July 07, 2009

Stage 4 TTT: Astana firing on all cylinders

If yesterday's Stage 3 was The Columbia Show, today was Astana Hour. Whatever the situation on the team bus, they worked as a single cohesive unit on the twisties around Montpellier, and built time gaps on many of the Tour's GC threats.

Early on, some big names hit the pavement, including Rabobank's Denis Menchov and Lampre's Alessandro Ballan. Four Bbox Bouygues Telecom riders misjudged a bend, and wound up in the rough. Later, Skil-Shimano's Piet Rooijakers broke his arm and left the course, leaving 178 riders in the race.

After the stage, many riders complained that the course was too technical for a TTT.

Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt, one of the hardest men in the sport, said he saw Quick Step take a spill even before they had reached the start line:

“We have bikes worth 10,000 Euro, and in the end we can't use them properly because we're just busy trying to hold balance instead of putting our power on the pedals."

Cadel Evans, who has made a point in the press how much more relaxed he is in this year's Tour, sprinted away from his squad as they approached the finish, leaving his teammates struggling to the line in 49:05, which would be 13th best on the day.

Garmin lost 4 riders in the first 12k, but were left with their five best TT men, who set new best times at the final three intermediate checkpoints, and finished in 46:29.

Saxo Bank, with yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara doing long, draft-horse quality pulls, turned in a very strong 47:09.

Columbia, possibly feeling the effects of that 30k race to the line on Stage 3, came in with a respectable 47:28, but trailed Garmin, Liquigas, and Saxo Bank at every intermediate check.

And then there was Astana. Leading the team competition, they were last to start, and they rotated smoothly with big pulls from Klöden, Leipheimer, Contador, and Armstrong. At the first time check, they were a little slower than Caisse d'Epargne, which had kicked the day off with a jackrabbit start they couldn't maintain, but Astana led at every later checkpoint. Once Saxo Bank finished, everyone was looking toward 46:29, the time that would put 7-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong back into yellow.

In the last few k, it became clear it would be pretty close. In the final k, it looked very close. In the last meters, it looked insanely, ridiculously close, until Astana came through in … 46:29. The Tour's offical website put Armstrong into yellow (and I followed suit), but not so fast. That 46:29 put Cancellara and Armstrong in a tie, so officials looked at the fractions of a second in Stage 1, and found that Cancellara had held the race lead by .22 second.

Officially, the leaderboard shows Cancellara first, with Armstrong second “at :00.” There was a suggestion (notably from Robbie McEwen via Twitter) that Armstrong sat up to leave Cancellara in yellow; I've watched it a couple of times, and can't see why you would go that hard to the line if you were that close to taking a yellow jersey you didn't want.

Of note: Liquigas was 4th, a big boost for Roman Kreuziger; my apologies to the Euskaltels, who were middle of the pack, finishing 10th at 2:09. Sastre ends the day 29th at 2:44, Evans 35th at 2:59, Pereiro 40th at 3:03. Menchov, who looked invincible in May, is in 72nd, 3:52 back.

Top 10:
1) Astana, in 46:29
2) Garmin-Slipstream, at :18
3) Team Saxo Bank, at :40
4) Liquigas, at :58
5) Team Columbia-HTC, at :58
6) Team Katusha, at 1:23
7) Caisse d'Epargne at 1:29
8) Cervelo Test Team, at 1:37
9) AG2R-La Mondiale, at 1:48
10) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 2:09

GC after Stage 4:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team Saxo Bank, in 10:38:07
2) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :00
3) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :19
4) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :23
5) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :31
6) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :38
7) Haimar Zubeldia, Astana, at :51
8) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at :52
9) David Zabriskie, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:06
10) David Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:07

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2009 in 2009 Stage 4 TTT, 2009 Tour de France, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Fabian Cancellara, Garmin-Chipotle, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008

Vaughters works blue in the Garmin-Chipotle car

One of my favorite micro-moments of today's Versus coverage was when Jonathan Vaughters, chatting with Robbie Ventura as they followed David Millar around the TT course and unaware that Versus had cut back to the car, responded to Ventura's “How's this going for you?” with, “F---, man...”

And it was the exact right response, not the angry version of the word, but the “I don't know, man, that is some heavy stuff...” version.

Ventura jumped back in after a brief pause for shock.

Vaughters apologized via Twitter (how Web 2.0 is that?): “Sorry to all the parents out there. It was just really intense today... JV.”

It was somewhat ironic, because Vaughters was displaying a very soothing, positive vibe in his encouragement to Millar. I was thinking what a far cry from “Venga! Venga! Venga!” shouted out the car window...


re: Cycling | Stage 4: Your Phil Liggett Quote of the Day

Update: re: Cycling has found YouTube video of the footage. Watch Ventura's face.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2008 in David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Television | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 07, 2008

Frischkorn introduces Garmin-Chipotle

VeloNews | Fresh Tour Korn: Will Frischkorn shares his stage 3 diary

Garmin-Chipotle's Will Frischkorn took the team's first award at the Tour today, finishing on the podium for the day and the overall, and taking the most aggressive rider race numbers.

Spend 208 kilometers at the front of the world's biggest bicycle race, and you'll hear from a few well-wishers; Frischkorn said he's never had so many messages waiting on his Blackberry. The joy of a great result is tempered by being on the second step:

When Dumoulin attacked with 2k to go I'd planned on hitting out just as I got to the back of the line ... he beat me to it and it was game on. I jumped up to him, but made a real error jumping first when Feillu went by. I should have let Samuel do it first. Too eager. Then my second, and key, mistake, was pausing for a second with 350 to go. I had the legs to come around, and came close, but ran out of time. Aargh! I couldn't be more excited with second, but wouldn't be an athlete if I didn't want to be one step higher.

Frischkorn's ride also put Garmin-Chipotle in the early lead in the team competition.


VeloNews | Mr. Rogers' Tour - Will power

Neal Rogers offers his perspective on Frischkorn, and how great it was to have the Euro journalists asking him if he knew anything about a rider. For once.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2008 in 2008 Stage 3, Garmin-Chipotle, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dumoulin takes Stage 3, Feillu in yellow

France earned a stage win and a yellow jersey, as a 4-man breakaway initiated by Garmin-Chipotle's Will Frischkorn held off the sprinters on the run into Nantes.

The break went out almost from the first kilometer, and was helped by a late stage accident that cost possible GC contenders Riccardo Ricco and Denis Menchov more than 30 seconds to Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, and other overall contenders.

In the final kilometer, Samuel Dumoulin was first to attack, matched by Frischkorn, then Romain Feillu countered, and rode straight past the pair. Dumoulin was able to pull Feillu back, and Frischkorn just couldn't quite catch the French speedster.

Robbie McEwen led in the field, mere inches ahead of Erik Zabel, then Oscar Freire.

Feillu takes over the race lead, followed by Paolo Longo Borghini and Frischkorn. Feillu is the first Frenchman in yellow since Cyril Dessel in 2006. His Agritubel team is at the Tour as a wildcard.

Stage Top 10:
1) Samuel Dumoulin, Cofidis
2) Will Frischkorn, Garmin-Chipotle, same time
3) Roman Feillu, Agritubel, s.t.
4) Paolo Longo Borghini, Barloworld, at :14
5) Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto, at 2:03
6) Erik Zabel, Milram, same time
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
8) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
9) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, s.t
10) Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia, s.t.

General Classification, Stage 3
1) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, in 13:27:05
2) Paolo Longo Borghini, Barloworld, @ :35
3) Frischkorn, Garmin-Chipotle, @ 1:42
4) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, @ 1:45
5) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, @ 1:46
6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, same time
7) Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
8) David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, s.t.
9) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
10) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, s.t.

These finishing positions determine start order for tomorrow's 29-kilometer individual time trial. Denis Menchov and Riccardo Ricco got caught on the wrong side of the late-stage crash, and rolled in 38 seconds behind the main field. As a result, they'll start around 50 riders from the end, and won't have as many intermediate time splits for reference.

Kim Kirchen holds the green jersey. Feillu holds the white jersey in addition to the yellow, but it will be worn by Andy Schleck of CSC.

Frischkorn gets two days in the most agressive rider's red race number, since there is no award during the time trial.

Out of the Tour: Saunier Duval's Angel Gomez, injured in a mid-stage accident with CSC's Nicki Sørensen.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2008 in 2008 Stage 3, Barloworld, Garmin-Chipotle, Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Top Stories, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack