July 27, 2007
Stage 18: Casar outsmarts the veterans
Française des Jeux's Sandy Casar showed some brilliant tactics in winning the Tour's 18th stage, into Angoulême. With 3 kms to ride, Casar split from his 3 breakaway companions, going left around some traffic furniture when they went right, and just hammering until he was reeled in with a little more than 1 kilometers to ride.
Rabobank's Michael Boogerd was ideally situated, riding behind Casar, monitoring T-Mobile's Axel Merckx and Bouygues Telecom's Laurent Lefevre, but while Boogerd watched his back, Casar launched off the front, as Merckx gave his all to the right, and Boogerd couldn't respond.
It's Casar's first stage win, after 3 career 2nd places, including a very narrow loss to Cedric Vasseur back on Stage 10.
For Boogerd and Merckx, it was likely their final chance at a Tour stage win, with an ITT tomorrow, and the final stage Sunday likely to be controlled by the sprinters' teams. Both are retiring, with Merckx possibly doing so Sunday.
Tom Boonen extended his points jersey lead by leading in the field for 5th on the day, just ahead of Robbie Hunter.
A gap in the field cost yellow jersey Alberto Contador 3 seconds, seconds he can ill afford before tomorrow's time trial showdown with Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans.
1) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, France
2) Axel Merckx, T-Mobile, Belgium, at :01
3) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, France, same time
4) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, Netherlands, s.t.
5) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, at 8:34
6) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa, same time
7) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
8) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
9) Bernhard Eisel, T-Mobile, Austria, s.t.
10) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
Overall Standings after Stage 18:
1) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, in 86:04:16
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 1:50
3) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 2:49
4) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 6:02
5) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel, Spain, at 6:29
6) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 10:18
7) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 11:36
8) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukrain, at 12:47
9) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia, at 13:31
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel, Spain, at 13:42
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