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July 22, 2006

Stage 19 ITT underway

Today, we have the most important Tour time trial of the last 10 years, at least. The only recent TT that comes close is 2003's Stage 19, when Jan Ullrich crashed, allowing a vulnerable Lance Armstrong to take the thinnest Tour victory of his career.

Landis warms upIt's 57 kilometers, and Floyd Landis will leave at 10:09 Eastern, 3 minutes before CSC's Carlos Sastre, who will leave 3 minutes before Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro. We should get plenty of split-screen action, as Pereiro leads Sastre by only 12 seconds and Landis by only 30 seconds.

One for the old guys early, as Discovery Channel's Viatcheslav Ekimov has come in with the best time of the first 60 riders, at 1:11:26.59.

Second is Landis teammate Bert Grabsch, just 2 seconds behind.

Zabriskie sets offZabriskie comes through, scorching the 2nd half of the course. He didn't show up in the top 5 at either of the early time checks, he was 3rd at the 3rd time check, and he's 6 seconds faster than Ekimov, at 1:11:20.9. And almost immediately, Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang, the 69th finisher, cuts 17 seconds off Zabriskie's time: 1:11:03.83.

Sergei Honchar has beaten Lang's times at TC1 and TC2; 2:07 (!) faster than Lang at the 34-kilometer check.

Hincapie rolls out; 31 riders to go. Out on the course, he fidgets with his computer sensor. He's sporting a new paint scheme on his helmet -- a Flying Tigers-style shark head. Pavel Padrnos has the same, so it's probably a team thing -- promoting Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, perhaps?

David Millar comes in at 1:11:46, 5th for now.

Popovych starts.

Honchar sprints to the lineHonchar is 3:20 faster than Lang at the 51.5-kilometer time check!

Chavanel comes through TC2 with a tissue stuffed in his left nostril; the commentators think he's had a nosebleed.

Honchar 1:07:45.81! That's likely to be the time to beat.

Phonak's Robbie Hunter, who finished in 1:25:54, will be outside the (fastest time + 25 percent) elimination time.

Michael Rasmussen has set off; he had a catastrophic last time trial last year, falling off, switching bikes, and losing 7:47 to Lance Armstrong.

Marcus Fothen is on the course, looking to retake the young rider's white jersey, currently worn by Damiano Cunego, who sets off next.

Levi Leipheimer is off, wearing the red race numbers awarded to yesterday's most agressive rider.

World time trial champion Michael Rogers is off, and we're down to the Top 10.

Vande Velde comes through TC2 just behind teammate Zabriskie.

Chris Horner finished in 1:16:41, which will be mid-pack.

Chavanel finishes in a respectable 1:12:17.44.

Menchov sets off, currently 6th.

Klöden to the lineCadel Evans sets off, looking for the best placing ever in the Tour by an Australian. Phil Anderson twice finished 5th, which is where Evans sits, 39 seconds behind T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, who sets off 3 minutes behind him.

Hincapie finishes in 1:13:15. Cunego has actually been faster than Fothen at TC1, coming through 4 seconds slower than Lang. Is he going too hard early?

Landis is waiting in the start house. No smiles this morning. Karpets 1:12:42.

Landis is out. Looks smooth. Sastre rolls, as Pereiro waits just behind.

Sastre looks tentative to me -- he's staying up on the brake hoods on sections where Landis was on his aerobars.

Pereiro is rolling. Everyone is on the course or done now.

Vande Velde finishes in 1:12:37.44. That will factor in to the CSC/T-Mobile battle for the team competition.

Landis hammersKlöden is only 10 seconds slower than Honchar at the 1st time check! Landis is faster still! He's 2 seconds faster than Honchar at TC1, 19:45.

Sastre is 1:05 slower than Landis at TC1! Pereiro is the only one left, and he comes through only 10 seconds slower than Landis; that's an amazing time for Pereiro after 16kms of 57 today.

Cunego likes that white jersey; at TC3, he's 5 seconds slower than Zabriskie, and 35 seconds faster than Fothen.

The split screen view has Landis and Pereiro sitting equal on the road now, with Landis 4 minutes shy of Time Check 2.

Evans hits TC2 in 43:34; Klöden hits it in 41:52.9 behind only Honchar so far.

Landis is losing time to Honchar: 41:45.9 at the 2nd time check.

Sastre is riding off the podium: He hits TC2 in 44:05. Klöden is already 2 minutes faster than that.

Pereiro: 42.42:50 -- Landis is the leader on the road!

T-Mobile's Rogers comes through the finish in 1:12:20.72. Looks like T-Mobile will win the team competition.

Landis nears the 3rd time check, at 51.5 kilometers. Pereiro looks like he's hurting on the road. Klöden is closing in on Cadel Evans; he hit TC3 47 seconds behind Honchar 1:03:22 to Honchars 1:02:36. Landis comes in 1:03:43.

Dessel finishes in 1:13:43.57. Menchov comes to the line: 1:12:18.55; he'll go top 20 on the day, maybe top 15.

Klöden catches Evans with about a kilometer to go. He sits way too long in Evans' draft, and sprints to the finish in 1:08:26.17. He didn't catch Honchar, but may be 2nd on the stage.

Landis after the TTLandis comes in to the finish; he hits the line in 1:08:56.26, behind Honchar and Klöden.

Sastre hits TC3 in 1:07:02, more than 3:30 behind Klöden. Pereiro clocks 1:05:14. Looks like Pereiro will hold Klöden off for 2nd -- he was faster than Lang, Zabriskie, and Ekimov at TC3.

Sastre comes to the line in 1:12:27.58; he'll be 20th on the day. Here comes Pereiro, gritting his teeth, comes out of the saddle: 1:10:25.19, and that does it: Floyd Landis will win the Tour de France!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Oscar Pereiro, Sergei Honchar, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink

Comments

I've got butterflies in my stomach as we come up on Floyd's start. Go ape*#$@ on them again, buddy!

Posted by: Dave at Jul 22, 2006 10:02:50 AM

As if things are bad enough for Discovery already, now we have shark helmets?

What are these people thinking?

Posted by: Rex at Jul 22, 2006 10:58:27 AM

Congrats, Floyd! One of the most amazing individual efforts I've ever seen in sports. Inspiring.

Now, after watching that, I'm going to go ride my guts out for a while. Of course, that may be only slightly better than half the speed Floyd was going today, but it will feel like lightspeed to me.

Posted by: Dave at Jul 22, 2006 11:29:52 AM

Yeah, Floyd!! (And thanks for the live coverage -- I've been refreshing the page every two minutes all morning on the edge of my seat to see if he would pull it off.)

Now, can someone please explain to me why this means Landis will win? I mean, tomorrow is another stage, right? Why does it seem the results never change on the last stage? I remember this from previous years, too, where once Lance Armstrong was in the lead on the penultimate stage, everyone knew he had it sewn up. But what's to stop Pereiro's team from making a break tomorrow and putting him in the lead in the end?

Posted by: ambimb at Jul 22, 2006 11:48:07 AM

Hi ambimb,

Historically, the final TT is usually situated 1 stage before the ride into Paris (except in a few instances, 1989 in particular the most famous race in tdf history, imho). This means the final standings are usually set at the end of the TT. Riders are usually satisfied with their placings (or so they say), and the ride is a procession into the city of light. The green jersey is sometimes up for grabs, although not this year (not enough points on offer). In fact, the man to worry more about is Kloden, because t-mobile is so strong (winning the team comp.), and could mount an attack. I doubt it, though. It is very rare, and usually impossible to do that, especially after reacing the Champs Elysee, where the speed gets horrifically fast (hats off to Vino last year!)

We've seen some strange things this year though; i'll just wait and see what happens. I'm through predicting after pulling my remaining hair out rooting for Floyd.

Cheers

Posted by: jerome at Jul 22, 2006 12:29:45 PM

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