July 12, 2007

"These are tough, tough boys here"

BBC - 606 | Blood, sweat, guts and tears

Geoffroy Lequatre was among the battalion of riders who were injured today. Lequatre went down just after the feedzone, and likely lost a battle with a lunch bag (or musette -- whether his or another rider's is uncertain). Lequatre sat beside the road for several minutes while race doctors worked on his arm and the race went away up the road, with the pace only getting faster as the day went on.

BBC World's “Phil S” was packing up his equipment, ready to leave when a compatriot told him there was another rider coming in:

The crowd had dwindled away and not many people were there to witness the single bravest moment of stage five, 44 minutes after stage winner Filippo Pozzato nosed across the line and 21 minutes after the penultimate finisher.

His face contorted with agony, shorts ripped to shreds, thigh looking like a side of meat, and fingertips all stripped of skin, Lequatre crossed the line and simply collapsed in tears. These are tough, tough boys here.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Discovery Channel's Noval injured by BT team car

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Tdf St 5: Pozzato Plunges for Line

Cathy Mehl notes that Discovery Channel's Benjamin Noval was injured on the descent to the finish, when, while riding away from any race action, a Bouygues Telecom team car hit the brakes in front of him, and he went through the rear window. Noval apparently required stitches in his chin and arm, and directory Johan Bruyneel thinks he'll start Stage 6.

Bruyneel wasn't happy about what he saw as the cause of the accident:

“The car had a French TV crew inside the car and the director was entertaining the camera, explaining race tactics as he was driving and going all out downhill. I think it’s pretty dangerous to do that. There are some people who talk about the danger or usefulness of using radios in a race and I have my opinion on that, but I definitely have my opinion about TV cameras in the race cars. Seeing certain directors trying to be the star of the show and wanting to entertain the TV while they have to drive and think about the safety of the riders. It’s definitely very dangerous. That’s why we never have TV cameras in the car, or at least if we do we pretend that they are not there. I don’t think we can say the same of everybody.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 5: Pozzato powers through, but where's Vino?

Filippo Pozzato was as good as his word Thursday. The Liquigas classics specialist, winner at Milan-San Remo in 2006, told CyclingNews that Stage 5 was right for him, and he followed through with a magnificent sprint through a select group of power riders that survived over a hilly course.

Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis built a healthy lead in the King of the Mountains competition by leading the race over 7 of the day's 8 climbs, in a break with FdJeux's Philippe Gilbert, Credit Agricole's William Bonnet, and break latecomer Gianpaolo Cheula of Barloworld.

Meanwhile, many of the race favorites spent time on the tarmac, most notably Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished 1:21 back on the day after spending almost 25 kilometers/16 miles chasing, first with 6 teammates (all but Klöden and Kashechkin) then behind the team car, and finally with the help of Tom Boonen and other dropped traffic he collected as he made up time. Astana's team competition lead (the yellow race numbers) was lost, as well, and Team CSC takes over the team lead.

As the field came to the finish, 74 riders were together, but most of the marquee sprinters were dropped, including Boonen, McEwen, and Thor Hushovd, so the classics specialists came to the fore, with Zabel and Freire initially looking strong, then Hincapie and Bennati closing them down, before Pozzato came on through the center for the win, less than a foot ahead of Rabobank's Oscar Freire.

Top 20 (all same time):
1) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain
3) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy
4) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA
7) Christian Moreni, Cofidis, Italy
8) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany
9) Bram Tankink, Quick Step, Netherlands
10) Jérôme Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France
11) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia
12) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland
13) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain
14) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA
15) Fränk Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg
16) Martin Elmiger, AG2R, Switzerland
17) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany
18) Inigo Landaluze, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain
19) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, T-Mobile, Australia
20) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, France

Once again, Fabian Cancellara did the yellow jersey proud, personally heading the peloton when Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych made a late break, and finishing 12th on a day when many expected him to lose the yellow jersey. As expected there was a heavy shuffle of the overall classification:

Overall standings after Stage 5
1) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, in 28:56
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ :33
3) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, @ :35
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, @ :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :43
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ :45
7) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ :46
8) Mikel Atarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ :49
9) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, @ :51
10) Benoît Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, France, @ :52
11) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ :53
12) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :55
13) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, @ :55
14) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ :55
15) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ :55
22) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 1:00
23) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:00
25) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:03
81) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 2:10

Zabel, the 6-time winner, is in the green jersey for the first time since 2002. Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis takes the King of the Mountains jersey from teammate Stéphane Augé, and Gusev maintains the lead in the young riders' white jersey competition.

And let's have no more talk of Dave Zabriskie as the Lanterne Rouge, please, as Dave Z finished in a big group @ 11:15 back, and jumps to 178th, 18:24 behind teammate Cancellara. Geoffroy Lequatre, a Cofidis rider who appeared to injure his right arm in a heavy fall and wobbled in 44:04 back, is 45:38 behind Cancellara to lead the Lanterne Rouge standings.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Stefan Schumacher, Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Dekker, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 5 on the road

Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, who could have taken the King of the Mountains jersey yesterday, is on the attack, alongside FdJeux's Philippe Gilbert, Credit Agricole's William Bonnet, and Barloworld's Gianpaolo Cheula, who caught the trio after a long chase.

Chavanel has taken 1st over each of the minor climbs so far, and looks likely to take over the polka-dot jersey tonight.

CSC has announced it won't defend the yellow jersey today, as a late 2nd Category climb and a 3rd Category climb only 8 kilometers from the finish should shake up the overall classification. We're likely to see the first gruppetto, as the big sprinters huddle together, working together to finish before the time limit.

Milram's Brett Lancaster of Australia withdrew after 2 hours of riding today, complaining of ongoing stomach problems. That leaves 184 riders in the race.

Lots of little crashes have happened as the Tour's first real climbs approach. Saunier Duval's Iban Mayo was paced back to the peloton by all 8 teammates, while Astana's Andreas Klöden fell with a teammate and visited the medical car. More serious was a fall just after the feed zone by Geoffroy Lequatre of Cofidis, who spent several minutes sitting by the side of the road after as doctors examined his arm.

Chavanel's group has led by nearly 15 minutes, but they're slowly being reeled in, with a 7:42 lead with 60 miles/97 kms to ride.

On the day's biggest climb, Chavanel turned on the heat, and only Philippe Gilbert could match him. Over the top, Chavanel led Gilbert, with Cheula and Bonnet 3rd and 4th, and Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank jumped from the field to take 6 pts in 5th place ahead of Sergio Paulinho of Discovery Channel leading the pack.

The gap is hovering a little over 2 minutes, and Bonnet and Cheula have been captured, so only Chavanel and Gilbert still lead, with less than 40 kilometers/25 miles to ride.

Vinokourov has gone down hard! His whole team besides Andreas Klöden and Andrey Kashechkin come back to chase, and Vinokourov blows each in turn, until he's left with nothing but the team car to draft, working up through the back traffic.

Chavanel and Gilbert are captured just before the day's final summit, with CSC pounding the field forward, and Vinokourov struggling to rejoin.

Discovery Channel's Yaroslav Popovych launched an attack on the capture of Chavanel, and yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (!) powered the chase, which was short-circuited when Popovych and Cancellara overshot a corner and lost their momentum.

Coming into the finish, David Millar took a flier, with a Bouygues Telecom rider (probably Anthony Geslin), but they just dangled off the front into the final kilometer.

In the last 500 meters, Zabel and Freire looked well positioned, there comes George Hincapie, Bennati, and coming up fast through the middle, it's Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas taking the sprint! Pozzato took Milan-San Remo in 2006 and Stage 7 of the 2004 Tour, and told CyclingNews.com this morning that this was his stage.

The best way to follow the action in real time is to subscribe to my Twitter feed, which you can direct to your IM client or cell phone. A number of others are also Twittering the Tour, including David Bernstein of FredCast, CyclingNews.com (whose updates are usually truncated), Phil from Spinopsys, and Ken Conley.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rasmussen | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack