July 10, 2011

Stage 9: Luis Leon Sanchez wins ‘Tour de Fracture’

Stage 9 looked like one for the break, but no one could predict just how many breaks we would see.

Juan Mañuel Garate of Rabobank didn't make the start, leaving 188 riders active. Early in the stage, there were three more abandons: Pavel Brutt of Katusha, Wouter Poels of Vacansoleil, and Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Veteran escape artists Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank, Juan Antonio Flecha of Sky and Sandy Casar of FDJ broke away with Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland. All but Hoogerland are past stage winners, while Hoogerland, in his first Tour, was apparently in search of the King of the Mountains jersey, where he started the stage a point behind Tejay Van Garderen. They were initially joined by Quick Step's Nicki Terpstra, who faded back to the field when the group found the mountains. Hoogerland would take maximum points over most of the day's climbs, with Voeckler, best placed of the breakaway, looking to finally take the yellow jersey from Garmin-Cervelo's Thor Hushovd, who had held it since the team time trial last Sunday.


There were a few minor falls early in the stage, including one by defending champ Alberto Contador that looked like he had had been body-checked off the course Katusha's Vladimir Karpets. After the stage, Contador and Karpets agreed that Contador had caught his brake hood on Karpets' seat.

On the descent from the Puy Mary, the field carried too much speed into too little corner, and a number of riders went down. Astana's leader Alexandre Vinokourov tumbled down an embankement into some trees, and was helped back to the roadside by his teammates. Omega Pharma's GC hopeful, Jurgen van den Broeck, his teammate Frederik Willems, and Garmin-Cervelo's Dave Zabriskie were alll down in the same crash, and all would have to abandon the race. Zabriskie apparently fractured his hand, van den Broeck his shoulder blade, and initial reports were that Vinokourov had fractured his pelvis and femur, ending the Tour he had said would be his last.

Caught in the crash but continuing were Christian Vande Velde and David Millar of Garmin-Cervelo and RadioShack GC hopeful Andreas Klöden, who went to the hospital for X-rays after the stage. Klöden was heavily bruised on his back, but X-rays showed no breaks.

At the front of the pack, Cancellara and Gilbert neutralized the chase, allowing many of the downed riders to rejoin but also giving new life to the breakaway, which saw its lead balloon from around 4:00 to nearly 8:00 before the field could reorganize.

With around 43k to race, a television car tried to pass the lead group, cut back to avoid a tree, and took out Flecha and Hoogerland. Hoogerland was propelled off the road, into the air, and onto a barbed wire fence. After medical attention, and needing only to reach the finish line to take the King of the Mountains jersey, Hoogerland mounted up and rode, bleeding heavily from his left leg. Voeckler, Casar, and Sanchez considered waiting for Flecha, but finally had to continue as a trio, with Hoogerland, then Flecha being reabsorbed by the peloton and finishing with the laughing group, which was undoubtedly dire today.

The day's intermediate sprint came with only about 30 kilometers to ride, and Philippe Gilbert led the field in to hold the green jersey and widen his lead on Cavendish, Rojas and Hushovd. Garmin-Cervelo rode to limit Voeckler's gains until about 12k to the line, then handed the job over to BMC, then LeopardTrek.

Voeckler, who spent 10 days in yellow back in 2004, was clearly burying himself for a chance to repeat the experience. In the last kilometer, Voeckler tried to lose his passengers, but Luis Leon Sanchez was waiting for the move and easily distanced Voeckler, with Casar unable to even respond, to take the third Tour stage victory of his career. Voeckler would take yellow with a 1:49 advantage on Sanchez and 2:26 on Cadel Evans.

Philippe Gilbert would again lead in the field sprint, in a group with Evans, both Schlecks, Martin and Velits of HTC, Cunego, Contador, Danielson and Sanchez (among others) at 3:59 and Leipheimer, Gesink, Thomas, Basso, and Klöden (among others) at 4:07 down on Voeckler.

Stage 9:
1) Luis-Leon Sanchez, Rabobank, 5:27:09
2) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, at :05
3) Sandy Casar, FDJ, at :13
4) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 3:59
5) Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad, same time
6) Cadel Evans, BMC, s.t.
7) Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek, s.t.
8) Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad, s.t.
9) Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek, s.t.
10) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t.

GC, after Stage 9:
1) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, in 38:35:11
2) Luis Leon Sanchez, Rabobank, at 1:49
3) Cadel Evans, BMC, at 2:26
4) Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek, at 2:29
5) Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek, at 2:37
6) Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad, at 2:38
7) Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad, at 2:38
8) Andréas Klöden, RadioShack, at 2:43
9) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 2:55
10) Jakob Fuglsang, Leopard Trek at 3:08

More:

VeloNews | Thomas Voeckler takes lead in 2011 Tour de France as Luis-Leon Sanchez wins stage 9
cyclingnews.com | Luis León Sánchez wins crash-hit stage
GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France: Stage 9

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2011 in 2011 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Jurgen van den Broeck, Levi Leipheimer, Luis Sanchez, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Tony Martin, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2011

Boasson Hagen powers to Stage 6 win

Edvald Boasson Hagen won Stage 6 of the Tour on Thursday, holding off yellow jersey Thor Hushovd and Stage 1 winner Philippe Gilbert in the closing meters to take his first Tour stage and the first for his Team Sky.

The day's finish profile discouraged Cavendish, Farrar, and their ilk, favoring the torquier sprinters. With 1k to ride, Garmin-Cervelo's David Millar led the way, with Gilbert, Evans, and Hushovd close behind, and HTC trying to set up a leadout on the right of the pack, with Matthew Goss in its sweet spot. Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov tried to escape, but was countered by Rabobank's Bauke Mollema. With a few hundred meters to ride, Boasson Hagen launched off the wheel of teammate Geraint Thomas, outkicking Hushovd and Gilbert, stacked up behind him. At the line, in fact, it was Matthew Goss, closing fast, who would take 2nd on the stage, with Hushovd third.


Radio Shack's Levi Leipheimer suffered the only significant change in overall placing by a GC hopeful, limping in 1:05 back after falling on wet pavement late in the stage.

The break of the day at least factored in the jersey competitions, with Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil taking 3 King of the Mountain points to take over the jersey through Saturday, at least. Also in the break were Leonardo Duque, Anthony Roux, Lieuwe Westra, and Adriano Malori. The break surrendered bit by bit, with Malori holding out to about the 15k mark, and earning the most aggressive award for the day.

HTC's Mark Cavendish came out to play at the intermediate sprint behind the breakaway, easily taking 6th ahead of José Rojas, who was looking to get back into the green jersey after a nullification of points in Stage 5.

The selection at the finish demonstrates why Philippe Gilbert may be entertaining thoughts of competing for the overall green jersey:

Green Jersey Competition (after 6 stages):
1) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, 144 pts
2) Jose Rojas, Movistar, 143 pts
3) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, 112 pts
4) Cadel Evans, BMC, 98 pts
5) Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad, 94 pts
6) Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Cervelo, 76 pts
7) Romain Feillu, Vacansoleil-DCM, 73 pts
8) Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky, 51 pts
9) Sébastien Hinault, AG2R La Mondiale, 48 pts
10) André Greipel, Omega Pharma-Lotto, 48 pts

Cavendish complained after this year's course was unveiled that organizers included stages like today's to limit his opportunities for victory. That may be, but I would rather see a battle like today's than the HTC train catapulting Cavendish to a 5-bike-length victory, an all-too-common sight the last few Tours.

Tomorrow, look for the HTC train to catapult Cavendish to victory, as Stage 7 is the flattest of the Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2011 in 2011 Stage 6, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2011

Updating the list of Americans with Tour stage wins

Depending on how you count Floyd Landis, Garmin's Tyler Farrar is the 10th or 11th American to win a Tour stage, and the first on July 4th.

    The list (alphabetically):
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Tyler Farrar
  • Andy Hampsten
  • Tyler Hamilton
  • George Hincapie
  • Floyd Landis *
  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Greg LeMond
  • Davis Phinney
  • Jeff Pierce
  • Dave Zabriskie

* Landis, of course, had his victory in Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour vacated after testing positive for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio.

(I also added Farrar to the category so he shows up on the associated Wikipedia page.)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2011 in 2011 Stage 3, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Tyler Farrar, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2011

Garmin takes narrow TTT win, puts Hushovd in yellow

Garmin's riders have been no stranger to the podium since the team debuted in the Tour in 2008, but the team has never taken the top step. Sunday, in a nail-biter team time trial in Les Essarts, Garmin-Cervelo got the monkey off their back, taking a 4-second stage win and putting world champion Thor Hushovd in yellow.

Alberto Contador, the overall race favorite, saw his chances take another blow, as his Saxo Bank team lost time against many of his rivals, notably both Schlecks, Cadel Evans, Brad Wiggins, Robert Gesink, and Radio Shack's Four Horsemen of the Cyclopalypse, Andreas Klöden, Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer.

On the other hand, Cadel Evans again took advantage of a chance to make some time, leading his BMC squad to a smooth and surprising 2nd on the day, and missing the yellow jersey by just one second.

Team Leopard-Trek had a rainbow-striped lion among its smaller cats, and world TT champion Fabian Cancellara looked strong enough to drag 4 men and their bikes to the finish. Leopard-Trek was 4th on the day, one of 3 teams (with BMC and Wiggins' Team Sky) to finish 4 seconds back of Garmin.

HTC-High Road was just one further second off the win, likely on Bernhard Eisel's fall in the first turn that left them one rider down for the stage.

Hushovd becomes the first Garmin rider in yellow.

Even before the stage started, there was controversy, as the UCI decided to interpret its geometry regulations to mean that all riders had to race with their saddles level to the ground, apparently a change to how rules were enforced at the recent Tour de Suisse and Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré. Saxo Bank director Bradley McGee and Radio Shack director Johan Bruyneel were fined for “improper conduct” toward officials in the bike check area. Even recreational riders will notice a change to normal saddle position, and take some time to adjust to a new position.

Also:

Reuters | Blazing row over saddles on the Tour de France

Bicycling.com | Joe Lindsey: Garmin's Gamble Pays Off

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2011 in 2011 Stage 2, Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2010

Stage 8: Le Morte d'Armstrong

July 11, 2010 - Station Des Rousses, FRANCE - epa02244899 Radioshack team rider Lance Armstrong of the US cycles during the eighth stage of the 97th Tour de France 2010 cycling race between Station Des Rousses and Morzine-Avoriaz, France, 10 July 2010.The first big mountain stage at the Tour is always revelatory. The early time trials and lower climbs allow classics and TT men to sit at the Tour's grown-up table for a week or more, but those names begin to fall off the leaderboard when the race moves to the mountains.

Sunday's Stage 8 ran true to form, and then some. Sky, Saxo Bank, and Astana spent miles at the front, keeping the pace high enough to shed rider after rider, until on the day's final climb, only a dozen riders still had a chance for the stage win, including Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, and Levi Leipheimer. With teammate Daniel Navarro taking a pull worthy of Amtrak, Contador looked safisfied to ride to the line with that group.

With less than 2k to ride, Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas was the first man to launch, covered quickly by Contador. Just inside the last kilometer, Andy Schleck sprinted away from the group, and only Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez matched him. Behind, a move from Gesink was covered, but Contador was content to let Sanchez and Schleck sprint it out for the stage win. The sprint, reminiscent of Barredo-Costa in its precision and ferocity, went to Schleck, his first Tour de France stage win.

World Champion Cadel Evans takes over the yellow jersey for the first time since 2008, when Evans lost it after being isolated on the climb to Prato Nevoso.

Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong suffered a key accident a few kilometers before the day's first big climb, chased back to the field, but was dropped on the Ramaz and lost almost 12 minutes on the day. He's in 39th place, 13:26 back of Evans. If Armstrong's announcement that this will be his last Tour is true, this was the end of his last chance to win the race. Armstrong says he'll stay in the race and work for the team, which is good news for Levi Leipheimer, sitting 8th overall.

The team that did most of the damage to Armstrong's chances also badly damaged their own leader's Tour hopes. Sky set a blistering pace on the Ramaz, shedding teammates, and their Bradley Wiggins was dropped on the climb out of Morzine, the day's second big challenge. He would finish at 1:45, and now sits 14th at 2:45 on the overall.

Evans becomes the first world champion to wear yellow since Boonen in 2006 and if he could win, would be the first world champion to win the Tour since LeMond in 1990.

Also:

VeloNews | Lance Armstrong: 'This Tour is finished for me'

CyclingNews.com | Armstrong's Tour challenge collapses

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2010 in Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 03, 2010

Shades of gray

Landis preparingThere are a lot of cycling fans who still believe in black and white.

Some rider or another, they'll say, has never tested positive, or is the most tested athlete in the world. Team X, they'll say, has the strictest anti-doping program in the peloton. Sure, there used to be a lot of doping in the sport, they'll say, but no sport has such extensive athlete testing, and the sport today is clean.

I've been following the sport for 25 years, through the mysterious deaths while riders slept, the 60 hematocrits, and now the biological passport, and I'm convinced the sport has never in that time approached clean. I don't believe in black and white.

The way I've come to see modern cycling is that every rider exists in a Heisenberg bubble, balanced somewhere on a scale between pure as the driven snow white and Floyd Landis “hell yeah I doped” black. As a fan, we all calculate the likelihood a particular rider is juicing, and all most of us have to go on is the rider and his team's public pronouncements, and the rider's race performance. How much you like a rider has to be balanced against how likely you think it is a) that he or she has doped, and b) that he or she will get caught. This is why I and many others breathed a sigh of relief when Vinokourov lost the maglia rosa at the Giro. I believe Vino's failed dope test was accurate, and I fear he has likely returned to his previously successful ways. You, of course, may disagree, or feel just as fearful about Giro winner Ivan Basso, who was ultimately banned for his involvement in Operación Puerto, and now says he's gunning for a podium spot at the Tour. One of the things about the bubble is that every fan's is slightly different. Maybe you assume that everyone who came out of the sports mills of Eastern Europe is tainted. Maybe you believe that the recent popularity of Spain as a training center was a direct result of tighter French anti-doping laws.

Tyler Hamilton & David MillarOccasionally, especially in the case of a superstar rider, there may be other information, from former teammates, employees, trainers, or other people in the rider's circle. In the absence of positive dope tests, which it still appears can be manipulated without a great deal of trouble, all we can do is take the data and put it together with our own prejudices and preferences to decide who we believe is clean and who's not. If an ex-teammate says you've doped, that moves you 3 spaces to the right. Coming out of nowhere to contend for the climber's jersey at the Tour? Move 10 spaces to the right. If you get caught, suspended, then come back as an anti-dope crusader, that might move you a space or two to the left.

It's apparent that there's a continuing arms race in cycling, and the enforcers are losing. Like any arms race, the advantage goes to those with money and technology, and those belong to the teams.

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 01: Cyclist Lance Armstrong pauses at the start of the team presentations for the 97th Tour de France on July 1, 2010 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Following a prologue time trial in Rotterdam on Saturday, the iconic race will include 20 stages and will cover 3,642km. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)Far be it from me to identify where I think any particular rider falls on the 0-to-100 scale. Clearly, though, the recent Landis revelations, outlined in detail in the Wall Street Journal today, push Armstrong farther to the right, and at least nudge Zabriskie, Hincapie, and Leipheimer in that direction. Sure, it's easy to impeach Landis' credibility, but it's clear to me that Landis didn't come up with the sophisticated doping program he's described, and he's far from the first person to allege that Armstrong has relied on more than spring water in previous Tour wins.

Let's run through the allegations in the WSJ article by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell. First and foremost, there are dates and details of blood transfusions during the Tour de France itself in 2004, and a partial list of riders who received them, including Armstrong. Next most damaging is probably Landis' claim that Armstrong himself was the source of his first collection of testosterone patches. Finally, there is the allegation that as many as 60 team bikes were sold for cash to support the Postal doping program. For me, mentions of Armstrong's possible visits to strip bars and cocaine use are just distractions; my interest is in Armstrong as an athlete or a cheat.

According to Albergotti and O'Connell, three other U.S. Postal riders confirmed doping while Armstrong rode for the team, and one admitted he himself doped.

Frankie AndreuLooking through the article, though, I don't see anything that's going to change the mind of rabid Armstrong fans, or of people who have believed he's a doper since 1999. We already know of former teammates who have alleged doping, including Frankie Andreu, who admitted his own EPO use in 2006. The claim that team bikes were improperly sold to pay for the doping program can't be proven by the mere appearance of team bikes on eBay: Someone would have to connect their proceeds to a doping program to really make something of it. Otherwise, those frames could just as easily have gone toward Armstrong's Shiner Bock habit as toward dope. I can see no way to tie Armstrong to the foil-packeted testosterone Landis claims he was provided.

But the addition of FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky adds a new dimension to the sport's doping problem. Teammates and staff who don't hesitate to cover for a rider with the media may feel differently when a federal agent starts threatening purgery charges and deploys subpoena powers. Novitzky seems unlikely to tolerate the shades of gray we as fans have grown to accept.

Also:

ESPN.com | Lance Armstrong: Crunch Time

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2010 in Dave Zabriskie, Doping, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Where are they from, 2010 edition

Each year, I take a look at where the Tour's riders are from, with special attention to the traditionally English-speaking countries.

Here's this year's rundown:

Australia
Cadel Evans, BMC
Simon Gerrans, Sky
Adam Hansen, HTC-Columbia
Brett Lancaster, Cervelo
Matthew Lloyd, Omega Pharma-Lotto
Robbie McEwen, Katusha
Stuart O'Grady, Saxo Bank
Mark Renshaw, HTC-Columbia
Luke Roberts, Milram
Michael Rogers, HTC-Columbia
Wesley Sulzberger, Française des Jeux

Eleven! Up from 6 last year, and it's largely a return of the “Lone Australian” phenomenon -- only HTC-Columbia, with Hansen, Renshaw, and Rogers has more than one Aussie on the squad. Every 2009 Aussie returns, and add Gerrans and Hansen, alternates last year, plus Roberts, Sulzberger, and perennial sprint threat McEwen.

US
Lance Armstrong, Radio Shack
Brent Bookwalter, BMC
Tyler Farrar, Garmin
George Hincapie, BMC
Chris Horner, Radio Shack
Levi Leipheimer, Radio Shack
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin
David Zabriskie, Garmin

Eight is up from seven last year, and four in 2008. First-timer Bookwalter is here, Garmin's Danny Pate is not, and Chris Horner returns. The excellent showings of both Farrar and Bookwalter at today's prologue are great news for US cycling, which has a glut of over-30 Tour riders, essentially everybody else on the list above.

Canada
Michael Barry, Sky
Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin

Canada climbs from one to two, and long-suffering Michael Barry finally gets a Tour start at 34.

Great Britain
Mark Cavendish, HTC-Columbia
Stephen Cummings, Sky
Jeremy Hunt, Cervelo
Daniel Lloyd, Cervelo
David Millar, Garmin
Geraint Thomas, Sky
Charlie Wegelius, Omega Pharma-Lotto
Bradley Wiggins, Sky

Great Britain doubles up, with eight riders versus last year's four. Cavendish and Wiggins have dreams of winner's jerseys.

New Zealand
Julian Dean, Garmin

Hayden Roulston wasn't invited by HTC-Columbia, Greg Henderson wasn't invited by Team Sky.

Ireland
Nicolas Roche, AG2R-La Mondiale

Roche repeats as the only Irish rider.

South Africa
Robbie Hunter, Garmin

Up from an unusual zero last year.

Other countries (2009 in parentheses):
35: France (40)
31: Spain (doesn't count Florencio, pulled by Cervelo before start) (28)
17: Italy (16)
15: Germany (15)
12: Belgium (11)
11: Australia (6)
8: Netherlands (11), USA (7)
6: Russia (8)
5: Denmark (3), Switzerland (3)
4: Slovenia (1)
3: Austria (2), Belarus (2), Kazakhstan (1), Portugal (2), Ukraine (2)
2: Canada (1), Luxembourg (3), Norway (2)
1: Czech Republic (1), Estonia (0), Ireland (1), Japan (2), Lithuania (0), Moldova (0), New Zealand (2), Poland (1), South Africa (0), Sweden (1)

Also:

TdFblog.com | Where are they from, 2009 edition

TdFblog.com | Where are they from, 2008 edition

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2010 in About the Tour, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2009

Leipheimer exits Tour, shares surgery via Twitter

A lot has been said about the use of social media in this year's Tour de France, but today we really saw it in action. I happened to wake up at about 4:30 a.m., and checked in on my Twitter stream on the iPhone.

I saw several tweets about Levi Leipheimer's wrist fracture, including one about 15 minutes old from Lance Armstrong, with a picture of Leipheimer in his cast.

Then, during the stage today, Leipheimer was actually Twittering from the operating room, including photos of the man himself on the operating room table, of the preparation of his wrist, and of the final X-ray, showing his 22mm titanium screw in place.

Here's a screen shot of the whole exchange.

All of this was straight from the riders involved, and within minutes of it actually happening. It's a brave new world, kids.

Also:

CNET News | Twitter takes the Tour de France on new course

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2009 in 2008 Stage 12, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2009

Sorensen adds some sizzle in Stage 12 win

Sørensen
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Saxo Bank's Nicki Sørensen used his head and his legs to outfox 7 breakaway compatriots and take Stage 12 of the 2009 Tour de France.

The breakaway that mattered featured Sørensen, Sylvain Calzati of Agritubel, Milram's Marcus Fothen, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, Laurent Lefevre of Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Remi Pauriol of Cofidis. Each rider took out one team for chase purposes, and it soon became apparent that Columbia-HTC, which has been chasing breaks to set up Mark Cavendish, had no interest today, so the pool of riders to drive the capture was pretty small, and never brought the gap inside of about 3:30.

With 22.5k to ride, Sørensen decided he didn't like his chances against his breakmates, attacked, and was joined by Calzati. The pair rotated smoothly and built a gap of almost 20 seconds, but the 5 behind slowly closed the split.

Nearly caught with around 5.5k to ride, Sørensen turned his guts absolutely inside out, dropping Calzati, and briefly throwing the chase into disarray. Within a kilometer by himself, he had built a 22-second lead, which he stretched to 34 seconds with 1k to ride. At that point, it was a done deal, and Sørensen saluted the crowd as he crossed the line with a victory for the often-unheralded “pack fodder” of the Tour.

Sørensen's primary role for Saxo Bank at the Tour was expected to be taking long pulls on the front of the peloton, hunting down breaks to protect Andy Schleck's race lead. Today, he took a turn as the hunted, and took home the stage win.

With no General Classification risks being taken, the green and polka-dot jerseys each took a turn in the limelight today, with Cavendish and Hushovd going head to head at the day's 1st intermediate sprint, won by Cavendish, and in the field sprint, led out by Cervelo, but still won by Cavendish. Cavendish had been reluctant to name the green jersey as a goal here, but if he's chasing intermediate points, there's no doubt.

Pellizotti and Martinez engaged in a few rounds of sprint the mini-mountains, with Pellizotti getting the upper hand, and moving within 18 points of Martinez in the competition. It's still very possible that someone else entirely takes the climber's jersey with a long Alpine escape, but it looks like Pellizotti and Martinez plan to cover those moves.

Levi Leipheimer was involved in a late crash that also claimed Michael Rogers and Cadel Evans, but all three continued. Leipheimer was banged and scraped up, and should be able to continue, but there could be lingering effects as the Tour heads to the Vosges tomorrow.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2009 in 2009 Stage 12, Cadel Evans, Egoi Martinez, Franco Pellizotti, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Nicki Sørensen, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2009

Jetting to Limoges

videozone | Grapjes uithalen op het vliegtuig (commentary in Flemish)

The Belgium Sporza network had cameras on the plane flying half the Tour riders to Limoges this afternoon. The commentators are speaking Flemish, but they turn their cameras on Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong, then Levi Leipheimer, then Dave Zabriskie, all of whom are speaking English, so you don't need to speak Flemish to enjoy their comments.

Here's a little context for Armstrong's comment (“Hey, Johan, Sporza!”):

CyclingNews.com | Bruyneel, Astana boycott Sporza

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2009 in Dave Zabriskie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer | 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

Tour de Twitter

Slipstreaming
JV on the Crackberry,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
This is the third Tour de France I've Twittered. In 2007, it was pretty lonely. Last year, we had a core group of fans using the service. This year, Twitter has exploded. Lance Armstrong has been one of the top celebrities to adopt Twitter, alongside Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher (I almost typed “Astana Kutcher”), and Barack Obama.

I've developed quite a list of riders, journalists, bloggers, and photographers in preparation for the Tour, and thought I would share it with you.

I started with Carlton Reid's massive, 600+ strong list of “Bike Trade Tweeps”. As I've found more, I've been adding them. I left off a few that appear inactive, like @carlossastre, who has nearly 4,000 followers awaiting his first tweet (what pressure!); likewise Denis Menchov and Robert Gesink, and a few fakes.

Also, these are all in English. Please send me additions, either on Twitter (@TdFblog) or by commenting this post. Thanks!

Riders/Teams

Astana

Garmin-Slipstream

Columbia-HTC

Silence-Lotto

Cervelo Test Team

Quick Step

Skil-Shimano

Saxo Bank

Rabobank

Press

VS broadcasters

Photographers

Pros not racing this year

Bloggers

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2009 in About the Tour, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Janez Brajkovic, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Tour news, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 06, 2009

Stage 3: Columbia puts on a show

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 05, 2009

Stage 2: Cavendish strikes first for green

Mark Cavendish delivered the goods Sunday, easily outsprinting the field in Brignoles.

Cavendish won four stages in last year's Tour, but didn't win the overall green jersey because he dropped out to concentrate on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. That didn't work out so well. Cavendish has said his goals for the Tour are just to win a stage and make it to Paris, but wearing the green jersey tonight, he's got to be thinking bigger.

The victory was Cav's 15th this season, and continues the Columbia team's amazing run -- they won 6 stages of the Tour de Suisse (with 5 different riders) in June.

Garmin-Slipstream's Tyler Farrar played the sprint just right, finding and holding Cavendish's wheel, but just couldn't find the terminal velocity to stay with the Manx Express. Romain Feillu was 3rd, Thor Hushovd 4th, and Bbox's Yukiya Arashiro, one of two Japanese riders making the start this year, was 5th.

No sign of Tom Boonen, who may have been caught by a crash in the final kilometer, and was 174th on the stage.

For much of the day, four riders: Jussi Veikkanen of FdJeux; Stef Clement of Rabobank; Stéphane Auge of Cofidis; and Cyril Dessel of AG2R, rode alone, and Veikkanen collected enough King of the Mountain points to take over the lead in that competition. That makes him the first Finn ever to wear the polka-dots in the Tour.

Stage 2 Top Ten:
1) Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia-HTC, 4:30:02
2) Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Slipstream, same time
3) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, s.t.
4) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, s.t.
5) Yukiya Arashiro, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
6) Gerald Ciolek, Team Milram, s.t.
7) William Bonnet, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
8) Nicolas Roche, AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.
9) Koen de Kort, Skil-Shimano, s.t.
10) Lloyd Mondory, AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.

General Classification, after Stage 2:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team Saxo Bank, 4:49:34
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :18
3) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :19
4) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :22
5) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, at :23
6) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :30
7) Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, at :32
8) Tony Martin, Team Columbia-HTC, at :33
9) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at :37
10) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :40

Also:

VeloNews | Cavendish wins second stage; Cancellara keeps lead

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2009 in 2009 Stage 2, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Romain Feillu, Stage results, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 02, 2009

Where are they from, 2009 edition

Every year, I run down the riders' countries of origin, with special attention to the English-speaking countries. Here's last year's, for comparison.

USA
Lance Armstrong, Astana
Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Slipstream
George Hincapie, Columbia-HTC
Levi Leipheimer, Astana
Danny Pate, Garmin-Slipstream
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream
David Zabriskie, Garmin-Slipstream

Seven is up from four last year. Gone is Will Frischkorn, left off the Garmin team, but back are Armstrong, Zabriskie, and Leipheimer. Tyler Farrar starts his first Tour. Not just more riders, but riders with more chances -- 3 guys with Top 5 hopes, and Farrar stage-hunting.

Australia
Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto
Brett Lancaster, Cervelo
Matthew Lloyd, Silence-Lotto
Stuart O'Grady, Saxo Bank
Mark Renshaw, Columbia-HTC
Michael Rogers, Columbia-HTC
Allan Davis, Quick Step

Down from 9 last year, with Robbie McEwen recovering from surgery, Baden Cooke riding for the Continental Vacansoleil team, Trent Lowe home, and Simon Gerrans and Adam Hansen alternates. Michael Rogers is back. Matthew Lloyd makes his first Tour start. 7/3 Update: With Tom Boonen back in the Tour, Allan Davis stays home, reducing Australia's count to 6. And a half, given Heinrich Haussler, who lives and trains in Australia.

Great Britain:
Mark Cavendish, Columbia-HTC
David Millar, Garmin-Slipstream
Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream
Charly Wegelius, Silence-Lotto

Chris Froome's Barloworld squad is not in the Tour this year, back is Bradley Wiggins, and Wegelius returns thanks to Dekker's EPO positive. Cavendish has to be the pre-Tour favorite for green, and his success or failure will be one of this Tour's major plotlines.

New Zealand
Julian Dean, Garmin-Slipstream
Hayden Roulston, Cervelo

Tour rookie Roulston joins the returning Dean.

Ireland
Dan Martin, Garmin-Slipstream
Nicolas Roche, AG2R

With Martin's tendinitis, Roche will be the first Irish participant since Mark Scanlon in 2004. Roche is reigning Irish road champion, having dethroned Martin last weekend.

Canada
Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Slipstream

After ending a 10-year Canadian drought last year, Hesjedal returns.

With no Barloworld participation, Robbie Hunter and John Lee Augustyn won't make the start for South Africa.

All nations breakdown:
40: France (2008 count in parentheses: 40)
28: Spain (30)
16: Italy (21)
15: Germany (16)
11: Netherlands (10)
11: Belgium (12)
8: Russia (4)
7: USA (4)
6: Australia (9)
4: United Kingdom (3)
3: Denmark (1), Luxembourg (2), Switzerland (4)
2: Austria (2), Belarus (2), Colombia (3), Japan (0), New Zealand (1), Norway (2), Portugal (0), Ukraine (2)
1: Canada (1), Czech Republic (1), Finland (0), Ireland (0), Kazakhstan (1), Poland (1), Slovakia (1), Slovenia (1), Sweden (2)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2009 in About the Tour, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour de France 2009, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 25, 2009

Astana finalizes Tour squad

Astana - Tour de Georgia 2008

Astana named the final three riders to its Tour squad this morning: Gregory Rast, Dmitriy Muravyev, and Sergio Paulinho.

It's the first Tour for Muravyev, a pro since 2002, and 3-time Kazakhstan TT champion. He's Astana's only Tour rookie.

Left off the Tour roster were Chris Horner, Jani Brajkovic, Thomas Vaitkus, and Benjamin Noval. Versus should do whatever it takes to get Horner in the booth as often as possible; he could be the next Bobke.

With Lance Armstrong apparently planning a new team for 2010, and Alberto Contador, one of five men to win all three Grand Tours, the stage is set for a potential Lemond-Hinault style intrateam rift.

The full Astana squad:

  • Lance Armstrong
  • Alberto Contador
  • Andreas Klöden
  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Dmitriy Muravyev
  • Sergio Paulinho
  • Yaroslav Popovych
  • Gregory Rast
  • Haimar Zubeldia

The team is presented in a very professional Flash presentation that would have made a great introduction for a Livestrong-Nike team, currently running in place of the team home page.

(Click through for a larger version of the photo above, which I shot at Stage 4 of last year's Tour de Georgia, at Road Atlanta).

Also:

VeloNews | Horner left off Astana Tour roster

Posted by Frank Steele on June 25, 2009 in Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner, Haimar Zubeldia, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour de France 2009, Tour news, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Cancellara golden in Beijing; Kristin Armstrong takes women's gold

BBC SPORT | Olympics | Cycling | Cancellara seals time trial glory

Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara, twice world champion in the discipline, took Olympic gold on Wednesday.

The TT course was a single lap of the road race course where Cancellara took bronze on Sunday, and Cancellara rode the 47.3 kilometers in 1:02:11. Sweden's Gustav Larsson, a teammate of Cancellara's at CSC, took silver, with American Levi Leipheimer in bronze.

"I pictured myself on the top step but whether you win gold, silver or bronze, it's the Olympics. It's important," said Leipheimer. "It's a lifelong dream to get a medal at the Olympics. I fought really hard and in the end it paid off."

Cancellara had marked Larsson as a threat back at training camp, when CSC's riders shared their season goals:

"At training camp in America everyone had to write what they wanted to win this year. I said (the Tour of) Flanders and (Paris) Roubaix and Larsson said he wanted to be Olympic champion in the time trial!"

Alberto Contador took fourth, the bitterest placing at the Olympics, while Cadel Evans was fifth.

On the women's side, 35-year-old American Kristin Armstrong was class of the field, overcoming an early deficit to Emma Pooley of Great Britain, who took silver. Switzerland also took a medal in the women's discipline with triathlon specialist Karin Thurig.

Also:

VeloNews | Armstrong, Cancellara win time trial gold

NBCOlympics.com | Armstrong, Leipheimer win time trial medals

Posted by Frank Steele on August 13, 2008 in Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Where are they from?

I always review the nationalities breakdown for the Tour, with a special eye toward the English-speaking countries. Here's last year's, for comparison.

USA
George Hincapie, Team Columbia
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle
Will Frischkorn, Garmin-Chipotle
Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle

This is the least in years, with Freddie Rodriguez riding in the U.S., Bobby Julich not selected, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer barred with Astana, and David Zabriskie nursing a back injury.

Australia
Baden Cooke, Barloworld
Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto
Simon Gerrans, Credit Agricole
Adam Hansen, Team Columbia
Brett Lancaster, Milram
Trent Lowe, Garmin-Chipotle
Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto
Stuart O'Grady, CSC-Saxo Bank
Mark Renshaw, Credit Agricole

Baden Cooke is back; Adam Hansen, Trent Lowe, and Mark Renshaw are new, and Michael Rogers is out.

Great Britain:
Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia
Christopher Froome, Barloworld
David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle

Out are Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins and Charlie Wegelius. I've got Christopher Froome as being from Kenya, which isn't in the list below. Put him there, and Great Britain drops to just a pair.

New Zealand
Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle

As last year.

South Africa
Robbie Hunter, Barloworld
John-Lee Augustyn, Barloworld

Adds Augustyn.

Canada
Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Chipotle

First Canuck since 1997. Maybe Michael Barry will join him one year.

Here's the official breakdown, according to the Tour website:

40: France (2007 count in parentheses: 35)
30: Spain (42)
21: Italy (18)
16: Germany (19)
12: Belgium (13)
10: The Netherlands (7)
9: Australia (6)
4: USA (6), Russia (6) and Switzerland (5)
3: Colombia (3), Great Britain (5) and Luxembourg (2)
2: South Africa (1), Austria (3), Belarus (2), Norway (2), Sweden (1) and Ukraine (2)
1: Brazil (1), Canada (0), Denmark (1), Kazakhstan (4), New Zealand (1), Poland (0), Czech Republic (0), Slovakia (0) and Slovenia (1)

Spanish representation drops from 42 riders last year to 30 this year, with France jumping from 35 to 40.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in About the Tour, Baden Cooke, Bobby Julich, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 26, 2008

Siutsou, High Road shine on TdG's highest road

Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Kanstantsin Siutsou burned the field today at Brasstown Bald, outfoxing Team Slipstream and Astana, whose team leaders marked each other and let Siutsou escape at 500 meters.

Team High Road takes its 2nd stage win, and now holds two leader's jersey, with Siutsou in the yellow and Greg Henderson the leading sprinter.

This is the sort of stage that Jason McCartney always seems to dominate, and Iowa's greatest climber didn't disappoint. McCartney powered the day's longest break, and won himself the Tour de Georgia's overall King of the Mountains jersey for his trouble, while breakmate Neil Shirley of Jittery Joe's took the day's Most Aggressive Rider award.

Team Slipstream's Trent Lowe rode a tactically smart race -- until that final 500 meters. Astana's activity in the breaks effectively isolated Lowe at the bottom of the climb, but the young Aussie didn't panic. Instead (shades of Floyd Landis 2006) he marked the man he thought was the biggest threat to his leader's jersey, daring Leipheimer to break him and holding his wheel to the summit, where Lowe finally dropped Leipheimer in the final 150 meters. In retrospect, I'm sure he wishes he had marked Siutsou.

Woe to Astana -- their ride looked pitch perfect. They put riders in all the good breaks, and had Leipheimer well placed with Rubiera, Horner, and Colom at the bottom of the day's last climb, but Leipheimer couldn't deliver. The miss leaves Astana without a stage win or a day in an individual leader's jersey, but puts them in the lead in the team competition.

Slipstream can take some consolation from the young rider's jersey, firmly in Lowe's grasp, and sprinter Tyler Farrar, 8 points back of Henderson in the sprint jersey competition.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 26, 2008 in Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 24, 2008

Team Slipstream takes Georgia TTT


Slipstreaming
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

Team Slipstream took off fairly early today, edging CSC's leading lap times as they rode. They were amazingly smooth and disciplined, quietly storming around the course.

When Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner's Astana squad took the course, they quickly outpaced Slipstream's time on Laps 1 and 2 of the Road Atlanta race course, and it looked like we might have a new best time of the day, but a slow third lap left Astana 3 seconds short of the Argyle Army.

Last to leave the start house was George Hincapie and race leader Greg Henderson's Team High Road. Again, their early laps set the standard, but they faded late, charging to the line 5.2 seconds slower than Team Slipstream. High Road's Greg Henderson holds the lead by virtue of a few bonus seconds earned on the road, but Slipstream's got a strong quartet sitting at 15 seconds -- Tom Danielson, Trent Lowe, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.

CSC was 4th on the day at 12.72 seconds, Toyota-United 5th at 23.43. One team that has to be disappointed is Rock Racing, 10th at 52.35. If one of Rock's riders is going to contend, they'll have to climb over a lot of bodies to get there.

More, and many more photos, tonight.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 24, 2008 in Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2007

Leipheimer, Contador to join Bruyneel at Astana?

Deseret Morning News | Levi's not blue: Utah's Leipheimer relaxing after big cycling season

Anybody need a team leader?In an interview with Levi Leipheimer in today's edition, Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News reports that Leipheimer and Alberto Contador will follow Johan Bruyneel over to the Astana squad, along with Tomas Vaitkus and former Liberty Seguros and Astana rider Sergio Paulinho.

Leipheimer refused to comment on his next team, but said, “I'm not really a free agent ... We just can't say anything yet, but I'm not really on the market anymore.”

Astana suffered through drug scandal after drug scandal in 2007. They may see Bruyneel, whose teams have escaped any significant positive tests, as a chance to make a new start for 2008.

In other Disco news, George Hincapie has formally announced his 2-year contract with T-Mobile.

Also:

cyclingnews.com - September 1: Bruyneel confirms Astana interest | September 18: Leipheimer following Bruyneel to Astana? | September 28: The new Astana is "under surveillance" by the UCI

Posted by Frank Steele on September 28, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 04, 2007

Leipheimer rides away with US road championship

Disco sign-inLevi Leipheimer took his first US national championship on Sunday, riding away from the elite field and soloing in from 23 miles out.

Leipheimer said the win put the cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae that's been his 2007 season, which started with his win at the Tour of California, included road and TT stage wins at the Tour de Georgia, and a stage win and podium placing at the Tour de France, as well as wins at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia and the overall Tour de France title for Leipheimer's Discovery Channel team, which is disbanding after this season.

Leipheimer and HamiltonLeipheimer has yet to announce his 2008 plans, but at 34, another go at an overall Tour de France title doesn't seem out of the question.

Leipheimer looked to be the dominant rider in the 2006 US championships, as well, but worked for hometown hero George Hincapie. This year, the two reversed places, with Hincapie covering attacks and finishing 2nd. Jittery Joe's rider Neil Shirley distanced Freddie Rodriguez in the last kilometer to take 3rd.

Leipheimer in the select groupDiscovery Channel brought twice as many riders as last year, and John Devine and Tony Cruz were at the front of the peloton for most of the day. Where the ProTour riders appeared to nail last year's pace from the start, this year, the domestic teams made early attacks, with BMC, HealthNet, Slipstream, and Successfulliving.com populating the first breakaway of 7 riders.

Leipheimer attacked on the 3rd of four long laps that included the climb of Paris Mountain. He and Chris Baldwin swept up remnants of the early break by BMC's Jackson Stewart, Slipstream's Pat McCarty, and HealthNet's Doug Ollerenshaw, with Slipstream's Ian McGregor and William Frischkorn, HealthNet's Roman Kilun, and Successfulliving.com's Daniel Ramsay close behind.

Leipheimer aloneComing to the base of Paris Mountain for the final time, Leipheimer was with a small group with a healthy but not unassailable gap. On the last climb, he changed that (from cyclingnews.com:

The rest of the remaining 30 or so riders in the race could only pick their jaws up off the ground as Levi put on a time trial clinic. “Levi was just... what can you say, he was third in the Tour and probably should have won it,” said former USPRO champ Chris Wherry (Toyota-United). “He is incredible and just rode away from everyone; there were no tactics he was just the strongest one. He went up the climb with two to go and just kept going, it was unbelievable.”

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieOn the one hand, Leipheimer was clearly very strong. On the other, 23 miles is a long way to cover with some of the world's best riders trying to reel you in.

But Leipheimer's gap hovered out beyond a minute all the way to the end, with Hincapie coming in at 1:11.

Neil Shirley, whipped but happyTop 10:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, in 4:22:19
2) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 1:11
3) Neil Shirley, Jittery Joe's, at 1:14
4) Freddie Rodriguez, Predictor-Lotto, at 1:18
5) Danny Pate, Team Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:29
6) Shawn Milne, HealthNet-Maxxis, at 1:56
7) Kirk O'Bee, HealthNet-Maxxis, at 2:00
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, at 2:00
9) Christopher Jones, Nerac, at 2:00
10) Burke Swindlehurst, Toyota-United, at 2:04

Tyler Hamilton was 12th at 2:11.

Click through any photos for larger versions, or go straight to my Flickr photoset.

Also:
Complete results

My Flickr set from the road race (80 photos) | Flickr pool - if you've got pictures you want to add, let me know

cyclingnews.com | Leipheimer rides alone to national title | Photo gallery

DailyPeloton.com | 2007 USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship | Ben Ross photo gallery

VeloNews.com | Leipheimer wins U.S. pro road crown | Casey Gibson photo gallery (by the way, here's Casey shooting the rest of us shooting the riders)

Posted by Frank Steele on September 4, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 31, 2007

US Pro Championships preview

The US Pro Championships return to Greenville, South Carolina this weekend. It's a fantastic course in a lovely small-town setting, with a terrific river park less than 300 yards from the finish, sidewalk cafés, barbecue, and top-notch bike racing.

Levi LeipheimerRace organizers took half my advice, shifting the little-attended time trial from Friday to Saturday, but left the road race on Sunday, so the likelihood of an already-difficult double national champion seems even a little more remote. For Southeastern fans, though, it means you can see both races for the cost of a single night's hotel room, and still get home for Labor Day.

I've always pulled for Levi Leipheimer, but I've never really believed in him. After this year's Tour, I believe. He was the strongest rider in last year's USPro road race, this year's Tour de Georgia, and the strongest American at the Tour de France. He's my favorite to take the Stars and Stripes to his new team, whatever it may be.

Last year, I felt Leipheimer's support was critical for George Hincapie, who will look to repeat as US champion and carry the Stars and Stripes to the T-Mobile team as Team Discovery Channel ends its successful run.

On the other hand, you can bet Team Slipstream would love to kick off its reign as the top US team with the US title onboard. Danny Pate was 3rd last year, while his teammates packed the top 15. A win for Dave Zabriskie is a win for Slipstream, as he transfers to the Argyles after this season.

And Bobby Julich has suggested wearing the Stars and Stripes at 35 would be a great career capper, and one thing he's yet to achieve in a very successful career:

“I'd like to try to win a national jersey finally. Either the time trial or the road race, I don't care. I'd take anything,” Julich said. “It would be fun to have the jersey in the last year of my career. I've never had it.”

Zabriskie at 3k to rideIn the time trial, the course has been slightly altered from last year, getting cut off before the hard right-hander in this photo. Last year, that led up to a twisty last 3 kilometers, where 2005 TT champion Chris Baldwin, neck and neck with Zabriskie, went into a ditch, and lost at least 30 seconds getting back up to steam. If Zabriskie's knee is back in racing shape after his forced withdrawal from this year's Tour, this is his race to lose: Nobody without a funny accent TTs faster than Z.

Dalton, Georgia's Saul Raisin returns to competition, just like he said he would, with a ride in the ITT Saturday. Also expected to return to competition (in both events) is Tyler Hamilton, whose team has kept him from racing since the Tour de Georgia in April.

There are 99 riders scheduled to start Sunday's road race. Missing this year? Christian Vande Velde, Freddie Rodriguez, Tom Danielson, Jason McCartney, and Aaron Olson.

I'll be there, so look for race updates and photos as soon as I can post them.

Also:

2007 USPro Championship Time Trial riders (34) | Road Race riders (99)

Course Maps and Profiles

GoUpstate.com | Battle for the stars and stripes, or just admire

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | The Mehlting Pot: The Last Dance

From last year's race:

Flickr.com | US Pro Championships pool | My road race set | My TT set

Posted by Frank Steele on August 31, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Saul Raisin, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

Discovery Channel team disbanding after '07 season

Los Angeles Times | Discovery Channel cycling team to disband

Team Discovery ChannelComing off a dominant Tour de France performance, the Discovery Channel pro cycling team will announce it has been unable to find a new title sponsor and is disbanding.

The announcement comes in the wake of a press conference today where Tour winner Alberto Contador reiterated that he's never used doping products and was not involved in the Operación Puerto ring.

The Discovery Channel team was the only US-based ProTour team, and grew out of the Subaru-Montgomery Sports team created by Thom Weisel in 1989. The announcement will free Contador, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, and the team's other riders to seek alternate teams next season. The team will still compete in the Vuelta a España and the Tour of Missouri as planned.

Jonathan Vaughters' Team Slipstream is racing more and more on the European circuit, and has signed a number of ProTour riders, including David Millar, Dave Zabriskie, Magnus Backstedt, Julian Dean, and Christian Vande Velde. Vaughters has said he hopes to win a ProTour license for 2009.

T-Mobile announced yesterday that they will continue sponsorship of the team at least through 2010, when its contract expires, despite continuing doping scandals, including T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, who tested too high for testosterone in June.

Also:

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Tailwind Ends Team Sponsor Search

Posted by Frank Steele on August 10, 2007 in Alberto Contador, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 25, 2007

Stage 16: Rasmussen unstoppable

Rasmussen  wins on AubisqueAlternate title: Chicken Run 4: The Dane, in Spain, derails Discovery's train

Michael Rasmussen took full ownership of this Tour de France today, outriding the entire field and pushing his overall lead out to more than 3 minutes on Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador.

It looked like Discovery Channel had played their cards to perfection. On the day's last climb, Yaroslav Popovych absolutely slayed an elite group that had been riding with Rasmussen, leaving three Discos in a 5-man group: Popovych, Leipheimer and Contador vs. Rasmussen and Cadel Evans. His job done, Popovych fell away, and Contador and Leipheimer looked to make the race.

Each would attack Rasmussen, who repeatedly led the other Disco and Evans back onto the attacker's wheel. Late in the climb, Leipheimer looked cracked, and the field was whittled down to three, then two as Evans couldn't stay with probably the two strongest climbers in this year's Tour.

I say probably, because Barolworld's Juan Mauricio Soler, who had taken the lead in the King of the Mountains competition while riding in an early breakaway, was gaining time on Contador and Rasmussen and passing men who had earlier dropped him.

Back on the front, Leipheimer somehow scratched his way past Evans and back up to the leaders, and even launched an attack when he got there, but none of the trio wanted to attack as the stage wound down into its last kilometers. Then, with just over 1 kilometer to the summit, Rasmussen put on a yellow-jersey worthy display, dropping the Discos, and riding solo to the summit of the Col d'Aubisque for his second stage win of this Tour and 4th ever.

Leipheimer shepherded Contador briefly, then made haste to try to gain some time on Cadel Evans, currently sitting on the bottom step of the podium, where Leipheimer wants to be in Paris. He finished 26 seconds back, and picks up some bonus time, so he now sits 4th overall, :56 behind Evans.

Carlos Sastre, who went in a long early breakaway with Soler, takes the most aggressive rider recognition, while Soler takes over the King of the Mountains competition lead.

Stage 16 Top 10:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 6:23:21
2) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at :25
3) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at :35
4) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Astralia, at :43
5) Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia, at 1:25
6) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 1:52
7) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Spain, at 1:54
8) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 2:12
9) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 2:27
10) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, same time

Overall Standings after Stage 16:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark
2) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:10
3) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 5:03
4) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 5:59
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 9:12
6) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, in 9:39
7) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 13:28
8) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 14:46
9) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 16:00
10) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, at 16:41

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2007 in 2007 Stage 16, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Juan Mauricio Soler, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 16 on the road

It's here. The ultimate Mountain Showdown of the 2007 Tour. Michael Rasmussen is looking to survive without losing time on a stage that looks made for him. Alberto Contador seems likely to attack on the day's last climb, using that explosive jump to break Rasmussen and move up at least within striking distance.

Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer, who haven't looked quite as strong, need to find some time, but that's going to be hard with the support Rasmussen has been getting from Denis Menchov, Michael Boogerd, and Thomas Dekker, and perhaps complicated for Leipheimer by Contador's position in 2nd overall.

It's a 218.5-km stage, with two hors categorie climbs, a 3rd-Category, and two 1st Category. The race will visit Spain, so look for the roads to be swathed in orange-clad fans.

Racing kicked off early, with 4 riders getting almost 9 minutes: Stephane Auge (Cofidis), Vincente Garcia-Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Christophe Rinero (Saunier Duval).

At the day's first sprint:
1) Christophe Rinero, Saunier Duval, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Stephane Auge, Cofidis, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +2 pts/2 secs

On the day's first climb, the HC Port de Larrau, Cardenas and Soler of Barloworld went right to the front and decimated the field. Yaroslav Popovych, Manuel Beltran, and most notably Carlos Sastre hooked on and rode away from the yellow jersey group. Iban Mayo saw the move and bridged to Soler and Sastre. Sergio Paulinho of Discovery also tried a move, but he and Popovych fell back to the yellow jersey group. Michael Rasmussen climbed with Dekker, Boogerd, and Menchov.

1st Climb, Port de Larrau (HC)
1) Vicente Garcia-Acosta, Caisse d'Epargne +20 pts
2) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +18 pts
3) Rinero, Saunier Duval, +16 pts, at :55
4) Stephane Auge, Cofidis, +14 pts, at 1:05
5) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +12 pts, at 3:05
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, +10 pts
7) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, +8 pts
8) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, +7 pts, at 4:35
9) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, +6 pts
10) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, +5 pts

Next up, the little 3rd Category Alto Laza climb, where again Garcia-Acosta leads Verdugo to the line. Riders continue to catch onto the back of the yellow jersey group.

2nd Climb, 3rd Category Alto Laza
1) Vicente Garcia-Acosta, Caisse d'Epargne +4 pts
2) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +3 pts
3) Stephane Auge, Cofidis, +2 pts, at 2:00
4) Rinero, Saunier Duval, +1 pt, at 2:10

Next up the Col de la Pierre St. Martin, a 1st Category. The leaders mostly coalesced into a group including Soler, Sastre, Verdugo, Garcia-Acosta, and Mayo, with Auge and Rinero suffering between those 5 and Rasmussen's group. At the summit, Jens Voigt (of all people) sprints out of the yellow jersey group to deny Rasmussen mountain points.

3rd Climb, the 1st Category Col de la Pierre St. Martin
1) Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +15 pts
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, +13 pts
3) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +11 pts
4) Vincente Garcia-Acosta, Caisse d'Epargne, +9 pts
5) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, +8 pts
6) Stephane Auge, Cofidis, +7 pts, at 3:55
7) Christophe Rinero, Saunier Duval, +6 pts, at 4:10
8) Jens Voigt, CSC, +5 pts, at 4:50

Rasmussen's group arrived at 4:55. At this point, Soler would take over the lead in the King of the Mountains competition, but the 1st Category Col de Marie Blanque and the HC Col d'Aubisque (with points doubled) remain.

Again on the Marie-Blanque, Rabobank kept the pace high enough to discourage attacks, and brought back more than 2 minutes of the Sastre group's lead.

4th climb, the 1st Category Col de Marie Blanque
1) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +15 pts
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC +13 pts
3) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, +11 pts
4) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +9 pts
5) Vicente Garcia-Acosta, Caisse d'Epargne, +8 pts, at 1:25
6) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, +7 pts, at 2:25
7) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, +6 pts
8) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, +5 pts

Rasmussen's group amounted to only 12 at the climb; a few will likely chase back on the descent before the Col d'Aubisque.

Rabobank continued to reel in Sastre, whose group survived through the day's last intermediate sprint at around 200kms ridden.

2nd (final) intermediate sprint:
1) Sastre, CSC, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Soler, Barloworld, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Mayo, Saunier Duval, +2 pts/2 secs

It looks like that will be all Sastre takes away from today's breakaway - the gap is down to 40 seconds. Menchov and Boogerd still shepherd Rasmussen as the riders hit the day's final climb, the Col d'Aubisque, with about 16 kilometers/10 miles to ride.

Sastre refuses to be captured, and attacks out of his group. Soler and Mayo match him, then Soler can't hang, and Mayo crosses the gap to rejoin Sastre. Sastre and Mayo got their gap almost out to a minute, but as Menchov and Horner fell out of the yellow jersey group, Yaroslav Popovych brought the pain at the front of the group.

Through his efforts, the group was whittled down to only Popo, Contador and Leipheimer from Discovery Channel, Cadel Evans, and Michael Rasmussen. Popovych faded with 9.5 kilometers/6.1 miles to ride.

Leipheimer then moved to the front, and he and Contador took turns attacking Rasmussen. Each would get 10-20 meters, then Rasmussen would tow his teammate and Evans back up to his wheel. At one point, Leipheimer fell away, leaving Contador, Rasmussen and Evans, who was struggling to match the climbers. Finally, Evans fell away.

Leipheimer caught and passed Evans, then started to claw back the advantage of Contador and Rasmussen. Back in the field, Soler was making great time, and eventually would pass Sastre, to move into 5th on the course.

Rasmussen grew more and more distracted by the race motorcycles, which he apparently thought were providing the Discos a draft, but over the last 4 kilometers or so, the Discovery Channel duo looked content to ride with Rasmussen, refraining from attacks. Are they saving one of Contador's vicious strikes for the final stretch of the day?

Just outside the last kilometer, Rasmussen went hard, and Leipheimer and Contador had to watch him ride away. Leipheimer briefly squired Contador toward the line, then rode away in search of time that might move him nearer the Tour podium, as Evans chased solo :45 behind the leaders.

Rasmussen comes to the line, looks back to make sure, zips the jersey, and takes his 2nd stage win of this Tour, and more importantly closes the books on the Tour's high mountain stages with a healthy gap on 2nd place Alberto Contador.

Leipheimer came in 2nd, 26 seconds back, with Contador 3rd at :35.


Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2007 in 2007 Stage 16, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 23, 2007

Stage 15 on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freddie Rodriguez abandoned today on the road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 22, 2007

Stage 14: Contador opens Tour account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 14 on the road

The race enters a new phase, as yesterday's TT reorganized the standings, creating some interesting tactical possibilities.

Race leader Michael Rasmussen has to be glad to have escaped with the yellow jersey, but looks like he has to find more time in the Pyrenees before the Tour's 2nd individual time trial. Valverde, Mayo, and Sastre must also look for time after disappointing TTs, while Vinokourov must look for more time despite an awesome TT.

Astana and Discovery Channel both have 3 riders within 8 minutes of the overall lead, one of them -- Yaroslav Popovych -- apparently chasing the King of the Mountains title. Discovery Channel looks more likely to switch off leaders than Astana (would Astana really let Klöden win while Vinokourov is still in the race?), which may give them more options in the mountains.

VS. broadcast picks
Sherwen: Contador
Liggett: Rasmussen
Roll: Vinokourov
Trautwig: Klöden

1st climb, the 2nd Category Cote de St. Saraille:
1) David De La Fuente, Saunier Duval, +10 pts
2) Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +9 pts
3) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, +8 pts
4) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, +7 pts
5) Gorka Verdugo, Euskaltel, +6 pts
6) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, +5 pts

Soler moves into a tie atop the King of the Mountains standings, for now.

A 6-man breakaway formed about 30 kilometers into the stage, just as Predictor-Lotto reeled in a 26-rider escape that included race leader Michael Rasmussen. In the breakaway are Ruben Perez and Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Antonio Colom of Astanta, Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, José Ivan Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne, and Carlos Barredo of Quick Step. Their gap went out as high as 11:20.

1st intermediate sprint:
1) Aleksandr Kuschynski, Liquigas, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Ruben Perez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +2 pts/2 secs

2nd intermediate sprint:
1) Carlos Barredo, Quick Step, +6 pts/6 secs
2) Aleksandr Kuschynski, Liquigas, +4 pts/4 secs
3) Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +2 pts/2 secs

With the Port de Pailheres looming, the peloton has brought the leaders back to 9:45. The gap continued to fall, and on the climb, David Millar set a tempo that quickly shed riders from the yellow jersey group. Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd were predictable early exits, but Christophe Moreau fell back just after Boonen.

Late in the climb, yesterday's hero, Alexandre Vinokourov was dropped. He briefly visited the race doctor and rode with teammate Daniel Navarro. Near the top, Saunier Duval's leader, Iban Mayo was dropped, but may chase back onto the field on the descent.

The breakaway survived over the top of the Port de Pailheres, and Juan Mauricio Soler, racing in a borrowed King of the Mountains jersey that rightfully belongs to Michael Rasmussen, sprinted ahead of the select group to take 10 points at the summit. Rasmussen moved to the lead of his group to be next across, taking 8 points.

HC Port de Pailheres
1) Ruben Perez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +20 pts
2) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +18 pts
3) Antonio Colom, Astana, +16 pts
4) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, +14 pts
5) Carlos Barredo, Quick Step, +12 pts, @1:05
6) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, +10 pts, @ 2:45
7) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, +8 pts - @ 2:55
8) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, +7 pts
9) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, +6 pts
10) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, +5 pts

Vinokourov crossed the summit 8:16 behind Perez.

On the descent, Mayo, Hincapie and Popovych caught back onto the leading group.

As the group started up Plateau de Beille, Ruben Perez quickly fell off the lead group, then Carlos Barredo, who battled on and off the leaders.

Meanwhile, George Hincapie spent miles leading the 40-strong yellow jersey group. On the Plateau de Beille, Rabobank briefly led, and then Yaroslav Popovych just redlined the front of the group, and riders started to fall.

Valverde, Pereiro, and Mayo were among the first dropped. Then Denis Menchov and Michael Boogerd, leaving Rasmussen without teammates. Only 9 riders remained: Popovych, Rasmussen, Soler, Sastre, Contador, Leipheimer, Evans, Kashechkin, and Klöden, and Klöden looked to be suffering at the back. Klöden was finally gapped.

After reeling in José Ivan Gutierrez from the early break, Popovych was done, and Levi Leipheimer attacked, quickly matched, and Contador hit the turbos, and Sastre matched the attack, but Kashechkin was dropped.

As Txurruka was caught, Rasmussen attacked, matched by Contador and Evans, and the survivors were split into 2 trios: Rasmussen/Contador/Evans and Sastre/Soler/Leipheimer. Sastre pulled the group back together, then Soler went hard. Rasmussen sprinted up to him, then Contador and Evans, and finally Sastre and Leipheimer.

Soler attacked again, and Contador attacked past the Colombian, Sastre passed Soler, Rasmussen and Evans came by. Leipheimer struggled back onto the tail, and Contador hit the turbos, quickly gaining 30-40 meters. Rasmussen and Evans tried to cross to Contador, but Sastre and Soler were gapped, and Leipheimer yet another gap behind.

Evans couldn't stay with Rasmussen, and Rasmussen captured Contador, only about 30 seconds behind Antonio Colom, last survivor of the early breakaway. Evans, Leipheimer, Sastre, and Soler worked briefly together. Then Sastre attacked, and Evans was parboiled. Leipheimer and Soler matched CSC's leader. Leipheimer refused to work with Sastre with a teammate up the road.

With Colom captured, it appeared the stage win would go to Contador or Rasmussen, but then Soler attacked into the :25 gap. Rasmussen wanted the stage win, but Contador sat in the draft, wisely letting Ras do the work for a larger GC gap, and conserving his energy for the finish.

With about a kilometer to ride, Leipheimer dropped Sastre, chasing Soler. As the leaders came to the line, Contador sprinted around Rasmussen to take the stage win.

Soler was 3rd, just a little ahead of Leipheimer, while Sastre was 5th at about :52. Klöden and Evans finished around 1:52.

A sign of the day's high pace: Only about 20 riders finished within 20 minutes of Contador. Vinokourov appears not to have been among them.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Juan Mauricio Soler, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 21, 2007

Stage 13 ITT: Vino, Astana awesome in Albi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major shakeups in the GC:

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

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

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

July 19, 2007

Stage 11: At last, Robbie Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2007

Stage 10: Vasseur victorious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Projecting TT time gaps

Podium Cafe | TT Number Crunching

Over at PodiumCafe, Kevin Kimmich took each GC contender's prologue average speed, estimated that riders could maintain 95 percent of the prologue pace over the 110 kilometers of time trialing that remain, and projected likely time gaps among the GC contenders just on the 2 TTs.

With prologue winner Fabian Cancellara now 80 minutes back, Andreas Klöden was the strongest contender in the London prologue, followed by his Astana teammates Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin. Worst of the bunch is, unsurprisingly, Michael Rasmussen, who rode the worst TT in recent Tour history in 2005. Klöden was also very strong on the long TTs in last year's Tour, overshadowed somewhat by T-Mobile teammate Sergei Honchar.

As a commenter has already pointed out, this is the simplest possible projection of times, but it's a fun bit of speculation. If he's right, Evans needs a 5:34 cushion on Klöden, Leipheimer 6:32, and Rasmussen 15:29. Note that Christophe Moreau, not on the list, was 6 seconds behind Valverde and 7 seconds ahead of Sastre in the Prologue, so he would slot in somewhere around 9 minutes behind Klöden.

Kimmich also ignored two riders who placed highly in the prologue and still sit near the leaders: Mikel Astarloza of Euskaltel was 2 seconds faster than Kashechkin, and Alberto Contador matched him within a fraction of a second, so Astarloza might be projected to lose as little as 4:35 or 4:45 to Klöden, and Contador projects to about 5:20.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2007

Stage 9 Discovery Channel update

Stage Notes: Soler latest in Colombian legacy; Call him Captain Rasmussen now

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Graham Watson: About Face!

It was something of a coming-out party for Discovery Channel today, as the team that frequently declares itself the best in the world looked that way for one spectacular stage.

Popovych took the red race numbers of most combative rider, after riding in front of the peloton for nearly the entire day. Gusev factored in the early breaks, then Contador launched an assault on the Col du Galibier. Meanwhile, Levi Leipheimer hovered right there with Rasmussen, Valverde, Mayo, and Evans.

The team had 3 riders in the day's top 13, and has Contador and Leipheimer sitting in the GC Top 10 tonight.

Bruyneel was singing Contador's praises after the stage:

“The third week will be difficult for Alberto, but he's a big hope for the future. We want to build the team around him for the future,” said Discovery Channel sport director Johan Bruyneel. “He's a future Tour de France winner.”

And yet, as always, the Disco boys all point to the Pyrenees as this year's proving ground.

Also:

ThePaceline.com | TdF St 9: Dynamic Duo

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2007 in 2007 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 9: Soler streaks to stage win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 9 on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The peloton was at 3:12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandre Vinokourov finished at 3:24.

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

July 15, 2007

Stage 8: Chicken Run 3: The Dane Reigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 8 on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 12, 2007

Stage 5: Pozzato powers through, but where's Vino?

Filippo Pozzato was as good as his word Thursday. The Liquigas classics specialist, winner at Milan-San Remo in 2006, told CyclingNews that Stage 5 was right for him, and he followed through with a magnificent sprint through a select group of power riders that survived over a hilly course.

Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis built a healthy lead in the King of the Mountains competition by leading the race over 7 of the day's 8 climbs, in a break with FdJeux's Philippe Gilbert, Credit Agricole's William Bonnet, and break latecomer Gianpaolo Cheula of Barloworld.

Meanwhile, many of the race favorites spent time on the tarmac, most notably Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished 1:21 back on the day after spending almost 25 kilometers/16 miles chasing, first with 6 teammates (all but Klöden and Kashechkin) then behind the team car, and finally with the help of Tom Boonen and other dropped traffic he collected as he made up time. Astana's team competition lead (the yellow race numbers) was lost, as well, and Team CSC takes over the team lead.

As the field came to the finish, 74 riders were together, but most of the marquee sprinters were dropped, including Boonen, McEwen, and Thor Hushovd, so the classics specialists came to the fore, with Zabel and Freire initially looking strong, then Hincapie and Bennati closing them down, before Pozzato came on through the center for the win, less than a foot ahead of Rabobank's Oscar Freire.

Top 20 (all same time):
1) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain
3) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy
4) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA
7) Christian Moreni, Cofidis, Italy
8) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany
9) Bram Tankink, Quick Step, Netherlands
10) Jérôme Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France
11) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia
12) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland
13) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain
14) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA
15) Fränk Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg
16) Martin Elmiger, AG2R, Switzerland
17) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany
18) Inigo Landaluze, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain
19) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, T-Mobile, Australia
20) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, France

Once again, Fabian Cancellara did the yellow jersey proud, personally heading the peloton when Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych made a late break, and finishing 12th on a day when many expected him to lose the yellow jersey. As expected there was a heavy shuffle of the overall classification:

Overall standings after Stage 5
1) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, in 28:56
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ :33
3) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, @ :35
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, @ :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :43
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ :45
7) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ :46
8) Mikel Atarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ :49
9) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, @ :51
10) Benoît Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, France, @ :52
11) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ :53
12) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :55
13) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, @ :55
14) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ :55
15) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ :55
...
22) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 1:00
23) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:00
...
25) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:03
...
81) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 2:10

Zabel, the 6-time winner, is in the green jersey for the first time since 2002. Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis takes the King of the Mountains jersey from teammate Stéphane Augé, and Gusev maintains the lead in the young riders' white jersey competition.

And let's have no more talk of Dave Zabriskie as the Lanterne Rouge, please, as Dave Z finished in a big group @ 11:15 back, and jumps to 178th, 18:24 behind teammate Cancellara. Geoffroy Lequatre, a Cofidis rider who appeared to injure his right arm in a heavy fall and wobbled in 44:04 back, is 45:38 behind Cancellara to lead the Lanterne Rouge standings.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Stefan Schumacher, Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Dekker, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 09, 2007

Flickr'ing the Prologue

I think that Saturday's Prologue must be the most Flickr'ed sports event in history. With a million spectators viewing an event on public roads, there are at least hundreds of photos from the London Prologue posted on Flickr.

And the growth of the digital SLR means that a lot of them are really good quality pictures. Graham Watson doesn't have to worry yet, but the pros can't provide the coverage that a million spectators can.

Some of my favorites:


Didi, by One Del?


Christophe Moreau, by Rider Planto

Here's a quick rundown of notable photos of favorite riders:
Cancellara 2 in maillot jaune

Vinokourov 2 3 4

Andreas Klöden

Zabriskie 2 3

Hincapie

Thomas Dekker

Fränk Schleck

Levi Leipheimer 2

David Millar

Bradley “Oasis” Wiggins, and underway

Beautiful shot of Benoit Vaugrenard, who finished 10th Saturday.


by popsarmchair

Photosets:

Tour de France, by One Del?

Tour de France 2007, by Rider Planto (131)

Tour de France - Prologue (London) 2007, by seanieh66

Le Tour de France 2007 - Prologue, by photoverulam

Le Tour de France 2007 - Prologue, by resmith100 (92)

Le Tour de France 2007, by Adrian Perry (549!)

Le Tour, by Simon Clayson, who caught the angry bike change by Mark Cavendish yesterday and the group towing eventual stage winner Robbie McEwen back to the field.

Tour de France, by sarflondondunc

2007 july 07 tour de france prologue, by Dave Reinhardt (33)

Tour de France Prologue, by b3n bR0WN

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 in 2007 Tour de France photo galleries, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, Christophe Moreau, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 07, 2007

Prologue underway

Mikel Astarloza had the best early time with a 9:23.88.

Stuart O'Grady overcooked a left-hander and crashed into some barriers with a little more than 1 kilometer to ride after setting the best time at 5 kilometers.

One thing to watch are the riders' handlebars: VeloNews this morning has a story about some “clarifications” to UCI rules that have caused some riders to switch their aero bars. At the Dauphiné Libéré, officials seemed to be focused on whether the rider had more than 2 points of contact with the bars, but now they're more concerned with the angle of the extensions, which they want essentially parallel to the ground. Some riders were experimenting with variations on the more steeply angled position (the “Praying Landis”) that Floyd Landis used last year.

Dave Zabriskie sets out in the Stars and Stripes. By the way, he's got “These colors don't run” printed on the inside of his left sleeve. You can see it in this photo (look at the large version). Zabriskie is fastest at the time check. Coming to the finish now, and Zabriskie sprints to the line at 9:22.98. I don't think that will last.

Right behind Zabriskie is Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Karpets, and the former white jersey is very strong: 9:16.77 takes over the lead. I thought Z's time would last longer than that...

Robbie McEwen looks like he's out for a club ride, and comes in at 9:59.15.

Discovery Channel is wearing jerseys with big green stripes across the arms and back, as part of Discovery Channel Goes Green. The team will plant trees in Mendocino to offset the team cars' carbon emissions, and an additional 30 trees for each stage win or leader's jersey a Disco rider wears.

Speaking of the Discos, here comes Russian TT champion Vladimir Gusev, whose intermediate time check was even with Karpets. At the line, he's going really hard, and he moves into the lead with a 9:15.99. Russians sit 1st and 2nd.

José Ivan Gutierrez, the Spanish TT champion, barely clears the barricade that claimed O'Grady earlier, and finishes in 9:23.66, putting him 4th with lots of talent yet to ride.

Valverde is the first of the race favorites to set out. He looks fantastic on his bike -- he's got a very quiet upper body, but going like hell below. He's 9 seconds down at the time check, and he finishes in 9:33.40. That's an OK start for Valverde.

Manuel Quinziato of Liquigas is Top 5 for now with a 9:22 and change.

Andreas Klöden comes through the checkpoint in 5:13 -- that's 8 seconds faster than 2nd-place Vladimir Gusev!

And here comes Klöden to the line, and he takes the lead with a 9:03.29! That's 52 km/hr.

George Hincapie sets off. He's got his work cut out for him. He's 2nd at the checkpoint, 7 seconds behind Klöden. He's going hard for the line, but he cant' match Klöden with a 9:13.75, 2nd for now.

Millar is on the course, and 1 minute behind is Alexandre Vinokourov. Millar goes hard, sprinting out of the start house, and the 500,000+ fans roar for the Scot.

And Wiggins is off, pushing a bigger gear than Millar, and drawing a bigger cheer from the thick crowds.

Millar comes in at 9:23.60, which will be outside the top 10. Vinokourov is next in, and he's charging, out of the saddle, to finish in 9:20.47. That's 5th for now, possibly to slip.

Wiggins is 3rd at the time check, 8 seconds back. Klöden has really scorched it today. Wggins is coming to the line, and won't catch Klöden, but maybe Hincapie -- here he comes in 9:13.92, a split-second behind Hincapie.

There goes world TT champ Cancellara, sporting the rainbow stripes. Leipheimer isn't in the top 5 at the time check. Michael Rogers sets out, a triple world champion in the time trial.

Leipheimer finishes in 9:30.34, 22nd with some good riders to go. That probably will drop to around 25th by the end of the day.

Cancellara hits the check at 5:07 -- 7 seconds faster than Klöden!

Cadel Evans comes in at 9:26.05, with Cancellara in sight behind him. Here comes Cancellara, hammering it all the way to the line, and he sets an unbelievable 8:50.74!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2007 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 06, 2007

2007 Tour nationalities breakdown

Great Britain makes a great leap forward in its Tour participation, as the Grand Depart host, shut out in 2005, brings 5 riders to the 2007 Tour. US participation continues to slip, from 9 in Armstrong's final year to 6 this year.

USA:
George Hincapie, Discovery Channel
Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto
Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel
Freddie Rodriguez, Predictor-Lotto
Christian Vande Velde, CSC
Dave Zabriskie, CSC

The Americans must have been two for a dollar, as three teams each have a pair of Yanks starting. This is down from eight in '06, as Landis awaits his hearing results and Bobby Julich was left home.

Australia:
Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto
Simon Gerrans, AG2R
Brett Lancaster, Milram
Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto
Stuart O'Grady, CSC
Michael Rogers, T-Mobile

Australia brings 6 riders, one more than actually started last year, with legitimate yellow and green jersey candidates. Lancaster won the freak 1150-meter prologue of the 2005 Giro, and makes his debut in the Tour. All the others started last year's Tour, and Allan Davis was on the ill-fated Astana-Würth squad.

Great Britain:
Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile
David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir
Geraint Thomas, Barloworld
Charlie Wegelius, Liquigas
Brad Wiggins, Cofidis

Thomas and Cavendish are two of the youngest riders in the race, while Wegelius makes his first Tour start after being a Giro fixture for years. Wiggins is primarily here for the Prologue, while Millar also has a chance in the Tour's longer time trials.

New Zealand:
Julian Dean, Credit Agricole

South Africa:
Robbie Hunter, Barloworld

The former Phonak has to be glad Alessandro Petacchi will miss the Tour.

Spain leads the way among all countries, with 41 starters. France is close behind with 36. Riders from 25 different countries will start tomorrow in London.

Spain: 42 riders
France: 35 riders
Germany: 19 riders
Italy: 18 riders
Belgium: 13 riders
Netherlands: 7 riders
Russia: 6 riders
Switzerland: 5 riders
Kazakhstan: 4 riders
Austria: 3 riders
Colombia: 3 riders
Belarus: 2 riders
Luxembourg: 2 riders
Norway: 2 riders
Ukraine: 2 riders
Brazil: 1 rider
Denmark: 1 rider
Finland: 1 rider
Lithuania: 1 rider
Portugal: 1 rider
Slovenia: 1 rider
Sweden: 1 rider

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rider numbers, Prologue start times assigned

cyclingnews.com | Tour de France start list

Rider numbers are out. As expected, Pereiro has the lowest number in the Tour, but at 11, since Tour organizers chose to skip the coveted number 1. Pereiro's Caisse d'Epargne squad is number 11-19; followed by T-Mobile with Michael Rogers at 21; CSC with Sastre at 31; Predictor-Lotto with Evans at 41; Rabobank's Menchov at Phil Liggett's favorite, number 51; AG2R with Moreau at 61; Zubeldia leading Euskaltel-Euskadi in 71; Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer in 111; Tour favorite Alexandre Vinokourov wears 191 for Astana; and David Millar in 201 for Saunier Duval-Prodir.

Other Americans: George Hincapie wears 114; Dave Zabriskie 39; Christian Vande Velde 37; Chris Horner 44; and Fred Rodriguez 47.

Prologue start times for tomorrow are apparently available, but I can't find a complete listing yet; links welcome.

VeloNews notes that:

Chris Horner (Predictor-Lotto) is the first American out of the gate at 3:38 p.m. in 39th position.

Other Americans include:
• 61. Dave Zabriskie (CSC), 4 p.m.
• 102. Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto), 4:41 p.m.
• 103. Christian Vande Velde (CSC), 4:42 p.m.
• 158. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), 5:37 p.m.
• 179. Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel), 5:58 p.m.

Those are London times, so that's 10:38 a.m. Eastern for Horner and 12:58 p.m. Eastern for Leipheimer. Looks like Versus will be live for all of them.

Zabriskie's early start time suggests he's not looking for a prologue victory to match his win in 2005, which put him in the yellow jersey. If he were, team management would let him start later, when he would have time splits from many of his competitors. CyclingNews.com said Zabriskie confirmed that he “only has one task at this year's Tour: to be a mountain domestique for Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre.”

Also:

VeloNews | Pereiro will start with bib No. 11

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

Discos fill out Tour dance card

ThePaceLine.com (free reg. req.) - Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Announces 2007 Tour de France Team Roster

Leipheimer @ '07 TdG
Leipheimer @ '07 TdG,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
No major surprises from America's Team, as Discovery Channel brings a Tour squad that can support the podium hopes (dreams?) of Levi Leipheimer as well as chasing a few stage wins.

    Discovery Channel 2007 Tour de France roster:
  • Alberto Contador (Spain)
  • Vladimir Gusev (Russia)
  • George Hincapie (USA)
  • Levi Leipheimer (USA)
  • Egoi Martinez (Spain)
  • Benjamin Noval (Spain)
  • Sergio Paulinho (Portugal)
  • Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)
  • Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania)

Director Johan Bruyneel said he has three goals for the Tour: Leipheimer on the podium, a stage win for the team, and Contador in the Best Young Rider jersey in Paris.

Hincapie won Stage 15 of the 2005 Tour, and led the race for a day last year. Popovych took Stage 12 of last year's Tour, and was himself the Best Young Rider in 2005. Leipheimer was 6th overall in the 2005 Tour, and is coming off a win at this year's Tour of California and two stage wins at the Tour de Georgia.

Stijn Devolder, who had been racing very well, will watch the Tour from home, as will veterans José Luis Rubiera and Pavel Padrnos.

Also:

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Fresh Brew: Team DC at the Tour

PodiumCafe.com | Discovery Tour Squad Goes Final

With some discussion of Devolder's non-selection.

VeloNews | Discovery unveils Tour squad

Bruyneel tips Vinokourov, with nods to Cadel Evans, Vladimir Karpets, Denis Menchov, and Carlos Sastre.

He also admitted the doping craziness is impacting the team's search for a new sponsor.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, Alberto Contador, Egoi Martinez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2007

Colom, Vinokourov win Dauphiné Stage 5 side by side

VeloNews | Colom, Vino' tag-team stage 5 at Dauphiné

Astana teammates Antonio Colom and Alexandre Vinokourov finished one-two in Digne-les-Bains today, the second time in the last three days that Astana has taken the day's top two podium spots.

Colom and Vinokourov were both in a 22-man break that shattered on the Col du Corobin, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the day's finish. Colom went first, with Vinokourov bridging up and away from the likes of Tom Boonen, Magnus Backstedt, Stef Clement, Rik Verbrugghe, and Leonardo Duque. Over the top, the Astanas had 35 seconds, which got out as far as a minute, but fell to 15 seconds at the finish, where Leonardo “L.” Duque was charging.

The main field, which had trailed the break by 6:30 at one point, finished 3:26 back, with AG2R doing the lion's share in protection of Christophe Moreau's 2nd place overall. Moreau, the 2001 Dauphiné champ, has a good shot at overall victory with a very mountainous stage tomorrow.

The main impact of the stage on the overall classification was to catapult Vinokourov back into the Top 10, even after he lost more than 7 minutes on yesterday's stage to the summit of Mont Ventoux.

Abandoning during the stage were Alejandro Valverde and Bobby Julich.

1) Antonio Colom, Spain, Astana
2) Alexander Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, Astana
3) Leonardo Duque, Colombia, Cofidis, at :15
4) Matej Mugerli, Slovenia, Liquigas
5) Stef Clement, Netherlands, Bouygues Telecom
6) Preben Van Hecke, Belgium, Predictor-Lotto
7) Anthony Charteau, France, Crédit Agricole
8) Egoi Martinez, Spain, Discovery Channel
9) Heinrich Haussler, Germany, Gerolsteiner
10) Philippe Gilbert, Belgium, Française Des Jeux

Overall:
1) Andrey Kashechkin, Kazakhstan, Astana
2) Christophe Moreau, France, Ag2r Prévoyance
3) Denis Menchov, Russia, Rabobank
4) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto
5) David Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC
6) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel
7) Alexander Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, Astana
8) Stef Clement, Netherlands, Bouygues Telecom
9) Sylvester Szmyd, Poland, Lampre-Fondital
10) Haimar Zubeldia, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2007 in Alejandro Valverde, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré 2007, Dave Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer, Magnus Backstedt, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2007

Vinokourov wins Dauphine TT, takes race lead

Vinokourov takes the leadAstana put on a time trialing show in Anneyron today, with Alexandre Vinokourov powering in 9 seconds faster than teammate Andrey Kashechkin, and 38 seconds ahead of CSC's Dave Zabriskie.

As expected, the TT shuffled the leaderboard ahead of the stage up Mont Ventoux tomorrow. Vinokourov, the defending Vuelta champion who was prevented from starting last year's Tour because many of his teammates were allegedly connected to Operación Puerto, showed he's the pre-race Tour favorite. He moves into the overall race lead.

Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer finished 8th on the day, 1:11 slower than Vinokourov, while teammate George Hincapie was caught on the course by Kashechkin, his 2-minute man.

Denis Menchov of Rabobank, currently in 4th place and 40 seconds back, won the climb of Ventoux at the Dauphiné last year, where Vinokourov was a disappointing 81st, 13:10 back. Tomorrow should be an interesting race.

Preliminary Top 10:
1) Alexander Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, Astana, in 52:08
2) Andrey Kashechkin, Kazakhstan, Astana, at :09
3) Dave Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC, at :38
4) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto, at :39
5) Denis Menchov, Russia, Rabobank, at :40
6) Stef Clement, Netherlands, Bouygues Telecom, same time
7) Sylvain Chavanel, France, Cofidis, at 1:10
8) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, at 1:11
9) Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at 1:18
10) David Millar, UK, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 1:40
Also:
13) George Hincapie, USA, Discovery Channel, at 2:10
28) Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, at 3:02
Christian Vande Velde, USA, CSC, at 5:48

Preliminary overall:
1) Alexander Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, Astana
2) Andrey Kashechkin, Kazakhstan, Astana, at :02
3) Dave Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC, at :32
4) Denis Menchov, Russia, Rabobank, at :40
5) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto, at :41
6) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, at 1:03
7) Stef Clement, Netherlands, Bouygues Telecom
8) Sylvain Chavanel, France, Cofidis
9) Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne

Also:

VeloNews | Kazakhs crush in Dauphiné TT

cyclingnews.com | Vino in perfect timing promotes Kash | Photo Gallery | Results | Standings

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2007 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Dauphiné Libéré 2007, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Georg Totschnig, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Moreau takes Dauphiné stage, overall lead

cyclingnews.com | Christophe Moreau restores the French panache

Moreau takes Stage 2AG2R's Christophe Moreau took over the lead at the Dauphiné Libére with an attack into Saint Etienne, dedicated to his new daughter.

With Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas and Jerome Pineau of Bouygues Telecom off the front, Moreau launched a testing attack, saw it was working, and drew company in the form of Astana's Jose Redondo, Quick Step's Kevin Seeldrayers, Credit Agricole's Alexandre Botcharov, and Caisse d'Epargne's Xabier Zandio. Moreau, Seeldraeyers, and Redondo were the final survivors, and had about a minute with 20 kilometers to ride.

At 7 km to go Seeldraeyers lost at least his chain, and the gap to the field was dropping. Redondo looked for a deal, but Moreau just kept powering toward the line, chasing a day in yellow.

And it worked: Moreau, 36, took the stage, 33 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde leading in a group that included all the overall contenders.

Tomorrow, it's a 40.7-kilometer (25.3-mile) time trial. In what I hope is about 5 different quotes strung together awkwardly, Moreau downplayed his chances in the TT:

"it's going to be hard to maintain the yellow jersey after the time trial. The time I've gained today, I'll lose it tomorrow; it might be a good balance. My favourite terrain is switching slowly from time trialling to climbing. But I've showed today that my legs of an old man still work correctly. I haven't decided anything for my future. We must see how the old machine goes before calling it a career."

No GC listing, because there still are 90 riders within a minute of the lead. Notably, three good US TT riders sit top 10: Levi Leipheimer, 4th at :25; George Hincapie, 6th at :27; and David Zabriskie, 8th at :27. David Millar sits 11th, at :30.

Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler leads the points classification, while Sylvain Chavanel holds the mountains jersey lead, and Moreau leads in the combination classification, for the rider ranked the lowest in all the jersey competitions.

Also:

cyclingnews.com | Results

VeloNews | Moreau wins Dauphiné stage, grabs lead

Photos:

GrahamWatson.com | Dauphiné Libéré Stage 2 photo gallery

cyclingnews.com | Dauphiné Libéré Stage 2

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2007 in Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré 2007, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

Leipheimer takes Georgia TT; Brajkovic takes race lead

Dave Zabriskie
Dave Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
Discovery Channel won 2 races Thursday, as Levi Leipheimer topped CSC's Dave Zabriskie and Health Net's Nathan O'Neill for the stage win, and Janez Brajkovic was the fastest of the riders who made the break on Stage 3.

Brajkovic's time was enough to put him in the race leader's jersey in advance of today's climb up Brasstown Bald, but just 12 seconds ahead of Christian Vande Velde of CSC.

I've posted 96 pictures from the stage, including shots of Brajkovic, Dave Zabriskie (and at left), David Millar, Tyler Hamilton, and others.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 20, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

2007 Tour de Georgia teams announced

Rome News - Tribune | Top cycling teams to compete in Tour de Georgia

Tyler Hamilton and his Tinkoff Credit System team and David Millar of Prodir-Saunier Duval are two new additions likely to ride in this year's Tour de Georgia. Rider lists aren't confirmed, but it looks like Leipheimer, Hincapie, and Danielson highlight Discovery Channel; Chris Horner, Cadel Evans, and maybe Freddy Rodriguez for Predictor-Lotto; and Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Juan José Haedo for CSC.

This is a great chance for East Coast fans to see ProTour teams compete, and a great chance for US racers to make a splash against Euro-quality talent.

Among ProTour teams:

• Team CSC
• Discovery Channel
• Quick Step-Innergetic
• Predictor-Lotto
• Prodir-Saunier Duval (which races in Europe as Saunier Duval-Prodir)

Three familiar Pro Continental squads are joined by Hamilton's Tinkoff Credit System:

• Health Net presented by Maxxis
• Team Slipstream presented by Chipotle
• Navigators Insurance
• Tinkoff Credit System

Five US Continental squads:

• Jittery Joe's
• Priority Health presented by Bissell
• Toyota-United
• BMC
• Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

And, of course, the USA Cycling National Development Team.

More at my Tour de Georgia weblog.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2007

Contador takes Stage 7, Paris-Nice, ProTour lead

cyclingnews.com | Paris-France: Alberto Contador on Miguel Indurain's path

Photo: Graham Watson/VeloNews

Paris-Nice was more like a prizefight this year, and Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador was the last man standing.

Davide Rebellin had taken every punch that Discovery Channel threw this week, but every day, he found himself with fewer supporting teammates, and on Saturday, survived by reeling in Contador with less than 2 kilometers to ride.

Sunday's Stage 7 was reminiscent of Discovery Channel's Lance Armstrong days: Everybody knew what they were going to do, and they went out and executed to perfection. With Rebellin down to 3 teammates in the race, Discovery put Sergio Paulinho and Stijn Devolder in a break with just 5 kilometers ridden.

Thomas Voeckler was also in that break, nailing down the overall climber's jersey, and leading the field over the day's first two climbs. Just behind him over the Col de la Porte, setting a torrid pace, were the Discos, with Danielson, Leipheimer and Popovych leading Contador, and Caisse d'Epargne's survivors and Rebellin just behind.

On the day's third climb, La Turbie, Discovery whittled the field to less than 50 riders, reeling in Voeckler, and setting up a Rebellin-Contador showdown on the day's final climb, the Col d'Eze. When Contador launched, no one could match him, and he quickly opened up 30 seconds on Rebellin.

But Rebellin wasn't giving in, taking help where he could find it, and driving the pace himself where he couldn't. With less than 10 kilometers to ride, Contador had 25 seconds in hand, and Rebellin, working with Frank Schleck of CSC, closed the gap to about 17 seconds. If Contador took the stage, bonus time would guarantee a win, so with about 2 kilometers to ride, Rebellin soloed out of his little group riding all-out for the victory.

But Contador wasn't going to be caught today, and in the end, he finished 19 seconds ahead of Caisse d'Epargne's David Lopez and Joaquim Rodriguez, who overtook an exhausted Rebellin before the line. Rebellin finished 8th on the day to take 2nd overall, but all eyes were on the 24-year-old Contador.

“The key for my victory was the team work,” he continued. “The other days I was struggling in the last kilometers. Today I was well. I won with a lot of rage. I finished the job that was unaccomplished yesterday. I knew I had only one occasion to break away. With 1.5km, I saw the victory more clearly than before. Only when I passed the red flag was I sure that no one would catch me anymore.”

Contador also won the race's young riders competition. Voeckler takes the climbers jersey, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas the points jersey, and Caisse d'Epargne the team competition.

Given the current state of ASO-UCI relations, it's no surprise there was no ceremony recognizing Contador as the first leader of this year's ProTour, but so he is.

Also:

VeloNews | Contador wins Paris-Nice with last-stage assault

Photos:

GrahamWatson.com | Paris-Nice Stage 7

CyclingNews.com | Paris-Nice Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 18, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Davide Rebellin, Levi Leipheimer, Paris-Nice 2007, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack