July 05, 2011

Evans the master in Mur-de-Bretagne

For a number of years, you wouldn't have raised an argument saying Cadel Evans was Australian for ‘Levi Leipheimer.’ Like the Montanan, Evans could keep it close in the mountains and gain time in the time trials, but he seemed to lack panache, racing defensively with his head instead of his legs.

The last few years, Evans has become a rider with some brio, winning the world championships with a perfectly timed attack in 2009, and taking Fleche Wallone and a powerful stage win at the Giro in 2010. On Tuesday, he again showed power and grit, climbing to a stage win ahead of Alberto Contador and Alexandre Vinokourov, and picking up time on most of his rivals for the overall win in this year's Tour.

Jeremy Roy of FDJ spent another long day in a doomed break, today with Movistar's Imanol Erviti, Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Izagirre, and AG2R's Blel Kadri. The five escaped about 9 kilometers/5.5 miles into the stage, and were captured with about 4.5 kilometers/2.7 miles to the finish.

Omega Pharma's Philippe Gilbert, the winner of Stage 1, was the pre-stage favorite to double up on his 29th birthday, and Omega Pharma did a lot of work to pull back the break and set Gilbert up for the climb of the Mur-de-Bretagne, but with less than 4k to the finish, BMC took over, with George Hincapie playing locomotive, as he has for hundreds of miles through the French countryside in July in 16 Tours.

At 1.5 kilometers to the summit, Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador was the first to attack, followed by Gilbert and Evans. Thor Hushovd, holding the yellow jersey by a narrow second over Evans, battled onto the back of this high-octane group as rider after rider put on a burst to try to break clear for the win. Jurgen van den Broeck, Rigoberto Uran, and Gilbert all pressed attacks, but Contador and Evans matched them all, and Evans led in the final 100 meters as Contador quickly closed the gap.

At the line, there was no telling who had won. Contador gave a celebratory fist pump, but the photo finish cameras showed it was Evans at the line by a tire's width. Evans had taken the stage, but Hushovd finished 6th in the same time, so the big Norwegian holds the leader's jersey for another day.

While Evans's victory shows style and form, it also may signal that Evans thinks he'll have trouble in the high mountains, and needs to make time wherever he can from now until then. Contador, finishing alongside Evans, put at least a few seconds into everyone but Evans, and showed he's far from conceding, despite trailing by 1:42 after 4 stages.

In the green jersey competition, Tyler Farrar took the intermediate sprint for 6th, picking up 10 points ahead of José Rojas, Borut Bozic, and Mark Cavendish, but the pure speed riders were shut out of the finish, where Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd picked up 22 and 20 points, respectively, with high finishes. Here are the overall standings in the geen jersey competition so far. Cavendish seems bound to pop through for a stage win soon, but the Wenatchee Wonder looks fast enough to limit the damage from the Manx Missile this year.

Stage 4 Top 10:

1) Cadel Evans, BMC, in 4:11:39
2) Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank, same time
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, s.t.
4) Rigoberto Uran, Sky, s.t.
5) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma, s.t.
6) Thor Hushovd, Garmin, s.t.
7) Frank Schleck, Leopard, s.t.
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
9) Jurgen van den Broeck, Omega Pharma, s.t.
10) Andreas Klöden, Radio Shack, s.t.

In the overall, there was a bit of a shakeup, as a number of riders lost a few seconds, including Andy Schleck, who was in a group of 28 riders eight seconds back.

GC, after Stage 4

1) Thor Hushovd, Garmin, 13:58:25
2) Cadel Evans, BMC, at :01
3) Frank Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at :04
4) David Millar, Garmin-Cervelo, at :08
5) Andreas Klöden, Radio Shack, at :10
6) Brad Wiggins, Sky, at :10
7) Geraint Thomas, Sky, at :12
8) Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Sky, at :12
9) Andy Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at :12
10) Jakob Fuglsang, Leopard-Trek, at :12


VeloNews | Cadel Evans wins stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France, Hushovd retains overall lead | Video: Finish-line analysis: tenacity and surprise on stage 4

cyclingnews.com | Evans takes photo finish over Contador | photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2011 in 2011 Stage 4, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, David Millar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Frank Schleck, Jurgen van den Broeck, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2010

Stage 2: Chavanel survives to yellow

SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 05: After assisting injured cyclists, a medic cleans his case of blood along stage 2 of the Tour de France July 5, 2010 in Spa, Belgium. The 201km route with six categorised climbs travels from Brussels to the city of Spa. France's Sylvain Chavanel won the second stage, taking the overall leader's yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara. The iconic bicycle race will include a total of 20 stages and will cover 3,642km before concluding in Paris on July 25. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)It must have seemed like a great idea to organizers. Run a stage of the Tour over some of cycling's hallowed ground, using parts of Liege-Bastogne-Liege for today's Stage 2, and 7 cobbled sectors that feature in Paris-Roubaix tomorrow.

Throw in rain, and the generally squirrely nature of a first-week Tour peloton, though, and you've got the recipe for a demolition derby. One of the riders who might reasonably have feared the day's profile was Sylvain Chavanel, who fractured his skull on this course a little more than 2 months ago.

Instead, Chavanel rode away from the field with only about 15 kilometers ridden on the day, joined by teammate Jerome Pineau, who would take max points over each of the day's climbs to take over the polka-dot jersey, Marcus Burghardt, Matt Lloyd, Reine Taaramae, and 3 others.

Behind, the descent of the Col de Stockeu looked like the train station scene of “Gone with the Wind,” with riders all over the roadside. Some reporters estimated 70-80 riders went down, and there were reports of soigneurs climbing out of cars to help their riders, then falling down themselves. Some riders (and Eddy Merckx) have suggested there must have been some sort of oil on the road (leading to my favorite tweet of the day), because the road seemed so much more treacherous than when it's been raced in LBL in the past.

Both Andy and Frank Schleck, Alessandro Petacchi, Robbie McEwen, Alberto Contador, George Hincapie, and Lance Armstrong spent time on the tarmac, with the largest crash occurring at around 30km to ride, when a photo motorcycle trying to avoid a downed rider became the first domino. With confusion reigning in the peloton, Chavanel's break, which had appeared doomed, had new life.

July 05, 2010 - 06134192 date 05 07 2010 Copyright imago Panoramic 05 07 2010 Tour de France 2010 2 Stage Brussels Spa Sylvain Chavanel FRA Quick Step Photo News PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRAxITAxBEL Cycling men Wheel Road Tour de France Award Ceremony Single Vdig xkg 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd o0 Stage victory cheering happiness Yellow Jersey Emotions.Armstrong and Contador found themselves allies on the road, as they were dropped from the yellow jersey group, but rode together back into Cancellara's company, as Cancellara and Riis calculated whether it was better for Cancellara to hold the yellow jersey, or to sit up and wait for the Schlecks. With Cancellara off the gas, the group mostly came back together, with a few notable exceptions.

Caught up in the many crashes were seemingly the entire Garmin-Transitions team, with Christian Vande Velde having to withdraw with two broken ribs, continuing his disastrous season. Nearly as bad were Tyler Farrar's injuries -- a fractured wrist, sprained elbow, and scratches and bruises suffered in two separate crashes. David Millar may have a broken rib, but didn't have x-rays. Julian Dean and Robbie Hunter also went down.

Cancellara spent a fair amount of time in discussion with the race director, apparently trying to get the day's GC losses neutralized. Barring that and apparently with the consent of other riders, Cancellara went to the front of the pack at the end of the stage, and decreed that no one would contest the sprint. Chavenel took the stage by 3:56 ahead of a 6-wide pack, which led race officials to withhold sprint points from everyone but Chavanel. This didn't sit too well with Norwegian champion and defending green jersey winner Thor Hushovd, who had apparently targeted today's stage, and hoped to improve in the points competition:

"I've been riding all day for the stage win and the green jersey and I end up with nothing," Hushovd continued. "This is not fair. Will the same thing happen tomorrow? Will the times for GC be taken before the pavés sections? If Alberto Contador or another big rider crashes tomorrow on the cobblestones, he's entitled to ask for the race to be neutralised too! So when will we race, really?"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2010 in 2010 Stage 2, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Lance Armstrong, Sylvain Chavanel, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 02, 2010

Welcome to 2010

Once again, it's time to clip in and ride. If you're a longtime reader of the site, thanks for coming back. I love the Tour, and I love chronicling the Tour every year here on TdFblog.

If you're new to the site, welcome. I've been yammering about the Tour de France here since 2003, and following the race since the late '80s. In addition to long-form summaries and commentary here, I also do a multitude of race updates on Twitter, at @TdFblog. This year, I'm going to extend the empire even a little farther, with a Tumblr site for that content that's too long for Twitter, too short for the main site, and that's at tumblr.tdfblog.com. Don't be too surprised if that site is in rapid flux for the next few days, as I figure out what goes where, and figure out how to do things with Tumblr.

Even though I'm tremendously depressed at the continuing scourge of doping in the sport, I'm really looking forward to this year's Tour. Last year's battle between Alberto Contador and the Schleck brothers looks to repeat. We'll see if Bradley Wiggins can fulfill the promise he showed finishing 4th last year on the new Team Sky. Cav's back, and brash as ever. And it looks like Big Tex is serious about retirement this time around, so it's the last shot for Lance Armstrong to win an 8th Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2010 in About the site, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Mark Cavendish, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 25, 2009

Stage 19: Cavendish takes five on day for breakaway

Tour de France 2009 Stage Nineteen

Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish got schooled on Thursday, with Thor Hushovd launching a long solo attack that netted 12 points in the green jersey competition. Hushovd looked to be reacting to comments from Cavendish that a Hushovd green jersey would be stained after Cavendish was relegated back in Stage 14.

Saturday, Cavendish responded, as his squad shepherded their sprint ace over the day's biggest climb, the 2nd Category Col de l'Escrinet, despite losing Michael Rogers and Mark Renshaw to the fast finishing pace. Cavendish launched his sprint from a long way out, but held off Hushovd and Gerald Ciolek all the way to the line, to take his 5th stage of the 2009 Tour. No sprinter has won 5 Tour stages since Freddy Maertens in 1981, and Cavendish still has a chance in Sunday's Stage 21 to the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Cavendish also becomes the all-time British leader in stage wins, surpassing Barry Hoban with his 9th career stage win in just two Tour starts.

The day started like a typical transitional stage, with a large group of strong riders away, including Yaroslav Popovych, David Millar, Cadel Evans, José Gutierrez, Leonardo Duque, and 15 others. Rabobank did most of the chasing, since they were one of the teams absent in the break, and first 5 riders, then just Leonardo Duque, would escape the break in an attempt to stay clear of the peloton, riding way ahead of the projected arrival times along the route.

On the day's final climb, the Col de l'Escrinet, Laurent Lefevre launched from very low on the climb, and was matched by world champion Alessandro Ballan, who would survive until the final 2 kilometers, before being reeled in by the surviving 3 Columbia-HTC riders, trying to set up Cavendish, who survived the climb, shadowed by Hushovd.

Hushovd's 2nd place finish limits the damage to his green jersey lead, where he leads Cavendish now 260-235, with 35 points to the winner in Paris on Sunday. Even if Cavendish wins there, Hushovd will be safe in green if he can finish in the first 10 or 15 riders at the finish.

Lance Armstrong was attentive at the finish, and picked up 4 seconds when a gap formed in the field, with Klöden, Wiggins, both Schlecks, and Contador on the wrong side. It's unlikely that 4 seconds will make a difference, but it points up how Armstrong rides this race, always aware of every chance to make or lose time.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2009 in 2009 Stage 19, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, David Millar, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

Schlecks climb onto podium with Stage 17 win

Tour de France 2009 Stage Seventeen

Stage 17 is one that will be remembered for three things: The Schleck brothers finishing together with race leader Alberto Contador more than 2 minutes clear of the field, Thor Hushovd going out on an audacious solo Alpine attack to grab the green jersey by the throat, and a probing attack by Contador late on the stage that triggered an absolute Twit-storm.

Mark Cavendish has criticized Hushovd, who protested the Stage 14 finish, leading to a Cavendish relegation for irregular sprinting. This is nothing unusual -- Hushovd lost the jersey in 2006 partially as a result of a relegation in Stage 4, and won the jersey in 2005 partially due to Robbie McEwen's relegation in Stage X. Cavendish, who features in a Nike campaign that declares “green is my yellow,” said the green jersey would be stained if Hushovd won it through Cav's relegation.

So Hushovd set off on a little jersey-cleaning mission, attacking with Thomas Voeckler over the top of the Col de Roselend to join an early break, then setting off solo over the Col des Saisies and the Côte d'Araches, more than 70k alone, while Cavendish was getting unhitched from the back of the field. With the 12 points collected, Hushovd moves 30 points clear in the green jersey competition, with 35 available in Paris on Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hushovd off the front again on Friday.

The end of Hushovd, early on the Col de Romme, was the end of the break as well, with Saxo Bank stringing out the field for the inevitable attack by Frank and Andy Schleck. Carlos Sastre was the first to attack, but was soon reeled in, with Andy Schleck still sitting near the back of the GC group.

When Frank Schleck attacked, he was quickly joined by Armstrong, Wiggins, Contador, and Andy Schleck, who attacked again, gapping Wiggins, Vande Velde, Armstrong and Frank Schleck. When Schleck launched a bridge move, Armstrong and Wiggins followed. Andy Schleck pushed the pace again, and Wiggins was gapped, with Armstrong alongside. Once again, Frank Schleck jumped the gap, this time alone. The lead group on the road was Contador and Klöden for Astana, and the Schleck brothers for Saxo Bank.

Behind, Christian Vande Velde fought back up to Wiggins, Nibali, and Armstrong, setting pace for several kilometers, but slowly losing ground to the fearsome foursome up front, before Vande Velde fell away. With the gap to Wiggins, Armstrong, and Nibali over 2:00, and 2k to climb on the day's final climb, Contador launched an attack. Klöden, who had been sitting on the back of the group for several kilometers, didn't have the legs to match, and was suddenly 20 seconds back. Contador came off the attack, and spent the rest of the climb looking back for Klöden.

It was a testing attack, one that we would usually see 100 times in a normal Tour, but the Twitterverse exploded. Suddenly, Andreas Klöden was the most popular rider in the peloton and Contador was screwing a beloved teammate. Bruyneel would say after the stage he didn't want Contador to attack, and Armstrong would immediately question Contador's move on Twitter, as well, but it seems like the math is pretty simple: “I've got gas in the tank, most of my rivals are losing time, and if I can drop these two guys, I might take a stage in the yellow jersey and put time in everybody.”

The Schlecks covered and pushed the pace enough to guarantee Klöden wasn't coming back. Meanwhile, Armstrong was on full boil, 5th on the road, riding hard toward Klöden, and towing Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas. They would catch Klöden near the finish, with Nibali taking 4th on the stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2009 in 2009 Stage 17, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

Armstrong attack highlight of Stage 16

Lance Armstrong looked exhausted at the end of Sunday's Stage 15. After his teammate Alberto Contador launched what would be a winning attack, Armstrong couldn't follow attacks through the gap by Wiggins, Nibali, Sastre, or Evans, and finished 9th at 1:35, hanging onto 2nd place, but by a bare 9 seconds.

What a difference a (rest) day makes! On today's Stage 16, when Andy Schleck went off the front, Armstrong was again dropped, this time by teammates Contador and Andreas Klöden, the Schleck brothers, Bradley Wiggins of Garmin-Slipstream, and Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas.

Armstrong rode within himself, and found shelter briefly in a group of GC hopes, including Vande Velde, Sastre, Evans, and Kreuziger. With a little less than 5k to ride, Armstrong launched a very 2003-era Armstrong attack. Kim Kirchen and Christian Vande Velde briefly tried to follow, but couldn't. When he flew by Frank Schleck, Schleck gave it just about one second's thought before he thought better of it.

With Armstrong back alongside Contador, Astana had 3 riders in a 6-man group, and once again, they were content to conserve energy and wait for Schleck or Nibali (or Wiggins, but he doesn't really need the time) to attack, but neither wanted to take on Contador, Armstrong, and Klöden. At the lower pace, all the GC candidates but Cadel Evans rejoined, and then coordinated to put serious time into Evans.

Astana continues to ride a very smart race, running out the clock for the climbing specialists, with just two big Alpine climbing stages left.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2009 in Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2009

Contador takes Stage 15, race lead

Tour de France 2009 Stage Fifteen

Alberto Contador showed why he's the dominant stage racer of the moment on the climb to Verbier Sunday.

On the day's final climb, Saxo Bank and Garmin came to the front and Saxo Bank took charge. Jens Voigt did a withering 1.5 kilometers, forcing a major selection and putting the yellow jersey of Rinaldo Nocentini in jeopardy.

When Voigt was caught, Fränk Schleck came to the front, but soon after, the contenders reached Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara, part of the day's breakaway, and Cancellara pulled so strongly that he briefly shattered the GC group, dispatching Nocentini. When he was done, he was really done, and there were only 5 men left standing: The Schleck brothers, Astana's Cane and Abel Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, and Bradley Wiggins. That's what I said, Bradley Wiggins.

After a couple of quick feints, Contador did his thing, almost instantly putting 10-15 seconds into the chasers. Andy Schleck set out in pursuit, while Armstrong tended Wiggins and Fränk Schleck. As Contador pushed his lead, some of the other GC hopefuls started to come back onto the Armstrong group, including Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Andreas Klöden, Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger. Noticeably absent was Carlos Sastre, who was riding at his own pace well behind the leaders.

Vande Velde struggled at the rear of this elite group, and as he fell off, he was passed by none other than Carlos Sastre! Sastre, looking recovered now, bridged up to Armstrong's group.

By now, Contador had :45 on the Armstrong group, and Bradley Wiggins was the first to try to join Andy Schleck up the road. Frank Schleck bridged, matched by the rest of the Armstrong group, then attacked toward his brother. Contador was getting a little too much love from some of the fans, and swatted at them with about 2.5 kilometers to ride.

Wiggins was still feeling strong, and attacked out of the Armstrong group, with Nibali on his wheel. When they caught Frank Schleck, the three rode together, with Wiggins (Wiggins!) doing the majority of the work.

Sastre then attacked out of the Armstrong group, and Evans, who later said it was his worst day ever on the Tour de France, followed, leaving Klöden and Armstrong behind. Sastre would catch what protocol demands I call “the Wiggins group” in the final k, but nobody was going to pull back significant time on Contador on today's course.

He would cross the finish line in 5:03:58, enough to put him more than 90 seconds clear in the overall. As the stage winner, he also won a Saint Bernard.

Afterward, Lance Armstrong said Contador had shown he was the strongest rider in the race, and that Armstrong and Klöden would ride in support of Contador for the rest of the Tour.

Top 10:
1) Alberto Contador, Astana, 5:03:58
2) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at :43
3) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:03
4) Frank Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:06
5) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, same time
6) Carlos Sastre, Cervelo Test Team, s.t.
7) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, at 1:26
8) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at 1:29
9) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at 1:35
10) Kim Kirchen, Columbia-HTC, at 1:55

General Classification after Stage 15:
1) Alberto Contador, Astana, in 63:17:56
2) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at 1:37
3) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:46
4) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at 2:17
5) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 2:26
6) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, at 2:30
7) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 2:51
8) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 3:07
9) Christophe Le Mevel, Française des Jeux, at 3:09
10) Fränk Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 3:25

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2009 in 2009 Stage 15, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Franco Pellizotti, Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Rinaldo Nocentini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2009

Assessing the GC threats

VeloNews | Inside the Tour - Marginalizing the Tourmalet

John Wilcockson dismisses the Tour hopes of Carlos Sastre, in an article explaining how race ornanizers have taken the sting out of the Pyrenean stages by adding long descents (which encourage regrouping) after the marquee climbs.

To me, It seems like this works to Sastre's advantage, since, if he survives Stage 9 on Sunday, he's got almost a week to find his best legs before the stage through the Vosges on Friday.

