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July 28, 2005

ASO says rider with possible positive dope test “second tier”

MSNBC.com | Armstrong in clear in Tour doping probe - Tour de France - MSNBC.com

Like it's not bad enough to have the UCI looking into whether to bring a dope case against you, now they've gone and said the rider involved is “a second-tier rider.”

That's good news for Robbie McEwen and Lance Armstrong, the only riders absolutely known to have been tested on the day officials took the sample in question. Since McEwen won the 5th stage, and Armstrong led the race that night, they both gave urine samples, along with a random sampling of other riders.

Officials may not even bring a case, because the substance in question, norpseudoephedrine, can be created in the body from pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in Sudafed, which is an allowed substance.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 28, 2005 in Doping, Lance Armstrong, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Freire doubtful for Vuelta

Eurosport | Freire unlikely for the Vuelta

Like Alejandro Valvderde, Oscar Freire of Rabobank is unlikely to make a start at the Vuelta in late August.

Freire, current world champion, had a gluteal tumor removed in June, and has already missed the Tour while recovering.

He has yet to resume normal training:

"As soon as I can, I'm going to focus on specific training exercises and I hope to take part in a few races in Italy. But for the time being, neither I, nor my team are thinking about making any plans," continued the 29-year-old.

"The world championships are very important for me but it's not any old village race. You've got to turn up in a good condition.

"My situation is as follows: I'm going to have to start preparing myself as if we were in the middle of winter."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 28, 2005 in Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

Valverde likely to miss Vuelta

procycling | Valverde to miss Vuelta?

Spain's budding superstar, Alejandro Valverde, expected to be a favorite at next month's Vuelta a España, may have to miss his national tour.

Valverde is still recovering from tendinitis that forced him out of the 2005 Tour during Stage 13.

Valverde and his team are reportedly refocusing their late-season goals on the world championships in Madrid, despite the race profile, which is expected to favor full-on sprinters.

Valverde has finished 3rd and 4th in two Vueltas.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 28, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

Rogers, Sinkewitz sign with T-Mobile

Eurosport | T-Mobile seal deal for QuickStep duo T-Mobile has signed world time-trial champion Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz, who won last year's Tour of Germany. Eurosport also quotes from L'Equipe that Liberty Seguros will go even more Kazakh next season, as Andrey Kashechkin, currently with Credit Agricole (and 2nd in the white jersey competition), is expected to sign with Alexandre Vinokourov's new team.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 27, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday Tour coverage sets OLN ratings record

TV Week | OLN Sets Ratings Mark with Tour de France Coverage

Once again, OLN set viewership records during its coverage of the 2005 Tour.

Sunday's coverage of Lance Armstrong's final stage got a 2.08 rating, which equates to 1.7 million viewers.

Makes you wonder what might happen if they broadcast other races.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 27, 2005 in Television | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 26, 2005

Vinokourov to Liberty Seguros

BBC SPORT | Vinokourov joins Liberty Seguros

Alexandre Vinokourov, whose aggressive riding animated the 2005 Tour, will join Manolo Saiz' Liberty Seguros squad.

The team's previous Tour leader, Roberto Heras, had a disappointing Tour in 45th, and Saiz said publicly during the Tour that Heras would ride the Giro and not lead the team's Tour squad next season.

Vinokourov will bring along a fellow Kazakh, Sergey Yakovlev, from T-Mobile.

Said Vino:

"They have the best riders in the mountains and are among the best in the team time trials. It was almost a natural choice," he said of Liberty Seguros.

"We have discussed my programme for 2006 - I've had the guarantee I will be able to fully focus on the Tour de France."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (11)

Daily Show on Armstrong win

Quitter! 'Padrnos' on stroller duty
Daily Show: Stewart on Armstrong's retirement; how the team will help out

Comedy Central's The Daily Show did a long bit on Lance Armstrong's 7th Tour de France win. They covered Armstrong's career in some depth, including the less popular rebuttal to Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike" written by his bike, "F*** You, Lance."

Later, chief cycling correspondent Rob Corddry explained how the Discovery Channel team will help out with Armstrong's retirement, with George Hincapie and Manuel Beltran on homework, Padrnos (above) on au pair, and Savoldelli and Rubiera handling, um, more personal activities.

I could bitch that they didn't match the pictures to the riders, but it was pretty funny nonetheless. Since it's Comedy Central, they'll be rerunning the episode several times on Tuesday.

Letterman also had the big guy on a bike that he introduces every year as "Lance Armstrong, ladies and gentlemen!"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Television | Permalink | Comments (6)

July 25, 2005

Di Luca still heads ProTour rankings

UCI ProTour | Results/rankings

Lance Armstrong, who would generally take over the World Cup lead with a strong Tour showing, moves only into 2nd in the new ProTour's post-Tour rankings, trailing Danilo DiLuca by 45 points. Alexandre Vinokourov will move up when Armstrong is removed from the listings: He's third, just 3 points behind Armstrong.

Top 10:

1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, 184 pts
2) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 139 pts
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, 136 pts
4) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 120 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
6) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 98 pts
7) Santiago Botero, Phonak, 95 pts
8) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
9) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 92 pts
10) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 89 pts

Other Americans in the Top 20 are Levi Leipheimer, 15th at 80 points, and Bobby Julich, 16th at 79.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

One last (I hope) clueless sportswriter post for the year

ESPN.com | Page 2 : Lance finally comes up short

Armstrong @ TdG
Armstrong @ Tour de Georgia
Photo by Frank Steele
I really considered "just saying no" to the bait, but the ESPN.com Page 2 column for today is so clueless, I couldn't resist.

I honestly suspect this guy's just looking for mail, like the columnist I used to work with who once referred to the homeless as "rotting hunks of flesh." Today, we've evolved the word "Troll" to encompass these people.

In short, Bayless says Armstrong isn't the greatest athlete of all time (which I'm okay with), but he says it's because cycling just isn't, well, athletic enough.

Bayless is happy to anoint Armstrong the greatest cyclist of all time, which, of course, most fans of the sport do not (I'm still in the Merckx camp), but that's not the source of my disagreement.

This may just be one of those arguments where you're doomed from the get-go, like discussing Bush's bicycle crash, or the Palestinian question. Maybe you can't compare Jim Thorpe and Lance Armstrong, or Bjorn Dahlie and Dave Mirra. But I'm not going to let that stop me, since we're just looking at Bayless's column.

