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July 15, 2007

Stage 8 on the road

Day 2 of the Alps ratchets the difficulty up another notch, with 6 categorized climbs, the last three 1st Category. There are 3 riders who have shown an interest in the King of the Mountains competition: Michael Rasmussen, David de la Fuente, and Sylvain Chavanel.

Rasmussen has won his polka-dot jerseys through a strategy sometimes called the “Chicken Run,” a day-long Alpine breakaway where he takes major mountain points while riding alone. There's a chance of that, but he's still placed highly in the GC, and may not be allowed to get away.

Versus broacaster picks:
Liggett: Valverde
Trautwig: Contador
Sherwen: Rasmussen
Roll: Leipheimer

First climb, a 4th Cat:
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +3 pts
2) Alexandre Efimkin, Barloworld, +2 pts
3) Marcel Sieberg, Milram, +1 pt

2nd climb, a 3rd Cat:
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +4 pts
2) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, +3 pts
3) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel +2 pts
4) Stephane Goubert (AG2R)+1 pt

Schumacher was recaptured, and Thomas Voeckler made a break. He was quickly countered by 18 riders, including Michael Rogers, George Hincapie, David Millar, Stephan Schumacher, and Jens Voigt.

1st sprint
1) Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Lilian Jegou, Française des Jeux, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Stephane Goubert (A2R) +2 pts/2 secs

3rd climb, 2nd Cat:
1) Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, 10 pts
2) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, 9 pts
3) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, 8 pts
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, 7 pts
5) Bernard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 6 pts
6) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, 5 pts

Voeckler was captured and the group of 18 quickly built a 2:00 lead on the peloton, driven primarily by Rabobank.

2nd (and final) intermediate sprint:
1) Frederik Willems, Liquigas, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Antonio Colom, Astana, +2 pts/2 secs

Early on the day's biggest climb, David Millar falls off the lead group, and Michael Rasmussen rides off the peloton, joined by 7 other riders.

Bernard Kohl of Gerolsteiner has ridden away from the Rogers group and leads the race, with Antonio Colom and Christophe Le Mevel chasing.

Rasmussen has caught up to the splinters of the Rogers group, with David Arroyo, who bridged with him, and Goubert and Rogers join them to chase down Kohl, Le Mevel, and Colom. The 7 of them now lead the race.

Le Mevel is dropped late on the climb. Over the top, Rasmussen takes max points. He's been doing most of the work, but will be glad to have some other riders to pick the best line on the descent. The main field is more than 5 minutes behind with 2 more 1st Category climbs.

Cormet de Roselend, 1st Category:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 15 pts
2) Bernard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 13 pts
3) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, 11 pts
4) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, 9 pts
5) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, 8 pts
6) Antonio Colom, Astana, 7 pts
7) Christphe Le Mevel, 6 pts (@ :52)
8) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 5 pts (@1:25)

On the descent, Michael Rogers crashes, and David Arroyo goes over a guardrail. Both are quickly back on the road, but have to chase to get back with Rasmussen/Kohl/Colom.

On the 2nd 1st Category climb, Rogers is first to fall off the Rasmussen group, quickly followed by Goubert and Kohl. Colom and Arroyo match Rasmussen, letting the Dane do all the work.

Rogers can't hang with Goubert and Kohl, and it's quickly apparent that he's injured from the fall. He falls back to Hincapie's group, then back to the peloton, then off the back of the peloton to see the race doctor. Rogers refuses help from a domestique, then pulls to the side of the road. He collapses over his top tube, then dismounts and exits the Tour.

Less than 5 minutes later, his teammate Marcus Burghardt is reported to have abandoned, but it's yet another race radio screwup.

Over the summit, it's Rasmussen again, and Astana comes to the front of the field, 6:12 behind Rasmussen's trio. Most of the GC men are close by. Rasmussen is back in his familiar polka-dots, and could take the overall lead -- Arroyo is only 2 seconds behind Rasmussen in GC, and would take the race lead if he beats Rasmussen to the line for the stage win.

Montée d'Hauteville, 1st Category:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 15 pts
2) Antonio Colom, Astana, 13 pts
3) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, 11 pts
4) Sergio Paulinho, Discovery Channel, 9 pts
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 8 pts
6) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 7 pts
7) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6 pts
8) Christophe le Mevel, Credit Agricole, 5 pts

Knowing Arroyo is a threat, Rasmussen rides the other two off his wheel on the day's last climb. Christophe Moreau is the first GC man to attack -- Mayo, Evans, Contador, Kashechkin, Valverde and Shleck (and briefly, Popovych) matched the French champion. Mayo, Moreau and Contador look like the strongest men in this group, which has built a lead of more than 1:30 on the peloton, which include Vino, Klöden, Leipheimer, Menchov, and others.

Contador has a mechanical that takes him back to the Vino group, but as soon as he's back on his bike, he goes back on the attack. Meanwhile, Moreau's group sweeps up Arroyo and Colom, and nearing the summit, Mayo jumps easily away. Only Moreau will work to reel him in, and Mayo builds a gap.

Rasmussen crosses the line with a textbook Rasmussen victory. Today, though, there's more than the polka-dots as a reward: Rasmussen takes over as the overall race leader.

Mayo is 2nd on the day, 2:47 back, then Valverde.

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Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2007 in 2007 Stage 8, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Sylvain Chavanel, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink

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