July 20, 2009

Contador takes Stage 15, race lead

Tour de France 2009 Stage Fifteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 12, 2009

Stage 9: Fedrigo makes it three for France

Getty Images Photo by Jesper Juinen

Pierrick Fedrigo outkicked Franco Pellizotti in the last 200 meters in Tarbes to take Stage 9 of the Tour de France.

Fedrigo and Pellizotti were all that remained from a big breakaway that had swelled to 9 riders, including Jens Voigt, Egoi Martinez, David Moncoutie, and others. The pair were well clear at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, but a chase by Columbia-HTC, then by Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank, pulled back all but 34 seconds of their lead by the line.

Yellow jersey Rinaldo Nocentini had no problems with the pace, and will hold the yellow jersey through tomorrow's rest day and Tuesday's Stage 10.

New King of the Mountains Brice Feillu, on the other hand, lost his polka-dots to Egoi Martinez, who was 5th on the Col d'Aspin and 7th over the Tourmalet.

Stage 9 Top 10:
1) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, 4:05:31
2) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, same time
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :34
4) Serguei Ivanov, Team Katusha, same time
5) Peter Velits, Team Milram, s.t.
6) Jose Rojas, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
7) Greg Van Avermaet, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
8) Geoffroy Lequatre, Agritubel, s.t.
9) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.
10) Nicolas Roche, AG2R-La Mondiale

General Classification after Stage 9:
1) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, 34:24:21
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :06
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :08
4) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :39
5) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :46
6) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :54
7) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 1:00
8) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:24
9) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:49
10) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:54

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2009 in 2009 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Christian Vande Velde, David Moncoutié, Egoi Martinez, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Pierrick Fedrigo, Rinaldo Nocentini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 9 on the road

It was a very active start today, as a big group formed that Astana thought was dangerous, and Lance Armstrong and Rinaldo Nocentini bridged up, encouraging an escape by Jens Voigt, Franco Pellizotti, Pierrick Fedrigo, and Leonardo "L." Duque.

This break collected the sprint points in Sarrancolin, with Col d'Aspin looming ahead.

Sarrancolin Intermediate sprint:
1) Duque, Cofidis, +6 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +4 pts
3) Voigt, Saxo Bank, +2 pts

On the Col d'Aspin, Duque was shed by the leaders, and a 2nd group tried to escape the field. In it were Jurgen Van Broeck, Laurens Ten Dam, Sergio Paulinho, Egoi Martinez, Amets Txurruka, Juan Manual Garate, and David Moncoutie.

1st Category Col d'Aspin
1) Pellizotti, Liquigas, +15 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +13 pts
3) Voigt, Saxo Bank, +11 pts
4) Duque, Cofidis, +9 pts
5) Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +8 pts
6) Ten Dam, Rabobank, +7 pts
7) Van den Broeck, Silence-Lotto, +6 pts
8) Garate, Rabobank, +5 pts

The gap from Pellizotti's group to the field was 3:17 at the summit, with Nocentini riding comfortably at the head of the pack.

Pellizotti attacked his breakmates early on the Tourmalet, and Jen Voigt couldn't match the pace, and began slowly falling back through the chase groups. Maxime Bouet of Agritubel tried to go the other way, briefly bridging to Martinez and Moncoutie's group, but quickly fell away, riding for many miles alone.

HC Tourmalet
1) Pellizotti, Liquigas, +40 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +36 pts
3) Garate, Rabobank, +32 pts
4) Voeckler, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +30 pts
5) Moncoutie, Cofidis, +24 pts
6) Van den Broeck, Silence-Lotto, +20 pts
7) Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +16 pts
8) Paulinho, Astana, +14 pts
9) Ten Dam, Rabobank, +12 pts
10) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +10 pts

Atop the Tourmalet, the field came through about 4:49 behind Fedrigo and Pellizotti.

On the run-in to Tarbes, Pellizotti and Fedrigo rotated smoothly, and it looked like the win had to go to one of them, with the break much closer to the field than the breakaway. Then, Columbia picked up the pace, and the breakaway was quickly recaptured. Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank joined in, and the gap started to fall.

At 10k, it was down to 1:22; at 5k, just :44. Fedrigo and Pellizottie refused to play cat-and-mouse games, continuing to share the work and looking more and more like they would hold off the field.

Entering the final k, the gap was 36 seconds, and Pellizotti refused to come through and take a pull, sitting on Fedrigo's wheel. Fedrigo continued to work, and they rode on until Pellizotti launched toward the last turn in the stage, a 90-degree righthander just 200 meters from the line. Pellizotti was first to the corner, but when they came around, it was into a stiff headwind, and Fedrigo found himself sheltered, and came hard to the line, to take the 3rd French stage win of the 2009 Tour.

Rabobank's Oscar Freire won the field sprint 34 seconds back, at the front of a group that included all the overall contenders for Tour victory.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2009 in 2009 Stage 9, David Moncoutié, Egoi Martinez, Jens Voigt, Jurgen van den Broeck, Pierrick Fedrigo, Rinaldo Nocentini, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2009

Stage 4 TTT: Astana firing on all cylinders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 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

Stage 10 on the road

Stage 10 is a transitional stage. The peloton covers 229.5 kms/142 miles down to the Mediterranean town of Marseilles. Two 4th Category climbs in the first half and two 3rd Category climbs in the second half, with 2 intermediate sprints.

Plenty of riders have marked themselves no danger to the overall standings, and can be allowed to get away in a breakaway today. Temperatures are in the high 90s.

VS. broadcaster picks:
Sherwen: Erik Zabel
Roll: Jens Voigt
Liggett: David Millar
Trautwig: George Hincapie

A couple of early testing breakaways have been recaptured, then Marcus Burghardt got free and led over the day's first climb, the 4th Category Cote de Chateauneuf:

Cote de Chateauneuf:
1) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, +3 pts
2) Xavier Florencio, Bouygues Telecom, +2 pts
3) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, +1 pt

With 73 kilometers gone, a group of 10 strong riders bridged up, including former stage winners Jens Voigt of CSC, Patrice Halgand of Credit Agricole, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, and Cedric Vasseur of Quick Step. Also there are Andriy Grivko of Milram, Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, Burghardt of T-Mobile, Paolo Bossoni of Lampre, Staf Scheirlinckx of Cofidis, and Sandy Casar of Française des Jeux.

1st Intermediate Sprint:
1) Cedric Vasseur, Quick Step, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Andriy Grivko, Milram, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Paolo Bossoni, Lampre, +2 pts/2 secs

The gap continues to climb for the breakaway, 7:50 with 101 kilometers to ride.

Code de Villedieu, a 4th Cat:
1) Patrice Halgand (CA) +3 pts
2) Staf Scheirlinckx (COF) +2 pts
3) Jens Voigt (CSC) +1 pt

At the feedzone, the 11 leaders have 10:10 on the field. The gap went out as high as 14:00, but has started to fall. It's now about 10:18 with 88 kilometers to ride. The 2nd intermediate sprint is a few kilometers up the road.

At the sprint, the 11-rider breakaway doesn't even hesitate in its rotation:

2nd (final) Intermediate Sprint:
1) Staf Scheirlinckx (COF) +6 pts/6 secs
2) Jens Voigt (CSC) +4 pts/4 secs
3) Paolo Bossoni (LAM) +2 pts/2 secs

The gap has hovered around 10:30 to 11:00; the peloton is content to have the day's winner come from these 11 breakaway riders. They've got two 3rd-Category climbs to shake up the group yet.

On the first, Jens Voigt is first to attack, but he's easily matched, and the 11 ride together. Then Patrice Halgand launches, matched by Michael Albasini of Liquigas and Sandy Casar of Française des Jeux. Voigt was in a 2nd group, chasing with Burghardt, Cedric Vasseur, and Scheirlinckx, while Flecha, Bossoni, Kuschynski, and Grivko are farther back.

Cote des Bastides, 3rd Category:
1) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, +4 pts
2) Michael Albasini, Liquigas, +3 pts
3) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, +2 pts
4) Jens Voigt, CSC, +1 pt

Coming down, Voigt and Vasseur have joined the three leaders, and the other 6 survivors of the earlier break are riding together almost 35 seconds behind.

On the day's last climb, Patrice Halgand launches a few tests, but nobody can get a gap to stick. Over the top, the 5 riders are all together, while behind, the chasers break into smaller pieces, with Burghardt chasing ahead of Scheirlinckx and Flecha.

