tour.
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC)
3) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at :03
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at :06
5) Leiphimer (Rabobank) at :13
6) Virenque (Quick Step) at :48
7) Rasmussen (Rabobank) at :49
8) Azevedo (US Postal) at :53
9) Voigt (CSC) at 1:04
10) Sastre (CSC) at 1:24
It's Armstrong's 20th career stage win. Voeckler finished down 9:29, so Armstrong will take the 61st yellow jersey of his career, and start last in tomorrow's individual time trial up l'Alpe d'Huez.
Armstrong gains a little time on Ivan Basso based on the time bonus for the stage win.
GC Top 10:
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC) at 1:25
3) Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) at 3:22
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 5:39
5) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 6:54
6) José Azevedo (US Postal) at 7:34
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 8:19
8) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere) at 9:28
9) Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 10:10
10) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 10:58
Stage 15 underway: Jan attacks!
With nearly 40 miles to go, Jan Ullrich accelerated out of Lance Armstrong's group. He's caught and rode with Santos Gonzalez, who was on an attack, and former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R. Ullrich had more than a minute advantage at one point, but was captured with 27 kilometers/17 miles to ride.
Richard Virenque and Michael Rasmussen led for much of the stage. Ullrich's attack never quite bridged up to them, but as Armstrong closed in on Rasmussen/Virenque, Levi Leipheimer jumped across the gap, tried to join with Rasmussen and Virenque, but Rasmussen couldn't hang. Leipheimer and Virenque tried to make a move, but the higher tempo of Armstrong's group dropped some riders off the back, including Brochard and CSC's Jens Voigt and Postal's Floyd Landis and Jose-Luis Rubiera. Now Leipheimer and Virenque have been recaptured, and all the contenders are together: Armstrong with Azevedo, Ullrich and Kloden for T-Mobile, Basso and Sastre for CSC, Virenque of Quick Step, and Leipheimer of Rabobank.
On the day's last descent, Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank and CSC's Jens Voigt have rejoined the elite group. Sabaliuskas of Saeco has climbed back up to join the leaders, so there are 11 riders in the elite group.
Armstrong is "yellow jersey on the road," since he leads Voeckler by more than the 22 seconds between them: The gap to the main peloton is 7 minutes+.
Stuart O'Grady has picked up 6 green jersey points by taking the 2nd intermediate sprint of the day, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Laurent Brochard.
Virenque has picked up 20+ points in the polka-dot jersey competition.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Richard Virenque, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)
Mayo drops out of Tour
"We knew he wouldn't finish the stage today, so we decided it was better for him not to start," said Euskaltel general manager Miguel Madariaga.
The team suggests that Mayo might have a virus that's sapping his strength.