Here's Skip's nut graf:

Armstrong doesn't qualify as the greatest all-around athlete because cycling doesn't test enough athletic talent or skill. And he doesn't qualify for greatest performer because his sport doesn't have the equivalent of last-second shots or throws or catches, of two-outs-in-the-ninth swings or of final-hole putts. The pressure through 21 Tour stages is constant, but rarely if ever acute.

But his argument in favor of the ball-sports boys seems a little weak. "When has Armstrong ever been tested under huge-moment fire?" he asks. Maybe this guy has never even seen the Tour? When your opponent motors up the road on a finishing climb, that strikes me as, well, a crucial moment. More so than in the ball sports, where you can respond on a later hole, possession, or down to what your opponent does now. If a Tour winner doesn't have the wheels at that moment, he's toast. And there may be 10 of those moments on any given climb.

"Armstrong doesn't have the rare reflexes required to connect with 95-mph fastballs, or to throw baseballs or footballs, or to catch 60-yard passes on the dead run, or to make 25-foot jumpers or spinning, hanging circus shots over leaping giants," says Bayless. Did you see him off-road in the 2003 Tour to avoid Beloki's fall? It was like dancing, but no, it's not as big a part of the sport.

But do any of the ball sports require the physical recovery of cycling? No way. Do any of them require athletes to go anaerobic for more than an instant? Nope. Do any of them require the balance necessary to competitively descend from the mountains? No. And there are only a few other situations that require strategy and tactics on a par with cycling (the batter-pitcher duel, possibly quarterbacks reading defenses).

The ultimate irony in Bayless' piece (and I leave it to the reader to determine exactly what it's a piece of) is this:

Which leads to another key question: While just about every kid in America rides a bike at some age, how many dedicate themselves to winning the Tour de France? Not many. Far more want to be baseball, basketball or football players. Competitive cycling is more popular among kids in other countries, but not in this one.

Yet Armstrong hasn't had to battle the quality or depth of competition in his sport that baseball, basketball or football greats have risen above in theirs.

So Armstrong's achievements are lessened because more people play ball sports than race bikes?

If Bayless had ever left the United States, he might have discovered that baseball and football are not exactly the number 1 sports worldwide. Basketball is more widespread, but as Bayless himself says, just about every kid rides a bike at some age. Bike racing worldwide draws from a huge pool of recreational and transportation cyclists.

So who does Bayless say is the greatest athlete of all time? None other than "Neon" Deion "Prime Time" Sanders, the man for whom one nickname wasn't enough. I saw Deion play for the Falcons, the Braves, and the Reds, and as ball-sports guys go, he was good, but he was two things: fast (no, FAST) and agile. Little power (as a hitter or a tackler), and not great game smarts: He was best as a man-to-man cover man, where he could take any single receiver out of a ballgame.

So anyway, who WAS the greatest athlete of all time? Nominations in the comments, please.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Links | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Compositing victory

Newsdesigner.com | Yellow journalism

Even my local fishwrap had Armstrong's 7th Tour victory above the fold today, so there are a lot of good Armstrong front pages out there.

Mark Friesen of Newsdesigner.com has put together a collection of some of the best Tour-related front pages from this morning.

And don't despair, Thor Hushovd fans, there's something for you in there, too!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Links, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wrapping up the 2005 Tour

nytimes.com | Armstrong Wins Seventh Tour de France

Samuel Abt quotes Armstrong:

"There was nothing on the line this year, no history, no record, no financial reward, just a promise," he said Saturday to explain his participation. When Discovery Channel signed on as sponsor for three years this season, replacing United States Postal Service, he promised to ride the Tour one more time.

As for his retirement, he said, "Absolutely no regrets.

The New York Times page also features some multimedia slide shows.

I haven't seen anybody mention it, but I think the organization did a tremendous job with the route this year. Last year's route was a disaster, with a tightly placed field through the first week causing a lot of crashes, including the one on the cobbles. Then you had the time trial up Alpe d'Huez, which sounds like an epic idea, but didn't work out so well, primarily for crowd control reasons.

I'm looking back over the stages now, but I remember Armstrong being really under pressure about 4-5 times last year. This year, it seemed like his rivals had dozens of chances to crack The Boss. He just wouldn't crack.

On the other hand, the jerseys didn't change hands very much. The white was occasionally under attack in the mountains, but the polka-dots and green jersey were essentially taken by Stage 10 or so.

Also:

DailyPeloton.com | Jambon Report Stages 20-21

VeloNews.com | Our annual Tour de Web Awards

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (3)

‘Real Sports’ to take up Hamilton case

HBO: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel | Tyler Hamilton: Tainted or Untainted?

Bryant Gumbel's show on HBO will be looking at the Tyler hamilton case. Correspondent Frank Deford will talk to Hamilton, and consider the fairness of dope testing methods.

The episode, the 100th for the Gumbel sports interview and talk show, premieres tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern. Since it's on HBO, you have more than 20 chances to catch it. Assuming you have HBO.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Doping, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 24, 2005

Apres Lance, les deluge?

Yahoo! Sport | Tour seeks new boss, fluent English an advantage

So, what's next for the Tour? Atop the race organization, Christian Prudhomme takes over for Jean-Marie Leblanc. Atop the podium, who knows?

Discovery manager Johann Bruyneel:

"Nobody will take over from Lance, simply because there's no candidate."

CSC's Bobby Julich, 17th in the Tour:

"I find it very exciting to ride with riders of the new generation. Some of them are really exceptional but the most impressive I think is Alejandro Valverde," said Julich.

"He has so much natural class, he's a pleasure to see. He needs to test himself at the highest level of the Tour but he is one of the riders I will be thrilled to watch in the future. Also Ivan and Tom Boonen."

Armstrong himself, quoted on BBC Sport:

"Jan is a special, special guy to me," Armstrong said. "I truly believe that Jan can win the Tour again, not just once but more than once.

"Clearly he has to show up to the event in a little better shape, because what you see toward the end of the event is the guy who can win the race."


Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Bobby Julich, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0)

Merckx to join Phonak

cyclingpost.com | Axel Merckx to move to Phonak Hearing Systems

Axel “son of Eddy” Merckx will join Phonak next year, for what may be his final season as a pro. He has a one-year contract with options on a second.

His Davitamon-Lotto contract was to run through next season, but the two sides agreed to an early out, possibly the result of Merckx's disappointment at his team, which reeled him in during one lengthy breakaway.

