July 10, 2005
Stage 9 underway
Who had 60 k in the Stage 9 Kirsipuu pool? Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu, a four-time Tour stage winner who has started 12 Tours, has never made the race finish, and generally drops out early in the mountain stages. True to form, he's out of the race, leaving 177 riders contesting the stage.
José Angel Gomez of Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped out, after possibly breaking his collarbone in a feed zone crash.
New polka-dot jersey Mickael Rasmussen rode out in a breakaway with fellow former mountain biker Dario Cioni of Liquigas-Bianchi. Rasmussen has taken max points over all the early 3rd Category climbs and the 2nd Category Grand Ballon. He's over Le Ballon d'Alsace, having led the field over every climb of the day.
Behind Rasmussen and are CSC's Jens Voigt and CA's Christophe Moreau. They've dropped Angel Vicioso and passed Cioni. Fallen off Voigt, Moreau, and Vicioso's group are Tour of Switzerland winner Inigo Landaluze, Alexandre Moos of Phonak, and Xabier Zandio of Illes Balears.
It looks likely that Armstrong will give up the yellow jersey tonight, but by how much and to whom? Either Rasmussen or Voigt could find himself in yellow tonight. Rasmussen will need 6 minutes on Voigt to take yellow, and over the top of the last climb, he had 4:20 in hand. Armstrong's group goes over 9:24 later.
Armstrong is down to 5 teammates, including Savoldelli, Azevedo, Hincapie, Popovych and Rubiera.
Advantage Voigt: Voigt and Moreau are taking some time back from Rasmussen.
Armstrong's group is down to perhaps 50 riders. We'll see if anybody can get back on the back. Voigt takes some bonus time at an intermediate sprint, so he needs no more than 54 seconds at the end of the day to take the race lead.
Didier Rous is involved in a crash back in the field. It looks like the 2-time French champion might have hit a road sign.
Voigt flats -- the team car was right there, but he'll lose a little time, and it will disrupt Voigt and Moreau's chase of Rasmussen, which had been under 4 minutes. Armstrong's group now trails Rasmussen by about 8:30.
Voigt is bringing time back on Rasmussen.
Rasmussen takes the stage -- how far back to Voigt? It's a 3:03 gap to Moreau, then Voigt.
Rabobank takes two consecutive stages. Now we'll wait to see what Voigt's yellow jersey lead will be.
Here come the big men, and, hello! It's Stuart O'Grady, who hung with the GC boys and will make some ground up in the green jersey competition with a 4th on the stage, with neither Hushovd nor Boonen anywhere to be seen. The gap to the Armstrong group is 6:04 -- Voigt will take off tomorrow with more than 2 minutes on Armstrong. Rasmussen is now in 4th on GC; he's somebody to keep an eye on.
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Love your Kirsipuu comments! Jeez, a person has to get up pretty early to stay ahead of you, thanks for keeping us updated!!!
Posted by: Nancy Toby at Jul 10, 2005 2:26:06 PM