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July 28, 2007

Stage 19 ITT: This is it

So the whole Tour comes down to today's individual time trial. It's 55.5 kilometers, from Cognac to Angoulême. The intermediate time checks come at 17.5 kilometers, 35 kilometers, and 50.1 kilometers.

Riders leave at 2 minute intervals until the final 20, who will be separated by 3 minutes. Alberto Contador starts the day leading a better time trial rider, Cadel Evans, by 1:50. Levi Leipheimer sits 3rd at 2:49, with everyone else at least 6 minutes back.

VS. broadcaster predictions:
Roll: Evans (by 1:47!)
Liggett: Cancellara
Trautwig: Leipheimer
Sherwen: Popovych

David Millar had to swap bikes only a few hundred meters onto the course when a tire blew, and again later. He would finish in 1:10:37, more than 5 minutes down on the day.

Thomas Dekker has been 2nd at each time check, trailing Hoste by 12 seconds at the 3rd check, and he gave his all coming to the line, sprinting with his tongue hanging out, to bring the gap down to about 7 seconds, but still 2nd at that point.

George Hincapie was fastest at the first three time checks, but José Ivan Gutierrez has been faster at each when he came through a few minutes behind. Hincapie is the first to crack Leif Hoste's previous best time.

Vladimir Karpets dropped the best time at TC1 by 10 seconds, with a 20:15.

Chris Horner at TC1: 20:26, 3 seconds faster than Hincapie, and 3rd for now.

Now Gutierrez comes to the line, charging hard: 1:05:11, the new best.

Leipheimer sets off, followed 3 minutes later by Cadel Evans, followed 3 minutes later by Alberto Contador, in a yellow-and-white skinsuit.

At TC1, Leipheimer scorches all previous times, with a 19:36, 39 faster than Vladimir Karpets. Evans comes next, and he's a little slower, at 19:50, but he's focused on Contador. When Contador rolls through, he's the 3rd fastest of the day, in 20:12, 22 seconds down on Evans with less than one-third of the course complete.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Karpets storms to the line with the new best finishing time: it's 1:04:41 for the Caisse d'Epargne TT specialist.

At TC2, Leipheimer again comes through well ahead of Karpets, hitting the line in 39:44. Evans could possibly overtake Contador and get overtaken by Leipheimer -- he's working hard up to the time check, and scores a 40:20, 36 seconds off Leipheimer. Contador appears to be slipping away, he's 5th fastest, in 41:13. He's lost 1:29 to Leipheimer, :53 to Evans. It's going to be a nailbiter.

Coming to the line, Leipheimer is clearly the fastest man on the course. He finishes in a scalding 1:02:45. Cadel Evans has only 8 seconds left in his GC lead over Leipheimer as he starts the last section of the course. Coming to the line, Evans is still bringing it, and actually closes the gap by a second: 1:03:35. He'll lose 51 seconds to Leipheimer, but what about Contador?

Contador isn't as smooth as Leipheimer or Evans, but he's still hitting the intermediate time checks in the Top 5. He knows he'll need a 1:05:24 to hold the jersey. Coming toward the line, the clock ticks out to 1:05:03, and Contador has saved his yellow jersey!

The overall picture is only more muddied after the stage that was supposed to clear it up: Contador still leads, but by just :23 over Evans and :31 over Leipheimer!

For Leipheimer, it's his 1st career stage win, and the 1st win of this Tour for the United States.

Top Finishers:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, 1:02:44
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at :51
3) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 1:56
4) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 2:01
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 2:18
6) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:05:11
7) George Hincapie, in 1:05:17
8) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:05:20
9) Leif Hoste, Predictor-Lotto, 1:05:33
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 2:50

I'll be updating a lot in my Tour Twitter feed, with intermediate times for key riders and other anecdotes, while I'll mostly be posting top finishing times here.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 28, 2007 | Permalink


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I wonder what happens to the time bonuses for winning riders who are disqualified.

I know that Rasmussen was not technically disqualified, but, if we remove his results, Leipheimer gains 12 seconds on Contador and 20 seconds on Evans. That might be the difference in this race.

Posted by: chadd at Jul 28, 2007 11:25:52 AM

What a great TT. My heart was pounding hharder than the racers' the entire time.

Posted by: elton at Jul 28, 2007 11:48:57 AM

So do we have a race tomorrow...Could we see a repeat of Greg LeMonds win on the last day in 1989 against Fignon, coming from behind. I know that was a time trial but I say "Game ON!"

Posted by: Brian Ellison at Jul 28, 2007 11:57:42 AM

Millar's tire -- I thought the wheel disintegrated?

Posted by: Fritz at Jul 28, 2007 12:00:10 PM

Fritz: Looks like you're right: Millar blamed "the Mavic disc" to CyclingNews.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 28, 2007 6:14:19 PM

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