It also complicates Alberto Contador's efforts. His best opportunity to make time is an uphill finish, and there are just two left: Verbier on Stage 15 and Ventoux on Stage 20. I think that's the main reason Contador decided to go on Stage 7, because he doesn't want to be in a position where everything rides on the Ventoux climb.

I may disagree that Sastre's out after his problems Saturday, but it's impossible to disagree with Wilcockson's list of top GC threats:

  • Andy Schleck
  • Fränk Schleck
  • Alberto Contador
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Andreas Klöden
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • Bradley Wiggins
  • Cadel Evans
  • Tony Martin
  • Vincenzo Nibali

With Pereiro's exit from the race today, it will be interesting to see if Caisse d'Epargne turns to Stage 8 winner Luis Leon Sanchez, who sits 11th at 2:16, or if they hunt stages.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2009 in Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2009

Stage 3: Columbia puts on a show

Columbia-HTC showed off Mark Cavendish's new green jersey on Monday, shelling most of the race's GC men with a powerful 20-mile effort that culminated in a 2nd straight victory for Cavendish.

Early on, the stage showed all the cliché elements of the early-Tour sprinters’ stage. A four-man breakaway featuring two French riders was allowed to take more than 12 minutes out of a field that didn't want to chase. Samuel Dumoulin would end the day with the “most agressive” red race numbers for his hours in service to this break and 4th place at the finish.

Finally, with 50 miles/80 kilometers to go, the field started slowly reeling in the break. With the expectation of a sprint finish and the prospect of a difficult team time trial tomorrow, few teams were willing to cooperate with Columbia, which was heavily favored to take the stage. It looked like a formula chase, with the capture to come in the final 10 kilometers, unfolding to another sprint showdown.

But steaming along the Mediterranean coast in the Camargue, the winds can be stiff, and with about 20 miles to ride, a crosswind forced a gap near the head of the peloton. Ahead of the break was the entire Columbia squad, which hit full gas to widen the breach. Michael Rogers said after the stage he asked his teammates to give “5 kilometers as hard as they could,” and by that point, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Frank and Andy Schleck, and Alberto Contador were almost 30 seconds off the pace.

Not so Lance Armstrong. Armstrong found himself with 26 other riders ahead of the split, with longtime teammate George Hincapie and current teammates Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia. Also in the lead group was yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara, whose Saxo Bank team initially chased, then seemed satisfied to hold the Columbia bunch at around 30 seconds.

When it was time to deliver the goods, Thor Hushovd kept it close, but Cavendish found that green suits him, and took his second straight stage win. Matching last year's four wins looks in reach for Columbia's sprinter, and he may not have enough top tube for all the “kill” decals he's going to need on that frame.

The field rolled through 41 seconds behind the escape, and the contenders who were caught out commented to a man that this is a three-week race, and that a small gap on the road like this won't make a difference in the overall. We'll know in 3 weeks.

So Columbia, like Nuke LaLoosh, has announced its presence with authority. To show for a ton of effort, they have a second stage win, and the white jersey, which moves over to Tony Martin, after Roman Kreuziger was also caught out. We'll see tomorrow what those cost them.

Stage 3 Top 10:
1) Mark Cavendish, Columbia, 5:01:24
2) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, same time
3) Cyril Lemoine, Skil-Shimano, s.t.
4) Samuel Dumoulin, Cofidis, s.t.
5) Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, s.t.
6) Fabian Cancellara, Saxo Bank, s.t.
7) Fabian Wegmann, Milram, s.t.
8) Fumiyuki Beppu, Skil-Shimano, s.t.
9) Maxime Bouet, Agritubel, s.t.
10) Linus Gerdemann, Milram, s.t.

General Classification
1) Fabian Cancellara, Saxo Bank, in 9:50:58
2) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at :33
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :40
4) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :59
5) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin, at 1:00
6) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at 1:03
7) Linus Gerdemann, Milram, at 1:03
8) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, at 1:04
9) Maxime Monfort, Columbia-HTC, at 1:10
10) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at 1:11

Jussi Veikkanen holds the polka-dots of the King of the Mountains, Martin takes over the white jersey, Cavendish holds green, and Astana hangs onto the team classification lead.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2009 in 2009 Stage 3, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Haimar Zubeldia, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Tony Martin | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 26, 2008

Schumacher takes 2nd TT as Sastre holds yellow

Team CSC has been the best-ranked team in the world for years, but has never taken the sport's biggest victory. Today, Carlos Sastre nailed down his first Grand Tour victory, and his team's first TdF win, with a 12th place in the longest time trial of the 2008 Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher, who won the Stage 4 TT and has been active in attacks throughout the Tour, was the stage winner today, clocking a 1:03:50, again beating out world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara and Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen.

Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto, widely expected to put serious time into Sastre, was unable to gap the Spaniard. At each time check, Sastre trailed Evans by less than 30 seconds, and Evans would finish in an unspectacular 7th on the stage, in 1:05:56. Combined with Bernhard Kohl's 1:06:11, Evans will move up to 2nd, with Kohl falling to 3rd. Kirchen climbs to 8th overall, while Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde moved into the Top 5 overall.

Fränk Schleck had a rough day, finishing in 1:09:28 and getting caught by Sastre on the road, and falling to 6th overall.

Stage 20:
1. Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, 1:03:50
2. Fabian Cancellara, CSC-Saxo Bank, Switzerland, @ :21
3. Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:01
4. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ 1:05
5. David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Great Britain, @ 1:37
6. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:55
7. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ 2:05
8. Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ 2:19
9. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 2:21
10. George Hincapie, Columbia, USA, @ 2:28

General Classification, after Stage 20:
1. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, 84:01:00
2. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ 1:05
3. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 1:20
4. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 2:00
5. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, @ 3:12
6. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ 4:28
7. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 6:32
8. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 7:02
9. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 7:26
10. Tadej Valjavec, AG2R-La Mondiale, Slovakia, @ 9:12

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2008 in Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

Sastre takes stage, yellow jersey on l'Alpe d'Huez

CSC-Saxo Bank struck the Luxembourg flag, posted Spanish colors, and opened up on the field on the Tour's queen stage today.

Yellow jersey Fränk Schleck played the loyal lieutenant as Carlos Sastre put 2 full minutes into the whole field, with a dominating climb of l'Alpe d'Huez, the Tour's most famous climb. Meanwhile, Fränk and Andy Schleck shadowed Cadel Evans, covering every attack through switchback after switchback.

Sastre launched immediately as the field left Bourg d'Oisans at the base of the climb. He was briefly joined by Rabobank's Denis Menchov, but a second attack dropped Menchov not only from Sastre's wheel, but from the yellow jesrsey group, as well. Menchov would claw his way back into that group well up the climb.

While first Valverde, then Efimkin, then Vande Velde would try to escape the gravitational field around the Schlecks, every attack was pulled back while Sastre continued to climb into the yellow jersey, steadily building a lead of more than a kilometer on the road that was worth 2:15 to Evans, Menchov, and Kohl on the line.

Even though Sastre looks to be in command right now, with the stage win and the leader's jersey, it seems unlikely he can hang within 1:35 of Cadel Evans on Saturday's long 53k/33-mile time trial. In the final TT last year, Evans made 2:33 on Sastre, even more than Sastre's winning margin today.

Stage 17 Top 10:
1. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, in 6:07:58
2. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain @ 2:03
3. Andy Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, same time
4. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 2:13
5. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, same time
6. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R, Russia, @ 2:15
7. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, same time
8. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, s.t.
9. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, s.t.
10. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, s.t.

General Classification after Stage 17:
1. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, in 74:39:03
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ 1:24
3. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 1:33
4. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ 1:34
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 2:39
6. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ 4:41
7. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 5:35
8. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 5:52
9. Tadej Valjavec, AG2R-La Mondiale, Slovakia, @ 8:10
10. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 8:24

VeloNews | Who won: Sastre or Evans?

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2008 in 2008 Stage 17, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2008

Schleck in yellow as Gerrans takes Stage 15

It was a day for the breakaway, as the overall contenders had bigger fish to fry, with the Tour climbing into the Alps.

Credit Agricole's Simon Gerrans, who fell off the breakaway but battled back to Egoi Martinez and Danny Pate, found a second wind on the mountaintop and easily dropped Martinez and Pate for his first career stage victory.

Back in the field, CSC again stamped a jackhammer tempo at the front to shatter the field, leaving Cadel Evans without teammates on the day's last climb, up to Prato Nevoso, and putting three CSC men -- both Schlecks and Carlos Sastre -- in the final group of 10 that included Evans.

Andy Schleck did the lion's share of the pacesetting on the 11-kilometer final climb, and Sastre, Menchov, Kohl, Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck forced a gap to Evans, who tried to keep his head and ride to the summit with Christian Vande Velde,

Oscar Pereiro left the race after a tumble over a guardrail from the top to the bottom of a hairpin turn. Pereiro, who was awarded the 2006 Tour when Floyd Landis was disqualified, injured his shoulder and couldn't continue.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2008 in 2008 Stage 15, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Denis Menchov, Egoi Martinez, Frank Schleck, Oscar Pereiro, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2008

Saunier Duval 1-2 for Piepoli and Cobo

Team CSC shook up the standings today, setting a blistering pace on the Col du Tourmalet, and putting the Luxembourg national champion Fränk Schleck just 1 second out of the overall race lead.

But it was Saunier Duval who came out with another stage win, as their Leonardo Piepoli and Juan José Cobo tag-teamed Shleck on the day's final climb, the Hautacam.

We finally had a glimpse of contenders and pretenders, as well, with some big surprises. Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego crumbled on the Tourmalet, losing almost 6 minutes by stage's end. Kim Kirchen lost the yellow jersey, falling to 7th overall, and Stefan Schumacher tumbled to 18th overall.

On the other hand, Christian Vande Velde rode axle-to-axle with the best riders of the Tour, and gave as well as he got. Denis Menchov shadowed Cadel Evans all day, and Carlos Sastre rode comfortably among the overall leaders, as well.

Piepoli completes the set, now with a victory in all three Grand Tours.

Stage 10 Results
1. Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, Italy, in 4:19:27
2. Juan Jose Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, same time
3. Frank Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ :28
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 1:06
5. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, @ 2:05
6. Riccardo Ricco, Saunier Duval, Italy, @ 2:17
7. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, same time
8. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, s.t.
9. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, s.t.
10. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, s.t.

Evans just barely held off Schleck in the overall, with Vande Velde and Ricco's sprint to the line probably saving his first-ever yellow jersey. Kohl's attack took him up into the top 5 overall.

General Classification, overall after Stage 10
1. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg @ :01
3. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :38
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria @ :46
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ :57
6. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, @ 1:28
7. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:56
8. Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ 2:10
9. Riccado Ricco, Saunier Duval, Italy, @ 2:29
10. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 2:32

Ricco takes the KoM lead with the double points on the final climb today, and takes over the white jersey lead on a day that was tough for Andy Schleck.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2008 in 2008 Stage 10, Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, Kim Kirchen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 10: The climb to Hautacam

At the base of Hautacam, 24 riders are chasing Remy de Gregorio:

  • Evans, Silence-Lotto
  • Sastre, Cancellara, A. Schleck, F. Schleck, Voigt, CSC-Saxo Bank
  • Kirchen, Columbia
  • Duenas Nevado, Barloworld
  • Nibali, Liquigas
  • Fothen and Kohl, Gerolsteiner
  • Menchov and Freire, Rabobank
  • Ricco, Cobo and Piepoli, Saunier Duval
  • Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle
  • Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • Dupont, Efimkin and Goubert, AG2R
  • Roy, Française des Jeux
  • Duque, Cofidis

Cancellara and Voigt are quickly dropped, Di Gregorio is swept up, and Piepoli attacks. Schleck matches, then Sastre tries a testing attack. Kirchen is dropped from the leaders group. Sastre caught and Fränk Schleck attacks, followed by Piepoli and Efimkin. Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, and Christian Vandevelde, ride alongside Carlos Sastre, Cobo, and Kohl.

Kohl launches, matched by Cobo, and there goes Christian Vande Velde, riding away from Sastre, Evans, Menchov.

Valverde, already well behind the leaders, has a mechanical.

Vande Velde can't make it up to Schleck's group, and comes back to the Evans/Menchov group. Kohl and Cobo successfully bridge up to Piepoli, Schleck, and Efimkin.

Kirchen begins to make up time on the Evans group, and Evans attacks! It's not enough to drop his group, but it does increase the gap to Kirchen. Evans rides with Vande Velde, Menchov, Nibali, Sastre, and Ricco.

Up front, Schleck's group begins to splinter. Cobo launches off the front, and Piepoli and Schleck are the only riders who can bridge up.

Nibali yo-yoes off the back of the Evans group. Valverde and Cunego ride together, about 4:30 back of Piepoli, and abut 3:00 behind Sastre, Evans, Menchov, and Vande Velde. Kirchen is 1:00 down on Evans.

Schleck, who started the day 1:50 behind Evans in GC, has build enough of a gap that he's riding (barely) in the virtual yellow jersey, with less than 4km to ride.

In the final 3km, Cobo and Piepoli lift the pace, and Schleck can't match the teammates. They ride together to the finish, with Schleck alone, and the remnants of the Schleck group (Kohl, Efimkin) spread out back toward Evans.

At the line, it's Leonardo Piepoli taking the stage, with Cobo on his wheel, and Schleck about 26 seconds back. It's going to be close for Evans...

As the Evans group comes into the final km, Christian Vande Velde goes to the front and raises the pace, then Riccardo Ricco comes by. Evans bumps the tempo to hold contact, and the group holds together to the line, coming in at about 2:15, giving Evans the yellow jersey by 1 narrow second.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2008 in 2008 Stage 10, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, Leonardo Piepoli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Valverde makes a statement in Stage 1

Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde showed tremendous power in closing down late attacks by Kim Kirchen and Stefan Schumacher and smoking to the first stage victory and overall leadership.

Stage 1 Results and Overall Classification (updated)
1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, @ :01
3) Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
4) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, s.t.
5) Riccardo Ricco, Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.
6) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
7) Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, s.t.
8) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.

It's the first day in yellow for Valverde, in his 4th Tour. He also leads the green jersey competition, which Philippe Gilbert will wear tomorrow. Valverde made time on all the contenders, from 1 second on Evans, 7 on Sastre and Menchov, up to 3:04 on Mauricio Soler, who crashed late in the stage.

Thomas Voeckler takes the first King of the Mountains jersey, by finishing ahead of Bjorn Schroeder, with whom he's tied on points.

Riccardo Ricco is the first leader of the white jersey competition.

Lillian Jegou was awarded the red most combative race numbers for tomorrow.

First lanterne rouge is Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, 4:56 back.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Oscar Freire, Oscar Pereiro, Riccardo Ricco, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2007

Stage 15 on the road

VS. broadcaster picks:
Roll: Schleck
Liggett: Klöden
Trautwig: Contador
Sherwen: Valverde

The early story is the big 25-man breakaway including a couple of former GC candidates. Denis Menchov of Rabobank is there, as is Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana). George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) and Christian Vande Velde and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) are here, as are Caisse d'Epargne's David Arroyo, Euskaltel's Haimar Zubeldia, Inigo Landaluze and Ruben Perez; T-Mobile's Kim Kirchen; FdJeux's Benoit Vaugrenard; Quick Step's Juan Manuel Garate; Saunier Duval's Juan José Cobo; Bouygues Telecom's Laurent Lefevre and Johann Tschopp; AG2R's Ludovic Turpin; Liquigas' Michael Albasini; Patrice Halgand of Credit Agricole, Daniele Bennati and Patxi Vila of Lampre; Bernhard Kohl of Gerolsteiner; Christian Knees of Milram; Vino's Astana teammates Serguei Ivanov and Daniel Navarro.

2nd Category Col de Port:
1) Juan Mañuel Garate, Quick Step, +10 pts
2) Johan Tschopp, Bouygues Telecom, +9pts
3) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +8 pts
4) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, +7 pts
5) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, +6 pts
6) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, +5 pts

1st Intermediate Sprint:
1) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Serguei Ivanov, Astana, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, +2 pts/2 secs

2nd Category Col de Portet d'Aspet:
1) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, +10 pts
2) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, +9 pts
3) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, +8 pts
4) Serguei Ivanov, Astana, +7 pts
5) Ruben Perez, Euskaltel, +6 pts

The 25 have led the way over the day's first two climbs, but today's sting is in the tail, as we finish with a 1st Category, then the hors categorie Port de Bales, then the Col de Peyresourde. It's not a mountaintop finish -- there's a descent of almost 12 kilometers after the top of Col de Peyresourde.

The gap is just under 8 minutes, with 108 kilometers/67 miles ridden and 88 kilometers/55 miles to go.

On the way up the Col de Mente, Rabobank continues to lead the peloton, and the gap is up around 8:29. Near the summit, Juan Manuel Garate outsprinted Laurent Lefevre for max points.

1st Category Col de Mente
1) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, +15 pts
2) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, +13pts
3) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, +11 pts
4) Daniel Bennati, Lampre, +9 pts
5) Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, +8 pts
6) Juan Jose Cobo, Saunier Duval, +7 pts
7) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel, +6 pts
8) Christian Knees, Milram, +5 pts

2nd (final) Intermediate Sprint, Marignac
1) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Benoit Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux +2 pts/2 secs

Just before the start of the HC climb, 5 riders rode away from the 25-man breakaway: Inigo Landaluze of Euskaltel, David Arroyo of Caisse e'Epargne, Johan Tschopp of Bouyges Telecom, Serguei Ivanov of Astana, and Bernhard Kohl of Gerolsteiner quickly built a lead of more than a minute to the 20 other break survivors, and 8:20 to the peloton.

On the climb, everything splintered. Kirchen bridged to the leaders, then Vinokourov attacked, again splitting the lead breakaway, and briefly catching the inital split. Riding with Vinokourov were Menchov, Turpin, Zubeldia, Cobo, and Garate. This group caught the initial attack, then fractured. Tschopp, Kirchen and Arroyo went off the front, while Vinokourov's group shed riders.

Back in the peloton, the pace and the climb cooked Pereiro, Moreau, and others. Rasmussen's group looked much like it did yesterday: Evans, Leipheimer, Contador, Soler, Boogerd, Mayo, Sastre, Chris Horner, Frank Schleck, Michael Boogerd, and a few others. Klöden and Kashechkin ride just behind.

Freddie Rodriguez abandoned today on the road.

Port de Bales (HC)
1) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, +20 pts
2) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, +18 pts
3) Johan Tschopp, Bouygues Telecom, +16 pts
4) Juan Mañuel Garate, Quick Step,+14 pts, at :45
5) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +12 pts
6) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, +10 pts
7) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, +8 pts
8) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, +7 pts
9) Ludovic Turpin, AG2R, +6 pts
10) Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, +5 pts, @1:35

On the descent, with Rasmussen: Boogerd, Contador, Popovych, Leipheimer, Evans, Horner, Mayo, Soler, Klöden, Kashechkin, Sastre, Schleck, Astarloza, Valverde. Others are joining, and Denis Menchov has slipped back to help Rasmussen on the final climb.

Vinokourov attacked at the base of the Peyresourde, matched by Zubeldia, Garate, and Cobo, and they're only 20 seconds behind Arroyo and Kirchen. Garate's dropped. Vinokourov kept attacking, and only Cobo could match, and the pair have caught Kirchen and Arroyo, as the 4 riders lead the race, while the yellow jersey rides 7:15 back.

Zubeldia rides back up to Vinokourov, and in the yellow jersey group, Yaroslav Popovych has attacked off the front. Moreau has caught back on to the yellow jersey group.

Vino goes again, and Kirchen can't match the new pace. Vino sits up, and Kirchen rejoins Cobo, Zubeldia, Arroyo, and Vino.

As they near the steepest part of the Peyresourde, Zubeldia attacks from Vino's group, Cobo drags Vino back to him, and Vino goes hard again! He quickly gets a gap, Kirchen is dropped. Vinokourov rides alone, with Cobo and Zubeldia chasing less than 20 seconds behind. Vinokourov would die before he would be caught on this descent. He's flying.

Back in the field, Contador attacks, Rasmussen slowly matches, but he's working hard. Contador gets a gap, but Rasmussen slowly pulls it back. Evans, Klöden, Sastre, Leipheimer, Astarloza can't handle this pace on the climb, and fall back.

Contador and Rasmussen ride alone toward the summit. Contador launches a couple of tests, but Rasmussen matches every one. As Contador and Rasmussen reach the summit, there's George Hincapie, waiting to escort Contador to the finish, and maybe gap Rasmussen.

Hincapie nails the descent. There's still a small rise at about 2k to go -- Will Contador try to get time on the finish? He does! He attacks again, and Hincapie falls away, but Rasmussen again is able to match his move.

Vinokourov comes to the line with a healthy victory margin, after an epic stage win.

More than 5 minutes later, Contador and Rasmussen came to the line, with Contador leading. They tripped the lights at 5:25, with Leipheimer, Klöden, Sastre, Valverde, and Evans more than a minute behind at 6:27.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2007 in 2007 Stage 15, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Haimar Zubeldia, Iban Mayo, Juan Mauricio Soler, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 20, 2007

Rodriguez blames Stage 11 crash on poor Tour planning

Active.com | Tour de France: Fast Freddie Rodriguez: Stage 11...Where Do I Start?

Freddie RodriguezThree-time US champion Freddie Rodriguez has been vocal about his concerns that Tour organizers should give more weight to rider safety when choosing the finish line of Tour stages.

Rodriguez says the crash that took him out of Stage 11, along with Tom Boonen, Francisco Ventoso (still hurting), Julian Dean, and Fränk Schleck, was clearly the planners' fault:

Once again, they’ve proven to have little respect for the rider’s health in this race. As a pro for over 10 years, I just don't get their ignorance in thinking that the peloton, coming in at 65 km/hr, was going to make it in one piece through an S-turn like that. I would have bet money that a crash would have happened in that corner.

What the organizers keep forgetting is that we have no idea how dangerous the road is ahead at many points. We again put our lives in their hands, and again they have let us down. I guess the saddest part is that I have been trying to be vocal about their mistakes, but they seem to just choose to ignore.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2007 in About the Tour, Frank Schleck, Fred Rodriguez, Julian Dean, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Stage 11: At last, Robbie Hunter

Barloworld's Robbie Hunter took advantage of a late-stage crash to win his first Tour stage in his 6th career Tour appearance. It's the first Tour stage by a South African, or any African.

Hunter had been following Tom Boonen in the last kilometers, but went to the front in time to miss a crash that took out Boonen, Credit Agricole's Julian Dean, Predictor-Lotto's Fred Rodriguez, and others. Hunter then outcornered two Liquigas riders on the right-hander with 500 meters to ride. From there, he kicked all the way to the line, and Murilo Fischer and Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas and Fabian Cancellara of CSC couldn't close him down.

The biggest action of the day was an all-out assault by Astana, who set a blistering pace in a stiff wind that split the field, with AG2R's Christophe Moreau, Erik Zabel, and Thor Hushovd among the riders caught behind the gap. Astana did most of the work to grow the gap, and Moreau crossed the line 3:20 behind Hunter. Astana's attack helped push the average speed for the stage to 48.061 kms/h (29.86 mph), the fastest of this year's Tour.

Hunter now trails Boonen by 11 points in the green jersey competition, 5 points ahead of Erik Zabel.

Two riders pulled out during the stage: Sylvain Calzati of AG2R and Igor Anton of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Stage Top 10:
1) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa
2) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, same time
3) Murilo Fischer, Liquigas, Brazil, s.t.
4) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
5) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
6) Paolo Bossoni, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
7) Claudio Corioni, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
8) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, Belgium, s.t.
9) William Bonney, Credit Agricole, France, s.t.
10) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, s.t.

GC Top 20:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 53:11:38
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 2:35
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ 2:39
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ 2:41
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ 3:08
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, @ 3:39
7) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ 3:50
8) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 3:53
9) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ 5:06
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 5:20
11) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 5:34
12) Frank Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg, @ 5:56
13) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 6:36
14) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, @ 6:38
15) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 6:42
16) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, @ 6:45
17) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia, @ 6:49
18) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 7:10
19) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 8:05
20) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @ 8:16

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2007 in 2007 Stage 11, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Fred Rodriguez, Iban Mayo, Julian Dean, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Robbie Hunter, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2007

Stage 10: Vasseur victorious

The Tour youth movement stepped aside for at least one last stage as a veteran took a smart breakaway victory.

Cedric Vasseur, 36, of Quick Step gave France its first Tour victory of 2007 ten years after his other Tour stage win.

Vasseur was in an 11-man group that was the most powerful breakaway of the Tour so far, but with all more than 45 minutes behind Michael Rasmussen. Over the day's penultimate climb, the group was whittled down to 3, but Jens Voigt and Vasseur were able to chase across to join Patrice Halgand of Credit Agricole, Michael Albasini of Liquigas, and Sandy Casar of Française des Jeux.

Halgand tried to shed the others on the day's final climb, but every attack was matched, and the 5 came down into Marseilles together. Albasini shadowed Voigt, while the three Frenchman rode offset in a line, with Vasseur at the back as they came into the final kilometer. With less than 300 meters to ride, but a little beyond sprint range, Vasseur went full throttle along the right barricades, and the surprise was enough to take the win ahead of Sandy Casar sprinting left of the centerline and Albasini in between.

Tom Boonen showed he's serious about defending his green jersey, riding near the front of the field all day, and winding up the Quick Step train to launch him in the field sprint for 12th place on the day. Boonen was outfoxed by Sebastien Chavanel, but clipped Erik Zabel, his primary competition, taking 13th on the day to Zabel's 16th.

Top 20:
1) Cédric Vasseur, Quick Step, France in 5:20:24
2) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, France, same time
3) Michael Albasini, Liquigas, Switzerland, s.t.
4) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, France, s.t.
5) Jens Voigt, CSC, Germany, s.t.
6) Staf Scheirlinckx, Cofidis, Belgium, @ :36
7) Paolo Bossoni, Lampre, Italy, same time
8) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, Germany, @ 1:01
9) Aleksandr Kuschynski, Liquigas, Belarus, @ 2:34
10) Juan Antonio Flecha, Rabobank, Spain, same time
11) Andriy Grivko, Milram, Kazakhstan, @ 3:42
12) Sébastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, @ 10:36
12) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, same time
14) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval, Spain, s.t.
15) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa, s.t.
16) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
17) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
18) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, s.t.
19) Christophe Rinero, Saunier Duval, France, s.t.
20) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, s.t.

Overall Standings after Stage 10:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, in 49:23:48
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at 2:35
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, at 2:39
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, at 2:41
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, at 3:08
6) Christophe Moreau, Ag2R, at 3:18
7) Carlos Sastre, Team CSC, at 3:39
8) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at 3:50
9) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, at 3:53
10) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, at 5:06
11) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 5:20
12) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, at 5:34
13) Fränk Schleck, Team CSC, at 5:56
14) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, at 6:36
15) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 6:42
16) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, at 6:45
17) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, at 6:49
18) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, at 7:10
19) David Arroyo, Caisse d’Epargne, at 7:33
20) Tadej Valjavec, Lampre, at 7:45
21) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, at 8:05

CSC moves back into the lead in the team competition, courtesy of Voigt's long day in the break, and Halgand takes the most aggressive rider jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2007 in 2007 Stage 10, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Cedric Vasseur, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2007

Stage 8: Chicken Run 3: The Dane Reigns

Michael Rasmussen surprised absolutely no one with a long breakaway, but no one could counter the Tour's double King of the Mountains, who climbed right up to the podium's top step, taking over the race lead before tomorrow's rest day.

Rasmussen attacked from more than 80 kilometers/50 miles, and was shadowed for much of the day by David Arroyo, who started the day 2 seconds behind Rasmussen in the GC. It was his 3rd career Tour stage win, after a long escape on Stage 16 in the Alps last year (the day Floyd Landis lost so much time) and a long escape on Stage 9 in the Alps in 2005.

Out of the race is T-Mobile's team leader Michael Rogers, who overshot a lefthander on the day's longest descent, injuring his chin, wrist, and knee. Rogers, who had matched Rasmussen stroke for stroke, climbed back on the bike, then drifted back through the field before finally pulling off the road and out of the race. His teammate, sprinter Mark Cavendish, had already abandoned on the day after Linus Gerdemann's big stage win.

Another Australian, CSC's veteran hard man Stuart O'Grady, also crashed out of the race today.

Other than Rogers, the GC men were content to sit in, awaiting the day's last climb, where Christophe Moreau and then Iban Mayo finally threw down the gauntlet. Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador, Fränk Schleck, and Cadel Evans mixed it up at the front, while a second group of team leaders hovered a minute behind, featuring Alexandre Vinokourov, Andeas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Haimar Zubeldia, and Manuel Beltran.

Top 20:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 4:49:40
2) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:47
3) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 3:12
4) Christophe Moreau, A2R, France, at 3:13
5) Fränk Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg, at 3:13
6) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 3:13
7) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 3:13
8) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:31
9) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 3:35
10) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:35
11) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 3:59
12) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:59
13) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 3:59
14) Manuel Beltran, Liquigas, Spain, at 4:13
15) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 4:13
16) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, Spain, at 4:29
17) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 4:29
18) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 4:29
19) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 4:29
20) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, at 5:05

Overall standings after Stage 8:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 15:37:42
2) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, at :43
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:51
5) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 2:52
6) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:53
7) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 3:06
8) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:10
9) Fränk Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg, at 3:14
10) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 3:19
11) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:35
12) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:46
13) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, at 3:53
14) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 3:54
22) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 5:23
25) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA, at 6:29

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2007 in 2007 Stage 8, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christophe Moreau, Frank Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

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.

You can track the action in real time by subscribing to my Twitter feed.

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 | Comments (0)

June 29, 2007

Z's in! CSC announces Tour roster

David Zabriskie
David Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

Team CSC | Team CSC Announces Line-Up for Tour de France 2007

    Team CSC 2007 Tour roster:
  • Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway)
  • Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
  • Inigo Cuesta (Spain)
  • Stuart O'Grady (Australia)
  • Carlos Sastre (Spain)
  • Fränk Schleck (Luxembourg)
  • Christian Vande Velde (USA)
  • Jens Voigt
  • David Zabriskie (USA)

Two of the peloton's best time triallists in Cancellara and Zabriskie and two possible GC threats in Sastre and Schleck.

Left off were veterans Bobby Julich, and Karsten Kroon.

Update: And I somehow left off Jens Voigt, leaving CSC with only 8 riders. Fixed.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, Bobby Julich, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Dekker takes TdS Stage 6, Efimkin in yellow

With a major hailstorm striking during the race, organizers shortened the day's stage, skipping the Nufenenpass, and restarting the stage at Ulrichen at the 95 kilometers to ride point. Some riders reportedly needed medical treatment from hail strikes, and some team cars were damaged.

With the finish line just 1.7 kilometers below the day's last climb, the peloton's climbers had their eye on today's stage. Lampre's Damiano Cunego attacked on the slope, to be matched by (who else?) Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni.

When the select group brought those two back, Simoni's teammate José Angel Gomez Marchante attacked, but Cunego countered (shadowed by Simoni), and as the top of the climb approached, it looked like the strong group of 8 riders, including two Vladimirs, Karpets and Efimkin, as well as Simoni, Cunego, and Gomez Marchante, would come down to a sprint.

But Rabobank had a rider sitting quietly at the back of that group, fighting to hang on, and perhaps 200 meters before the top, Thomas Dekker gapped the leading group. Once over the top, Dekker streaked away on the downhill to the finish, going hard, tongue out, all the way to the 200-meter mark, when he finally felt comfortable sitting up, zipping the jersey, and enjoying the big win.

Former race leader Frank Shleck managed to stay with the climbers until the day's last 5 kilometers or so, but lost 1:20 on the day, and passes the jersey to Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Efimkin.

Dekker, the Tour of Romandy winner this year, said he was here starting his training for the Tour, and was surprised to feel so strong.

Tour of Switzerland Stage 6 Top 10
1) Thomas Dekker, Netherlands, Rabobank
2) Gerrit Glomser, Austria, Volksbank
3) Gilberto Simoni, Italy, Saunier Duval-Prodir
4) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
5) Damiano Cunego, Italy, Lampre
6) José Angel Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
7) Vladimir Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
8) Matteo Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
9) Andreas Klöden, Germany, Astana
10) Uran

Overall standings after Stage 6
1) Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
3) Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, CSC
4) Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
5) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
6) Kim Kirchen
7) Damiano Cunego
8) Xavier Florencio
9) Gilberto Simoni
10) Stijn Devolder

Bennati holds the sprint jersey, while Alessandro Proni holds the King of the Mountains jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Damiano Cunego, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Dekker, Tour de Suisse 2007, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Stage 17 wrapup

Eurosport | Legendary Landis

Eurosport calls it “a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the Tour de France.” ProCycling: “an exploit worthy of Eddy Merckx.” Bob Roll says it's “the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France.”

What Floyd Landis did today is all that even if you completely ignore his ride yesterday. Throw that in, and it's just incomparable.

The analysis after yesterday's Landis disaster was that he was out, because none of the GC riders' teams would give Landis enough rope today. The problem with that analysis is that it didn't consider that Landis might just go out and take as much as he needed. That's what he did. Landis versus 142 riders today just wasn't a fair fight; the peloton needed more guys.

Landis, quoted in The Guardian:

“I want to win the Tour, whatever I['ve] got to do, if I had a bad day, I had to make up for it,” said Landis.

“I told everybody last night that if somebody wants to win this race they're going to have to earn it.”

It was CSC who took charge of trying to lasso Landis on the day's final climb, but their Fränk Schleck said they also made an effort to reel him in when he escaped:

“We didn't let him go,” said the 26-year-old, “he was just so strong at the beginning and we didn't think he would make it to the end. He made it to the end and he's a f***ing strong rider. Chapeau to Landis.”

Carlos Sastre, CSC's GC man, said he expected Landis to attack today:

“I saw him this morning and I thought he would attack, but he just split the peloton in thirty pieces. He went like an eagle on the first climb and against that you can't do anything.”

I find myself wishing for the occasional 125-kilometer, 3-4 monster climb individual time trial.


VeloNews | Resurgent Landis wins Stage 17; Pereiro holds yellow

“It would not be fair if I told you what happens next,” joked Landis, his answer referring to the incredible litany of upsets that have highlighted this so remarkable of Tours. “But it's obvious I would like to win this race.”

IHT.com | Tour de France: Uphill battle to epic comeback

NPR.org | Landis Wins Stage to Narrow 8-Minute Gap (audio clip, interview with Landis)

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Jambon Report - Stage 17

Subtitled “BEST. STAGE. EVER.” and featuring some excellent pictures from Ben Ross.

procycling.com | What they said in Morzine

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Frank Schleck | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2006

Schleck conquers l'Alpe d'Huez

CSC's Amstel Gold winner Frank Schleck rode away from 2004 Giro champion Damiano Cunego near the top of the legendary Alpe d'Huez to take his first Tour de France stage win.

The 26-year-old Schleck got into a big break with teammates Jens Voigt and David Zabriskie, and each helped thin the herd by setting a wicked pace on the early slopes of the climb. Voigt chased back onto the break after a late crash, went right to the front, and still had the power to pace Sastre back into contention, cracking Cadel Evans, later on the climb.

Landis back in yellow

Meanwhile, a few minutes behind them, the longed-for battle for the yellow jersey commenced, with Floyd Landis and Andreas Klöden riding more than a minute ahead of Denis Menchov, Cadel Evans, and reigning race leader Oscar Pereiro, and putting a few seconds into CSC's Carlos Sastre and Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer.

Klöden and Landis each matched the other's moves, slowly whittling their group down, until they were the only GC contenders left, riding with three survivors of the early break. Each was helped by a teammate who got up the road in the break; Landis by Merckx, who paced the small group for more than a kilometer, and Klöden by Mazzoleni, who did likewise near the top of the mountain. When OLN's team questioned Phonak's performance, saying Landis was alone on the mountain, they apparently blotted Merckx completely out, despite a very strong performance by Merckx, who recently extended his contract through next year.

Top 10:
1) Frank Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg, in 4:52:22
2) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, Italy, at :11
3) Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas, Italy, at 1:10
4) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, same time
5) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, same time
6) Ruben Lobato, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 1:14
7) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, France, at 1:18
8) Eddy Mazzoleni, T-Mobile, Italy, at 1:28
9) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:35
10) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, USA, at 1:49
11) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 2:21
14) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:49
15) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, same time
16) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, same time
Full results

1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, in 69:00:05
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, at :10
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 2:02
4) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 2:12
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 2:17
6) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 2:29
7) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 2:56
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 5:01
9) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, USA, at 6:18
10) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 6:20

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 15: Up to Alpe d'Huez

Vila and de la Fuente are back with the lead group, which has encountered some rain on the way down to the village of Bourg d'Oisans. The gap to the peloton is 3:40.

Vila and Cunego lead de la Fuente and the other escapees. Voigt is off the back of that group. He might be setting up to join Sastre near the foot of the climb. Zabriskie moves up and leads the break. He's showing off more moves than this morning (at right).

Rabobank is working at the head of the field. Sergei Honchar has also been up front, and now Giuseppe Guerini, a former winner on l'Alpe d'Huez, has attacked from the yellow jersey's group.

Roads have dried out, and it turns out Voigt crashed. He's back with the leaders now. It's a 3:13 gap with 15 kilometers to ride, and falling fast. The leaders are getting ready to climb.

They've hit the climb, and Zabriskie is gone, Arrietta is gone. Chavanel, Garzelli, and Hincapie are at the back of the lead group, with Cunego and Lobato leading. De la Fuente has come off. There are 5 leaders: Schleck, Lobato, Cunego, Mazzoleni, and David Arroyo. Schleck leads, now Cunego comes around. Arroyo is falling away.

Back in the GC group, there are 5 men: Landis loses his last teammate, and it's 4: Klöden, Rogers, Landis, Cadel Evans. Menchov isn't here, Pereiro isn't here.

Up front Schleck and Cunego have ridden away; Mazzoleni and Logato have them in sight.

Landis sits third wheel, and Menchov is back! Three other riders are 15 meters back, then there's a big gap back. Sinkewitz is well down in the field. Boogerd is just behind the Landis group, and probably Rasmussen with him.

The Landis group isn't pushing the pace too hard, and may let Boogerd, Rasmussen and Leipheimer sneak back on. Klöden has pressed the pace, and Rogers is gone, and Menchov is gapped. Azevedo rides with Pereiro 25 seconds or less back. Klöden leads Landis, then Evans, with Menchov off the back, but likely to have Boogerd and Rasmussen's help momentarily.

Pereiro is fighting, riding his own pace. He's got Chris Horner on his wheel. Menchov is 100 meters or so behind the leaders. Landis looks comfortable.

Voigt fights to bring Sastre back up onto Menchov's wheel. Voigt and Sastre push the pace, and Menchov is falling behind Leipheimer, Voigt and Sastre. Voigt = major badass. With 10 kilometers to ride Schleck and Cunego have 2:50 on the Landis trio. Eddy Mazzoleni is climbing back up to the leaders.

Landis takes the opportunity to gap Evans and Klöden, but Klöden goes right back up to him, but Evans can't. He's falling back! He's caught by Sastre and Leipheimer, who pass him easily.

Mazzoleni has caught Cunego and Schleck.

Landis and Klöden catch Vila, and now Euskaltel's Inigo Landaluze. Leipheimer and Sastre are closing down Landis and Klöden. The gap is no more than 5 seconds. The leaders lead Landis and Klöden by 2:35 with 7.2 kilometers to race.

Landis is about to get some help: Leipheimer and Sastre have coupled up with Landis and Klöden, and they catch Merckx, and Landis attacks across to his teammate, takes one of Axel's bottles. and Klöden and Sastre match the attack, but Leipheimer is gapped.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Frank Schleck | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

CSC names Tour nine; Cancellara left off

Team CSC | Team CSC's Tour de France line-up 2006

CSC named the nine men it hopes can lead Ivan Basso to his first Tour de France victory in July.

It's a deep squad, featuring both guys not named “Armstrong” to wear the yellow jersey last year (Zabriskie and Voigt), 1998 Tour podium finisher Bobby Julich, and lots of love from Luxembourg: National champion (for at least another week) and 2006 Amstel Gold winner Frank Schleck, and 2006 Tour of Luxembourg winner Christian Vande Velde.

Biggest surprise is probably the exclusion of Fabian Cancellara; he's probably a victim of the missing team time trial.

Team director Bjarne Riis:

“We are bringing a fantastic team to Tour de France this year. When you look at the names, you cannot help but notice, that this is a team to be reckoned with – a team which has the foundation to be one of the dominating ones in the 2006 edition of the Tour. We go to France this year with one ambition: To win with Ivan Basso. After his victory in the Giro, and with the training he has done in the period since then, I have no doubt he is ready for this next big challenge. He has the class, the willpower and also the team behind him to be one of the favorites,” adds Bjarne Riis.
    CSC 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Ivan Basso
  • Carlos Sastre
  • Fränk Schleck
  • Jens Voigt
  • Giovanni Lombardi
  • Stuart O'Grady
  • Bobby Julich
  • David Zabriskie
  • Christian Vande Velde

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ullrich takes Tour de Suisse with time trial win

CyclingNews.com | Ullrich takes second Tour de Suisse title

Ullrich storming through rain to stage, Tour de Suisse winJan Ullrich took a 2nd career Tour de Suisse win, winning the final stage time trial by more than 20 seconds over his nearest competition.

Ullrich mastered the stage despite a heavy rain that started shortly before der Kaiser took to the streets. Nevertheless, Ullrich was 12 seconds up on race leader Koldo Gil at the first time check, and only got faster from there.

Ullrich's victory in his preferred Tour de France warmup showed he could stay close to the climbers on the climbing stages, and that he's still the man to beat in a time trial. On a Tour route widely considered to favor time trial specialists, he looks well-positioned to take a second career Tour win.

Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, active in the final stages of Saturday's Stage 8, was 2nd on the day, 22 seconds behind Ullrich. He was followed by Angel Vicioso of Astaná-Würth at 31 seconds, and Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic at 46 seconds and Ullrich's T-Mobile teammate Linus Gerdemann at 51 seconds. The best placed American was next: CSC's Christian Vande Velde, 6th at 52 seconds.

Koldo Gil, who came into the day leading the race, with a 50 second gap to Ullrich, was a respectable 9th on the day, at 1:14, to save 2nd overall. Jorg Jaksche likewise slipped one place with a 10th place finish on the day.

Brajkovic was able to move into the overall Top 5 with his excellent ride.

    2006 Tour of Switzerland
    Overall Top 10:

  1. Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, in 38:21:36
  2. Koldo Gil, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :24
  3. Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at 1:03
  4. Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 1:44
  5. Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:33
  6. Frank Schleck, CSC, at 2:56
  7. Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:31
  8. Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 4:20
  9. Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at 4:27
  10. Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:01


VeloNews.com | Ullrich takes Swiss Tour with strong TT

VeloNews quotes Ullrich:

“It's so close before the Tour de France, and it proves to me that I have the performance and I'm ready for the Tour,” he said. “It's the last little bit. It's really the last polishing...Now I already feel that I'm at 90 percent and I can work on the last 10 before the Tour de France.”

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Linus Gerdemann, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006

Contador takes Suisse Stage 8

Astaña-Würth's Alberto Contador attacked 33 kilometers out on the last major climb of the day to take the last road stage of the Tour of Switzerland.

Cadel Evans tried to bridge up, attacking on a 4th category near the finish line to gap the surviving leaders, but never got within 20 seconds of Contador. He was joined by Euskaltel's David Herrero maybe 2k later. The pair was able to hold off T-Mobile's chase to the finish, and Herrero led Evans in for 2nd perhaps 3 seconds ahead of Gil, Ullrich, and the other leaders.

Stage Results:

1) Contador
2) Herrero
3) Evans
4) Moos
5) Gil
6) Botcharev
7) Ullrich
8) Gerdemann
9) Jaksche

Gil holds 1st on the GC. Jose Gomez didn't finish with the leaders, and will fall out of 6th overall. Cycling.TV's Brian Smith thinks Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic is a rider to watch tomorrow; he has a chance to move up against weaker time trialers.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 17, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

Freire takes cagey win at Tour de Suisse

Oscar Freire took a shortcut to a stage win on Friday.

Freire survived a 20-rider break that went off around the 50-kilometer mark, along with Matthew White of Discovery Channel. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers and Lampre's Salvatore Commesso were in a six-man group that bridged up shortly later.

Commesso and Rogers went off the front at 12 kilometers to ride, and Freire and White bridged 5 kilometers later, to create a high-quality break, with Commesso notably avoiding any work.

Then, with only about 5 kilometers to ride, and Davitamon-Lotto and QuickStep driving the peloton nearer and nearer, Freire bunny-hopped up onto and across a median as the break took the long way around a divided highway.

By the time the break went right, straight, and back to the left to join the lane Freire had followed, the triple world champion had 5 seconds on the trio, and rode all out to the line. His breakmates were absorbed in the last kilometer, and the peloton was breathing down his neck, but Freire took the win, with just enough time in hand to zip his jersey.

Daniele Bennati, Erik Zabel, and Sebastian Hinault led in the field 3 seconds back.

Sixteen riders exited the race today, with Michael Rasmussen not taking the start, and Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Marco Velo, and Dario Cioni, among others, not finishing. Six Team LPR riders exited, leaving only Mikhaylo Khalilov in the race for the Italian squad, which was apparently hit by il virus intestinale.

There was a gap in the field, so Koldo Gil lost 4 seconds from his lead in the overall.

Current GC:
1) Koldo Gil,Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 33:22:21
2) Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at :30
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at :50
4) Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:03
5) Jose Gomez, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 2:15
6) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, at 2:22
7) Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:36
8) Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:45
9) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:30
10) Alexandre Botcharov, Credit Agricole, at 3:42


CyclingNews Stage Summary | Results | Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 16, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

Tour de Suisse Stage 6 underway

Simon Gerrans of AG2R is alone ahead of Rabobank's Michael “Spider” Rasmussen nearing the top of the final climb, long descent to La Punt to come.

Jan Ullrich and Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile, Koldo Gil and José Gomez of Saunier Duval and Jorg Jaksche of Astaná-Würth are chasing. José Gomez goes off the front, gets 25 yards, and Ullrich matches it, but loses Kirchen off the back. Now Koldo Gil takes his turn, and he's immediately put 10 seconds into Gomez, Ullrich, and Jaksche.

Now Gil and then Gomez, Jaksche and Ullrich have pulled by Michael Rasmussen as if he's riding backwards. Only Gerrans is still up the road.

Overall leader Angel Vicioso is about 1:40 back of Gerrans, but Gil is less than 20 seconds behind with 2 kilometers to climb. Ullrich's group is maybe 30 seconds behind Gil.

Gerrans is caught. Now it's just Gil riding for the stage win and race leadership. He's got 1:36 on Vicioso's group, and :37 on Ullrich, Jaksche, and Gomez, who is occasionally getting gapped off the back of the German pair.

Jaksche has 6 seconds on Gil in the GC, but Gil has gone out to 40 seconds on the road. Gerrans has caught on with Ullrich, and now Gomez and Gerrans are dropped. It's Ullrich and Jaksche attacking together as Gil goes over the top of the climb.

Vicioso, Giampaolo Caruso, Frank Schleck and  Janez Brajkovic of Discovery Channel go over the top at 1:50, working together but losing time on the half-dozen riders ahead of them. We'll see if anyone can make up time on the 7 kilometers left to descend.

Ullrich and Jaksche are at 34 seconds with Gil at 4 kilometers to ride.

Looks like Gil will stay away, and will take the race lead — the Germans are at :35, with the yellow jersey group with Vicioso at 1:56, while Gil is in the last 2 kilometers.

Gil is riding hard all the way to the line, pumping hard in the last 100 meters to get every second, and he takes the stage win. Meanwhile Jaksche has attacked to gap Jan Ullrich. He's got 3-4 seconds on Ullrich, and he comes in around 36 seconds. Ullrich is at :40. Here comes Gomez for 4th at 1:39; Gerrans 5th at 1:48, Schleck is leading in the yellow jersey, at 2:07 with Brajkovic, Caruso, and Vicioso.

Linus Gerdemann is coming in with another Saunier Duval - he'll fall back out of his 3rd overall, coming in at about 3:28.

The overall top 5 will be Gil, Jaksche at :34 Ullrich at :54, Gomez at 2:00, Vicioso.

Ullrich is right where he needs to be. Even though he's 3rd overall, he can probably take all the necessary time out of Gil and Jaksche on Sunday's time trial, and there's still a lot of racing before that.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2006 in Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Tour de Suisse Stage 5 underway

With 5 kilometers to ride, Discovery Channel's Jurgen Van Goolen and Phonak's Steve Morabito have almost 2 minutes on the surviving pack.

T-Mobile is driving a peloton that's constantly shrinking, but still has 30 or so riders. Jan Ullrich is here, Giuseppe Guerini is doing a lot of work for T-Mobile. Race commentators aren't sure if Linus Gerdemann is here — he's 2 seconds out of the race lead right now.

With just over 3 k, Morabito launches, but Van Goolen matches his effort.

Still in no-man's land is Kjell Carlström of Liquigas and Alexandre Usov.

Usov is caught. Calrström has only 15 seconds on the T-Mobile train.

The 2 leaders are down to 1:16 lead with less than 3 kilometers to ride.

Leaders go under 2 k and back in the field Alberto Contador launches! He's caught Carlstöm, and they've formed a duo. Carlstöm's out of gas, he's no help for Contador.

A Saunier Duval rider has attacked across to Contador. The two leaders have less than a kilometer to ride.

Morabito is lead wheel, Van Goolen comes alongside, now Morabito sits in on Van Goolen, and with less than 300 meters, Morabito slingshots powerfully away from his breakmate, and it's a win for the Swiss!

Van Goolen barely survives to take 2nd ahead of a charging Alberto Contador. Ullrich is 6th, Bettini is here, Frank Schleck is among the leaders, Angel Vicioso, yesterday's winner, Jorg Jaksche, and Gerdemann are all here, but no race leader Nick Nuyens, so Astaná-Würth's Vicioso moves into the leader's jersey, ahead of Jaksche and Gerdemann.

By the way, Astaná-Würth is still riding in the “We're not Liberty Seguros” jerseys, with the white chest and Würth on the stomach, side panels, and sleeves.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Frank Schleck, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

Nuyens takes Suisse Stage 3 and race lead

VeloNews.com | Nuyens moves into Swiss Tour lead

QuickStep's 26-year-old Nick Nuyens kept the freshest legs in a late-stage breakaway Monday to take the 3rd stage of the Tour de Suisse.

As a teammate of Paolo Bettini, also in the selection, Nuyens didn't work as hard to make the break stick, and easily outkicked T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann, Astaná-Würth's Jorg Jacksche, and Saunier Duval's Koldo Gil.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich was near the front for most of the day, and he, Bettini, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, David Canada, Giampaolo Caruso, and the 4 who would break away formed a superstrong group of 10 with about 20 kilometers to ride.

Michael Rasmussen, Bradley McGee, and Robbie McEwen were shelled by the high tempo, and came in around 4 minutes back.


cyclingnews.com | Stage 3 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2006

Valverde again; wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

VeloNews.com | Valverde wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège Alejandro Valverde followed up Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne victory with a big win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. Michael Boogerd and Valverde's teammate Joaquin Rodriguez were caught with 6 km to ride; among the leaders with 5 km to ride were Davitamon-Lotto's Chris Horner alongside Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, Danilo Di Luca, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Diluca, Damiano Cunego, and Frank Schleck and Ivan Basso of CSC. With 1k to ride, Sinkewitz attacked, with Basso following, but he couldn't get away. In the select sprint, Valverde was the strongest, continuing the European youth movement -- Valverde's 25. He's also the first Spaniard ever to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Top 10: 1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, in 6:21:32 2) Paolo Bettini, Quickstep, same time                                   3) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t. 4) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, s.t. 5) Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank, s.t. 6) Miguel Perdiguero, Phonak, s.t. 7) Frank Schleck, CSC, s.t.                                               8) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, CSC, s.t. 9) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, s.t.                                              10) Ivan Basso, CSC, s.t. Also: cyclingnews.com | Liège-Bastogne-Liège live ticker

Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kashechkin, Chris Horner, Danilo Di Luca, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 17, 2006

Amstel Gold photo galleries

GrahamWatson.com | Amstel Gold Race

Wesemann was strongest but second Prerace favorite Bettini and Wesemann Schleck makes the decisive break
Wesemann, Bettini, Schleck
Graham Watson


cyclingnews.com | 41st Amstel Gold Race photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on April 17, 2006 in Frank Schleck, Paolo Bettini, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

Frank Schleck takes Amstel Gold

Eurosport | Schleck's golden gift

CSC's Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck has been in more breaks this season than Allan Iverson. Sunday, he took it to the hoop.

Schleck attacked out of a 10-man break with 9 kilometers to ride, to beat Steffen Wesemann of T-Mobile and perennial Amstel podium finisher Michael Boogerd of Rabobank. Shleck is the first Luxembourgian to win Amstel, and the first to win a classic since Marcel Erzner took Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1954.

T-Mobile had three men in the lead group late, but Wesemann couldn't match Schleck's move. Pre-race favorite Paolo Bettini of Quickstep was 8th on the day, back 53 seconds.

Somebody noted the youth movement apparent in the classics so far, with Boonen, Cancellara, and Schleck all 26 or less.

Don't forget OLN has same-day coverage of Amstel Gold this afternoon on Cyclysm Sundays.

Top 10:
1) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, 6:25:39
2) Steffen Wesemann, T-Mobile, at :22
3) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank at :46
4) Karsten Kroon, Team CSC, at :48
5) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, same time
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
7) Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak, s.t.
8) Paolo Bettini, QuickStep, at :53
9) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, at :57
10) Sergey Ivanov, T-Mobile, at 1:07


Forum.fok.nl | Amstel gold fan pics

Daily Peloton | Amstel Gold live ticker

cyclingnews.com | 41st Amstel Gold results

Posted by Frank Steele on April 16, 2006 in Davide Rebellin, Frank Schleck, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2006

Milan-San Remo wrapup

PezCycling News | Milano-Sanremo 2006: New Prince Crowned in Primavera!

Pozzato's perfect move
Pozzato's perfect move
AP/Antonio Callani
I just finished watching the OLN coverage of Milan-San Remo. What an awesome race. Filippo Pozzato played it exactly right both strategically and tactically. Reading the live text feeds on the web, I couldn't tell whether the Frank Schleck group with Sanchez and Pozzato got swallowed up or not, and now I see why.

The peloton made contact with the six leaders, who were fighting every inch of the way, so instead of the typically engulfing end to the break, the break members stayed out at the tip of the spear. As Milram tried to set up its finishing sprint, coming around the break remnants, Igor Astarloa (the OLN commentators thought it was Rinaldo Nocentini of Acqua e Sapone) just put the hammer down. Pozzato not only caught him, but came around him, charging super hard, and the gap held up. Astarloa wound up 11th.

If you watched the TV coverage, VeloNews fingers Ivan Gutierrez as the Caisse d'Espargne rider trying to wave off the motorcycles -- he thought they were hovering a little too close to Petacchi's chasers, giving the peloton a bit of a draft.

Petacchi was all class in defeat:

"I was in top form, but I didn't have the luck today," Petacchi said. "You need to have the luck to win Milan-San Remo. Our team rode great today and I wanted to pay back their efforts with a victory. But my compliments go to Pozzato. Quick Step worked the tactics perfectly with Pozzato on the wheel and they left the chase up to us."

Top 10:

1) Filippo Pozzato, Quick Step, in 6:29:41

2) Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, same time

3) Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, s.t.

4) Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, s.t.

5) Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, s.t.

6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.

7) Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas, s.t.

8) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.

9) Martin Elmiger, Phonak, s.t.

10) Matteo Carrara, Lampre, s.t.


VeloNews.com | Pozzato outfoxes favorites to win Milan-San Remo

Daily Peloton | 97th Milan-San Remo Rider Comments

rec.bicycles.racing | What's written on Pozzato's right arm?

VeloNews.com | Full Results

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Igor Astarloa, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graham Watson Milan-San Remo photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Milan-San Remo

Pozzato, Ballan, Astarloa, Schleck, Nocentini and Sanchez Pozzato wins, Boonen celebrates
Pozzato in a late break; Boonen celebrates Pippo's placing
Graham Watson

If you check out the left-hand image above at GrahamWatson.com (just click through), you can see that Sanchez at right isn't too happy with Pozzato disrupting the break's rhythm.


cyclingnews.com | Milan-San Remo photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2006 in Frank Schleck, Igor Astarloa, Milan-San Remo 2006, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Gonzalez takes stage and Tour de Suisse

VeloNews.com | Gonzalez attacks, wins Tour of Switzerland

Euskaltel-Euskadi were having an atrocious season. Now, after Inigo Landaluze grabbed victory at the Dauphiné Libéré and Aitor Gonzalez turned up the heat on the hardest stage of the race to win the Tour of Switzerland, the Basque team looks like a team to watch in the mountains at the Tour de France.

Gonzalez drove the train on Saturday, when Pablo Lastras took the stage win, but on Sunday, he was riding with the overall in sight.

Gonzalez escaped on the Ulrichen-Ulrichen stage (no relation), attacking about 1 km into the climb of the Furka Pass, and quickly put Jan Ullrich in difficulty. Michael Rogers was able to hang with Jens Voigt and Frank Schleck, who together dropped Ullrich, who rode his own pace for the rest of the stage.

Rogers never closed down Gonzalez, despite Schleck, Atienza, Chris Horner, and Leonardo Piepoli riding alongside for the last part of the climb, and most of the descent, so Rogers dropped to 2nd on GC. Schleck had a chance to kick Ullrich off the podium, while Horner stood to climb well up the standings. Schleck didn't get the time he needed, finishing 4th, 5 seconds behind Ullrich, but Horner did move up to a 5th place overall, at 2:02 behind Gonzalez.

Top 10:
1) Aitor Gonzalez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:03:52
2) Frank Schleck, CSC, at :46
3) Daniel Atienza, Cofidis, at :58
4) Michael Rogers, Quick Step, same time
5) Chris Horner, Saunier Duval-Prodir, same time
6) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, same time
7) Beat Zberg, Gerolsteiner, at 1:42
8) Alexandre Moos, Phonak, same time
9) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak, same time
10) Koldo Gil Perez, Liberty Seguros, same time
11) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, same time

Ullrich on the TdS:

"I'm happy with my Tour de Suisse," said Ullrich in a brief statement before disappearing into his team's bus. "It was a beautiful race, and it was good preparation for the Tour de France, which was what I intended."


Eurosport | Gonzalez steals Swiss race

procycling.com | Aitor re-emerges to claim Swiss crown

cyclingnews.com | Gonzalez wins the Tour de Suisse

Cyclingnews spoke to a bitter Michael Rogers after the finish, and asked whether he was satisfied with the fact that he did everything he could today. "Yeah, but really disappointed," said Rogers.

It seemed only Horner was helping you? "Yeah, well, Horner had his own objectives."

cyclingnews.com | Tour de Suisse Stage 9 and Overall Results

Posted by Frank Steele on June 20, 2005 in Aitor Gonzalez, Chris Horner, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rogers, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (1)