Col de la Gineste, 3rd Category:
1) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, +4 pts
2) Jens Voigt, CSC, +3 pts
3) Michael Albasini, Liquigas, +2 pts
4) Cedric Vasseur, Quick Step, +1 pt

In the last 5 kilometers Voigt attacks and is matched, Vasseur attacks, matched by Albasini, then the others. With 2 kilometers to ride, they're all together. Voigt rides in 1st, with Albasini shadowing him, and Casar, then Halgand, then Vasseur offset to the side. It's a dead straight last kilometer, and they're through the flamme rouge.

Nobody has been able to get a gap, so it looks like we'll get a 5-up sprint. Here's 400 meters, Vasseur shoots up the right at 250 meters, Casar is coming up fast, with Albasini on the left, and Vasseur is first to the line!

Stage Top 5:
1) Vasseur
2) Casar
3) Albasini
4) Halgand
5) Voigt

My Tour Twitter feed is the best way to track updates in real-time. I typically will post a few dozen comments during each Tour stage, including more time gaps than I post here.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2007 in 2007 Stage 10, Cedric Vasseur, Erik Zabel, Jens Voigt, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2007

Stage 8 on the road

Day 2 of the Alps ratchets the difficulty up another notch, with 6 categorized climbs, the last three 1st Category. There are 3 riders who have shown an interest in the King of the Mountains competition: Michael Rasmussen, David de la Fuente, and Sylvain Chavanel.

Rasmussen has won his polka-dot jerseys through a strategy sometimes called the “Chicken Run,” a day-long Alpine breakaway where he takes major mountain points while riding alone. There's a chance of that, but he's still placed highly in the GC, and may not be allowed to get away.

Versus broacaster picks:
Liggett: Valverde
Trautwig: Contador
Sherwen: Rasmussen
Roll: Leipheimer

First climb, a 4th Cat:
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +3 pts
2) Alexandre Efimkin, Barloworld, +2 pts
3) Marcel Sieberg, Milram, +1 pt

2nd climb, a 3rd Cat:
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +4 pts
2) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, +3 pts
3) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel +2 pts
4) Stephane Goubert (AG2R)+1 pt

Schumacher was recaptured, and Thomas Voeckler made a break. He was quickly countered by 18 riders, including Michael Rogers, George Hincapie, David Millar, Stephan Schumacher, and Jens Voigt.

1st sprint
1) Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Lilian Jegou, Française des Jeux, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Stephane Goubert (A2R) +2 pts/2 secs

3rd climb, 2nd Cat:
1) Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, 10 pts
2) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, 9 pts
3) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, 8 pts
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, 7 pts
5) Bernard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 6 pts
6) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, 5 pts

Voeckler was captured and the group of 18 quickly built a 2:00 lead on the peloton, driven primarily by Rabobank.

2nd (and final) intermediate sprint:
1) Frederik Willems, Liquigas, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Antonio Colom, Astana, +2 pts/2 secs

Early on the day's biggest climb, David Millar falls off the lead group, and Michael Rasmussen rides off the peloton, joined by 7 other riders.

Bernard Kohl of Gerolsteiner has ridden away from the Rogers group and leads the race, with Antonio Colom and Christophe Le Mevel chasing.

Rasmussen has caught up to the splinters of the Rogers group, with David Arroyo, who bridged with him, and Goubert and Rogers join them to chase down Kohl, Le Mevel, and Colom. The 7 of them now lead the race.

Le Mevel is dropped late on the climb. Over the top, Rasmussen takes max points. He's been doing most of the work, but will be glad to have some other riders to pick the best line on the descent. The main field is more than 5 minutes behind with 2 more 1st Category climbs.

Cormet de Roselend, 1st Category:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 15 pts
2) Bernard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 13 pts
3) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, 11 pts
4) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, 9 pts
5) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, 8 pts
6) Antonio Colom, Astana, 7 pts
7) Christphe Le Mevel, 6 pts (@ :52)
8) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 5 pts (@1:25)

On the descent, Michael Rogers crashes, and David Arroyo goes over a guardrail. Both are quickly back on the road, but have to chase to get back with Rasmussen/Kohl/Colom.

On the 2nd 1st Category climb, Rogers is first to fall off the Rasmussen group, quickly followed by Goubert and Kohl. Colom and Arroyo match Rasmussen, letting the Dane do all the work.

Rogers can't hang with Goubert and Kohl, and it's quickly apparent that he's injured from the fall. He falls back to Hincapie's group, then back to the peloton, then off the back of the peloton to see the race doctor. Rogers refuses help from a domestique, then pulls to the side of the road. He collapses over his top tube, then dismounts and exits the Tour.

Less than 5 minutes later, his teammate Marcus Burghardt is reported to have abandoned, but it's yet another race radio screwup.

Over the summit, it's Rasmussen again, and Astana comes to the front of the field, 6:12 behind Rasmussen's trio. Most of the GC men are close by. Rasmussen is back in his familiar polka-dots, and could take the overall lead -- Arroyo is only 2 seconds behind Rasmussen in GC, and would take the race lead if he beats Rasmussen to the line for the stage win.

Montée d'Hauteville, 1st Category:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 15 pts
2) Antonio Colom, Astana, 13 pts
3) David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, 11 pts
4) Sergio Paulinho, Discovery Channel, 9 pts
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 8 pts
6) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 7 pts
7) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6 pts
8) Christophe le Mevel, Credit Agricole, 5 pts

Knowing Arroyo is a threat, Rasmussen rides the other two off his wheel on the day's last climb. Christophe Moreau is the first GC man to attack -- Mayo, Evans, Contador, Kashechkin, Valverde and Shleck (and briefly, Popovych) matched the French champion. Mayo, Moreau and Contador look like the strongest men in this group, which has built a lead of more than 1:30 on the peloton, which include Vino, Klöden, Leipheimer, Menchov, and others.

Contador has a mechanical that takes him back to the Vino group, but as soon as he's back on his bike, he goes back on the attack. Meanwhile, Moreau's group sweeps up Arroyo and Colom, and nearing the summit, Mayo jumps easily away. Only Moreau will work to reel him in, and Mayo builds a gap.

Rasmussen crosses the line with a textbook Rasmussen victory. Today, though, there's more than the polka-dots as a reward: Rasmussen takes over as the overall race leader.

Mayo is 2nd on the day, 2:47 back, then Valverde.

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

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2007 in 2007 Stage 8, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Sylvain Chavanel, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 29, 2007

Z's in! CSC announces Tour roster

David Zabriskie
David Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

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

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

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

Left off were veterans Bobby Julich, and Karsten Kroon.

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

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

February 25, 2007

Dominguez takes Stage 7, Leipheimer the overall at ToC

VeloNews | Sprinters have their day as Leipheimer cruises to Tour of California title

So far, the Tour of California has been the Discovery Channel/CSC Variety Hour, with guest stars Paolo Bettini and Graeme Brown. CSC has 3 wins, 2 by Juan José Haedo and one by Jen Voigt, while Discovery Channel has two by Leipheimer in the race's two time trials.

So it's understandable the US squads were on the attack today on the circuit race in Long Beach.

Danny Pate of Slipstream and Tim Johnson of HealthNet kicked off the day's big break, joined by Johnson teammate Karl Menzies, Pate teammate Steven Cozza, Toyota-United's Sean Sullivan, Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, and T-Mobile's Adam Hansen. At one point, Pate was yellow jersey on the road, but Discovery had plenty of help today from teams looking for a sprint stage win, including BMC, Credit Agricole, and Rabobank.

Menzies was the final survivor with around 2 miles to ride. Pate would take the overall most-aggressive rider's jersey for his active role all week.

From there, the ProTour teams worked to place their sprint specialists. CSC got on the front, with Rabobank trying to set up Graeme Brown and Gerolsteiner working for Robert Förster. At the line, the win went to Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, who found and attacked from Brown's wheel.

“For me it is better if I find my own way in a sprint,” said Dominguez. “With four laps to go I found Graeme Brown's wheel and I stayed there. When we started the sprint he just took me all the way to the finish.”

Dominguez was brought over to Toyota-United partly to fill the gap left by Juan José Haedo, now riding for CSC, who took the points jersey for the overall tour.

Levi Leipheimer wraps a wire-to-wire overall win in front of the home crowd. It's going to be very interesting to see how his season develops; this could either be his payoff for working for Basso at the Grand Tours, or the beginning of the big season he's worked for.

Best young rider goes to Rabobank's Robert Gesink, :41 ahead of Matthew Lloyd of Predictor-Lotto. CSC took the team classification, 2:19 up on Discovery Channel. Said Stuart O'Grady:

“We came here with the objective of going for the overall. But getting three stage wins plus second, fourth, fifth, sixth, the overall team classification and the sprinters jersey was a superb week. We've come from a really hard training camp and it was hard. But the hard days are paying off and we've come away from this with way more than expected and we are all very happy.”

Christophe Laurent took the King of the Mountains overall.

CyclingNews.com | Leipheimer takes jersey from start to finish

CyclingNews | Stage 7 photo gallery | Complete stage results | Complete General Classification

GrahamWatson.com | Tour of California Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on February 25, 2007 in Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Leipheimer dominates Cali TT

Leipheimer extends Amgen Tour lead with superb TT victory

CyclingNews.com | Leipheimer puts stamp on California: “It's my turn!”

Voigt over the top

Levi Leipheimer
By Ken Conley.

Levi Leipheimer stamped his seal on the Tour of California with a dominant performance in today's 14.6 mile/23.5 kilometer time trial. Leipheimer put another 18 seconds into Jens Voigt, who was 2nd-fastest on the day, and Discovery Channel teammate Jason McCartney was 3rd on the day, almost 25 seconds behind Leipheimer.

Discovery Channel and Team CSC dominated the day, taking 9 of the top 10 places. The sole interloper was Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, who was 3rd in the race's prologue on Sunday.

World time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara could manage only 4th on the day.

Leipheimer, who had a very disappointing time trial in last year's Tour de France, partially credited the win to a change in his position discovered during an off-season wind tunnel session.

The results were enough to bump Rabobank's Robert Gesink ahead of Predictor-Lotto's Matthew Lloyd in the young rider's competition. All four race jerseys (overall, mountains, points, and young rider) are still in play, with the climber's jersey to be decided on Saturday.

Top 10 on the day:
1) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, in 29:40.44
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, Team CSC, at 18.07
3) Jason McCartney, USA, Discovery Channel, at 24.70
4) Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, Team CSC, at 37.47
5) George Hincapie, USA, Discovery Channel, at 40.10
6) Bobby Julich, USA, Team CSC, at 41.86
7) Christian Vandevelde, USA, Team CSC, at 56.66
8) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, Team CSC, at 59.95
9) Ivan Basso, Italy, Discovery Channel, at 1:02.66
10) Ben Jacques-Maynes, USA, Priority Health, at 1:14.17

General Classification:
1) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, in 18:21:52
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :21
3) Jason McCartney, USA, Discovery Channel, at :54
4) Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, at 1:06
5) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, at 1:20
6) Christian Vande Velde, USA, CSC, at 1:24
7) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, at 1:34
8) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators, at 1:38
9) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, at 1:41
10) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net, at 1:57

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 5 photo gallery

CyclingNews.com | Stage 5 ITT photo gallery

Ken Conley | Tour of California Stage 5 Flickr gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on February 23, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2007

California Cricket: Bettini takes ToC Stage 4

VeloNews | Bettini's stage win a great curtain-raiser for Friday's TT showdown

cyclingnews.com | Two world champs go one-two in SLO

Catching up from a couple of busy days, so these won't be news if you've been paying attention to the Tour of California.

On Thursday, Paolo Bettini got his first-ever win in the United States. He narrowly outsprinted world under-23 champion Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile, with CSC's Juan José Haedo third.

Christophe Laurent of Credit Agricole joined a host of US continental riders for the day's primary breakaway, and therefore Laurent took over the lead in the king of the mountains competition. Also on board were Kirk O'Bee, Alejandro Acton, Aaron Olson Lucas Euser, Hilton Clarke, and Sean Sullivan. The peloton was content to let this group get away, and only Discovery Channel worked until very late in the stage, when Liquigas and Rabobank joined in to try and give their sprinters a chance. Finally, with 5 kilometers to ride and CSC driving the field, the break was captured.

Ciolek was first around the day's last corner, with Bettini on his wheel, but there was no denying the rainbow jersey, who took a photo finish that had the top three spread over about a wheel's width.

Bettini complimented T-Mobile's young German:

It was very hard for me to close that gap and the sprint was close by only a few centimeters. I was fortunate to have the power to come back to him today. He is very young and very fast and with experience he is going to be a very big rider."

Levi Leipheimer maintained the race lead, although Jens Voigt threatened to gap the field while setting up Haedo for the sprint.


GrahamWatson.com | Amgen Tour of California Stage 4

Amgen Tour, Stage 4: A Casey Gibson gallery

CyclingNews.com | Stage 4 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on February 22, 2007 in Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Stage 3 to the old master: Jens Voigt leads the way

Voigt over the top

Jens at the top of Sierra Road
By Ken Conley.

It was a Tour de France style climb up Sierra Road today, and the cream of the field was first to the top.

A large break went away early, featuring CSC's Jens Voigt, Discovery Channel's Jason McCartney, three riders each from Liquigas and HealthNet-Maxxis, Steven Cozza and Will Frischkorn from Team Slipstream, Jelly Belly's Nick Reistad, QuickStep's Jurgen Van De Walle, and seven others. They got 5 minutes advantage on the field, and Discovery burned a lot of matches chasing.

Finally, Rabobank joined in, and the gap started to come down. Then came Sierra Road. The breakaway fell apart on the 10-kilometer climb, and Ivan Basso was the only Discovery Channel rider who could help team leader Levi Leipheimer, with Hincapie and Danielson falling off from the chase effort. Even Basso fell away shortly up the climb, leaving Leipheimer, Chris Horner, and Rabobank's Robert Gesink the strongest of the main field.

Voigt and McCartney were best of the break, but Leipheimer's group was sweeping through the break's remnants, closing fast. The five joined up a few kilometers from the summit.

Over the top, with 22 kilometers down into San Jose, Leipheimer led Voigt, Horner, Gesink, and McCartney. Fifteen riders were about a minute back, but Leipheimer and McCartney went all out to put some time into the field, and Voigt knew just how to play it.

Voigt saved himself for the last kilometers, and when the time came, he delivered. With Quick Step and Paolo Bettini reeling in the leaders, Voigt led Leipheimer, then Chris Horner over the line.

Voigt's bonus time moves him into 2nd overall, 3 seconds behind Leipheimer. Health Net's Rory Sutherland sits 3rd, at 15 seconds with Chris Horner 4th at 16 seconds back.

The day's Top 10:
1) Jens Voigt, Germany, Team CSC, 3:43:44
2) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, same time
3) Christopher Horner, US, Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
4) Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :04
5) Paolo Bettini, Italy, Quick Step, s.t.
6) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.
7) Enrico Gasparotto, Italy, Liquigas, s.t.
8) Dimitri Fofonov, Kazakhstan, Credit Agricole, s.t.
9) Bram De Groot, Netherlands, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, s.t.

General classification:
1) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, 12:46:25
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :03
3) Rory Sutherland, Australia, Health Net-Maxxis, at :15
4) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
5) Mauricio Ardila Cano, Colombia, Rabobank, at :17
6) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators Insurance, at :18
7) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net-Maxxis, at :19
8) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, s.t.
9) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, at :20
10) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.


CyclingNews.com | Tour of California Stage 3

VeloNews | Voigt wins stae, Levi leads in Amgen Tour

Posted by Frank Steele on February 21, 2007 in Chris Horner, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 15, 2006

Fat Cyclist take on Basso signing

Fat Cyclist | News Flash! Levi Leipheimer “Totally OK” WIth Ivan Basso Joining Team Discovery

“Ivan Basso’s a huge talent, you know, and I’m very happy to have him on the team,” said Leipheimer. “I can hardly wait to fetch water bottles for him as he tries to get a double grand tour win.”

Worth reading in its entirety.

Leipheimer is probably about as pleased as Jens Voigt over Basso's signing. Voigt told Reuters:

“I can definitely see that it is not good for our image,” Voigt told ARD.

“To the public out there, it looks like nothing has changed.”

Posted by Frank Steele on November 15, 2006 in Doping, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Tale of the teammates

Today's stage was a beautiful show of cycling as a team sport. Everywhere you looked, there were riders making moves or countering moves through the assistance of teammates who sacrificed their own chances for the team or team leader.

The best and biggest example was Jens Voigt, who got to contest two different races today. After a long tempo ride at the head of the break, then crashing while roasting the breakaway, Voigt chased back on and took a few more pulls, until he couldn't pull any more. Zabriskie took over escort duties for Schleck, who noted the work they put in to set up his victory.

Voigt, though, wasn't finished. As the GC contenders came by, he took up lead duties for Carlos Sastre, helping pace Sastre up toward Klöden and Landis, and setting a pace that Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans couldn't match. He finally shuffled in 13:52 behind winning teammate Schleck.

Mazzoleni leads KlödenLandis had Axel Merckx, who was also in the early break, and looked unprepared to jump in amongst the race's strongest riders when Landis, Klöden, Leipheimer, and Sastre came alongside. Ready or not, he pulled without relief for more than a kilometer up the Alpe.

Similarly, Andreas Klöden had Eddy Mazzoleni, who pulled almost to the line after dropping (or falling) off the break with Cunego and Schleck.

Rasmussen paces MenchovDenis Menchov is being labeled the day's big loser, but he could have lost more time if not for his arachnoid teammate Michael Rasmussen, who caught his leader from behind to set pace and offer support and a water bottle Menchov couldn't spare the strength to take.

David Arroyo paced yellow jersey Oscar Pereiro for miles, and Mikel Astarloza likewise gave his all to protect Cyril Dessel's tenuous 3rd place for at least one more day.

That was an awesome stage. I wouldn't want to be chasing Landis tomorrow, when they give him back that yellow bicycle.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Dave Zabriskie, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Michael Rasmussen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Schleck conquers l'Alpe d'Huez

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

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

Landis back in yellow

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

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

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

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

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

July 16, 2006

Stage 13 photo gallery roundup

Voigt on Stage 13 podium
Voigt on the podium, by Caroline Yang.

Lavender AND sunflowers Backstedt fights the heat Voigt edges Pereiro on line
Lavender+bikes+sunflowers=perfect Tour shot? , Backstedt fights the heat, and Voigt leads Pereiro over line, by Graham Watson.

Hincapie at rest McEwen and Landis Pereiro's dream day
Hincapie at rest, McEwen and Landis chat, Pereiro's big day from CyclingNews.com Stage 13 photo gallery.

Four-man break Jens Voigt Pereiro in yellow
The winning break, Voigt victorious, Pereiro in amarillo, by Mark Shimahara at BikeZen.


BBC Sport | Tour de France 2006 Stage 13 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2006 in Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Oscar Pereiro, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 15, 2006

Voigt wins Stage 13; Landis hands Pereiro yellow jersey

Floyd Landis gave his current Phonak teammates an easy day and former teammate Oscar Pereiro some time in the race leader's yellow jersey.

The move by Phonak is at once an expression of confidence in Landis and of concern at the team's strength, as Landis can now look to Pereiro's Caisse d'Epargne team to help pacing the peloton for the next few days.

Jens Voigt, who gave away a stage at the Giro in May, took his second career Tour stage win after a very long break on the Tour's longest day, 230 kilometers. Pereiro was 2nd, followed by Sylvain Chavanel and Manuel Quinziato.

Voigt also pulled off a minor miracle, being named the day's “Most Agressive Rider” after being in a break with a Frenchman, Chavanel. That's a consolation prize that usually goes to the home team, but Voigt has been agressive all week, and deserves those red bib numbers.

Robbie McEwen led in the field sprint ahead of Bernhard Eisel and Tom Boonen. He's got a 30-point lead in the green jersey competition, 252 to Boonen's 222 to Freire's 207.

The stage also catapulted CSC into the lead in the team category, 15:53 ahead of Caisse d'Epargne, and 22:05 up on previous leader T-Mobile.

Reaction around the web varied; my favorite was probably Strange days in Montélimar from Men (in tights), who suggested 4 lessons from Saturday's stage:

  1. Don't play poker with ex-mennenite cyclists.
  2. Don't let Oscar in a break when he's wearing his angry red socks.
  3. Don't ever pick a break with Jens.
  4. Don't look directly at Boogards teeth.

As for me, I'm down with it, but I was also touting Savoldelli as Discovery's GC threat after the Stage 7 time trial.

Top 10:
1) Jens Voigt, CSC, Germany
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, same time
3) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, France, at :40
4) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, Italy, same time
5) Andriy Grivko, Milram, Ukraine, at 6:24
6) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, at 29:57
7) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, same time
8) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, Belgium, s.t.
9) Carlos da Cruz, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
10) Arnaud Coyot, Cofidis, France, s.t.
Full results

1) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain
2) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at 1:29
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 1:37
4) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 2:30
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 2:46
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:21
7) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 3:58
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 4:51
9) Juan Miguel Mercado, Agritubel, Spain, at 5:02
10) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 5:13
Full standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2006 in Jens Voigt, Oscar Freire, Oscar Pereiro, Stage results, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

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

Tour Salad: Stage 7

VeloNews | Stage 7 by the numbers

VeloNews sheds light on the day's most important question: “How do you spell the stage winner's name?”

VeloNews says the man himself prefers “Sergei Gontchar,” insisting it's misspelled on his passport, and therefore on Tour result sheets, as “Serhiy Honchar.” As recently as the Giro in May, VeloNews was using Sergei Honchar. OLN also goes with Sergei Gontchar. But interestingly, the T-Mobile team website uses “Serhiy Honchar.” To add to the confusion, there's an NHL player named Sergei Gonchar. CyclingNews asked the rider, and will switch to “Serguei Gonchar.” I'm going to stick with Sergei Honchar for now, no disrespect to the man who smoked the field today.

rec.bicycles.racing | Tour de France stage 7 summary

Bob Martin's daily summary points up what a dominant performance Honchar put on: He's the only person who gained time on the race leadership today. Landis lost the least: He's just 24 seconds farther from the race lead than he was last night. Most of the day's big losers were sprinters, but Levi Leipheimer dropped 37 spots. Jens Voigt will be looking for a friendly break tomorrow, as the CSC strongman finished DFL on the day, clearly looking forward to a better day.

Eurosport | Tales from the Tour: Lance on his way

Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong will be in France for the Tour's final week. He told Suzanne Halliburton at the Austin American-Statesman:

“I'm not gonna run and hide like some other former champs might. With all that happened before the start, I feel as if the sport and even the event needs fans and supporters right now. It's not the time for me to run and hide. I need to stand up and say how great cycling and the racing is.”

rec.bicycles.racing | Chung Charts for stage 7 TT

The “Chung Chart” is a graph of rider performance over segments of a time-trial, traditionally with first-half speed on one axis, and second-half speed on the other. Robert Chung has traditionally posted these charts to rec.bicycles.racing, and they can sometimes show how the race broke down. The time checks weren't at the halfway point today, but the concept is the same. It's pretty clear: Honchar was about 2 kms/hour faster than everybody else over the whole course. That's a dominant performance.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Sergei Honchar, Tour de France 2006 | 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

July 04, 2006

Stage 3 on the road

Jerome Pineau of Bouygues Telecom, former yellow jersey Jens Voigt of CSC, Unai Etxebarria of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Christophe Laurent of Agritubel, and José Luis Arrieta of AG2R are about 4:30 off the front. Voigt is one of the riders being tracked on the Ubilabs Google Maps mashup. Pineau has taken max climber's points over the first climb, while Voigt went hard to take the 6 seconds (and 6 points) at the first two sprint lines.

At the day's second climb, a 3rd Category, Pineau again took max points, ahead of Etxebarria, Laurent, and Voigt.

Fast Freddie Rodriguez was involved in a crash, apparently with Rabobank's Erik Dekker. Doctors were looking at Rodriguez' right collarbone, and Dekker had facial injuries. Both have been taken away by ambulance, and are both out of this year's Tour. Rodriguez was Robbie McEwen's leadout man, although McEwen seems just as likely to use another sprinter for that. Dekker was probably in his final Tour at 35.

The day's last intermediate sprint went to Arrieta ahead of Voigt and Laurent. That means Boonen's only chance to move up to the yellow jersey is to make 5 seconds on a finish line bonus. First takes 20 seconds, second takes 12, and third is 8 seconds. Backstedt and Pozzatto have both been at the back of the pack today. I was hoping Backstedt was taking it easy yesterday in preparation for an effort today, but it may be he's not in good Tour shape.

Gap is down to less than 2 minutes, but Jerome Pineau led the break over the day's 4th climb, so he's currently leading the King of the Mountains competition, with a 3rd Category and 4th Category climb to go.

With less than 20 kilometers to go, it's down to 1:20, and the breakaway is splitting. Laurent was first to attack; Arrieta bridged, and Voigt finally came across. Etxebarria and Pineau have fallen off the back.

There's a big crash in the peloton. Alejandro Valverde has hit the pavement! He's sitting on the roadside in obvious pain. Again, they're looking at his right collarbone. He was the oddsmakers favorite to take the Tour, and a smart pick for today's stage as well. They've brought a stretcher and Valverde, one of the sport's rising superstars, is out of the Tour in Stage 3.

Meanwhile, Arrieta has attacked out of the leading group of 3. He leads over the day's 5th climb, 10 seconds up on Agritubel's Christophe Laurent and 15 seconds on Voigt. Etxebarria and Pineau are in no-man's land with the peloton at 1:15 behind Arrieta.

The Tour website reports that Stuart O'Grady has been involved in yet another accident, but the OLN broadcasters haven't mentioned it.

Laurent is caught, Voigt is caught, and only Arrieta is still up the road. Boonen is just off the front of the pack, Michael Boogerd is right there, and the gap is down to 49 seconds with 5 kilometers to ride. O'Grady is off the back, so it looks like he was caught in an accident, but he's back on the bike.

Arrieta is rocking as the peloton closes him down. Arrieta has 14 seconds in hand. He's onto the Cauberg, and a Credit Agricole rider has tried to bridge. Oscar Friere, Michael Boogerd, Philippe Gilbert, and Tom Boonen (all Benelux riders or on Benelux teams) are killing themselves up the Cauberg as they capture Arrieta. Sandy Casar has punctured on the Cauberg. The Française des Jeux leader will lose a minute or more on the day.

T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler attacks out of the local boys! He takes the points over the top of the Cauberg, ahead of Sebastian Joly and Michael Boogerd. After getting caught with 50 meters yesterday, he's attacked with 2 kilometers to ride today. At the 1 kilometer mark he's got a few seconds in hand, and the Cauberg has broken up the leadout trains. This one may work.

Kessler is going hard all the way to the line, and he's got the win for T-Mobile. The select group that survived over the Cauberg is coming just behind, and there's another T-Mobile rider who takes the sprint. It's Australia's world TT champion, Michael Rogers, just ahead of Daniele Bennati of Lampre.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Erik Dekker, Fred Rodriguez, Jens Voigt, Magnus Backstedt | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2006

Google Maps + GPS + heart rate data = Ubilabs TdF tracker

Ubilabs | Tour de France - Google Maps Tracks

Using rider GPS and heart-rate monitor data, Ubilabs has set up a cool Tour tracker that lets you monitor the position of 8 riders: Jens Voigt and Christian Vande Velde of CSC, Filippo Pozzato and Bram Tankink of QuickStep, Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, and Sebastian Lang and Beat Zberg of Gerolsteiner.

It also shows the course with intermediate sprints, king of the mountain lines, and feed zones.

Very cool.

(Via Typolis and Martin - Thanks!.)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2006 in Christian Vande Velde, Filippo Pozzato, Jens Voigt, Links, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

CSC names Tour nine; Cancellara left off

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

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

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

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

Team director Bjarne Riis:

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

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

May 26, 2006

Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead

On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.

A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.

On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.

At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.

Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.

Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.

In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.

Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.

Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.

On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.

One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.

Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

McEwen again, as Pollack takes Giro lead

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Live Report

With Alessandro Petacchi recovering from a fractured kneecap, Robbie McEwen is clearly the class of the sprinters at the Giro. Today's stage reminded me of a pro basketball game -- not that much reason to tune in until the last 5 minutes.

The doomed break of the day was Ceramica Panaria's Sergiy Matveyev, Dredit Agricole's Christophe Edalaine, and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Andoni Aranaga, who spent 200+ kilometers (about 125 miles) in front, and were relentlessly reeled back by a field powered mostly by Jan Kuyckx and Preben Van Hecke of Davitamon-Lotto.

The D-L riders' efforts would pay off handsomely at the line. In a finishing field sprint that reportedly hit 71 km/hour (44 mph), McEwen beat T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack by half a bike's length, and took his 3rd stage win of this Giro. With a time bonus, Pollack moves into the overall race leadership. AG2R's Tomas Vaitkus was 3rd, with Leonardo "L." Duque 4th.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, in 5:24:13
2) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, same time
3) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R Prevoyance, s.t.
4) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
5) Koldo Fernandez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
6) Fabrizio Guidi, Phonak, s.t.
7) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, s.t.
8) Elia Rigotto, Team Milram, s.t.
9) Axel Maximiliano, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
10) Manuele Mori, Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.

Pollack's bonus time moves everyone around, but doesn't really affect the gaps between overall hopefuls. Honchar's at :02, Voigt and Rogers at :08, Basso at :13, and Savoldelli at :22.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 12, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Team CSC bringing Tour heavyweights to Tour of California

Team CSC | CSC Announces Tour of California Riders

Team CSC has announced the Tour of California squad, and it's loaded with Tour de France veterans, including 2 of last year's yellow jersey wearers.

New CSC riders Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady, and Karsten Kroon join Americans Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, and Dave Zabriskie. Rounding out the eight-man squad are Jens Voigt and Lars Bak.

Voigt and Zabriskie both held the yellow jersey during last year's Tour, the only riders not named Armstrong to spend time in the maillot jaune.

“I'm sending a very motivated group of riders who can win the Tour of California,” said Bjarne Riis, owner and manager of Team CSC. “And since the race finishes in Southern California, near the headquarters of CSC, our title sponsor, it's a race we'd clearly love to win.”

The first Tour of California kicks off Sunday with a prologue in San Francisco.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 15, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour of California | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

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 10, 2005

Rasmussen owns Stage 9; Voigt into the overall lead

Michael Rasmussen totally dominated Stage 9, cementing his lead in the Tour's King of the Mountains jersey, and moving high up in the General Classification.

Jens Voigt, who spent the day chasing Rasmussen, pulls on the yellow jersey for his trouble, becoming the 2nd CSC rider in yellow this year (and ever), after David Zabriskie, who was forced to abandon today.

Christophe Moreau of Credit Agricole, who was in Voigt's break, waved the French flag today: He's moved up to 2nd overall, and was 2nd on the stage.

For Lance Armstrong and the Discovery Channel team, things returned to normalcy, as the team controlled the race pace on the biggest climb of the day after their miscue yesterday.

T-Mobile had a very quiet day, with no attacks and nobody in the breakaway, after their aggressive moves in Stage 8.

Stuart O'Grady took back some ground in the green jersey competition by staying with the heads of state all day and taking the field sprint for 4th on the stage.

Top 10:

1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 4:08:20
2) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 3:04
3) Jens Voigt, CSC, at 3:04
4) Stuart O’Grady, Cofidis, at 6:04
5) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, s.t.
6) Antony Geslin, Bouyges Telecom, s.t.
7) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
8) Laurent Brochard, Bouyges Telecom, s.t.
9) Jerome Pineau, Bouyges Telecom, s.t.
10) Gerrit Glomser, Lampre-Caffita, s.t.

Your new, rejiggered GC:

1) Jens Voigt, CSC, 32:18:23
2) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 1:50
3) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, at 2:18
4) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 2:43
5) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 3:20
6) Bobby Julich, CSC, at 3:25
7) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 3:44
8) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 3:54
9) Carlos Sastre, CSC, at 3:54
10) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 4:05

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2005 in Christophe Moreau, Jens Voigt, Michael Rasmussen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (6)

Stage 9 underway

Who had 60 k in the Stage 9 Kirsipuu pool? Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu, a four-time Tour stage winner who has started 12 Tours, has never made the race finish, and generally drops out early in the mountain stages. True to form, he's out of the race, leaving 177 riders contesting the stage.

José Angel Gomez of Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped out, after possibly breaking his collarbone in a feed zone crash.

New polka-dot jersey Mickael Rasmussen rode out in a breakaway with fellow former mountain biker Dario Cioni of Liquigas-Bianchi. Rasmussen has taken max points over all the early 3rd Category climbs and the 2nd Category Grand Ballon. He's over Le Ballon d'Alsace, having led the field over every climb of the day.

Behind Rasmussen and are CSC's Jens Voigt and CA's Christophe Moreau. They've dropped Angel Vicioso and passed Cioni. Fallen off Voigt, Moreau, and Vicioso's group are Tour of Switzerland winner Inigo Landaluze, Alexandre Moos of Phonak, and Xabier Zandio of Illes Balears.

It looks likely that Armstrong will give up the yellow jersey tonight, but by how much and to whom? Either Rasmussen or Voigt could find himself in yellow tonight. Rasmussen will need 6 minutes on Voigt to take yellow, and over the top of the last climb, he had 4:20 in hand. Armstrong's group goes over 9:24 later.

Armstrong is down to 5 teammates, including Savoldelli, Azevedo, Hincapie, Popovych and Rubiera.

Advantage Voigt: Voigt and Moreau are taking some time back from Rasmussen.

Armstrong's group is down to perhaps 50 riders. We'll see if anybody can get back on the back. Voigt takes some bonus time at an intermediate sprint, so he needs no more than 54 seconds at the end of the day to take the race lead.

Didier Rous is involved in a crash back in the field. It looks like the 2-time French champion might have hit a road sign.

Voigt flats -- the team car was right there, but he'll lose a little time, and it will disrupt Voigt and Moreau's chase of Rasmussen, which had been under 4 minutes. Armstrong's group now trails Rasmussen by about 8:30.

Voigt is bringing time back on Rasmussen.

Rasmussen takes the stage -- how far back to Voigt? It's a 3:03 gap to Moreau, then Voigt.

Rabobank takes two consecutive stages. Now we'll wait to see what Voigt's yellow jersey lead will be.

Here come the big men, and, hello! It's Stuart O'Grady, who hung with the GC boys and will make some ground up in the green jersey competition with a 4th on the stage, with neither Hushovd nor Boonen anywhere to be seen. The gap to the Armstrong group is 6:04 -- Voigt will take off tomorrow with more than 2 minutes on Armstrong. Rasmussen is now in 4th on GC; he's somebody to keep an eye on.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2005 in Christophe Moreau, Jaan Kirsipuu, Jens Voigt, Michael Rasmussen, Stuart O'Grady | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Weening nips Klöden for stage win; Armstrong isolated

Rabobank's Pieter Weening took a terrific win as the Tour de France finally hits some real climbs.

Weening was the last survivor of a long breakaway. His lead dropped to as little as 10 seconds on the chasing group of Tour contenders, but he was reinvigorated when Andreas Klöden of T-Mobile came across the gap and took most of the pulls into Gérardme.

As the line approached, Klöden and Weening wound it up, and it took race judges to determine the winner: from the photo finish, it looked like a dead heat. Liggett says it was estimated he won by 2 millimeters!

Armstrong was isolated -- Hincapie, Savoldelli, Popovych: All these guys fell off the group that mattered on a 2nd Category climb. That's a big surprise.

Armstrong: "For whatever reason, I was left alone -- we didn't have a great day as a team."

Vladimir Karpets takes the white jersey from Yaroslav Popovych; Michael Rasmussen took the polka-dots from Fabian Wegmann.

T-Mobile has got to smell blood in the water with Ullrich, Klöden and Vinokourov all surviving to the end against a lone Armstrong.

Top 10:
1) Pieter Weening, Rabobank
2) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, same time
3) Alejandro Valverde, Illes Balears, at :27
4) Kim Kirchen, Fassa Bortolo, same time
5) Jens Voigt, CSC, same time
6) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, same time
7) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
8) Christophe Moreaus, Credit Agricole, s.t.
9) Chris Horner, Saunier Duval-Prodier, s.t.
10) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, s.t.
17) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
19) Michael Rogers, Quick Step, s.t.
20) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, same time

Azevedo and Hincapie were back at 1:25, while Savoldelli, Padrnos, Rubiera and Beltran were at 2:57.

This shakes up the GC, as well:

1) Armstrong
2) Voigt, at 1:00
3) Vinokourov, at 1:02
4) Julich, at 1:07
5) Basso, at 1:26
6) Ullrich, at 1:36 (his first appearance in the top 10 this year)
7) Carlos Sastre, CSC, at 1:36
8) Hincapie, at 1:47
9) Klöden, at 1:50
10) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 1:50

Dave Zabriskie came in 179th on the day, at 1:01:13, but survived elimination for another day.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Stage results, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 5 gallery and comments

GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France Stage 5 Photo Gallery

Ex-teammates Riis, Ullrich Flecha animates the break McEwen nips Boonen for stage win
Ex-Telekom mates Riis, Ullrich; most aggressive rider Flecha;
McEwen over Boonen in the sprint from grahamwatson.com

Watson had a front-row seat when Armstrong switched jerseys; turns out he wasn't wearing the yellow over his Discovery jersey -- he just has really convincing arm warmers.


ThePaceline.com (free registration required) | Graham Watson: Stage 5 Report

Watson also speculates that tomorrow's stage might see the first breakaway of the Tour for Jens Voigt, who spent more time in front than a sled dog last year. Voigt is a friend of Armstrong's, Friday's stage ends in Germany, and he's not much of a climber, so Discovery could afford to see him in the yellow jersey for a few days if he can make the break stick.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2005 in Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McEwen gets a stage win

It's all me, baby
McEwen takes the stage
Robbie McEwen found the right wheel today, shadowing Quick Step's Tom Boonen almost to the line, then outpowering Boonen to a stage win.

McEwen's victory salute may not go down with Juan Antonio Flecha's archer, as he repeatedly pointed with both hands at his chest. Yes, we get it, Robbie, you won a stage, even after the mean judges said you didn't work and play well with others.

Boonen was 2nd and Thor Hushovd of Credit Agricole 3rd on the stage. Stuart O'Grady continues to be near but not quite in on the action, taking 4th on the day.

Flecha himself, now riding for Fassa Bortolo, was in the day's longest breakaway, along with Lampre's Salvatore Commesso, Credit Agricole's Laszlo Bodrogi, and Liquigas-Bianchi's Kjell Carlstrom.

McEwen, twice the Tour's green jersey overall winner, said earlier this week that he thinks he's out of that competition after being relegated to the back of the field when he interfered with Stuart O'Grady at the end of Stage 3. He sits 4th in the points competition with today's win, 45 points behind Boonen.

Top 10 (all in 3:46:00):
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step
3) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole
4) Stuart O'Grady, Cofidis
5) Angelo Furlan, Domina Vacanze
6) Allan Davis, Liberty Seguros
7) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux
8) Baden Cooke, Française des Jeux
9) Jens Voigt, CSC
10) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner

I still don't get what's going on with FdJ: You don't get bonus points for having extra guys near the front of the sprint.

Saunier Duval-Prodir's Constantino Zaballa withdrew today, the first rider out of the 2005 Tour.

No significant changes in the GC, but we have a new lanterne rouge, the imaginary competition for the last-placed rider: After Janeck Tomback of Cofidis rode into the hay bales with 4 kilometers to ride, he lost 2:21 on the stage, and took over last place, 13:13 behind Lance Armstrong.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2005 in Baden Cooke, Jens Voigt, Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Stage 2 wrap-ups

VeloNews | Zabriskie, Boonen grab the headlines

Some jersey swaps tonight, as Thomas Voeckler will be the first man to wear the polka-dot jersey, Tom Boonen will put on the green jersey (and Boonen has a much better chance of finishing with his), and Sylvain Calzati of AG2R will ride tomorrow with the red race numbers of the most aggressive rider, for his part in today's suicide break.

Even more bad news for Jan Ullrich: He held position near the front of the field today at the finish, and a time gap opened, but judges eventually ruled the gap was caused by the crash, and gave riders on both sides of the gap the same time. That's why you may see Ullrich in 8th at some websites.

The correct Top 10 on GC:
1) David Zabriskie, CSC, 4:12:22
2) Lance Armstrong, Discovery, at :02
3) Laszlo Bodrogi, Credit Agricole, at :47
4) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at :53
5) George Hincapie, Discovery, at :57
6) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 1:02
7) Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, at 1:02
8) Jens Voigt, CSC, at 1:04
9) Vladimir Karpets, Illes Balears, at 1:05
10) Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Liberty Seguros, at 1:06


Yahoo! Sports | No teething problems for Boonen as he takes stage

procycling.com | St 2: Good day, bad day

Although clearly a rip-off of DailyPeloton's hilarious Jambon Report, I couldn't help quoting from procycling's “Good day, bad day,” itself quoting Dave Zabriskie on Bjarne Riis' much-ballyhooed offseason Outward Bound-style team-building exercises:

“We learn about team spirit when we’re in the woods, staring death in the face. Not a lot of people know this, but I didn’t finish the camp this year. I was in hospital, staring death in the face. It helped me to be the man I am today… I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Keep your eyes peeled for updates at DaveZabriskie.com — Z is pretty funny.

letour.fr | Stage Standings | Overall Standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2005 in Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Gerolsteiner names Tour 9, CSC and Liberty Seguros close in

procycling.com | Shorts:

Levi Leipheimer will lead
Gerolsteiner's Tour squad.
  Photo by Frank Steele.

Gerolsteiner has finalized its Tour de France squad:

Levi Leipheimer
Georg Totschnig
Michael Rich
Sebastian Lang
Fabian Wegmann
Robert Förster
Ronny Scholz
Beat Zberg
Peter Wrolich

CSC's near-final squad:

Ivan Basso
Kurt-Asle Arvesen
Bobby Julich
Giovanni Lombardi
Carlos Sastre
Nicki Sorensen
Jens Voigt
David Zabriskie
Jakob Piil or Luke Roberts

Two Americans, with Christian Vande Velde home recuperating and looking toward the Vuelta in September.

Liberty Seguros is down to 11 Tour candidates:

René Andrle
Joseba Beloki
Alberto Contador
Allan Davis
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano
Roberto Heras
Jörg Jaksche
Luis Leon Sanchez
Marcos Serrano
Angel Vicioso
Jan Hruska

Cycling4All.com probably maintains the most complete provisional Tour start list.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 20, 2005 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Wegmann, Georg Totschnig, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 12, 2005

Ullrich takes Tour de Suisse TT, race lead

Eurosport | Ullrich sounds Tour warning

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich took a convincing win at the Tour de Suisse today. Ullrich rode the 36-kilometer time trial course in 44:06, 15 seconds faster than Brad McGee, and 18 seconds faster than world TT champ Michael Rogers.

Coupled with Stage 1 winner Bernhard Eisel's weak showing, the ride gives Ullrich the overall race lead; he's defending his title from last year.

CSC's Bobby Julich was 8th on the day.

Top 10:
1) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 44:06
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :15
3) Michael Rogers, Quick Step, at :18
4) Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, at :39
5) Serguei Gonchar, Domina Vacanze, at :40
6) Vladimir Gusev, Team CSC, at :46
7) Jens Voigt, Team CSC, at :58
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, at 1:02
9) Dario Frigo, Fassa Bortolo, at 1:08
10) Patrik Sinkewitz, Quick Step, at 1:09

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Fabian Cancellara, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

Di Luca holds ProTour lead

UCI ProTour | Rankings as of 5/29/05

Danilo Di Luca continued to lead the inaugural UCI ProTour competition, ahead of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi.

Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli leapfrogged into 5th overall with his Giro d'Italia win, while Bobby Julich and George Hincapie, still deadlocked at 75 points, are now tied for 8th in the standings.

Current Top 10:
1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas-Bianchi, 184 pts
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 112 pts
3) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
5) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 89 pts
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, 86 pts
7) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, 80 pts
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, 75 pts
9) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 75 pts
10) Jens Voigt, Team CSC, 72 pts

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

Voigt doubts Armstrong will start Tour

Berliner Morgenpost | Fahrt ins Geschichtsbuch: Rad-Profi Jens Voigt eröffnet Ära und hat Zweifel an Armstrongs Tour-Start

CSC's Jens Voigt, who will one day win someone a bar bet after becoming the first ever leader of cycling's ProTour, says he doubts six-time winner Lance Armstrong will even start this year's Tour de France.

In an interview with Berliner Morgenpost (rough Google translation), Voigt says teammate Ivan Basso can win this year's Tour, "above all because I don't think Armstrong will be there."

"Lance knows nothing goes on forever, and he certainly doesn't want to finish second," Voigt said.

If, however, Armstrong follows through with his announced plan to race the Tour, Voigt thinks he'll take home a seventh title with a five-minute lead.

Voigt finished second behind Armstrong at last year's Tour de Georgia. Both are racing at Paris-Nice this week.

Seen at CyclingNews.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2005 in Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

Erik Dekker takes lead as Boonen takes Paris-Nice Stage 1

Eurosport | Boonen blazes victory trail

Northern Europe's fastest sprinter, QuickStep's Tom Boonen, won the first stage at Paris-Nice Monday.

Boonen nipped Luciano Pagliarini and Jaan Kirsipuu at the line, after a crash with 4.5 miles (7 kms) left 20 riders out in front of the pack.

Erik "How old am I anyway?" Dekker, who finished with the leaders and got some bonus time, takes over the race lead. Also among the leaders was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, and Guido Trenti, often of the US, who was 8th for the stage.

Discovery's Lance Armstrong reportedly went down in the crash, and needed some repairs. Like most of the field, he lost 40+ seconds to the leaders.

Also active today was Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano of Liberty Seguros, who took a flyer at the 45-km mark, and rode with Fabien Sanchez for 120 kms, or almost 80 miles.

Bobby Julich sits 9th overall, 7 seconds back, but will likely ride in support of Jens Voigt.


Daily Peloton | Paris Nice Stage One Live Coverage

BBC Sport | Boonen impresses in opening stage

Stage standings
1. BOONEN Tom, QuickStep, in 4:19:15
2. PAGLIARINI Luciano, Liquigas, same time
3. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Credit Agricole, same time
4. CASPER Jimmy, Cofidis, same time
5. DE JONGH Steven, Rabobank, same time
6. VALVERDE  Alejandro, iBanesto, same time
7. GILBERT Philippe, FDJeux.com, same time
8. TRENTI Guido, QuickStep, same time
9. ZABALLA Constantino, Saunier-Duval, same time
10. DEKKER Erik, Rabobank, same time

Overall standings
1. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) 4hr 24min 30sec
2. Jens Voigt (CSC) same time
3. Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) at 02sec
4. Vladimir Gusev (CSC) at :03
5. Tom Boonen (QuickStep) at :04
6. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) at :07
7. Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) at :07
8. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) at :07
9. Bobby Julich (CSC) at :07
10. Vicente Reynes (iBanesto) at :09
Also: 70. Lance Armstrong (Discovery) at 1:08

Posted by Frank Steele on March 7, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Bobby Julich, Erik Dekker, Jaan Kirsipuu, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Paris-Nice '05, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2005

GrahamWatson.com Paris-Nice prologue gallery up

Click through to GrahamWatson.com.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 6, 2005 in Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong, Paris-Nice '05, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Paris-Nice prologue kicks off ProTour

Daily Peloton | Paris-Nice Prologue Live Report

DailyPeloton is first out of the blocks with results from the prologue at Paris-Nice, where the UCI's ProTour kicks off.

Lance Armstrong has said he's riding for early-season fitness, and his (correction) 140th place on the day suggests he's not sandbagging. Of course, it's a 4-kilometer prologue, so time differences will be tiny.

Today's top 10:

1. Jens Voigt, CSC
2. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo
3. Erik Dekker, Rabobank
4. Vladimir Gusev, CSC
5. Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis
6. Nico Mattan, Davitamon-Lotto
7. Alberto Contador, Liberty Seguros
8. David Zabriskie, CSC (USA)
9. Oscar Pereiro, Phonak
10. Michael Rogers, QuickStep (Australia)


Paris-Nice 2005 | Full list of riders/teams

Eurosport | CSC seal prologue again

cyclingnews.com | Paris-Nice Prologue: Complete live report

cyclingnews.com | Paris-Nice Prologue: Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 6, 2005 in Alberto Contador, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Michael Rogers, Paris-Nice '05, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

CSC unveils 2005 squad

Bike.com | Basso Leads Challenge For Giro, Tour : CSC Names 2005 Roster

Team CSC also had its official unveiling on Monday, with a decidedly American accent to the new introductions. Joining Bobby Julich will be Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, who is likely to make sure all his papers are in order.

They'll join Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Carlos Sastre, and Jakob Piil on what was probably the most aggressive squad at last year's Tour, placing Basso 3rd overall. Basso said Monday that the Giro is the initial goal of his season.

Arveson, Guidi, Peron and Luttenberger also return, but Jorg Jaksche is now with Liberty Seguros, and Michele Bartoli has retired.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 24, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 29, 2004

CSC signs 6 riders, Jaksche to Liberty Seguros

VeloNews | Vande Velde, Zabriskie to CSC Team CSC announced its 2005 squad, and Bobby Julich, fresh from his bronze in the Athens time trial, is still in the saddle, while Americans Dave Zabriskie (ex-US Postal) and Christian Vande Velde (ex-Liberty Seguros) join Bjarne Riis' squad, whose Tour GC threat remains Ivan Basso. Germany's Jorg Jaksche returns to DS Manolo Saiz, for whom he rode from 2001-2003. He'll ride for Saiz' Liberty Seguros squad next season.

Team CSC in 2005: Ivan Basso, Michele Bartoli, Fabrizio Guidi, Giovanni Lombardi and Andrea Peron (I); Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor); Lars Bak, Michael Blaudzun, Matti Breschel, Thomes Eriksen, Lars Michaelsen, Jakob Piil, Nicki Soerensen and Brian Vandborg (Den); Handbook Calvente and Carlos Sastre (Sp); Vladimir Goussev (Rus); Tristan Hoffmann (Ned); Peter Luttenberger (A), Andy and Frank Schleck (Lux); Jens Voigt (G); and Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (USA).

Posted by Frank Steele on October 29, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2004

Armstrong to race post-Tour criteriums; Voigt stays with CSC

cyclingnews.com | Armstrong to race in Prague

Traditionally, Tour riders can pad their pocketbooks by racing in criteriums around Europe, and demanding an appearance fee from the race sponsors.

Lance Armstrong will participate in two such races this week, in the Netherlands and in the Czech Republic. Armstrong's appearance fee is reportedly 110,000 euros.

Also, Jens Voigt has extended his CSC contract for another 2 years. The post-Tour period is traditionally a very active one for rider contract signings.

One signing I won't be expecting is Michele Bartoli re-upping with CSC.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2004 in Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2004

Stage 15 underway: Jan attacks!

With nearly 40 miles to go, Jan Ullrich accelerated out of Lance Armstrong's group. He's caught and rode with Santos Gonzalez, who was on an attack, and former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R. Ullrich had more than a minute advantage at one point, but was captured with 27 kilometers/17 miles to ride.

Richard Virenque and Michael Rasmussen led for much of the stage. Ullrich's attack never quite bridged up to them, but as Armstrong closed in on Rasmussen/Virenque, Levi Leipheimer jumped across the gap, tried to join with Rasmussen and Virenque, but Rasmussen couldn't hang. Leipheimer and Virenque tried to make a move, but the higher tempo of Armstrong's group dropped some riders off the back, including Brochard and CSC's Jens Voigt and Postal's Floyd Landis and Jose-Luis Rubiera. Now Leipheimer and Virenque have been recaptured, and all the contenders are together: Armstrong with Azevedo, Ullrich and Kloden for T-Mobile, Basso and Sastre for CSC, Virenque of Quick Step, and Leipheimer of Rabobank.

On the day's last descent, Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank and CSC's Jens Voigt have rejoined the elite group. Sabaliuskas of Saeco has climbed back up to join the leaders, so there are 11 riders in the elite group.

Armstrong is "yellow jersey on the road," since he leads Voeckler by more than the 22 seconds between them: The gap to the main peloton is 7 minutes+.

Stuart O'Grady has picked up 6 green jersey points by taking the 2nd intermediate sprint of the day, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Laurent Brochard.

Virenque has picked up 20+ points in the polka-dot jersey competition.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Richard Virenque, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2004

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

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)

July 07, 2004

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

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

June 29, 2004

Jaksche out of Tour, Peron in for CSC

Daily Peloton | Cycling News Roundup June 28, 2004

Daily Peloton reports that Jörg Jaksche broke his elbow on a training ride today, and will be replaced on CSC's Tour squad by Andrea Peron.

If they're right, the CSC lineup is:

• Kurt-Asle Arvesen
• Ivan Basso
• Michele Bartoli
• Bobby Julich
• Andrea Peron
• Jacob Piil
• Carlos Sastre
• Nicki Sørenson
• Jens Voigt

That's one of the strongest groups in the peloton, but the loss of Jaksche, who won Paris-Nice in March.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 31, 2004

Ullrich 2nd at Tour of Germany prologue

Procycling | D-Tour 2004: 'Jan-Watcher' - stage 1

Jan Ullrich showed very good form Monday, finishing second to Gerolsteiner's Michael Rich in the Tour of Germany's opening time trial. Third on the day was Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel.

"I don’t know why people are so worried," Ullrich told the assembled media. "All I did was not start a couple of races because they were too early in the season. I’m not worried at all. I’m here at the Tour of Germany to test myself, but not to win."

Ullrich is 30 seconds ahead of Jens Voigt, who finished 2nd to Lance Armstrong in the Tour de Georgia last month, and who must be considered the early favorite for the overall because of the strength his CSC team has shown this year.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 31, 2004 in Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2004

TDFBlog on Brasstown Bald


Mrs. TDFBlog and I have never seen a mountain finish before, and decided to try our luck at the Brasstown Bald finish of the Tour de Georgia on Saturday. Traffic was moving surprisingly well until we could see the roadblock near where the 180A spur turns up the mountain, so we found a spot, and started trekking up the mountain.

We got a quarter-mile or so up the side, and came to the 5-km to go banner, where not many people were lining the roadway. Apparently, the people even lazier than us were all congregated near the turnoff, while the people motivated to arrive early (and unencumbered by a 10 a.m. girls 8-and-under soccer game) had caught the shuttle buses to the top.

The car is the official pace car of this year's Tour de Georgia. It's the 2005 Dodge Magnum wagon, and yes, that thing does have a hemi. (With this and all the pictures in this post, you can click for a larger pop-up image).

It turned out we were fairly well-positioned. Late in the stage, Alessio Galletti of Domina Vacanze jumped out to about a 4 minute lead, and took the King of the Mountain points at Hogpen Gap. The final climb of the day was about 20 kilometers, culminating with the 5+ kilometers up to the top. At 5 km to go, Galletti still had his lead (see the picture), but the pack was just down around that bend, about 35 seconds behind, and closing fast.

Next came the motorcycles, and we got a look at the whole story of the race in one picture: working from right to left, we've got Daniel Rincon pacing race leader Lance Armstrong. Just behind him, in green, is Chris Horner of Webcor, who would finish 4th on the day and 3rd in the race. The paired CSC riders are Bobby Julich, who finished 6th at Brasstown Bald and 4th overall and Jens Voigt (2nd on the day and for the race). There's just the hint of an unidentified yellow helmet on Voigt's other side, then Scott Moninger, who was 5th on the climb and 7th overall, and just coming into view, in orange, Cesar Grajales of the Athens-based Jittery Joe's team, who rode away from this group less than a mile later to score the stage win. He finished 6th for the race.

Close behind this group were some of the leaders' seconds: George Hincapie of US Postal, Charles Dionne of Webcor, and King of the Mountains jersey Jason McCartney of HealthNet, all in danger of losing the lead group. They weren't alone, as some very strong riders came through onesy-twosy: Max Sciandri, Pavel Padrnos, Jakob Piil, Antonio Cruz. A lone Barcoworld rider came through just before the ambulance, leading me to think we might seen everyone, but someone along the course said there was still one more group to come.

Sure enough, a team car pulled up about 30 yeards to our right, and out popped the soigneurs for Domina Vacanze, setting up to hand bottles off to their riders. Six or seven minutes behind the stragglers of the lead group, the gruppetto (the laughing group) of about 30 riders came through, with 3 or 4 Domina Vacanze riders angling to get right in front of us. One of them was former world champion Mario Cipollini, who was not enjoying a 20-kilometer climb. Damon Kluck of US Postal was riding alongside.

We were able to get out of there very quickly, since the shuttle buses from the top couldn't even start running until well after the race was over. We took the chance to head over to Athens for Saturday night's Twilight Criterium, celebrating its 25th Anniversary.

During my freshman year (1985-86), I lived on the 4th floor of Reed Hall (right next to Sanford Stadium) with a bike-crazy roommate (I didn't ride then). He had worked in a shop in Atlanta, and somehow invited the Killians Red team, which featured brothers Alan and Frank McCormack, to stay in our TV lounge. Somehow, they accepted. They provided the post-race keg, and my roommate got a jersey out of it.

If you ever have a chance to see it, don't miss it: Thousands of people line a circuit in downtown Athens, and the race almost never takes off before dark, so the riders are flying through under the downtown streetlights.

(I'm posting this Monday morning, but I'm going to move it back to the coverage from Saturday in a couple of days. If you have trouble finding it, that's probably why.)

Posted by Frank Steele on April 26, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Mario Cipollini, Photo galleries, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack