July 11, 2010
Stage 8: Le Morte d'Armstrong
The first big mountain stage at the Tour is always revelatory. The early time trials and lower climbs allow classics and TT men to sit at the Tour's grown-up table for a week or more, but those names begin to fall off the leaderboard when the race moves to the mountains.
Sunday's Stage 8 ran true to form, and then some. Sky, Saxo Bank, and Astana spent miles at the front, keeping the pace high enough to shed rider after rider, until on the day's final climb, only a dozen riders still had a chance for the stage win, including Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, and Levi Leipheimer. With teammate Daniel Navarro taking a pull worthy of Amtrak, Contador looked safisfied to ride to the line with that group.
With less than 2k to ride, Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas was the first man to launch, covered quickly by Contador. Just inside the last kilometer, Andy Schleck sprinted away from the group, and only Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez matched him. Behind, a move from Gesink was covered, but Contador was content to let Sanchez and Schleck sprint it out for the stage win. The sprint, reminiscent of Barredo-Costa in its precision and ferocity, went to Schleck, his first Tour de France stage win.
World Champion Cadel Evans takes over the yellow jersey for the first time since 2008, when Evans lost it after being isolated on the climb to Prato Nevoso.
Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong suffered a key accident a few kilometers before the day's first big climb, chased back to the field, but was dropped on the Ramaz and lost almost 12 minutes on the day. He's in 39th place, 13:26 back of Evans. If Armstrong's announcement that this will be his last Tour is true, this was the end of his last chance to win the race. Armstrong says he'll stay in the race and work for the team, which is good news for Levi Leipheimer, sitting 8th overall.
The team that did most of the damage to Armstrong's chances also badly damaged their own leader's Tour hopes. Sky set a blistering pace on the Ramaz, shedding teammates, and their Bradley Wiggins was dropped on the climb out of Morzine, the day's second big challenge. He would finish at 1:45, and now sits 14th at 2:45 on the overall.
Evans becomes the first world champion to wear yellow since Boonen in 2006 and if he could win, would be the first world champion to win the Tour since LeMond in 1990.
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Lance's 3rd crash happened due to an illegal distribution of musettes by another team. That team should be PENALIZED TIME.
See the summary of the feeding zone rule from TdF for Dummies:
Feed zone and feeding rules
Riders' nutritional needs are the responsibility of individual teams, with some exception. During every Tour road stage, there's a designated area on the course called the feed zone or feeding station. Team representatives carrying musettes, or feeding bags with sandwiches, fruit, and energy bars. They hand off supplies to riders as they advance through the feed zone. It's cycling's version of take-out food. New water bottles are also distributed to riders in the feed zone, but musettes and water bottles must be those supplied by Tour sponsors or otherwise Tour approved.
Outside the feed zone, riders in a breakaway can also receive supplies from their team managers' vehicles or a Tour-supplied motorcycle. Musettes and water bottles can be used in these feeding options, but these resupply situations and the designated feed zone must follow Tour-established regulations.
Posted by: GRITS at Jul 12, 2010 9:55:12 AM
Cruel to watch...
It was as if Lance had neglected to pay the gods of fate, as he slipped, crashed, blew a tire during an attack, was blocked off by the early crash yesterday, crashed again, and was blocked a second time.
Talk about the turning of luck. So long able to ride unscathed through melee after melee, Armstrong has, by his own admission, blown from the tour before firing a shot in anger.
I feel like a deflated balloon...
Posted by: Paul A. at Jul 12, 2010 11:35:11 AM
It's hard to watch a living legend fall repeatedly in his last great Tour de France, and not the way any of us would choose to see him retire from this historic tour spanning several European countries, the Alps and Pyrenees Mts., and over 2200 road miles in 3 weeks time. Everyone who participated is a winner in my mind. And Lance Armstrong proved his sportsmanship and team commitment by opting to continue the tour when all was lost in support of his own team and its leader this year. Kudos to Lance and all the riders who completed this marathon of bike races celebrating its 100th year.
Posted by: Marion Zales at Aug 5, 2010 5:10:27 PM