No word on whether Merckx will be riding the team's supercool BMC carbon fiber rigs, or a frame from his father's factory in Belgium.

Update: ProCycling says he'll ride team BMCs.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Armstrong gets another SI cover

Armstrong_SI_cover_05.jpgSports Illustrated will hit newsstands on Wednesday with a cover featuring Lance Armstrong in the yellow jersey riding through amber waves of grain.

As usual, you can click through to a larger version of the image.

Here's a link to all of Armstrong's previous SI covers:

CNNSI.com | June 20, 2005

CNNSI.com | August 2, 2004

CNNSI.com | June 28, 2004

CNNSI.com | August 4, 2003

CNNSI.com | December 16, 2002 (Sportsman of the Year)

CNNSI.com | August 5, 2002

CNNSI.com | August 6, 2001

CNNSI.com | July 24, 2000

Sports Illustrated now sells prints of their covers at sicovers.com.

This cover and this cover suggest the July 17, 2011 issue will have a cover headline of “Tour de Force.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Links | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Casey Gibson Stage 21 photo gallery

VeloNews | Stage 21: A Casey Gibson Gallery

Horner attacked to the end Goodbye to a rivalry
Horner on the attack; goodbye to a rivalry
Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Chris Horner, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graham Watson Stage 21 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 21 photo gallery

Retiring Armstrong, retiring Leblanc Voeckler's new drag helmet Arc de Triomphe Armstrong & young'uns
(L-R) Two legends exit the Tour: Armstrong & Leblanc; No wonder Voeckler's
3:25:32 back - look at that helmet; Arc de Triomphe; Lance & brood
-- from GrahamWatson.com

Also:

ThePaceline.com | Graham Watson Stage 21 Report

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Lance Armstrong, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0)

Armstrong career wrapup

FOXSports.com | Facts and figures for Lance Armstrong

Fun fact: Fox Sports posted this story with a "Boxing" header....

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jan's drinking problem

Ullrich's drinking problem
Ullrich's drinking problem
AP/Yahoo!

If ever there was a photo in search of a caption contest, this is it.

Caption suggestions in the comments, please.

My suggestion, "Unretiring?"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (11)

CyclingNews.com Stage 21 photo gallery

www.cyclingnews.com | Stage 21 photo gallery

Champagne kisses That ain't King's Island Breakin' 3: Parisian Bugaloo
The Champagne shot; riders get an Eiffel; Breakin' 3: Parisian Boogaloo
-- from cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (0)

“Vive le Tour”

Armstrong says 'Vive le Tour' after seventh crown

Armstrong's comments from his final Tour de France podium:

"It's a dream podium I'm standing on here. Jan is a special person and a special rival," said Armstrong as he turned to the German.

"Ivan, well you are just tough to race against. You're too much of a friend but maybe you're the future of the race for the years to come."

Turning to both, Armstrong added: "Ivan, maybe it's your turn next year, or Jan, maybe it will be yours."

After briefly criticising the doubters who claim that his exploits have been achieved through illicit means - he has faced accusations of doping in the past - Armstrong had only one thing to say: "Vive le Tour. Forever."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (3)

Vinokourov!

Vino takes Champs victory
Vino takes Champs victory
AP/ESPN
T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov put on an awesome show of force on Sunday, outriding half the field to take the Tour's final stage in Paris.

Breaking away on the last lap of the day, Vinokourov managed to gap and hold a gap to the teams trying to set up their sprinters: Cofidis, Davitamon-Lotto, Liberty Seguros, and FdJeux.

Joined by Fabian Cancellara, then by Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, Vinokourov put his head down, and countered an attack by McGee to take the stage.

Lance Armstrong, of course, nails down his 7th overall victory in the Tour, and took the podium flanked by his 3 children. He also spoke to the crowd (and TV audience) from the podium, an unprecedented act for the Tour winner.

After some debate, judges awarded bonus time to Vinokourov for the stage victory, which lifted him into 5th overall on the Tour and dropped Levi Leipheimer down to 6th.

Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd of Norway nailed down the green jersey competition.

Oscar Pereiro was named the most combative rider of the Tour.

T-Mobile took the team competition, along with 3 stage wins.

Stage Top 10:
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, in 3:40:57
2) Brad McGee, Française des Jeux, same time
3) Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
4) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
5) Stuart O’Grady, Cofidis, s.t.
6) Allan Davis, Liberty Seguros, s.t.
7) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
8) Baden Cooke, Française des Jeux, s.t.
9) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
10) Robert Forster, Gerolsteiner, s.t.

Aussies in 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th on the day.

Overall Top 10 ("GC"):
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, in 86:15:02
2) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 4:40
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 6:21
4) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, at 9:59
5) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 11:01
6) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 11:21
7) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 11:33
8) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:55
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 12:44
10) Oscar Pereiro, Phonak, at 16:14

Compared to last year's final GC, Pereiro is 10th again, Leipheimer climbs from 9th to 6th, Mancebo improves from 6th to 4th, Ullrich goes from 4th to 3rd, and Basso improves from 3rd to 2nd. New names in the Top 10 this year are Vinokourov, who will certainly keep things interesting wherever he winds up next year; Rasmussen, who owned the big mountains; Evans, who had an excellent 1st Tour at 8th; and Landis, who I felt rode a very defensive Tour, and was never really able to take the attack to the leaders.

Final Jerseys:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych

Also:

letour.fr | Stage 21 standings | Overall standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bradley McGee, Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (14)

Stage 21 underway

The big sprint for 5th place comes up, and Gerolsteiner puts 4 men on Vinokourov, with a kilometer to ride.

Vinokourov keeps pushing the pace, and they drop off his wheel, until finally, it's Vino, Leipheimer on his wheel, and Wegmann behing. Leiphimer makes a small attempt to come around Vino at maybe 150 meters, but just doesn't have the legs to match the big Kazakh. Vinokourov is first at the sprint line, then Leipheimer, moving them into a virtual tie for 5th overall. Sherwen and Liggett say that Leipheimer leads by .07 seconds on the GC.

There's one more intermediate sprint, with 3 laps of the Champs Elysees to go.

Three Discovery riders go down on the greasy roads, going over some lane striping. Armstrong had to plant a foot to avoid getting tangled. By the way, Discovery's riders are wearing distinctive jerseys with yellow right sleeves.

Organizers have chosen to neutralize the field and give them all the time at the first crossing of the finish line on the Champs Elysees, where the cobbles would be particularly dangerous.

That won't equal the finish of the stage, however, as riders will still complete the full 8 laps for the stage win and the intermediate sprint bonus.

The field is through, so Armstrong has won this Tour. Even if he were to crash out now, his margin is big enough to survive any time bonuses.

Three big competitions to go: Will Vinokourov steal into 5th overall? Who will win the green jersey? Who will take the stage?

Vino will not - organizers have cancelled the remaining time bonuses, so that fraction of a second holds up for Levi Leipheimer, and Vino will be 6th. Update: That was mistaken; there was no 2nd intermediate sprint, but judges did award time for the finishing sprint.

Hushovd can hold the green jersey by finishing 7th or higher in the finishing sprint.

There have been a number of probing attacks, but for nothing. With 2 laps to ride, Bram Tankink and Chris Horner have 15 seconds on the peloton, and that's likely doomed, as well. Davitamon-Lotto and Cofidis are chasing. The gap is down around 10 seconds. Horner and Tankink are captured with 9 k to ride.

Bertogliati, Jorg Jaksche and a Fassa Bortolo (probably Cancellara) are dangling ahead of the field., and they're caught.

Brochard and Vinokourov go off the front, doing their all to deny the sprinters. Vinokourov is pulling the full field. An Ag2R is with him. They've gapped the field. Brad McGee bridges, then attacks off his wheel. McGee and Vino sprint toward the line, and Vinokourov! Alexandre Vinokourov takes his 2nd stage win, beating the sprinters!

And the judges have apparently awarded Vinokourov the finish line time bonus, which would knock Leipheimer down to 6th. OLN's explanations must have been off on the bonuses.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 23, 2005

Armstrong gets his stage, nails down 7th Tour victory

Armstrong's last victory
Armstrong's last win
AP/ESPN
Lance Armstrong let it all hang out today, storming to a victory in the 2005 Tour's long time trial in St. Etienne.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich came to play, but couldn't quite hang with Armstrong, finishing 2nd on the day, 23 seconds slower than Armstrong.

The top 10 is a good demonstrator of US power in the sport: Besides Armstrong atop the heap, CSC's Bobby Julich was 4th at 1:33, Phonak's Floyd Landis was 6th at 2:02, Discovery's George Hincapie was 8th at 2:25. A little farther down the standings was Levi Leipheimer, 14th at 3:13, which catapults Leipheimer into 5th overall. Leipheimer will have to watch his back tomorrow, because Vinokourov is only 2 seconds behind him, easily overcome with an intermediate bonus sprint.

CSC's Ivan Basso was 4th on the day after going out too hard and leading the race at the 1st time check.

Michael Rasmussen, the king of the mountains, was the joker against the clock, switching bikes 4 times, and crashing twice, while losing 7:47 against Armstrong, and 7:24 to Ullrich, who moved into 3rd overall.

Armstrong rolled through the finish and straight over to his children, who arrived yesterday to watch Daddy work.

Top 10:
1) Armstrong, in 1:11:46
2) Ullrich, at :23
3) Vinokourov, at 1:16
4) Julich, at 1:22
5) Basso, at 1:54
6) Landis, at 2:02
7) Evans, at 2:06
8) Hincapie, at 2:25
9) Mancebo, at 2:51 (!)
10) Karpets, at 3:05

GC:
1) Armstrong
2) Basso, at 4:40
3) Ullrich, at 6:21
4) Mancebo, at 9:59
5) Leipheimer, at 11:25
6) Vinokourov, at 11:27
7) Rasmussen, at 11:33
8) Evans, at 11:55
9) Landis, at 12:44
10) Pereiro, at 16:04

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Stage 20 ITT underway

Among early competitors, CSC's Luke Roberts of Australia and Fassa Bortolo's Fabian Cancellara are your leaders.

Karpets comes in at 1:14:51 to take the lead, for now.

Rasmussen is away, and 2:30 into his ride he takes a spill at an early corner, falling hard on his right side. He's back up and away, but that won't help him maintain his gap on Ullrich.

Basso's away, and Armstrong's in the starthouse. There goes Armstrong!

In his follow car, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

US update: Chris Horner has caught his 4-minute man, Pietro Caucchioli, and finished in 1:16:39. Floyd Landis is 2nd to Julich at the 3rd time check. Now Vino moves in front of Julich at time check 3, 18 seconds faster than Julich!

Julich finishes in 1:13:19 for the stage lead at this moment.

First checks: Vino 26:09, and here comes Ullrich: 25:57! That's the new fastest.

Now Basso comes through, continuing CSC's strong day, with a 25:40 at the 1st check; Armstrong gets there 2nd, at 25:47. Who picked Basso to pace the time trial?

Rasmussen pulls to the side of the road just as Basso catches him on the road; he's swapping bikes, probably having problems from the crash. Rasmussen is not back up to speed; he's called the team car up. He's losing time in buckets now. He's switched bikes again -- Liggett thinks either 3 or 4 bike changes. Rasmussen rides off the outside of the road for a second crash!

Leaders are coming through the 2nd time check, and Ullrich is 1st in 46:57, 41 seconds faster than Julich and Vinokourov, :46 to Landis, :56 to Cadel Evans, who's riding an awesome TT. Basso comes through :34 back, so Ullrich is riding about 2:30 from 2nd place in the overall. Armstrong comes through 19 seconds up on Ullrich!

Armstrong is catching Rasmussen -- he needs to keep his distance so as to avoid catching whatever has afflicted the Dane.

World TT champion Michael Rogers bags a 1:17:04, nearly 4 minutes behind Julich.

Vinokourov comes in fastest so far, at 1:13:02. Looks like the only riders who might beat that are Armstrong and Ullrich. Evans comes in at 1:13:52, which is remarkable.

At the 3rd time check, Armstrong is 32 seconds faster than Ullrich, himself 38 seconds faster than Vinokourov. Basso has fallen off the pace a bit, but still was 4th-fastest at the 3rd check, 1:18 behind Armstrong.

ULLRICH: 1:12:09!!

At the last time check, Armstrong is 35 seconds faster than Ullrich!

Basso comes in with a 1:13:40. Armstrong is not far behind.

Armstrong takes the stage with a 1:11:46!

Incomplete:
Armstrong, 1:11:46
Ullrich, 1:12:09
Vinokourov, 1:13:02
Julich, 1:13:19
Basso, 1:13:40
Landis, 1:13:48
Evans, 1:13:52
Hincapie, 1:14:11
Karpets, 1:14:51
Popovych, 1:14:55
Sastre, 1:14:56
Leipheimer 1:14:59
Lang, 1:15:12
Roberts, 1:15:33
Cioni, 1:15:37
Cancellara, 1:15:49
Laszlo Bodrogi, 1:16:23

letour.fr | Intermediate time checks

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Stage 20 ITT profile

Stage 20
Click through for large profile from
cyclingnews.com

Today, it's 55.5 kilometers, 34.5 kilometers all out, man against man. The Tour's 155 remaining riders cover a rolling time trial course, going out at 2- and 3-minute intervals, on a circuit that starts and ends in Saint-Etienne.

Armstrong and Ullrich are the odds-on favorites; both of them are still seeking an individual stage win this year, and Ullrich needs to make up time to pass Michael Rasmussen and move onto the final Tour podium.

Jersey Update:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

During Stage 18, took in the noon showing of "Wedding Crashers"

CBS | Late Show Top Ten Archive: July 21, 2005

David Letterman revisits Lance Armstrong, with his "Top Ten Signs Lance Armstrong is Getting Cocky".

A taste:

10. Goodbye Gatorade, hello Colt .45

This isn't the first time around for the topic. There's also:

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Links, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Petacchi to Domina Vacanze, exit stage left for Fassa Bortolo

VeloNews.com | Petacchi joins Domina Vacanze, as Fassa folds for '06

Italian supersprinter Alessandro Petacchi signed with Domina Vacanze for 2006 today.

Petacchi's current team, Fassa Bortolo, will dissolve at season's end. Petacchi teammate Juan Antonio Flecha signed with Rabobank earlier this week.

Petacchi committed for three years. Rumors had him insisting that several teammates come with him -- keep your eyes peeled for more announcements.

Update: BBC Sport reports:

Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo and Alberto Ongarato are expected to move with him.

Velo, of course, has the greatest possible cycling name.

Petacchi's predecessor as king of the Italian sprinters was Mario Cipollini, who finished his career with Domina Vacanze.

Update: Marcello points out that Cipollini took some starts for Liquigas-Bianchi, including a final win over Petacchi this spring, but I have trouble giving them credit for being his last team when he quit at the end of April.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2)

Guerini takes the day, but Pereiro's not done yet

Stage 19 winner Guerini
Guerini
AP/ESPN
Oscar Pereiro has been on the attack as much as anybody in this year's Tour. He's like Vinokourov, if Vinokourov could keep his eyes on the prize.

He found another break today, alongside Giuseppe Guerini of T-Mobile, Sandy Casar of Française des Jeux, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, and a few other strong men, and rode it into the overall top 10.

In the day's last 2 kilometers, Guerini launched a blistering assault that none of the others could answer or counter, and rode to T-Mobile's second stage win of the Tour (Vinokourov took Stage 11).

The sprinters didn't sleep all day, as Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd and Stuart O'Grady led in the field for 14th, 15th and 16th on the stage. McEwen picks up 12 points for the sprint, Hushovd 11, and O'Grady 10. McEwen could take the lead with a win in Paris.

Stage Top 10:
1) Giuseppe Guerini, T-Mobile, in 3:33:04
2) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, at :10
3) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas-Bianchi, same time
4) Oscar Pereiro, Phonak, at :12
5) Salvatore Commesso, Lampre-Caffita, at 2:43
6) Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, at 2:48
7) Nicolas Portal, AG2R, same time
8) Bert Grabsch, Phonak, same time
9) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, same time
10) Pieter Weening, Rabobank, at 3:50

General Classification:
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, in 81:22:19
2) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 2:46
3) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 3:46
4) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 5:58
5) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, at 7:08
6) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 8:12
7) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 9:49
8) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 10:11
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 10:42
10) Oscar Pereiro, Phonak, at 12:39

Hello, Pereiro; bonjour, Moreau in the overall top 10.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 in Oscar Pereiro, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

Race headline of the day

From the Official Tour website:

16:29 - Commesso Goes... Again...
Whenever the 10-man chase group reforms, Salvatore Commesso (LAM) attacks them. He’s just done it again but this time everyone has the energy to respond.

Commesso is either going to tow his nine fellow escapees up to the four leaders... or cop a whack in the face for his antics by one of the riders in the chase group.

Despite at least 7 attacks out of the chase group today, Commesso didn't get the day's "Most Combative Rider" recognition, largely because he's not French. It instead went to FdJ's Sandy Casar, 2nd on the stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Stage 19 profile

Stage 19
Click through for large profile from
cyclingnews.com

Today, the riders climb up to the Col des Pradeaux, then gradually descend to Le Puy-en-Velay.

It's 153.5 km, with 2 intermediate sprints, 3 4th-Category climbs, and the 2nd Category Pradeaux.

A lot of riders will be looking to rest up for the long time trial tomorrow, which favors the breakaways. It's also the last chance for riders to make up ground in the overall classification. It seems like the sprinters are all content to wait for Sunday's stage in Paris to finalize the green jersey, but any of them would be happy to grab a few sprint points at an intermediate sprint.

Jersey Update:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 in Stage profiles | Permalink | Comments (5)

July 21, 2005

Serrano takes the stage; more GC jumble

Stage 18 winner Serrano
Serrano smiles
AP/ESPN
Liberty Seguros finally has something to smile about in this Tour. Marcos Serrano rode a smart race, and outrode Axel Merckx and Cedric Vasseur for a stage win.

Back in the field, there was another late stage split that will again shake up the GC. The selection winnowed the field down to just Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich (no surprise), and Cadel Evans, who took the line sprint at 11:18, and moves into 7th at 9:49.

Top 20:
1) Marcos Serrano, Liberty Seguros, in 4:37:36
2) Cedric Vasseur, Cofidis, at :27
3) Axel Merckx, Davitamon-Lotto, at :27
4) Xabier Zandio, Illes Balears, at 1:08
5) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, at 1:08
6) Thomas Voeckler, Bouyges Telecom, at 1:28
7) Luke Roberts, CSC, at 1:28
8) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, at 1:44
9) Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:44
10) Carlos Da Cruz, Française des Jeux, at 2:38
11) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:18
12) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, same time
13) Ivan Basso, CSC, same time
14) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, same time
15) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 11:55
16) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, same time
17) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, same time
18) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, same time
19) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodier, at 12:01
20) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 12:07

New overall classification:
1) Armstrong
2) Basso, at 2:46
3) Rasmussen, at 3:46
4) Ullrich, at 5:58
5) Mancebo, at 7:08
6) Leipheimer, at 8:12
7) Evans, at 9:49
8) Vinokourov, at 10:11
9) Landis, at 10:42
10) Christophe Moreau, at 13:15

Rasmussen has locked in the climber's jersey: There aren't enough points left for him to lose it.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (10)

Stage 18 underway

Alexandre Vinokourov attacked ahead of the day's first sprint, and took 2nd for 4 pts, and a 4-second time bonus. After a number of early breakaways, all pulled back, a group of 10 has gotten away and built a lead, now at 12:45. In it are Davitamon-Lotto's Axel Merckx, CSC's Luke Roberts, Cofidis' Cedric Vasseur, Bouyges Telecom's Thomas Voeckler, T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler, Illes Balears' Xabier Zandio, Carlos da Cruz of Française des Jeux, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, and Marcos Serrano of Liberty Seguros. Kessler's presence in this breakaway, and the absence of Discovery Channel, would likely give T-Mobile the team lead, since they trail Discovery by 37 seconds. In the break, Kessler is wearing his race number upside down: He's highly superstitious and riding in number 13. With the gap at 15 minutes, Discovery has put all its riders at the head of the peloton. Armstrong apparently predicted Axel Merckx for today's stage, being run on Belgium's National Day. On the second-to-last climb, Carlos Da Cruz has attacked. He's gotten out to 25 seconds on the 9 other breakaway riders. Now Merckx counters, and goes right over the top of Da Cruz. Serrano is trying to come back up. And there goes Voeckler trying to bridge up. Zandio, Serrano, and Vasseur are just a few seconds behind Mercx and Voeckler, and chasing on the descent. Zandio, Serran, Vasseur, Merckx, and Voeckler are joined by Pellizotti on the descent, and they're starting up the very steep, short final climb. Inside of 4 km, and Merckx has picked up the pace. Zandio and Pellizotti are dropped. Serrano pushes it, and Voeckler is dropped. It's Serrano, Vasseur, and Merckx. Merckx is gapped, but not yet really dropped. As the climb steepens, Serrano pulls away, and Merckx tries to counter, but Serrano has a gap. They're 1 k to the top, 2.5 to the finish. At the top, Serrano has 14 seconds on Merckx and Vasseur. The peloton is now at 12 minutes plus, with Andrey Kashechkin holding a 20 second advantage: he's looking to get back into the white jersey. Marcos Serrano has taken the first stage for Liberty Seguros! As they roll in, Vasseur comes off Merckx's wheel for 2nd. Zandio is 4th, then Pellizotti. Back with the peloton, there's been another big selection on the 2nd-to-last climb of the day, with Sastre, Popovych, Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich, Rasmussen, Evans, Landis, Leipheimer. Now they've dropped Rasmussen, Vinokourov and Leipheimer. Basso, Armstrong, Ullrich, and Evans are riding together. Vino, Rasmussen, and Leipheimer are the first chase group. Don't know about Landis. Ullrich is at the back of the leaders, falling back. Now he's clawed his way back onto the other three! Armstrong leads over the top. They've got 1.5 kilometers to go. He leads the group up to the line, and there comes Cadel Evans, who pips him at the line for 11th, with Basso and Ullrich behind. Mancebo has rejoined Leiphemer, Rasmussen, and Vino for the finish. A Saunier Duval is in between, then Landis comes in with Eddy Mazzoleni.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Thomas Voeckler, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 18 profile

Stage 18
Click through for large profile from
cyclingnews.com

Today's kind of a sneaky-hard stage thrown in between the Pyrenees and the time trial.

The Tour visits France's other mountain range, the volcanic Massif Central, which isn't nearly so high as either the Alps or the Pyrenees, but which offers a few tactical opportunities, and a finish just below a steep uphill.

It's 189 km from Albi-Mende with two intermediate sprints and 5 categorized climbs: two 2nd Category, 2 3rd Category, and a 4th Category. Two of the climbs are in the last 20 kms, so this is not a stage for the sprinters.

If the breakaway is caught, this is a stage where one of the team leaders could take a victory (including Armstrong, who would extend his remarkable July 21st streak), or Alexandre Vinokourov, who excels on explosive climbs like this.

Jersey Update:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Stage profiles | Permalink | Comments (0)

CN.com Stage 17 photo gallery

www.cyclingnews.com | Stage 17 photo gallery

Klöden Savoldelli Armstrong
Klöden, Savoldelli, Armstrong
-- from cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Lance Armstrong, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (0)

Armstrong on July 21

rec.bicycles.racing | Lance OWNS July 21st

Over on rec.bicyles.racing, Bob Schwartz points out that Lance Armstrong has an enviable record on July 21st, where he's taken 5 career stage wins, in 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004.

Says Bob:

No other rider has won so many times on a single date.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 20, 2005

GrahamWatson.com Stage 17 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 17 photo gallery

Armstrong Hushovd Savoldelli
Armstrong, Hushovd, Savoldelli
-- from GrahamWatson.com

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Lance Armstrong, Paolo Savoldelli, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)

Landis-Armstrong continues

procycling | Tour shorts: Latest news & views

Armstrong in April
Armstrong in April
Photo by Frank Steele
So I'm a little behind today, for work reasons, but my IM was buzzing with people wanting to talk about Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong, Hincapie, and Popovych went to the front in response to another Vinokourov attack, but they stayed there all the way to the finish, pulling like tug-o-war anchormen. Armstrong himself was taking some serious pulls when the main field broke, and the suggestion was made that his motivation was to move Landis down the GC.

Certainly, the only gain for the team was 20 seconds in the white jersey contest.

Here's what Armstrong told cyclingnews.com about today's late attack:

After the stage, maillot jaune Lance Armstrong told it how he saw it: "They [T-Mobile] rode the last 25, 30k with pretty good crosswinds and they rode it fast. There was a big acceleration from them and especially Vino and Jan on the final climb to try and distance Rasmussen and Basso, because they're more or less at three minutes from a podium spot. I turned around, and there was less than 10 guys there and we had three, so it definitely pays to ride at the front," he said.
Landis in Georgia yellow
Landis @ Hog Pen Gap
Photo by Frank Steele
If you prefer the retaliation story, Armstrong is retaliating for a story in L'Equipe Tuesday morning, where Landis said Armstrong is all business:
“In some teams they often talk about their friendship, but in a team like that with someone who behaves as if he really is the boss, I don’t think you can go that far in talking about friendship. In everyday life it’s hard to be friends with your boss. I don’t believe that Lance has ever had that kind of friendship with any of his team-mates, even with George Hincapie, whom he has known since he was 17. Friendship can’t exist when you give orders and direct others. It’s not necessarily a negative thing. It’s by acting in this way that Lance has been able to win the Tour so often.”

Apparently, words were also exchanged yesterday on the way down the Marie Blanque.

This is an ongoing spat. The first I remember of it was when Dave Aiello pointed out Armstrong "pointing defiantly" back at Landis when he lost the Tour de Georgia's yellow jersey.

Then, at June's Dauphiné Libéré, Armstrong worked with Vinokourov and Leipheimer against Landis: Even Graham Watson commented that "This is Lance's way of showing Landis what life is like 'after US Postal' -- and there will be more to come in the Tour de France, be sure of that."

A good source for information on Landis and his relationship with Lance Armstrong is the new Armstrong biography Lance Armstrong's War.

Also:

rec.bicycles.racing | Landis' comments

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (9)

Report: Flecha to Rabobank

www.cyclingnews.com | Latest Cycling News for July 20, 2005 Fassa Bortolo's Juan-Antonio Flecha will ride for Rabobank next year. CyclingNews.com quotes a report by ANP, the Dutch newsagency, which says Flecha has signed a preliminary contract. No further word on the status of Fassa Bortolo, which is hanging by a thread financially.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Savoldelli takes longest stage

Savoldelli passes Arvesen
Savoldelli passes
Arvesen at the line
AP/ESPN

After George Hincapie won the Tour's hardest stage, Discovery Channel went out and took the longest stage, as well.

Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli spent the day in a big breakaway, then held the pace as it dropped to 8, then 4 riders. When CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen made his move, just outside of the 1k to ride marker, it looked like the winning move, but Savoldelli came back, catching Arvesen and passing him in the final 50 meters of the stage, for his first career Tour stage win.

Back in the field, Alexandre Vinokourov decided he's not content with his GC placing, and blew the field in two at the day's final climb. Only 10 men were able to stay with Vinokourov, dropping Floyd Landis, Cadel Evans, and Christophe Moreau 20 seconds farther down the GC.

Surprisingly, today's stage had no effect whatsoever on the green jersey competition, where Thor Hushovd continues to lead Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen.

Top 10:
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 5:41:19
2) Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, same time
3) Simon Gerrans, AG2R, at :08
4) Sébastien Hinault, Credit Agricole, at :11
5) Andriy Grivko, Domina Vacanze, at :24
6) Oscar Sevilla, T-Mobile, at :51
7) Bram Tankink, QuickStep, at :51
8) Daniele Righi, Lampre-Caffita, at :53
9) Samuel Dumoulin, AG2R, at 3:14
10) Allan Davis, Liberty Seguros, at 3:14

Team competition update: Savoldelli's gap over Sevilla gives Discovery Channel the overall lead in the team classification: They're up by 37 seconds over T-Mobile, with CSC at 22:04 in 3rd.

Popovych picked up 20 seconds in the white jersey competition by hanging on Vinokourov's late break. Sébastien Hinault takes the red race numbers of the day's most combative rider.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Paolo Savoldelli, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Stage 17 underway

There's an enormous break up the road: 17 guys, including representatives from 14 teams. Discovery has placed Savoldelli and Rubiera, T-Mobile has Oscar Sevilla, CSC has Kurt-Asle Arvesen. Bouyges Telecom's French national champion Pierrick Fedrigo is there as well, leading by 20 minutes plus. With 2 riders up front, it's possible that Discovery will take back the team competition lead from T-Mobile, where they trail by just under 20 minutes. The leading 17 has split in two: Paolo Savoldelli, Oscar Sevilla, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Bram Tankink, Sebastien Hinault, Daniele Righi and Andrey Grivko, and Simon Gerrans have made the front group, while Erik Dekker, Rubiera, Allan Davis, Dario Cioni, Stephane Auge, Pierrick Fedrigo, Carlos Da Cruz, Samuel Dumoulin, and Thomas Lovkvist are about a minute back. The peloton is 22 minutes plus behind the Sevilla group. Finally, with 20 or so kilometers to ride, T-Mobile has come to the front to defend their team lead. The gap between the two lead groups is up to around 2:30. At 10 km, the 8 leaders have 2:49 on the chase group and more than 24 minutes on the peloton. On the day's last climb, Savoldelli and Hinault get a 10-second gap on the lead group. Gerrens and Arvesen try to bridge, and chase for about 4 kilometers. As they close, Savoldelli attacks Hinault, but it's short-lived and the four ride together with less than 2km to ride. Now Arvesen attacks! He's gone with 1 k to go. Hinault and Savoldelli are chasing, winding up the sprint with under 500 meters to ride, they're to Arvesen, and Savoldelli comes around and takes the stage! On the final 3rd-Category climb, Vinokourov launches an attack! He's split the peloton in half, and yesterday's big winner, Cadel Evans is in a group off the back, with Christophe Moreau and Floyd Landis. They're almost 15 seconds back. Evans is working at the front of the dropped group, but it looks like the gap will hold. Armstrong's group of just 10 men comes in at 22:28, with Popovych, Leipheimer, Ullrich, Rasmussen, Basso, and Mancebo. Then, 20 seconds back, comes a group containing Evans, Christophe Moreau, and Floyd Landis. Vinokourov climbs up to 7th overall, as Landis slides to 9th.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Savoldelli, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

Klöden abandons

BBC Sport | Injured Kloden pulls out of Tour

Andreas Klöden, who finished 2nd in last year's Tour and had pledged his support to get Jan Ullrich back on the podium this year, withdrew from the Tour at the 18-kilometer mark of today's stage.

Klöden broke his wrist in a crash early yestereday, and couldn't continue. Teammate Matthias Kessler, who reportedly suffered a concussion in another early crash yesterday, is still in the race.

Klöden's withdrawal leaves 155 riders in the race, and only three teams with all 9 riders: Bouyges Telecom, Cofidis, and Gerolsteiner.


Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vino to T-Mobile: I'm out of here

Eurosport | Vinokourov confirms T-Mobile exit Alexandre Vinokourov told T-Mobile today he's leaving the team at the end of the year. Vinokourov wants to be a team's Tour captain, and will sign with a new team once the Tour finishes. Eurosport tags Credit Agricole as the Kazakh's likely destination. They already have one strong Kazakh, Andrey Kashechkin, currently 2nd in the white jersey competition. Another possibility: AG2R, likely to make the jump into the ProTour next season. Discovery's Johan Bruyneel threw cold water on the possibility that Discovery will sign Vinokourov:

"He is definitely one of the most talented and intelligent riders of the peloton," the Belgian technician admitted. "But I don't think he'll ever be capable of winning the Tour de France."

Vino is represented by Tony Rominger, the Vuelta and Giro winner of the early '90s.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin | Permalink | Comments (7)

Stage 17 profile

Stage 17
Click through for large profile from
cyclingnews.com
Today's the longest stage of the Tour, at 239.5 kilometers, or 149 miles. It features a couple of 4th Category climbs, a couple of 3rd Category climbs, and a couple of sprint lines to keep the jersey contenders on their toes.

Your key tactical feature is a 3rd Category climb 7 km from the finish, which looks like a springboard for a classics-style rider, or a Kazakh.

Jersey Update:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Stage profiles | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

What next for Discovery Channel?

Independent Online Edition | Cycling: Bruyneel looking beyond glories of Armstrong era

What can Discovery Channel do to compete for another Tour title after Lance Armstrong leaves?

Johan Bruyneel is the man who convinced Armstrong he could be a Tour winner. He's tipped Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich as the most likely caandidates for the 2006 Tour. Discovery is believed to have recruited Basso, who signed an extension with CSC yesterday.

Bruyneel has previously identified Yaroslav Popovych, currently wearing the young rider's jersey, as the team's next great Tour hope. Now 25, Popovych won this year's Vuelta a Catalunya (the Tour of Catalonia), and was 5th in last year's Giro d'Italia; we'll likely see how long it takes him to develop into a grand tour winner.

George Hincapie's stage win on Sunday had a few people suggesting that he could be a Tour leader for Discovery, but, well, he's 32, and I think it was intended more as a nice compliment for a rider who deserves tremendous respect than a serious indication of the team's direction.

There have also been rumors of Alexandre Vinokourov joining the Discos. Certainly the Kazakh's powerful, aggressive style would make him a fan favorite, but could he master his emotions and ride a tactical race for three long weeks? Could be -- that's just the sort of description you would have gotten for Lance Armstrong pre-cancer. If anyone could convert him to a Tour winner, it would be Bruyneel, who's converted a similar rider to a 6- (maybe 7-)timer.

Who will take Discovery Channel's next podium finish, if anyone?

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (20)

CN.com Stage 16 photo gallery posted

www.cyclingnews.com presents the 92nd Tour de France | Stage 16 photo gallery

Evans let it all hang out Pereiro in stylish red race numbers Horner made the early break
Evans gives his all; Pereiro sporting the red numbers; Horner made the early break
-- from cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Oscar Pereiro | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hincapie USA Today's Athlete of the Week

USATODAY.com | Athlete of the Week Hincapie enjoys rare spotlight turn

Recognition continues to pour in for George Hincapie's stage win on Sunday. USA Today, the newspaper for people who love TV, has named Hincapie it's Olympic athlete of the week.

Dave Zabriskie won the award for the first week in July and for his Giro stage win in mid-May and Chris Horner won one in June for his Tour de Suisse performance.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in George Hincapie | Permalink | Comments (3)

Klöden may withdraw with broken hand

The Globe and Mail | Kloeden fractures hand

T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden fell early on today's stage and injured his hand. X-rays this afternoon at a hospital in Pau showed a fracture, so team official say there's a chance he'll withdraw before tomorrow's start.

Klöden, 2nd in the overall last year, is sitting 11th overall, at 12:01.

Update: VeloNews.com has an AFP story that suggests T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler is also doubtful for Wednesday's Stage 17, after suffering a concussion in the crash with Klöden.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3)

More on Kashechkin's punch from fan

ESPN.com | Spectator hits Tour de France rider in the face Here's more on Andrey Kashechkin, who was punched in the nose, apparently inadvertently, by a fan during today's stage. Kashechkin kept riding briefly, but then turned around, and rode backwards through the peloton to get to Tour doctors. The doctors were able to lessen the flow of blood, but Kashechkin still was wiping his nose through the stage. He finished with the overall leaders today, 3:24 behind Oscar Pereiro, and sits 19th overall, 20:35 behind Lance Armstrong. He's second in the race for the young rider's white jersey, behind Yaroslav Popovych.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in Andrey Kashechkin | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pereiro gets Stage 16, Evans moves up the GC

Pereiro's stage win
Pereiro pays off
AP/ESPN
Oscar Pereiro was angry about Sunday's stage, where he felt George Hincapie took an unethical win. He took all that anger, clamped it down way inside him, and today, he released all that pressure with a stage win, outsprinting three other breakaway survivors to win in Pau, as the Tour exits the Pyrenees.

Ironically, Pereiro could partly credit a long tow from Cadel Evans, hunting a higher overall placing, giving Pereiro, Zandio, and Mazzoleni a chance to recover a bit ahead of the sprint finish.

Evans moved up to 7th overall, 4 seconds up on Floyd Landis and 9 seconds ahead of Alexandre Vinokourov. Mazzoleni moves up to 12th, and Pereiro to 15th.

Stage results:
1) Pereiro in 4:38:40
2) Xabier Zandio, Illes Balears, same time
3) Eddy Mazzoleni, Lampre-Caffita, s.t.
4) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
5) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, at 2:25
6) Anthony Geslin, Bouyges Telecom, same time
7) Jorg Ludewig, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
8) Juan Antonio Flecha, Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
9) Ludovic Turpin, AG2R, s.t.
10) Cedric Vasseur, Cofidis, s.t.

The leaders' group was at 3:24, followed by a group at 10:05, then at 20:16, and the autobus at 21:33.

Interestingly, none of the leaders got any points toward the green jersey competition, so it's still Hushovd at 164, O'Grady at 150, and McEwen at 142. That may have been part of the original impetus for Davitamon-Lotto to send Evans, a teammate of McEwen's, up the road today.

GC Top 10:
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel
2) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 2:46
3) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 3:09
4) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 5:58
5) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, at 6:31
6) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 7:35
7) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 9:29
8) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 9:33
9) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 9:38
10) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 11:47

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2005 in Oscar Pereiro, Stage results | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack