July 30, 2007

Mayo positive for EPO during Tour

Yahoo! Eurosport | Mayo positive for EPO

The hits just keep coming at Radio Tour. Saunier Duval's Iban Mayo has been suspended pending a B-sample after his July 24th A-sample tested positive for EPO.

“In line with the fight against doping that the team fully support, the rider is immediately suspended until the B sample has been tested,” Saunier Duval said in a statement.

“If that is confirmed as positive as well, we will proceed to rescind his contract.”

Mayo finished 16th overall in the 2007 Tour.

Also:

Guardian Unlimited Sport | Saunier Duval suspend Mayo after positive test in Tour

Quotes an AFLD official who says all the Tour tests should be complete in the next five days or so.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 30, 2007 in Doping, Iban Mayo, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2007

Laughing past the graveyard

I seem to remember a time when the Tour was fun. And after the last couple of days, I thought we could all use a little bit of the Tour's lighter, dare I say more whimsical, side.

Snark first: Elden at FatCyclist offers 5 Questions About the Tour de France Thus Far, including: Question 2. How come people keep sending Iban Mayo to the Tour?

The video above (which I saw first at QuickRelease.TV) has French accordion music and a setup worth of Punch & Judy or Itchy and Scratchy. It also reminded me of a site that tracks the Tour's publicity caravan and scale models of the caravan vehicles (and speaking of Itchy and Scratchy, here's the elaborate rolling Les Simpson, Le Film diorama in this year's caravan), mostly in French (also here).

And nobody uses model cyclists and race vehicles better than Anthony Pope, with his Plastic Peloton People, where he's put up a “print-out-and-keep momento” of the London Grand Depart. Here's an interview with Pope in PezCyclingNews in June.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2007 in About the Tour, Iban Mayo, London | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 22, 2007

Stage 14: Contador opens Tour account

Travel day yesterday, so I'm catching up tonight.

Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador took an aggressive stage win as the Tour moves into the Pyrenees, and elevated himself from 1 of 10 candidates to win this year's Tour to one of the two favorites.

Contador, just 24 and riding in the white jersey of the race's best-placed young rider, waited as teammate Yaroslav Popovych reduced the group riding with race leader Michael Rasmussen, then launched a blistering attack, initially answered by Rasmussen and Evans, that only Rasmussen could ultimately match. By doing so, Rasmussen moved one stage nearer a possible win in Paris, and Contador took his 1st career Tour stage win.

Many of the pre-race favorites lost buckets of time today: Alexandre Vinokourov, who won on Saturday, lost 28:50 to Contador today. Christophe Moreau lost 34:52. Iban Mayo lost 9:31. A few riders managed to limit their losses to Rasmussen and Contador, who dominated the field today: Juan Mauricio Soler, riding in his 1st Tour, lost only 37 seconds; Levi Leipheimer and Carlos Sastre were close behind.

Evans finished with Andreas Klöden at 1:52. Caisse d'Epargne's two leaders, Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde, finished together at 3:45.

A lot of discussion has resulted from a brief discussion between Contador and Rasmussen in the climb's last kilometers. Rasmussen came up to Contador, and Contador pointed to himself twice. The riders differ on the discussion: Contador said Rasmussen promised the stage win for Contador's cooperation to the finish, while Rasmussen echoed Lance Armstrong: “This is the Tour de France -- you don't give any presents here.”

Possibly the dumbest move of the day came from Saunier Duval, which sent David Millar to set a fast pace few riders could match, only to find team leader Iban Mayo was among the riders who couldn't.

Stage 14 Top 20:
1) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, in 5:25:48
2) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, same time
3) Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia, at :37
4) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at :40
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at :53
6) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 1:52
7) Cadel Evans, Predictor - Lotto, Australia, same time
8) Antonio Colom, Astana, Spain, at 2:23
9) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time
10) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 3:06
11) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, Netherlands, same time 
12) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel - Euskadi, Spain, s.t.
13) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 3:45
14) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, same time
15) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, s.t.
16) Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, s.t.
17) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 3:47
18) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 4:04
19) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, same time
20) John Gadret, AG2R, France, at 4:48

Major changes in the GC; Rasmussen gets a cushion on everyone but Contador.

Overall Standings after Stage 14:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 64:12:15
2) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 2:23
3) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 3:04
4) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 4:29
5) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 4:38
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 5:50
7) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 6:58
8) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 8:25
9) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at 9:45
10) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 10:55
11) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 11:01
12) Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia, at 11:31
13) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 12:15
14) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 13:16
15) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 14:58
16) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 15:31
17) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA, at 17:23
18) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 18:57
19) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 19:19
20) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 19:33

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2007 in 2007 Stage 14, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Haimar Zubeldia, Iban Mayo, Juan Mauricio Soler, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2007

Stage 13 ITT: Vino, Astana awesome in Albi

Vinokourov not out of the Tour yetAstana's Alexandre Vinokourov smoked the first long time trial of the 2007 Tour, and his Astana team nearly took all three podium places.

Vinokourov, with only his right knee bandaged, led at every time check by healthy margins to clock a 1:06:34.

Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans slotted in 2nd, 1:14 back, ahead of Vinokourov's teammates Andreas Klöden, at 1:39, and Andrey Kashechkin, at 1:44.

Bradley Wiggins of Cofidis set the early standard and finished 5th, at 2:14.

Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank rode a creditable TT, passing his 3-minute man, Alejandro Valverde, and finishing 11th on the day to retain the yellow jersey.

For Valverde and Mayo, starting the day in 2nd and 3rd, it was a disastrous day: Mayo was 6:04 slower than Vino, Valverde 6:08 down on the stage winner.

Top 20:
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, in 1:06:34
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ 1:14
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ 1:39
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 1:44
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, @ 2:14
6) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @ 2:16
7) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ 2:18
8) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, France, @ 2:38
9) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 2:39
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 2:42
11) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, @ 2:55
12) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ 2:56
13) Leif Hoste, Predictor-Lotto, Belgium, @ 2:56
14) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, @ 3:09
15) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, Spain, @ 3:12
16) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ 3:13
17) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ 3:17
18) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ 3:18
19) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 3:23
20) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, @ 3:27

Major shakeups in the GC:

Overall standings after Stage 13:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 58:46:39
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 1:00
3) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 2:31
4) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 2:34
5) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:37
6) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 4:23
7) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 4:45
8) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 5:07
9) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 5:10
10) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:29
11) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at 5:48
12) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 4:48
13) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, at 6:59
14) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 7:04
15) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 7:37

There was a 4th-Category climb on the stage, and max points (3) go to Alberto Contador of Discovery Channel, with Cadel Evans taking 2 points and Michael Boogerd of Rabobank a single point as the 3 fastest riders on the climb.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2007 in 2007 Stage 13 ITT, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, David Millar, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Dekker, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stage 13 ITT on the road

VS. Broadcaster Picks:
Trautwig: Klöden (per Hinault)
Sherwen: Cancellara
Roll: Evans
Liggett: Leipheimer

Bradley Wiggins of Cofidis is the early leader in the first long individual time trial of the 2007 Tour.

Over the up-and-down 54 km course in Albi, Wiggins finished in 1:08:48.
David Millar has come through the time checks as high as 3rd, and finishes in 3rd at 1:10:01.

World TT champion Fabian Cancellara was 2nd-fastest at the 1st time check, then faded, finishing in 1:15:19. Cancellara had bike handling problems on the wet roads, and crashed in a 90-degree left-hander.

Yaroslav Popovych is followed onto the course by Alexandre Vinokourov. Vino has a bandage only on his right knee today.

Vinokourov is scorching the course. He's fastest at the first two time checks, by 52 seconds at the 2nd. He's closing on Popovych, even though Popovych is racing the 4th best TT so far.

At TC 3 (38.5 km), Vinokourov came through at 50:06, 1:19 faster than Wiggins. Popovych finished almost even with Wiggins, but Vinokourov still finished close behind, with Vino setting the standard at 1:06:34.

Discovery's Levi Leipheimer was 19th at the first time check, and Carlos Sastre passed TC1 1:41 slower than Vinokourov.

Popovych appeared to have fallen on the course, and Klöden slid out on what seemed a tame right-hander.

Kashechkin also had an early accident, but kept improving at each time check, finishing 2nd only to Vinokourov in 1:08:19.

Christophe Moreau's early time checks put him many minutes behind Vinokourov. He finished in 1:16:01, 9:26 down to Vino.

Cadel Evans was 2nd best at the 3rd time check, just 1:01 behind Vinokourov.

Klöden hit the line in 1:08:13, putting Astana in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on the day, but Cadel Evans broke up the set, coming in at 1:07:48, 2nd at that point.

Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador, Discovery's supposed two leaders, finished 21 seconds apart, in 1:09:13 and 1:08:52, respectively. Teammate Yaroslav Popovych was better still, in 1:08:50.

The time checks were cruel to Alejandro Valverde, sitting in 2nd overall -- he was 46th at the 4th check, 4:34 down on Vinokourov. In fact, race leader Michael Rasmussen passed Alejandro Valverde late in his ride, rocking more like a duck than a Chicken.

Iban Mayo struggled to the line in 1:12:38, a disappointment for the rider who started in 3rd today.

Rasmussen fights all the way to the line, finishing in 1:09:29. That will save the yellow jersey for Rasmussen, and the race returns to the high mountains tomorrow.

Current Top riders:
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, 1:06:34
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, 1:07:49
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, 1:08:13
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, 1:08:19
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, in 1:08:48
6) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, in 1:08:50
7) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, in 1:08:52
8) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, in 1:09:12
9) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, in 1:09:13
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:09:16
11) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 1:09:29
12) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, 1:09:30
13) Leif Hoste, Predictor-Lotto, in 1:09:30
14) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, in 1:09:43
15) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, in 1:09:47
16) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, 1:09:47
17) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:09:51
18) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile 1:09:52
19) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:09:57
20) David Millar, Saunier Duval, in 1:10:01
21) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, 1:10:04
22) Sébastien Rosseler, Quick Step, in 1:10:09
23) Markus Fothen, Gerolsteiner, in 1:10:14
24) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, in 1:10:16
25) George Hincapie, DSC, in 1:10:19
26) Carlos Sastre, CSC, in 1:10:35
27) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, in 1:10:39
28) Andrey Grivko, Milram, in 1:10:51
29) Kanstantsin Siutsou, Barloworld, in 1:10:54
30) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, in 1:10:56

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2007 in 2007 Stage 13 ITT, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Iban Mayo, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro | Permalink | Comments (0) | 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 17, 2007

Stage 9: Soler streaks to stage win

Tour first-timer Juan Mauricio Soler of Barloworld launched an audacious attack on the Col du Télégraphe and fighting all the way to Briançon to take the win for Barloworld.

Colombia's Soler, the rider with the highest Tour race number (219), was shadowed for a time by Discovery Channel's Yaroslav Popovych, but no one could hold Soler's wheel today.

Back in the main field, Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde pushed the pace, and Alexandre Vinokourov couldn't hang. Today, it was Kashechkin who shepherded Vinokourov to the line while Andreas Klöden matched the GC riders.

Christophe Moreau dropped repeatedly off the back, but fought back again and again, while Rabobank's Denis Menchov couldn't stand the heat, and finished with Vinokourov. Levi Leipheimer, with 2 teammates up the road, was again content to let the race unfold and shadowed the yellow jersey of Michael Rasmussen.

Discovery's Alberto Contador, however, launched a withering assault on the Col du Galibier, and only Cadel Evans chased. When Contador met up with teammate Popovych at the summit, the two launched a chase of Soler, then 2 minutes up the road, and slowly closed the gap.

Meanwhile, the yellow jersey group split in two, with Valverde, Rasmussen, Kim Kirchen, David Arroyo and Mikel Astarloza ahead, and Moreau, Sastre, Evans, Klöden, Leipheimer, Cobo, and Mayo behind.

Rasmussen's group swept up Contador and Popovych, then were finally recaptured by the Leipheimer/Klöden/Sastre group, with all still closing on Soler.

The gap was down to 49 seconds in the last kilometer, and Alejandro Valverde attacked, splintering the yellow jersey group and taking 2nd on the stage, with Cadel Evans just behind.

1) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia in 4:14:24
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :38
3) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, same time
4) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :40
5) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ :42
6) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, same time
7) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, s.t.
8) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ :46
9) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, same time
10) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, s.t.
11) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, @ :54
12) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, same time
13) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @1:33
14) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 1:36
15) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 1:49
16) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 3:24
17) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA, same time
18) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.
19) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, France s.t.
20) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan

Overall Standings after Stage 9:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 43:52:48
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:35
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:41
5) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:08
6) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 3:18
7) Carlos Sastre, Team CSC, Spain, at 3:39
8) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
9) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
10) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06

Schleck is 13th at 5:56, Vinokourov is 21st at 8:05. Gerdemann loses the white jersey to Contador. Soler is now 2nd in both the Mountains jersey and Young Riders jersey competitions.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2007 in 2007 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, Iban Mayo, Juan Mauricio Soler, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Mauricio Soler, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 9 on the road

A rude beginning to the stage today, as riders immediately start up the hors categorie Col de l'Iseran, followed by a long descent to St. Michel-de-Maurienne. Then, the double whammy of the Col du Télégraphe (a 1st Category) and the Col du Galibier, another hors categorie. Finally, a 37.5 kilometer/23 mile descent into Briançon.

VS. broadcaster picks:
Trautwig: Contador
Sherwen: Valverde
Roll: Sastre
Liggett: Mayo

Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych attacked up the Col de l'Iseran, and led the field by 30 seconds over the top:

Col de l'Iseran (HC):
1) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channe, +20 pts
2) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, +18 pts, @ 30 secs
3) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +16 pts, same time
4) Anthony Charteau, Credit Agricole, +14 pts, @ 35 secs
5) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +12 pts, @ 40 secs
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, +10 pts, same time
7) Francisco Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +8 pts, s.t.
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, +7 pts, s.t.
9) Stef Clement, Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts, s.t.
10) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, +5 pts, s.t.

1st Intermediate Sprint:
1) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Stef Clement, Bouygues Telecom, +2 pts/2 secs

Popovych has been joined on the descent by teammate Vladimir Gusev, Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Bouygues Telecom's Stef Clement, Benoit Vaugrenard of Française des Jeux, and Mikel Astarloza of Euskaltel-Euskadi. They've got 2:45 on the peloton with more than 55 kms/34 miles ridden.

T-Mobile's troubles continue, as Marcus Burghardt tacoed his front wheel hitting a dog wandering unleashed across the road. Both dog and rider appeared unhurt.

At the day's 2nd and last sprint, the 6 riders don't even break their rotation:

2nd Intermediate Sprint:
1) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, +4 pts/4 secs
3) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +2 pts/2 secs

At the base of the Col du Télégraphe, Astarloza, Clement, Gusev, Gutierrez, Popovych, and Vaugrenard have 3:25 on the peloton, with Rabobank leading the field.

Early in the climb, Mikel Astarloza attacked, and Clement and Vaugrenard couldn't counter. Gusev was first to rejoin, then Gutierrez leading Popovych. Astarloza went again, and quickly built a lead of 10, then 20, seconds.

Meanwhile in the main field, David Millar was setting a fast pace alongside the Rabobanks, and Sandy Casar, Stefan Schumacher and the usual sprinters (including Zabel) are all dropped. The main field is down under 60 riders, about 2:55 behind Astarloza, with more gradually falling by the wayside.

When Millar popped, his place was taken by teammate Iker Camano. Over the top of the Col du Telegraphe, Mikel Astarloza still had a healthy 3 minutes:

1) Astaloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi +15 pts
2) Popovych, Discovery Channel, +13 pts, at :21
3) Clement, Bouygues Telecom, +11 pts
4) Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +9 pts
5) Gusev, Discovery Channel, +8 pts
6) Soler, Barloworld, +7 pts, at :55
7) Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, +6 pts, at 1:05
8) Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, +5 pts, at 2:45

The peloton was at 3:12.

At the beginning of the climb to the Col du Galibier, Astarloza was recaptured by Gusev, Popovych, and Gutierrez, with Clement suffering a few seconds behind.

Camano fell off, and Thomas Dekker and Michael Boogerd are the last Rabobank teammates left for yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen.

Juan Mauricio Soler attacked out of the peloton, and quickly worked his way through the leaders and led at the summit:

Col du Galibier
1) Soler, Barloworld, +40pts
2) Popovych, Discovery Channel, +36 pts, at 2:05
3) Contador, Discovery Channel +32 pts, same time
4) Evans, Predictor-Lotto, +28 pts, at 2:20
5) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +24 pts, at 3:00
6) Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, +20 pts, at 3:15
7) Rasmussen, Rabobank, +16 pts, same time
8) Moreau, AG2R, +14 pts, s.t.
9) Klöden, Astana, +12 pts, s.t.
10) Cobo, Saunier Duval, +10 pts, s.t.

Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov was at 4:55, 1:40 behind Rasmussen's group, which also included Carlos Sastre and Levi Leipheimer.

Contador caught Popovych just over the top of the Galibier, and the pair have made up about 40 seconds on Soler, and ride 1:25 back with 25 kilometers to the finish.

But the yellow jersey group was gaining, as well, catching Evans, then splitting in two when Evans let a gap form. Rasmussen, Valverde, Kim Kirchen, David Arroyo, and Astarloza made the front group, which captured Popovych and Contador, while Moreau, Mayo, Leipheimer, Klöden, Sastre, Evans and Cobo chased ineffectually behind.

Finally, Klöden pulled his group back into contact with Rasmussen's group, still closing on Soler with a 1.5-kilometer/1 mile climb to the finish.

The gap dropped to :58, then :49, but Soler made it stick, finishing it with :38 seconds on Alejandro Valverde, who attacked looking for a time gap and bonus points, but was matched by Evans, then Contador at :40, with Mayo, Rasmussen, and Leipheimer at :42.

Alexandre Vinokourov finished at 3:24.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1) | 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 27, 2007

Saunier Duval-Prodir announce Tour riders

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Saunier Duval/Prodir Squad Announced

David Millar

Saunier Duval/Prodir is chasing stage wins at this year's Tour, as they've chosen an experienced squad with an eye on the mountains.

    Suanier Duval/Prodir 2007 Tour roster:
  • Iker Camano (Spain)
  • David Cañada (Spain) replaces Gomez Marchante
  • Juan José Cobo (Spain)
  • David de la Fuente (Spain)
  • José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spain)
  • Ruben Lobato (Spain)
  • Iban Mayo (Spain)
  • David Millar (Scotland, UK)
  • Christophe Rinero (France)
  • Francisco Ventoso (Spain)

Update: David Cañada replaces Jose Angel Gomez Marchante.

Reserves are Angel Gomez and Jesus del Nero.

Mayo won Stage 8 up Alpe d'Huez in the 2003 Tour and Stage 19 of this year's Giro d'Italia. David de la Fuente was the most combative rider of last year's Tour, after long attacks on Stage 2 and Stage 11. Rinero took the King of the Mountains in the 1998 Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, David Millar, Iban Mayo, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2007

Petacchi, Piepoli, Mayo "non-negative" at Giro

IHT.com | Petacchi, Piepoli and Mayo are three cyclists named in doping reports from Giro d'Italia

Giro organizers reported earlier this week that 2 Italians and a Spaniard had “non-negative” dope tests at the Italian grand tour last month. Today, Gazzetta dello Sport reports the riders are Alessandro Petacchi, Leonardo Piepoli, and Iban Mayo.

All three won stages, with Petacchi winning 5. Milram's Petacchi and Saunier Duval's Piepoli reportedly tested above the allowed threshold for asthma medication salbutamol, while Mayo, also riding for Saunier Duval, reportedly tested above the limit for testosterone.

Petacchi and Piepoli both carry medical clearances to use salbutamol, and Mayo reportedly has a high natural testosterone level. Officials must consider possible clearances and exemptions, and the rider's “B” sample, before calling the test results a positive and beginning any possible disciplinary measures.

Update: VeloNews offers a translation of Piepoli's comments:

"It's true that I take Salbutamol to treat my allergy.

"Mauro (Gianetti) asked me how much I had taken. But I don't know how many puffs I took. I take it each time I need it. It depends on the seasons."

Update 2: Mayo has been cleared: The UCI says an IRMS test ruled out “any possibility of testosterone administration.”

If the reports are true, they bring to mind the case of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. He showed a high salbutamol level in the 2002 Tour, but wasn't punished. CyclingForums.com had a good discussion of the threshold values for salbutamol in 2003. In the Gonzalez de Galdeano case, the UCI ruled that they had no upper limit on salbutamol concentration, while representatives of the (then-new) World Anti-Doping Agency maintained that 1000 nanograms/milliliter was the maximum permissible level. Petacchi reportedly showed salbutamol levels of 1200 and 1400 nanograms per milliliter.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Doping, Giro d'Italia 2007, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

And you were there, and even Toto was there...

FatCyclist | Levi Leipheimer Calls 'Mulligan' on 2006 Tour de France

Elden Nelson suggests the Tour organization take a page out of Dallas: This year's Tour has all been a dream.

Putting words into the mouth of Levi Leipheimer:

“Based on the fact that until yesterday everyone-especially me-has been having a totally sucky tour, I have requested that we call ”Mulligan“ on this year's Tour de France to this point, start over with the prologue tomorrow, and try to get it right this time.”

“I hold in my hand an Official Do-Over Petition, which has been signed by a clear and wide majority of riders, race directors, journalists, and cycling fans.”

Other folks Nelson thinks would be all over a Tour do-over include Hincapie, Iban “Spoiled” Mayo, and OLN.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 in George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2006

Stage 10 on the road

Former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R didn't make today's start, and Jimmy Engoulvent of Cofidis abandoned on the road, leaving 168 riders in the race.

A 13-rider break formed at about 45 kilometers, taking the points over the 3rd-Category climb and at the 2nd sprint line.

That break: CSC's Jens Voigt, AG2R's Cyril Dessel, Rabobank's Joost Posthuma, Lampre's Daniele Bennati, QuickStep's Cedric Vasseur, Euskaltel's Inaki Isasi and Inigo Landaluze, Saunier Duval's Christophe Rinero, Française des Jeux's Carlos da Cruz, Liquigas's Manuel Quinziato, Agritubel's Juan Miguel Mercado, Bouyges Telecom's Matthieu Sprick, and Cofidis's Cristian Moreni.

Dessel led Rinero, Sprick and Mercado, the Agritubel team leader, over the Col d'Osquich, which is sort of today's warm-up climb.

Bennati is a fair sprinter, and took max points at the day's last intermediate sprint, ahead of Da Cruz and Voigt.

About 80 kilometers into the 191-kilometer day, the gap is up to about 8 minutes, and the leaders have started up today's longest climb, the Col de Soudet. T-Mobile and Phonak are setting pace in the peloton.

The leaders are splitting now, with Voigt, Quinziato, Posthuma and Da Cruz off the back, and Sprick at the back.

Rinero, Dessel, Mercado, and Landaluze are riding together for the top of the Soudet, with the peloton about 9:15 back. The other 9 former breakaway riders are spread out back down the slope.

Hushovd off the back of the peloton. He'll be looking for the grupetto. Brad Wiggins is back there. Iban Mayo is at the back of the field! He's got two teammates with him; Sandy Casar is at the back. The peloton is still 80 or more riders, but Mayo is about to lose contact, on the first major climb of the Tour. Boonen is back here, as well.

Conversely, Levi Leipheimer is riding right next to the 6 T-Mobiles leading the main group. Hincapie, Moreau, Sastre, Landis, and Evans are all there, as well.

Mercado has attacked in the break, and Dessel is riding with him, but Landaluze and Rinero are dropped.

The grupetto has been gapped; all the sprinters are together back there. Matthias Kessler is doing most of the T-Mobile pacesetting. Near the summit, Mercado attacks, Dessel comes back and passes and gaps Mercado. Dessel takes max points over the summit, with Mercado 50 meters back, which will put Dessel up into 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition.

Honchar is one of the last riders in the main chasing group, with his T-Mobile teammates still leading it. Gilberto Simoni is only a few riders ahead, and Thomas Voeckler has fallen off and sprinted back into the field.

Over the top, the gap to Mercado and Dessel is 9:42, and Landaluze is rejoining them at the front of the race. Now Rinero catches on, and there are 4 leaders. Their gap is up over 10 minutes, with Michael Rogers descending a little ahead of his T-Mobile teammates on the front of the chase group.

Cyril Dessel in the yellow jersey? He's the highest placed rider in the break, which is now up at 10:30, and Inaki Isasi is back in the group.

Now Moreni and Vasseur are very close to rejoining the leaders, which would put 7 riders in the lead, with 10:40 on the primary chasing group, where you'll find most of the team leaders. Mayo has caught back onto this group, as well.

The 7 leaders now have 11 minutes in hand, and have started up the Col de Marie Blanque, with less than 50 kilometers to ride.

Voigt, Quinziato and Posthuma have been caught on the lower part of the Marie Blanque; The gap to Mercado's lead group is 10:20. Mercado and Dessel have gapped the other 5 riders, and quickly got 100 meters on them. Landaluze is coming off the front, and rides between Dessel/Mercado, and Christophe Rinero.

Main chase group has brought it back under 10 minutes. Mercado and Dessel are only 2 kilometers from the summit, then will have 40 kilometers down into Pau.

Peña leads Landis near the front of the main chase group, two Discovery riders are also there. T-Mobile still is doing most of the work, but Honchar has been two-thirds back in that group for a while. Sprick is recaptured from the earlier break. Mercado and Dessel are 9:40 up the road.

Dessel leads Mercado over the Marie Blanque, which will put him in the lead in the mountains jersey; Landaluze is only a few seconds behind.

The main chase group is slimming down again, as Rubiera, Zabriskie, Jerome Pineau, David Monoutié, Axel Merckx, and others are falling off the pace. Honchar is dropped, as well, but only 20 meters off the back. He'll get back on the descent.

Rasmussen has attacked out of the chase group, presumably to take some mountain points. Marcus Fothen is goiing the other way, off the back of the chase group, a few bike lengths behind Leipheimer, who's suffering. Just ahead of him is Damiano Cunego. Honchar is consistently one of the last 2-3 riders in the chase group, but he hasn't lost contact, as have Leipheimer and Cunego.

Over the top, it's 9:20 between the day's leaders and the main chase group. Mercado, Dessel, or Landaluze (13 seconds behind) is almost guaranteed the stage win now.

Twenty kilometers to go, and the chase group is at 9:33. Landaluze has never caught Mercado and Dessel, and rides almost 30 seconds behind. AG2R have sent 5 riders to the front of the chase group to disrupt the chase. Mercado won Stage 8 of the 2004 Tour.

The gap is steady at about 9:35, with only about 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) to ride. Dessel is doing all the pacesetting, as Mercado sits in.

Honchar, who was on bottle duty earlier, now has moved to the front, and will lead T-Mobile and the chase group into Pau in the yellow jersey.

The peloton is finally closing the gap a bit. As the leaders come inside the final 3 kilometers, the gap drops to about 9 minutes.

They're under the flamme rouge, with 1 k to ride. Dessel is watching Mercado closely. They're side-by-side through an S-bend, and Mercado is back on the wheel. Dessel is slowing, there he snaps the whip, Mercado comes around, they're both going hard for the line, and Dessel tries to get around at the last second, and almost does, but Mercado takes the stage win.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Laurent Brochard, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

So who are the team leaders?

Today was supposed to be the day when we found out the GC men for the teams with podium dreams. A few things have definitely cleared up.

There are a few guys who stepped up and showed they're the leaders of their teams, with hopes for high overall places: Landis is the man for Phonak, as expected; Cadel Evans for Davitamon-Lotto, Denis Menchov for Rabobank, Vladimir Karpets for Caisse d'Epargne, Christophe Moreau at AG2R. All finished within about 2 minutes of the Ukraine Train today.

CSC is back to one leader: Carlos Sastre. It was funny the first week of the Tour to read, within 24 hours, a US source touting Bobby Julich as the rider who would have to step up to fill Basso's shoes, Eurosport Germany referring to “new CSC leader Jens Voigt,” and to read that the team itself voted Sastre its captain. Sastre is the best rider of those three, and Julich's crash and Voigt's easy ride today reinforce that.

A bunch of other things are way foggier than they were yesterday.

Gerolsteiner claimed to have two co-captains, Totschnig and Leipheimer, coming into the Tour. After today, they're both 4+ minutes down, and Leipheimer may not be generating much power. They've got Marcus Fothen, who sits 5th, 1:50 back, and finished 12th in the 2005 Giro, but he's only 25 years old. He could compete for the young rider's jersey.

T-Mobile opened a big old powerful Pandora's Box full of superstrong riders. Their slowest rider today finished 14 seconds faster than Britain's TT specialist David Millar. They've got the 4 potential leaders we all thought Discovery Channel might show: Honchar, Michael Rogers, Andreas Klöden, and Patrik Sinkewitz, and I could make a case for any of them. Chris Carmichael tips Klöden, and I could see that: he's German and he's been through this before.

And what about Discovery Channel? Savoldelli has 20 seconds on George Hincapie, who had suggested the road would choose the team's leader through the first week and today's ITT. I've never seen Hincapie as crestfallen as on OLN's prime-time coverage; he really looked flattened. Popovych and Azevedo were even farther back today; I say Savoldelli's the horse to back. Marcello at VeloChimp.com agrees.

There are also a number of team leaders who are really hard to take seriously now, even with mad climbing skills: Gilberto Simoni is 5:34 down, Thomas Voeckler 5:35, Iban Mayo sits 6:11 down, and Damiano Cunego is at 7:06. David Moncoutié? 12:15 down.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Damiano Cunego, David Moncoutié, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Georg Totschnig, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Sergei Honchar, Thomas Voeckler, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 7 ITT underway

Early leader is once again Sebastian Lang, as in the prologue. He was the first man to go under 1:03, and leads Gustav Larsson and Joost Posthuma.

Some times from riders of interest who have already ridden: Viatcheslav Ekimov 1:04:23; Chris Horner 1:05:57; Jens Voigt has the slowest yet at 1:11:44, suggesting he may have plans to go stage-hunting in the next couple of days.

On the course now are Sandy Casar, Iban Mayo, Pietro Caucchioli, and Thomas Voeckler, among others.

Casar came in 1:05:11; Mayo 1:07:20 -- that's got to hurt. Thomas Voeckler 1:05:47. Caucchioli in 1:08:21.

Sastre, Leipheimer and Popovych are on the course. Julich is off.

Sastre is the first one to shake things up; at the first time check, he comes in at 20:22, 5 seconds ahead of Lovkvist's time.

Julich has crashed! He went down very hard at a left-right chicane, hitting the pavement and sliding into and over the curb. He's sitting by the side of the road, and may be the next casualty of the 2006 Tour. That's confirmed; Julich has been taken away in an ambulance. Liggett points out that the only other Tour Julich hasn't finished was because of an accident in the time trial, in 1999.

Menchov hits the 1st time check in 20:07, best so far, 15 seconds better than Sastre.

Zabriskie takes his start.

David Millar is out of the starthouse, slowly spinning up to speed.

Leipheimer reportedly hit the 1st time check at 1:32 behind Menchov! That's 61st-fastest at that point, with a lot of riders to come.

Cadel Evans is ready to roll, and he's off.

T-Mobile's Eddy Mazzoleni is 2nd fastest through the 16.5 kilometer 1st check, 8 seconds slower than Menchov.

Landis is in the start house on time, and he's off. His coach Robbie Ventura said they pre-raced the course at 75 percent this morning, and Landis likes his chances.

Klöden comes through Time Check 1 at 19:58!

Savoldelli is off; Hushovd is off; Hincapie awaits, looking solemn, and he's gone.

Zabriskie is 4th at TC 1, 15 seconds behind Klöden. Menchov sets the new fastest time at the 2nd check, a fraction of a second ahead of Larsson.

Michael Rogers is off, smelling yellow.

Moreau hits TC1 at 25 seconds.

Here goes McEwen, and Boonen is setting up in the start house, and he's off, last to leave as the yellow jersey.

It's a full-on, Michael Rasmussen-style disaster for Leipheimer. He's already been passed by Christian Vande Velde, his 2-minute man.

Landis reportedly had a bike swap. Sergei Honchar has come through TC1 at 19:37, setting a new benchmark. Landis hits TC1 in 19:54, 2nd best for now.

Menchov finishes his ride fading, at 1:03:27.

Zabriskie is 9th at the 2nd time check. There are reports the wind has picked up since the fast times this morning.

Hincapie is 15th at the first time check, 52 seconds down on Honchar. Rogers is only slightly better, 46 seconds down on Honchar at TC 1.

Vande Velde finishes in 1:04:57.

Leipheimer is coming in, tripping the sensors in 1:07:49. What a nightmare for Leipheimer.

Popovych finishes in 1:05:00.

Boonen is through the first time check (at 1:26), so Honchar's 19:37 is the fastest time there, followed by Landis at :17, Klöden at :22, Marcus Fothen at :29, and Denis Menchov at :30.

Zabriskie hits TC3 39 seconds slower than Lang; Sergei Honcar sets the new best time at the 2nd time check in 43:50, just flying!

Klöden is coming up to the line, and trips the clock in 1:03:26, 4th for now.

Landis at TC2 is 44:32, 42 seconds slower than Honchar, but faster than everyone else so far.

Zabriskie is finishing; he won't win the stage, and he finishes in 1:03:40.

Hincapie at TC2: 45:53, slower than Ekimov and Savoldelli.

David Millar hasn't factored in the intermediate checks at all, and finishes in 1:05:17. Christophe Moreau finishes close behind, in 1:03:47.

Rogers comes to TC2 in 45:06, more than 30 seconds behind Landis.

Honchar is fastest again at Time Check 3: 55:09 against Lang's previous-best 56:20.

Honchar is roaring up to the finish; there he comes in 1:01:43!

Landis is 57 seconds down at the 3rd time check on Honchar. He'll be finishing soon. Here he comes; he can't catch Honchar, but he's going to have a strong time, it's 1:02:44 for Landis. Honchar is almost guaranteed the stage win and the yellow jersey tonight.

Savoldelli is coming into the last kilometer and brings home a 1:03:55.

Hincapie is 23rd at the last time check, 2:32 off Honchar.

Rogers comes through the last time check in 56:31, so he's coming in strong.

Hincapie to the line in 1:04:25.

Rogers catches Hushovd, his 6-minute man, just outside the 1-kilometer mark. He won't match Landis: 1:03:07 for the world TT champion.

Boonen's taking his yellow jersey seriously; he caught McEwen on the road, and Boonen finishes his reign in 1:05:35, 41st on the day. McEwen closes out the day, in 1:08:10.

Sergei Honchar has a stage win and a yellow jersey for T-Mobile!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Patrik Sinkewitz, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

TdFblog GC preview

It's going to be an amazing Tour.

I am obligated, as a writer for a Tour-centric web site, to make some predictions. This year, it is incredibly hard. A lot of riders either have badly screwed up their preparation or haven't shown us what they can do this season (and another, Alexandre Vinokourov, hasn't and may not get the chance to), and we won't find out which it is for a week or 10 days.

Sitting here, three days from Strasbourg, I believe in the two favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. I believe in Francisco Mancebo. Alejandro Valverde may be the future of the sport (depending on what's in those damn bags), and he's at the point in his career to break out some surprises. These guys have all shown they're ready to rock and roll.

For some reason, I don't really believe in Levi Leipheimer. Gorgeous wife, great results, but I have to agree with his DS: Top 10 probably, Top 5 maybe. Floyd Landis and Alexandre Vinokourov both flummoxed me with sub-par Dauphiné results, but I want to believe.

Total wildcards: Denis Menchov, Iban Mayo, Cadel Evans. I think Evans will finish higest of these three, but Mayo could take a spotlight stage, like l'Alpe d'Huez.

I can't read Johan Bruyneel's mind any better than anyone else, but I suspect Popovych and Azevedo will be the two most highly-placed Discovery Channel riders. Savoldelli and Hincapie will be well-placed up to the mountains, then lose time to the better climbers.

Enough procrastination; here's my Top 5:
1) Ivan Basso, CSC
2) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak
4) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel
5) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne

I don't see Ullrich gaining 4 minutes on Basso in the TTs, and here's why: The Stage 7 TT profile. It's long enough, at 52 kilometers, but it's a fairly technical course. Even if it's dry, I could easily see Ullrich overcooking a couple of corners, getting out of his rhythm, and not going as fast as he's capable. If it rains, even worse.

I could also see Basso gaining some time on stages with downhill finishes, like Stage 17, where Basso could go over the top of the Col de Joux-Plane with time in hand and conserve all or most of that lead for the 12 kilometers into Morzine. Ullrich's bike-handling has always scared me.

I'm also discounting the Floyd Landis nay-sayers, who say he's got no team. I think with a race as open as this year's, the team strength matters less. Landis needs to identify the real team leaders fast, then cover moves only by the real GC threats. Remember Armstrong watching Vinokourov go up the road, and waiting for Ullrich and Klöden (T-Mobile's “official” GC threats) to bring him back? Same idea. There are plenty of other strong riders who will be chasing down the pretenders.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 19, 2006

Euskaltel-Euskadi announce Tour riders

CyclingPost.com | Euskaltel-Euskadi ready for the Tour de France

Euskaltel-Euskadi named their final team for the 2006 Tour. They'll be looking for stage wins, especially sweet if they could take Stage 10 or 11 in the Pyrenees, which are likely to be bathed in the orange of their fans.

Iban Mayo won the 2003 Tour's climb to Alpe d'Huez, and Inigo Landaluze won the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré.

    Euskaltel-Euskadi 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Iban Mayo
  • Haimar Zubeldia
  • Inigo Landaluze
  • Unai Etxebarria
  • Iker Camano
  • Aitor Hernandez
  • Inaki Isasi
  • David Lopez
  • Gorka Verdugo

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Iban Mayo, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 11, 2006

Leipheimer wins Dauphiné; Hushovd takes last stage

Eurosport | Leipheimer wins on road to Tour - Eurosport

Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer took one of the most important Tour warmups, while Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd took a confidence-building stage win ahead of his effort to repeat as the Tour sprint jersey champion.

CSC's Stuart O'Grady, QuickStep's Amer-Italian Guido Trenti, and Agritubel's Coutouly were in an early breakaway, that got more than 4:30 on the field. O'Grady survived almost to the bitter end, with Credit Agricole, AG2R, and eventually QuickStep driving the peloton hard. O'Grady was reabsorbed with about 2-3 kilometers to ride.

Hushovd took the field sprint ahead of Samuel Dumoulin of AG2R, Philippe Gilbert of Française des Jeux, and Discovery Channel's George Hincapie.

Leipheimer took the win despite being frequently isolated without teammates in the mountains, but gave all the credit to his team:

"That we could win it this year says a lot about myself and a lot about Gerolsteiner as a team."

"This win will give them and me a lot of confidence in the Tour.

Leipheimer and especially 2nd place finisher Christophe Moreau showed they're coming into the Tour in terrific climbing shape, and 3rd place rider Bernhard Kohl of T-Mobile is the revelation of the race, finishing 2:51 behind Leipheimer. Discovery Channel's Jose Azevedo was 4th; he's a dark horse for the Tour.

Other Tour names in the top 20: Francisco Mancebo of AG2R in 5th; Denis Menchov of Rabobank in 6th, despite an injury in yesterday's stage; Alejandro Valverde in 7th at 4:21; George Hincapie 10th at 6:48; Sylvain Chavanel 12th; Iban Mayo 16th at 11:00.

A couple of Tour favorites were here, but nowhere to be seen when the action heated up: Floyd Landis finished 60th overall, at 57:06, Alexandre Vinokourov was 49th at 51:08.

Also:

DailyPeloton.com | Stage 7 Live

CyclingNews.com | Stage 7 full results

Posted by Frank Steele on June 11, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Mayo takes Dauphiné queen stage!

Iban Mayo showed he's in fine form ahead of the Tour de France with an amazing victory on the hardest day of the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré.

Meanwhile, Levi Leipheimer countered every attack from the contenders, and probably nailed down an overall race victory.

Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli animated the late attacks, and Leipheimer took no chances. Even though Piepoli sat more than 5 minutes back on GC, Leipheimer matched him, pedal stroke for pedal stroke. AG2R's Christophe Moreau was the only other rider who could ride with Leipheimer and Piepoli, and moved into 2nd overall for his efforts. He's France's best GC hope for the Tour.

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, who was in the break with Mayo, stayed with him for hours, but was dropped on the final climb. He soloed in for 2nd on the day, ahead of Moreau, Leipheimer, and Piepoli.

T-Mobile's Austrian Bernhard Kohl continued his amazing race, coming in 6th on the day, at 2:00 flat, vaulting him into 3rd overall.

Also:

DailyPeloton.com | Stage 6 Live

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2006 in Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dauphiné Stage 6 underway

Today's probably the hardest day of the Dauphiné climbing the Col du Galibier, the Col de la Croix de Fer, both hors categorie, the Col du Mollard, a 2nd-category climb, and the finishing climb, a 1st-category climb up La Toussuire, which we'll see again in Stage 16 of this year's Tour.

If anybody's going to take the leader's jersey off Levi Leipheimer, today is where they'll have to do it.

Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, and Levi Leipheimer are riding together over the top of the Mollard, with about 39 kilometers to ride. They're chasing Caisse d'Espargne's Alejandro Valverde, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iban Mayo, T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla, and Valverde's teammate David Arroyo, who are already on the descent 1:15 up the road.

The pack is catching back onto Moreau's little group on the descent.

At 29 kilometers to ride, the gap has gone out to 1:41. Davitamon-Lotto has a couple riders leading the group, Chris Horner is one. Leipheimer has no teammates in the chasing group of around 16.

As the four leaders hit the base of the finishing climb, David Arroyo, who has been towing the break, comes full stop, leaving Valverde, Sevilla, and Mayo to fight for the stage win.

Leipheimer sits comfortably on Chris Horner's wheel, Menchov and Moreau shadowing him. With 16k to ride, the 3 leaders have 2:06 on the chasers.

Voeckler off the back, Mancebo off the back, as Piepoli is gone off the front. Leipheimer goes to the front, and the leader's group is down to 9 or 10. There goes Piepoli again, and Leipheimer matches -- here goes Azevedo. Mancebo had just reached back up to Leipheimer's group, but he's lost again.

Valverde, meanwhile, raised the pace and dropped Sevilla. Mayo and Valverde are riding alone.

Piepoli, Azevedo, and Leipheimer have a gap. Menchov can see them riding away, but he can't counter. Now Moreau bridges, as does T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl, so there's a group of 5 chasing Valverde and Mayo. Maybe 100 meters back is another group of 5 including Mancebo and Denis Menchov.

Leipheimer's group has caught David Arroyo, who sits on the back.

Now Menchov and Voeckler have gone off the back of Mancebo's group. Menchov may be hurt -- he's got a dirt stain on his shoulder. Even if Moreau can't catch Leipheimer on GC, he and Azevedo have a good chance to move up into 2nd and 3rd overall tonight.

There's Sevilla; he drops in behind Arroyo, so there are 7 main chasers, with 6 kilometers to ride.

There goes Piepoli again! Leipheimer stays right on his wheel, Moreau stays with them, and Bernhard Kohl struggles to stay with them. Azevedo tries to make it but can't, and he, Arroyo, and Sevilla go off the back. Now Kohl is sapped, leaving only Piepoli, Leipheimer and Christophe Moreau together.

The gap is under a minute now, and Moreau and Piepoli are both racing hard. There's a chance they'll bring the break back. Mayo raises the pace, and easily puts 50 meters into Valverde. He doesn't look like a man who's going to get caught on a mountain.

Valverde's in the chasers' sights now. Mayo has bumped his gap out to 1:11 back to Leipheimer. He's going to take the stage win; he's just flying up the slope.

With 1 kilometer to ride, Mayo's gap is out to 1:38! The race cameras keep showing Menchov, who is looking very ragged back down in the field. Moreau is doing the work in the chase -- he needs less than 90 seconds to move past Menchov in the GC.

Mayo's taken it! Valverde survives, coming in around 1:20. Moreau is sprinting for 3rd, and gets it, at 1:37. Leipheimer and Piepoli finish with him.

Kohl is next at 2:00, then Azevedo takes 7th at 2:37. Mancebo battles in at 3:17, Sevilla and Caucchioli are next at 3:26.

Rous, Voeckler, Menchov, Hincapie, Chavanel, at 5:22. Menchov falls off the podium.

Looks like GC should be (correction): 1) Leipheimer, 2) Moreau, 3) Kohl, 4) Azevedo, 5) Mancebo.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, Levi Leipheimer | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Ludovic Turpin takes Dauphiné Stage 5; Leipheimer holds race lead

Turpin crosses the line
Turpin takes the stage win,
CyclingNews.com/Fotoreporter Sirotti.

I tuned in about 400 meters before the finish, so I have no details, but AG2R's Ludovic Turpin rode in alone at Briançon, with Iban Mayo and Francisco Mancebo chasing hard.

Apparently, and this is pretty hard to believe, Turpin survived from a longish breakaway with Jerome Pineau and (the funny part) Thor Hushovd on the Col d'Izoard! Turpin had just 38 seconds at the summit, but held off the leaders on the descent to the town of Briançon and the short climb to the finish outside the village.

Mayo gapped Mancebo at the end, finishing at 26 seconds to Mancebo's 27.

Next came Credit Agricole's Pietro Caucchioli, at :37.

Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval-Prodir was (correction) 5th on the day, at :41. Leipheimer rode in with George Hincapie, Christophe Moreau, and Denis Menchov at :48 to maintain his overall race lead, but Mancebo moves closer, and gives AG2R 2 men (Mancebo and Moreau) within 2 minutes of Gerolsteiner's leader. Moreau sits 3rd overall -- it's Leipheimer, Menchov, Moreau, Mancebo.

CSC's David Zabriskie finished at about 1:28, Alejandro Valverde at 1:47, and Floyd Landis came in way back at 8:47. I'd like to think he's sandbagging here, but we really haven't seen him dominate on a climb this year. He matched Danielson on Brasstown Bald, but Discovery inexplicably didn't really take him to the limit.

Turpin called it his best career victory. ProCycling called it “that rarest of things, a victory by a French rider in a ProTour event in the Alps.” You can pick your favorite.

Also:

Eurosport | Turpin holds on for stage win

CyclingNews.com Stage 5 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 9, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Dave Zabriskie, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Menchov takes Ventoux, Leipheimer Dauphiné leader's jersey

VeloNews.com | Leipheimer grabs Dauphiné lead as Menchov wins atop Ventoux

On the first major climbing stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré, Rabobank's Denis Menchov showed form last seen in the 2005 Vuelta a España, and Christophe Moreau showed form unseen in years to lead the peloton up the Giant of Provence. Menchov narrowly held off Moreau at the very top of the climb.

A number of early favorites saw their shot at a Dauphiné title fall by the wayside, including Floyd Landis, who finished a disappointing 56th, 9:30 back of Menchov. His Girona neighbor Dave Zabriskie actually outclimbed Landis, finishing 50th at 8:10. Alexandre Vinokourov was 81st at 13:10, while Iban Mayo was 65th at 10:35; both have won this race (Vino in 1999; Mayo in 2004).

On the other hand, Levi Leipheimer showed he used his time out of racing to good advantage, and finished 3rd on the day, just 15 seconds behind Menchov. That was good enough to put him in the race lead, 28 seconds ahead of Menchov, and 1:08 ahead of Stage 2 winner Philippe Gilbert of Française des Jeux, still hanging around after a creditable 38th today.

Leipheimer told CyclingNews he was focused on getting the race lead today:

“I know from last year that you have to pay a lot of respect to Le Mont Ventoux,” Leipheimer declared. “It's long. You have to be patient and wait. I could have waited even longer, but I wanted the jersey. I knew I couldn't get both stage win and yellow jersey, so I went for the jersey.”

José Azevedo, who was in an early attack with 9 kilometers to ride, didn't explode when the leaders came through, and took 4th on the day.

Moreau's AG2R teammate Francisco Mancebo was 7th on the day, at 1:04, while George Hincapie and Alejandro Valverde finished together, 18th and 20th, 3:13 back.

Your Top 11 (Valverde sits 11th) in GC:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, in 15:47:53
2) Denis Menchov, Rabobank. at :28
3) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, at 1:08
4) Jose Azevedo, Discovery Channel, at 1:47
5) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, at 1:48
6) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, at 2:08
7) Francisco Mancebo, AG2R, at 2:10
8) Bernhard Kohl, T-Mobile, at 2:25
9) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 3:02
10) Sergio Paulinho, Würth, at 3:20
11) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at 3:36

Also:

Phonak Cycling Team | Black day for the Phonak team

Kind of says it all right there in the headline, no?

DailyPeloton.com | Criterium Dauphiné Libéré - Stage 4 Live Coverage

Cyclingnews.com Stage 4 Race Report | Results | Stage 4 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 8, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Dave Zabriskie, Denis Menchov, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

Stage 14 underway

On the Port de Pailhères, T-Mobile is ready to rumble. They go to the front, and launch an attack with more than 10 k left in the HC climb. Guerini pushed the pace, then Vinokourov attacked! Armstrong is isolated against Vinokourov, Guerini, and Ullrich. After the initial gap, some riders are catching up to the leaders' group. Basso, Rasmussen, Mancebo, Landis, Leipheimer are there. Popovych is trying to get back to the group, struggling a few seconds back. There goes Vinokourov again. Basso matches him, and Christophe Moreau. Basso has ridden past Vino! Botero, Mayo, Heras dropped in the first big attack. Ullrich, Basso, Vinokourov are riding together, with Armstrong back a few seconds, with Mancebo and Rasmussen. Mancebo and Armstrong attack from that group, and Armstrong drops him, bridging to Ullrich and Basso. Rasmussen and Mancebo are trying to climb back onto Armstrong/Ullrich/Basso. Heads of state group: Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Landis, Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, and Andrey Kaschechkin (bless you) who looks likely to take the white jersey tonight. Still up the road are Stefano Garzelli and Georg Totschnig, about 5 minutes ahead, and a few other remnants of an early breakaway. Now another selection: Only Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, and Landis are still together. Evans, Leipheimer, and Kaschechkin are off the back, with Mancebo, Rasmussen, and Leonardo Piepoli about 1 minute behind the Armstrong group. Vinokourov is 18 seconds behind them: He's not freewheeling to the finish; he's giving it his all to try to get back among the leaders. Now seven leaders: Leipheimer from behind and Daniele Nardello and Alexander Moos, formerly of the breakaway, join Armstrong, Basso, Landis, and Ullrich. That means Landis (with Moos) and Ullrich (with Nardello) have teammates in the bunch. If Totschnig is caught, Leipheimer will as well. Back to the five leaders: Armstrong, Basso, Landis, Leipheimer, and Ullrich. They're nearing the top of the Port de Pailhères. Totschnig is going to be first over the top, but the leaders won't be far behind. It's about a 4 minute gap, with 29 kilometers for the leader to ride. On the descent, Rasmussen's group (with Klöden, Evans, Mancebo and Zubeldia) is making up time, now about 20 seconds behind Armstrong; Vinokourov is another 25 seconds behind that. Garzelli is 2:45 ahead of Armstrong's group, and Totschnig is 1:10 ahead of that. It's all back together: Vinokourov is reintegrating; already there is Rasmussen's group. That puts 3 T-Mobiles and 2 Euskaltel-Euskadis in front. Totschnig is on the day's final climb, so I'm going to start a new "final climb" post. If you've been reloading this page, you can find it on the home page.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Stage 11 wrapup

I found myself wanting Discovery Channel to chase Vinokourov down Wednesday: they still had 5 or 6 strong guys on the Galibier, and I think they could have closed a 2 minute gap. Glancing through Bob Martin's Stage 11 summary, though, they clearly did exactly the right thing.

Just four guys made time on Armstong Wednesday: Vinokourov got 1:45, Botero 1:32; Christophe Moreau got 8 seconds; José Azevedo got 2 seconds.

Botero and Vinokourov are potentially dangerous guys, but their damage was contained, and the rest of the field has lost one more day's opportunity to put Lance Armstrong under a hammer. Armstrong's retirement is now 10 stages and 11 days away.

It's clear Iban Mayo, Roberto Heras, or Brad McGee won't be knocking Armstrong off the podium; Heras lost another 17 minutes, Mayo 22:35, and McGee almost 40 minutes. The performances of Heras and Beloki have led Liberty Seguros to reportedly make Jorg Jaksche the team captain for the rest of the Tour.

Today, Discovery will mostly work to keep GC contenders out of any successful break: If Basso tries to go off, they'll chase. On the other hand, there are so many riders facing disappointing Tours, and lowly placed, that it shouldn't be hard to find a quality break and let it go. Especially after Vinokourov's break succeeded Wednesday.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bradley McGee, Christophe Moreau, Iban Mayo, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Stage 11 underway

There have been a couple of opportunistic breakaways this morning, with the biggest being an attack from Alexandre Vinokourov, who is now riding with Santiago Botero and Oscar Pereiro of Phonak, and Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. Initially, their group also included Francisco Mancebo, Roberto Heras, Pietro Caucchioli, and Chris Horner, but those four were dropped on the Madeleine.

Pereiro had a dramatic off-road experience going off the side of the road on the descent, and down a small hill. He was able to come back up, get on board, and recapture the break.

Thor Hushovd (!) and Samuel Dumoulin also spent some time in front. Presumably, Hushovd had an eye toward the first intermediate sprint of the day, but he's been picked up by the main field.

Green jersey Tom Boonen crashed again, around 10 kilometers into the stage. The race doctor spent time working on his knee, and Guido Trenti spent quite a while pacing Boonen back to the field.

On the Col de la Madeleine, Botero took max mountain points, followed by Vinokourov, Pereiro, Martinez, and then Christophe Moreau and Michael Rasmussen in the peloton.

Discovery shucked a lot of riders on the day's first climb, but there are still 6 or 7 Discos driving the field. There may be 40 riders in the Armstrong group, and they're letting Botero and Vinokourov's group sit around 1:30 up the road. They must be able to see them on some of these roads.

Vinokourov picks up a 6 second time bonus at the sprint line; his group is closing on a 2 minute gap to the peloton. They're also closing on the Col du Telegraphe -- time to climb.

Egoi Martinez is off the lead group early on the Telegraphe, and now so is Botero. Botero battles back up to Vino and Pereiro!

The trio is 1:58 in front of Armstrong's group, which includes Rubiera, Savoldelli, Popovych, Hincapie, and Beltran, and Azevedo.

Jean-Patrick Nazon and Kim Kirchen have both abandoned today. On the Galibier, Quick Step's Stefano Zanini joins them.

As the lead three hit the summit of the Telegraphe, their gap has stretched to almost 3 minutes. Ullrich, Valverde, Basso, Klöden, Landis, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Moreau, and Chris Horner are all still in the 40-strong Armstrong group. Botero again gets max mountain points, then Vinokourov, then Pereiro.

On the Galibier, Vinokourov and Botero have dropped Pereiro; looks like he's toasted. Mayo keeps falling off the Armstrong group. The gap reached 3:30, but it's coming down now, at about 3:00.

Beltran has finally fallen off the lead group.

Vinokourov has dropped Botero.

Down to 26 riders in the Armstrong group. Vinokourov is 3:15 up on Armstrong with 6 kilometers to the top. I don't think Armstrong can count on catching Vinokourov on the descent.

Rubiera is popped. Armstrong catches Pereiro; Horner is off the back; Armstrong has Azevedo, Hincapie, Popovych and Savoldelli. The gap is 3:06.

Armstrong's group is down below 20 with 4 supporting Discos. Guerini is off the back with Klöden and Michael Rogers. The gap has dropped to 2:47.

Vinokourov is going to take the Henri Desgrange prize for the first man to the Tour's highest point. Less than 1 kilometer to the top for Vino.

Armstrong has lost another Disco. Botero continues to struggle in between Vinokourov and the chasers. He may catch Vinokourov on the descent.

Vino is first over, Botero is :38 seconds back. Rasmussen has launched an attack and has a good gap on Armstrong. Rasmussen showed us his descending skills the other day. It's going to be an interesting run-in to Briançon.

I'm starting a new post for the last 40 k; if you've been reloading this page, check the home page for the new post.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

GC update

Your current GC:
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 37:11:04
2) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at :38
3) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 2:40
4) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 2:42
5) Alejandro Valverde (Spain) Illes Balears, at 3:16
6) Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner at 3:58
7) Francisco Mancebo (Spain) Illes Balears at 4:00
8) Jan Ullrich (Germany) T-Mobile at 4:02
9) Andreas Klöden (Germany) T-Mobile at 4:16
10) Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak at 4:16

Looking farther back:

11) Botero, at 5:20
16) Vinokourov, 6:32
17) Julich, 6:32
21) Beloki at 8:31
23) Karpets at 9:03
24) Chris Horner, at 9:05
25) Michael Rogers, at 9:10
30) Georg Totschnig, at 11:43
36) Roberto Heras, at 12:59
45) Denis Menchov, at 16:16
50) Brad McGee, at 18:28
66) Iban Mayo, at 27:31

Basso, Leipheimer, Valverde, and Rasmussen all sit closer to the race lead than they did yesterday. They had the best days for riders not born in Texas. Unfortunately for them, they're not chasing down Jens Voigt from here on out.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 10 underway

First rider to drop out on the day was Lampre's Gerrit Glomser; he's the 16th rider out, leaving 173 in the race.

An opportunistic break was allowed to get 13:30 out in front; the biggest name and highest placed rider to make that break is Laurent Brochard, the former world champion, sitting 49th, 7:58 back this morning. Brochard, of course, has the peloton's worst mullet.

So much for "making CSC control the pace": Discovery is still doing most of the work on Cormet de Roselend. Discovery looks to be performing to expectations: Their pace is sending more than just pack fodder off the back: Iban Mayo has fallen off, and yellow jersey Jens Voigt is at the back of the lead group. Beltran is doing the pacemaking, and even Padrnos is still in the lead group, shadowing Voigt.

Brochard's group is 4:45 up the road from Armstrong, Ullirch, Leipheimer, Landis, Pereiro, Julich, Moreau, Vinokourov, and others. Voigt has yo-yoed off the back of the lead group and rejoined.

Over the top of the Col de Roselend, Pereiro attacks, and is joined by Jorg Jaksche of Liberty Seguros. The Brochard-to-big guns gap is 3:43 at the summit.

Popovych crashed on the descent, apparently with a team car, but got a new bike, and is chasing back onto Armstrong's group. Looks like he hit CSC's team car, and may have tangled and lost with the front fender of one of Discovery's Subarus.

The peloton has grown as riders dropped on the first climb chase back on. Discovery is still doing all the pacemaking.

Jaksche and Pereiro have caught the break, which is now composed of Brochard (Bouyges), Jaksche (Liberty), Pereiro (Phonak), Luis Sanchez (Liberty), Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank). Pereiro started 5:12 behind Voigt this morning.

Discovery has brought back everyone from the early break except Jaksche, Pereiro and Brochard, and it won't be long on those three.

Roberto Heras and Denis Menchov are toasted and off the back. Mayo reportedly likewise, Beloki is off the back. CSC finally is making a move, sending Sastre off the front. Discovery lets him dangle off the front, but he doesn't have the legs to go.

Guerini off the back, Moreau off the back, Vladimir Karpets off the back. Horner off the back. Julich off the back. Botero off the back. Five Discovery riders up front. Only about 20 riders in total still in contention. Sastre falling off this group, paying for his attempted break.

Leipheimer, Vino, Landis, Ullrich, Basso all are still in Armstrong's group. Valverde is also there. Discovery has started to pay for the pace; Popovych is the only Discovery left. Vinokourov is back at the back of the group of 16 riders; Mancebo is there. Vinokourov is dropped! T-Mobile has Klöden and Ullrich up front.

Popovych is popped, and IT'S ON! Armstrong blows the group of 14 into a group of 5 or so: Armstrong, Basso, Valverde, Rasmussen, and Mancebo! Goodbye, Klöden, Ullrich, Leipheimer, Julich, and Landis. They've still got 10 kilometers to ride!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Francisco Mancebo, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Laurent Brochard, Michael Rasmussen, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Rest day checkup

Daily Peloton | Jambon Report Rest Day 1

Over at dailypeloton.com, Locutus offers his update on the race so far: Who's outperforming expectations, and who's underperforming.

The big thing to remember is how many people with big expectations haven't shown anything this year: Just among the Americans, there are Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, and Chris Horner, but also Heras and Beloki, Santiago Botero, Vinokourov, Ullrich, Iban Mayo and especially Ivan Basso. Most of these guys have picked out a stage they think plays to their strength in the mountains.

For at least a few of them, I think it's going to be tomorrow. Vinokourov and Armstrong have a history of making their bones on the mountaintop finishes. Given all the talk about Discovery's strength or weakness as a team, they're going to want to stamp their name all over a mountain stage, and soon.

Also:

procycling.com | Bruyneel on voyage of Discovery

So would tomorrow’s stage, which at first glance looks tailor-made for an Armstrong attack, see more of the champion’s trademark summit spectaculars[?] “Well, I hope it’s the same this time,” said Bruyneel. “This is the first big mountain stage so in theory there will be attacks. A lot of teams are ready. But we will see.

“Maybe it’s going to come down to the final time trial,” he said. “There’s nothing that can tell me today that Lance will definitely be in yellow tomorrow.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Chris Horner, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

Mayo on TT results

procycling | Mayo: The worst TT of my life

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iban Mayo was considered a possible overall contender coming into the Tour de France. Traditionally one of the peloton's best climbers, he hasn't won anything this year, leading observers to believe he was building his entire season around the Tour.

On Saturday, in the Stage 1 time trial, Mayo finished 3:13 back of CSC's Dave Zabriskie, in 175th (!) place. He talked to El Diario Vasco on the performance:

“People who know me well are well aware that I normally ride much better in time trials than I did on Saturday,” Mayo, who recorded his team’s worst time, told El Diario Vasco. “Some people who were watching couldn’t believe they were watching me. It’s not normal for me to only beat 15 riders. It has hit me hard, but we’ll see how I get on in the team time trial.”

I've got news for Mayo: Euskaltel-Euskadi isn't going to make up ground on any of the overall contenders in the TTT; procycling speculates that Mayo might hit the slopes 6 minutes down on the GC candidates.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2005 in Iban Mayo | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2005

Stage 1 updates

Ullrich with bandage on neck
Dave Zabriskie @
Tour de Georgia ITT
CSC's Dave Zabriskie is the early leader at Stage 1: His 20:51 has held the top place for more than an hour against some pretty good time trialers. Usually, the early times can't stand up to the big boys still to come, but that's a fast time, and should at least rank highly at day's end.

BBC Sport quotes Zabriskie:

The American tells BBC Sport at the finish: "I spent the whole time not being able to hear crowd because I had team boss Bjarne Riis in the ear telling me to catch the motorbike."

Klöden comes in at 22:52. Vladimir Karpets was one rider some people predicted could take this stage: He finished in 21:56. Michael Rich, another possible stage winner, is in at 22:05.

On OLN, Paul Sherwen just reported that he had talked to somebody at Liberty Seguros, and that Joseba Beloki is 5 kilograms (~11 pounds) overweight for the Tour.

Alexandre Vinokourov comes in at 21:44, still good enough for second so far -- Zabriskie was just flying.

Levi Leipheimer is on the road, as is double world time-trial champion Michael Rogers. Leipheimer is in at 22:04, good for 7th, for now.

ROGERS COMES IN at 22:44! Not good for the Aussie.

Floyd Landis comes in at 21:53 -- that's 4th at the moment (12:45 Eastern).

Hincapie comes in 3rd so far, at 21:48!

Armstrong is off! He's not wearing the yellow jersey, as he could. He says he only wants to wear the jersey if he's earned it. He pulled out of his pedal right at the bottom of the start ramp. He also had pedal problems at the Dauphiné Libéré.

Brad McGee, another consensus pick to challenge for the stage win, comes in placed 15th. Zabriskie has a shot at wearing yellow tonight.

Ullrich is 42 seconds back of Zabriskie at the first time check, while Armstrong comes through 3 seconds back, or 39 seconds up on Ullrich. Armstrong has a big pink rabbit in sight, and he's closing the gap!

At the 2nd time gap, Armstrong is 3 seconds faster than Zabriskie, and he's passed Jan Ullrich on the road!

Also:

BBC Sport | Tour de France opening stage

The BBC offers some photos from today's warm-up and TT: Bodrogi and Zabriskie are already up in the gallery, with more to come.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bradley McGee, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Daily Peloton previews GC candidates

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Jambon Preview

One of the most entertaining web Tour de France reports is The Daily Peloton's Jambon Report, where they award their Golden Hams and Ham-gazers to the riders who ruled and drooled, respectively, during the day's stage.

Today, Locutus has their GC preview up. Some highlights: he thinks Chris Horner "is the team leader, and the team just doesn't know it yet", expects Brad McGee to take the prologue-that's-not-really-a-prologue on Saturday, and thinks Ullrich will lose serious time on the first major mountain stage, as he does every year.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005

McGee takes TdS Stage 3; Ullrich holds lead

Yahoo! Sport | McGee wins Tour of Switzerland third stage

McGee in a sprint
McGee, from cyclingnews.com gallery

Australia's Brad McGee is looking well-prepared for the Tour, as he took a sprint win on Stage 3 at the Tour of Switzerland today. Jan Ullrich continued in the race's overall lead, but McGee now sits just 2 seconds back, followed by Michael Rogers at 18 seconds.

Last year, McGee had a disastrous Tour because of back, hip, and leg pain he said were initially caused by planting olive trees at his home.

In 2003, McGee won the Tour prologue, but then abandoned, complaining of metabolic problems; later tests suggested he was making too much insulin, screwing up his blood sugar levels.

At one point, McGee said 2005 was the year when he thought he could win the Tour's overall title; his good form has got to at least make him a favorite in this year's prologue.

Olympic champion Paolo Bettini didn't take the start this morning, blaming stomach problems.

Also:

VeloNews.com | McGee takes third stage of Tour of Switzerland

Quoting McGee:

"For the first time I started training for the Tour de France last October," he said. "I am continuing to make progress and in fact I think I am ahead of schedule."


DailyPeloton.com | Tour de Suisse Stage 3

Picking up the DP commentary as Koldo Gil is trying a late breakaway:

But unfortunately for him, there was a certain German wearing a certain yellow thingy around today. And "wearing" two great legs too, by the way: Jan Ullrich drove the chasing bunch into Sankt Anton, and poor Koldo was brought back with just 500m left. Then it was time for the sprint, and for Brad McGee to get proper reward for the perfect race he rode today.

procycling.com | McGee closes in on Ullrich

There were some notable performances with the Tour de France in mind. Spaniards Iban Mayo and Alejandro Valverde were both prominent in the front group, while Sinkewitz’s Quick Step team-mate Michael Rogers was also up there. Missing, though, was Joseba Beloki, who finished almost six minutes down and is now very short of time in which to rediscover his best form.

cyclingnews.com | Tour de Suisse Stage 3 results

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Bradley McGee, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

Tour de Suisse kicks off Saturday

Eurosport | Tour Of Switzerland

Saturday's a big day, as the king stage of the Dauphiné covers 4 major climbs, and the Tour of Switzerland kicks off.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is the defending Tour de Suisse champion, but Ullrich told cyclingnews.com it's a training ride this year for him.

"Repeating last year's victory is not on my mind, it's all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," Ullrich said. "I'm convinced that I am a bit further ahead compared to the same time in previous years. I still have about three pounds to lose but that's intended. Now I must race again in order to achieve a fine cross section of fitness. That means I must convert the strength I have into speed."

There may be a stronger field taking the start of the Tour de Suisse than is contesting the Dauphiné, despite the presence of the top American GC threats at the Dauphiné; the Swiss tour includes Ullrich, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, last year's Dauphiné champion Iban Mayo, Tom Boonen, and Americans Bobby Julich, Freddie Rodriguez, Saul Raisin, Jason McCartney, Guido Trenti, and Chris Horner.

Also:

CyclingNews.com Tour de Suisse preview - map - stage list

The Tour de Suisse official page is available in French or in German.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 11, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Saul Raisin, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

Armstrong not alone: Spanish Tour threats also behind

procycling | Shorts: Mayo, Beloki, Igor

Procycling reports that Eukaltel's Iban Mayo and both Joseba Beloki and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano are behind thei training goals.

Mayo had to have a knee drained, and lost some training time.

Beloki has already pulled out of two regional races already, and won't start Semana Catalana next week as originally planned. He'll likely race next at the Tour of the Basque Country in April.

Gonzalez de Galdeano (2nd and subsequent ref: "G de G") is still suffering what procycling calls "a long-term malaise" dating back to early last season. G de G is on the start list for Milan-San Remo, but procycling suggests his place may go to Australian teammate Aaron Kemps.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 16, 2005 in Iban Mayo, Joseba Beloki | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2004

Mayo drops out of Tour

ESPN.com | Exhausted Mayo throws in the towel

"We knew he wouldn't finish the stage today, so we decided it was better for him not to start," said Euskaltel general manager Miguel Madariaga.

The team suggests that Mayo might have a virus that's sapping his strength.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2004

Mayo: 'not optimistic' about continuing

Eurosport | Mayo to quit Tour?

Tour de France organizers, who thought they were building a more competitive Tour by back-loading so many tough stages, now may be faced with a Tour that finishes without many of the pre-race favorites.

After the departure today of Tyler Hamilton, Haimar Zubeldia, and Denis Menchov, it looks like Iban Mayo is setting himself up for an early departure from this year's Tour.

"I don't know what is going to happen in the rest of the Tour, riding so badly has been a big blow mentally," Mayo said after the finish.

"I'll see how I feel during tomorrow's stage to Nimes and then on Monday's rest day but I'm not optimistic about my chances of carrying on."

Mayo considered dropping out on the road to Plateau de Beille, where he finished more than 37 minutes behind Armstrong and Basso.

"I honestly thought about quitting because my legs felt very bad and I was completely demoralised but my team mates and team director convinced me to carry on for the good of the team," Mayo said after the finish.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

Armstrong takes Stage 13; Voeckler fights to keep yellow

Lance Armstrong was clearly the strongest man in the race today, as he powered through one of the Tour's hardest stages and took the win. It's Armstrong's 19th career stage win.

Thomas Voeckler scrapped the entire day to hold the yellow jersey by just a few seconds at the top, finishing in the Top 15 for the stage. What an amazing ride...

Looks like the prognosticators were right about this being a 2-man race, but they had the wrong 2nd man: Ivan Basso again rode to the top of the mountain right alongside the 5-time winner.

Iban Mayo came in 115th at 37:40. His race for the GC is completely over. We'll see if he can recover enough to compete for a mountain stage.

Stage 13 standings:
1) Armstrong
2) Basso (CSC), same time
3) Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 1:05
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at 1:27
5) Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:27
6) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 2:42
7) Azevedo (US Postal) at 2:50
8) Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 2:51
9) Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 2:51
10) Simoni at (Saeco) at 3:43
11) Pereiro at (Phonak) at 4:29
12) Goubert at (AG2R) at 4:29
19) Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 6:39
24) Brochard (AG2R) at 8:21
49) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 21:35

The overall after Stage 13:
1) Voeckler
2) Armstrong at :22
3) Basso at 1:39
4) Klöden at 3:18
5) Mancebo at 3:28
6) Totschnig at 6:08
7) Azevedo at 6:43
8) Ullrich 7:01
9) Caucchioli 7:59
10) Casar 8:29
11) Simoni
12) Sastre
13) Pereiro
14) Leipheimer

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 13 underway

After today's abandons, there are only 4 complete teams left in this Tour de France:

US Postal
Team CSC
Quick Step-Davitamon
Rabobank

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann has also abandoned today.

Leading the race over the first 4 climbs has been a break of 3, including Brioches la Boulangere's Sylvain Chavanel, Jens Voigt from Team CSC, and Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank. They've been up by about 5 minutes, but now Chavanel has been caught by Armstrong's group, and the gap to Voigt and Rasmussen has fallen under 2 minutes.

Iban Mayo is at least 10 minutes back on the stage, and clearly suffering on the Pyrenean climbs where he has made his reputation. He actually got off the bike (shades of Simoni), but was convinced to get back on, and continues. For now.

Thomas Voeckler continues to ride above his head in an incredible show of courage, and of the power the yellow jersey sometimes has to elevate a rider. He's again yo-yoed off the lead group on the climbs, but fought back, and is riding with Armstrong. He's reportedly had stomach problems, as well.

Jan Ullrich is still riding with Armstrong in the main field, but Heras is falling away from the leaders. He crashed earlier in the stage.

The elite group, once down under 20, has grown, as the riders get ready to start up Plateau de Beille, the first beyond-category climb of the race.

Richard Virenque's polka-dotted jersey has come under attack by Chavanel and Rasmussen, and Virenque has had to settle for 4th-place points over 5 climbs. Rasmussen now sits 2nd in the competition.

Onto the Plateau de Beille, 2 Posties immediately fell off the pace, Landis and Hincapie. Armstrong still has Rubiera and Azevedo, and Voeckler has finally fallen off the elite group.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Roberto Heras, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tour headline of the day

From the official Tour site:

14 H 29 - O'Grady Passes Mayo...
The Australian sprinter, Stuart O'Grady, has just passed Iban Mayo. The winner of the stage to Alpe d'Huez last year appears to be in real trouble. He cannot match the pace of the peloton on the Col de Latrape

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Stuart O'Grady, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 16, 2004

Basso takes stage 12; Armstrong gaps everyone else

Ivan Basso was the only rider who could ride with Lance Armstrong, as US Postal slowly ground the field down to only the elite riders, and Armstrong put serious time into most of his rivals.

1) Basso (CSC)
2) Armstrong (US Postal) s.t.
3) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) at :20
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at :24
5) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at :33
6) Oscar Pererio (Phonak) at :30
7) Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) at :59
8) Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) at 1:02
9) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 1:03
10) Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) at 1:03

Ullrich 20th, 2:30 back. Heras :15 seconds or so back of that.

Basso will pick up 8 seconds on Armstrong with a 20 second time bonus, to Armstrong's 12 seconds.

Thomas Voeckler has given his everything today, and is going to hold on to the yellow jersey. Armstrong pole vaults up into 2nd.

The new GC:
1) Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere)
2) Armstrong at 5:24
3) Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com) at 5:50
4) Richard Virenque (Quick Step) at 6:20
5) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) at 6:33
6) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 6:53
7) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 6:43
8) Jakob Piil (CSC) at 6:53
9) Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) at 7:23
10) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 8:11
16) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 9:01
17) Bobby Julich (CSC) at 9:11
20) Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) at 9:46

Complete results are over at RoadCycling.com.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Stage results, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (8)

July 15, 2004

Mayo awaits Pyrenees

Eurosport | Mayo ready for Pyrenean party

It's hard to overestimate the importance of the Eusaltel-Euskadi team in the Basque region of Spain, and the importance of the Pyrenees to the Euskaltel-Euskadis.

Basque authorities have distributed 70,000 orange t-shirts to fans, and they will be lining the roads up to La Mongie on Friday and to Plateau de Beille on Saturday.

For the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, the Pyrenees arrive just in time. The team has yet to score a stage win, and team leader Iban Mayo's chances in the general classification have been discounted by most observers, after he was caught out on Stage 3's Belgian cobbles.

Said Mayo:

"The Pyrenees are looming, that's my terrain and so everybody is asking me if I will attack," said Mayo.

"Naturally the answer is yes."

"If I could choose, I'd like to win at La Mongie on Friday. I know that thousands of Basque fans are getting ready to line the climb to the finish so it would be incredible to win in front of them."

"It won't be easy because everybody will be expecting me to attack but that won't stop me trying."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

Ullrich upbeat on rest day

Yahoo! Sport | The real battle begins now says Ullrich

Five-time Tour de France runner-up Jan Ullrich says he's not concerned about the 55 seconds by which he trails 5-time winner Lance Armstrong.

"The 55sec which I am trailing Lance Armstrong by is not going to irritate me."

"It would be ridiculous for me to stay in my room and mope and hide my face under a sheet over such a small gap," added the Olympic road race champion.

Ullrich clearly puts a lot of stock in the last time trial of this year's Tour, a 55-km loop of Besancon July 24th.

"I will not be prepared to whistle 'la paloma blanca' (a famous German song) until the time-trial in Besancon and contrary to some people I am very excited to see the mountain stages on the horizon.

"In the Tour de France, it is imperative to take every opportunity that arises no matter the terrain. If luck smiles on me, I will not reject it."

Besides Armstrong, Ullrich said he is marking Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla of Phonak, Iban Mayo of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Ivan Basso of Team CSC.

And what of Armstrong?

"I have noticed how he is on the bike. It is clear that I will have to be 100 percent focused."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Abt busy: profiles of Mayo, Simoni

IHT | A brooding rebel with many causes

NYTimes.com | Basque Cyclist, Mayo, Enjoys Salad Days on Tour

Samuel Abt, the best English-language cycling writer, offers up profiles of Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iban Mayo (in the New York Times) and Saeco's Gilberto Simoni (in the International Herald Tribune).

On Simoni, the lead is my favorite:

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud or even a Dick Tracy Junior G-Man to figure out that when Gilberto Simoni failed to sign in for two consecutive days at the start of stages in the Tour de France he was betraying a certain reluctance to continue in the race.

Mayo has tired of The Question (have you peaked too early?):

"I've been asked one hundred times and I keep saying the same thing: No. My preparation has gone wonderfully but I still have room to improve. Last year at the Dauphiné," he continued, referring to a weeklong mountainous race in France in June, "I was better than I am now, so I still have room to improve." He finished that Dauphiné in second place, behind Lance Armstrong.

Abt has tired of The Pun (although he couldn't resist "Mayo Can Still Lay It On Thick" used ironically).

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Rider profiles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

Bookies believe in Armstrong; odds fall after Stage 4

readaBet.com - TOUR DE FRANCE BETTING ODDS UPDATE AFTER STAGE 4

Odds on Lance Armstrong winning a 6th consecutive Tour de France have shortened considerably, averaging around 8/13 after US Postal won the TTT and gave Armstrong the familiar yellow jersey.

Jan Ullrich is about 3-to-1, Tyler Hamilton about 4-to-1, while Iban Mayo's odds have lengthened to around 40-to-1.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US Postal takes team time trial; Armstrong in yellow

US Postal took the team time trial. Armstrong is in yellow, and the real leaders will start to emerge on GC.

Phonak finished 2nd on the day, 67 seconds back, but that will be capped at 20 seconds.

Illes Balears-Banesto, at 1:15, are capped at 30 seconds, and so on.

Top 10:
1) US Postal                    1.12.03
2) Phonak                       at 1:07 adjusted - :20
3) Illes Balears                at 1:15 adj - :30
4) T-Mobile                      at 1:19 adj - :40
5) CSC                            at 1:46 adj - :50
6) Rabobank                    at 1:53 adj - 1:00
7) Liberty Seguros            at 2:25 adj - 1:10
8) Euskaltel - Euskadi        at 2:35 adj - 1:20
9) Saeco                         at 2:37 adj - 1:30
10) Alessio - Bianchi            at 2:57 adj - 1:40

Early reports are that this puts US Postal in the Top 5 on the general classification (GC), much as last year:

1. Lance Armstrong (USP)
2. George Hincapie (USP) at 10"
3. Floyd Landis (USP) at 16"
4. Jose Azevedo (USP) at 22"
5. Jose Luis Rubiera (USP) at 24"
6. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (PHO) at 27"
7. Viatcheslav Ekimov (USP) at 30"
8. Tyler Hamilton (PHO) at 36"
9. Santos Gonzalez (PHO) at 37"
10. Bert Grabsch (PHO) at 41"

Looking at the team leaders, and anyone else I'm keeping an eye on, it's:

1) Armstrong (USPS)
2) Hamilton (Phonak) at 36"
3) Jens Voigt (CSC) at 43"
4) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 55"
5) Bobby Julich (CSC) at 1:00
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:01
7) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 1:08
8) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 1:17
9) Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) at 1:29
10) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 1:45
11) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 2:02
12) Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) at 2:25
13) Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) at 2:29
14) Laurent Brochard (AG2R) at 2:30
15) Richard Virenque (Quick Step) at 2:39
16) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) at 2:45

Others:
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) at 3:22
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:27
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:33
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 5:58
Michael Rogers (Quick Step) at 6:16
Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) at 9:09 (and the roads haven't turned up yet!)
Benjamin Noval (US Postal) at 22:37
Bradley McGee (Fdjeux.com) at 22:49

And our new lanterne rouge:
Davide Bramati (Quick Step) at 27:51

Bramati and a few others were dropped by their teams during the TTT, and had to straggle in alone (or in one pair's case, with a teammate). Eddy Seigneur of RAGT was also dropped, but couldn't finish within the time limit, and was eliminated.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Christophe Moreau, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Magnus Backstedt, Robbie McEwen, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 06, 2004

Stage 3 wrapup: Mayo down, but out?

Eurosport | Nazon nukes sprint

Pre-stage, Magnus Backstedt predicted the day:

"We could see some dramatic changes today. It's going to be a very strange race and it will be absolute chaos."

Eurosport's take on the decisive crash:

The pack, already nervy, turned positively frantic as the riders jostled for the front positions in the bunch -- traditionally the safest place to sit when tackling the unpredictable topography of the cobbles.

A touch-of-wheels tumble brought down some 15 riders, including overall race favourite Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Fassa Bortolo rider Marco Velo.

I expect we'll get some beefcake shots of Iban Mayo, shorts in tatters, over at Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux!.

Mayo apparently accepts the conventional wisdom (rough Google translation), that he's out of the race for overall Tour victory. When you factor in the 90 seconds plus he'll probably lose to the big men tomorrow, and the 2 minutes he will likely lose on the last time trial, he'll need to be absolutely dominant in the mountains to win. He may have to adjust his sights to getting a stage win or two or competing for the polka-dots.

It's good to see Erik Zabel factor in a sprint. Like Stuart O'Grady, he's lost that extra 5 meters in a mass sprint, but he's another guy that can hang with the fast guys on days when many sprinters are riding "the bus," the group of riders just trying to avoid elimination that forms at the back of the race.

Also:

Yahoo! Sport | Armstrong big winner as French celebrate

Armstrong thinks his chances are good to take the 54th yellow jersey of his career tomorrow:

"Well if the team wins, then I will definitely be in the yellow jersey," said Armstrong, who said it was still early and his goal was to be wearing the jersey for the sixth time in Paris on July 25 when the Tour ends.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Lance Armstrong 2004, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Did the leaders take unfair advantage?

PezCycling News | TDF '04 Stg3: Cobbles, Crashes and Surprises

Frantic paces and chases ensued, and when it was all said and done, Mayo had almost four whole minutes put into him. One wonders if the pre-Tour podium favorite will chastise the others for hitting him while he was down, as it was obviously a concerted effort by the big teams on the right end of the crash to distance themselves from the others.

Perhaps the strangest thing was how long it took for Euskaltel-Euskadi to get a chase going; if that had been Ullrich or Armstrong, their teams would have been strung out 9 strong bringing the leader back or getting smoked trying.

I give credit to the leading teams; that was a pretty good group they rode away from, with plenty of strong riders to effect a bridge, if motivated.

Update: Over at Daily Peloton, Locutus maintains “no foul”:

... Lance had his men on the front hammering for a long time before the crash even happened. Phonak, T-Mobile, CSC, Lotto-Domo, Fassa Bortolo, and Gerolsteiner all helped extend the advantage to the end, playing a bigger role than Postal on the front of the peloton once the cobbles were over. It was a horribly unlucky day for Euskaltel-Euskadi, but lashing out at Lance and his awesome US Postal teammates for that misfortune is just sour grapes.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2004 in About the Tour, Iban Mayo, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (11)