July 13, 2011

Cavendish takes 3rd victory, green jersey on Stage 11

HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish continued his reign as the Tour's dominant sprinter, riding clear of André Greipel and Tyler Farrar for his 18th career Tour stage win.

The day's breakaway, and a competing effort to set up their sprinter by Garmin-Cervelo, splintered HTC's leadout train, but Cavendish and Mark Renshaw followed Sky's Geraint Thomas (rumored to be a teammate of Cav's in 2012), with Renshaw, then Cavendish going hard up the right side of the road. Stage 10 winner André Greipel and Stage 3 winner Tyler Farrar couldn't bring the speed to close down the Manxman, and Cavendish had his third stage win of the 2011 Tour.


The win gave Cavendish the lead in the green jersey contest, which up to now had favored Belgium's Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto. There are two likely sprint
stages still to come, Stage 15 and the Stage 21 finale.

Green jersey:
1) Cavendish, HTC, 251
2) Rojas, Movistart, 235
3) Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, 231
4) André Greipel, Omega Pharma-Lotto, 164
5) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, 163
6) Romain Feillu, Vacansoleil-DCM, 141
7) Cadel Evans, BMC, 135
8) Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Cervelo, 106
9) Sébastien Hinault, AG2R, 82
10) Denis Galimzyanov, Katusha, 81

The overall race leadership was unchanged. Here it is before the big changes that are likely to begin tomorrow:

GC, after Stage 11:
1) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, in 4:52:39
2) Luis-Leon Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:49
3) Cadel Evans, BMC, at 2:26
4) Frank Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at 2:29
5) Andy Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at 2:29
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

Basso's at 3:36, Cunego 3:37, Roche 3:45, Gesink at 4:01, Contador 4:07, Danielson 4:22, and Samuel Sanchez at 5:01.

In the KoM, Johnny Hoogerland's time in the lead will soon come to an end:

KoM, after Stage 11:
1) Johnny Hoogerland, Vacansoleil, 22 pts
2) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, 17 pts
3) Tejay Van Garderen, HTC, 5 pts
4) Marco Marcato, Vacansoleil-DCM, 5 pts
5) Rui Costa, Movistart, 5 pts
6) Sandy Casar, FDJ, 5 pts

Gesink holds the white jersey for at least another day. Europcar holds the team lead, while Mickael Delage of FDJ took the combativity prize for his role in the break on Wednesday.

More:
VeloNews.com | Mark Cavendish wins stage 11 of the 2011 Tour de France, takes over green jersey

cyclingnews.com | Cavendish gets stage win number three and green jersey in Lavaur

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2011 in 2011 Stage 11, Andrei Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2011

Stage 10 Preview: 158 km Aurillac to Carmaux

This is the shortest stage of the 2011 Tour at 158 kilometers/98.2 miles. The profile looks a little easier than Stage 9, with four categorized climbs, alternating 3rd-4th-3rd and 4th category. The last climb of the day comes with about 15k left after a 20-kilometer downhill, and could possibly be a springboard for an attack to the line.

More likely, though, we'll see the breakaways kept under control. With Thomas Voeckler in yellow, Europcar will check any move that would threaten his lead, and HTC and Garmin (heck, maybe even Movistar for Rojas) will likely work to set up a sprint finish. There are just 4 more stages that look to favor the sprinters: today, tomorrow's Stage 11, Stage 15 on Sunday and the final stage into Paris on the Champs-Élysées. Make me choose a winner for today, and I've gotta go with Cavendish.

The intermediate sprint is only 37 downhill kilometers into the race, so we'll likely see it contested by all the riders with an interest in the green jersey: Gilbert, Rojas, and Cavendish included.

If Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland can ride after his horrific Stage 9 injuries, he should hold the King of the Mountains jersey through the day; he's up by 6 points on Voeckler with only 6 points available to any one rider today.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2011 in 2011 Stage 10, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 12, 2009

Stage 9 on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 09, 2009

Voeckler snatches Stage 5

Voeckler
AP Photo by Laurent Rebours

Thomas Voeckler made his reputation in the 2004 Tour de France. As the best-placed rider in a breakaway (alongside stage winner Stuart O'Grady and TdFblog favorite Magnus Backstedt) that finished 12:33 ahead of the pack, he won and wore the yellow jersey for 10 days.

Since then, he's been one of the Tour's most (few?) entertaining Frenchmen, getting in breakaways seemingly every year, and wearing the King of the Mountains jersey in 2005 and 2008.

Today, Voeckler got in an aggressively international break from the starting gun, and rode with Russian Mikhail Ignatiev of Katusha, Dutch Skil-Shimano Albert Timmer, FdJeux's Belorussian Yauheni Hutarovich and France's Anthony Geslin, and Polish Lampre Marin Sapa. The break never got crazy gaps, and it looked like it had little chance of success, so the 6 soldiered on.

With around 60 kilometers to ride, just after a hard crash by Rabobank's Robert Gesink, strong ocean winds got an assist from Fabian Cancellara, and the peloton split. With no major GC contenders caught out, the field reformed a few kilometers later, but Gesink, accompanied by Joost Posthuma, never caught up. He would gut his way to the finish, only to discover a broken wrist that will keep him from starting Stage 6 (really excellent ANP photo from De Telegraafe here).

Several riders described the peloton as “restless,” and a variety of teams took turns at the front, but the pace was never enough to stick a stake through the heart of the escapees. Hutarovich was a threat in the sprint, so Voeckler waited out two testing attacks by Ignatiev, then showed the break his back wheel with a couple kilometers to ride, quickly gaining 10 seconds as the cars were pulled from between the break and the pack.

Ignatiev saw the stage going up the road, and tried to bridge to Voeckler, but it was not to be. Voeckler savored the final 500 meters, saluting the crowd and kissing his wedding ring, as the pack thundered toward the line just a few hundred meters behind. Ignatiev just survived the charge, led in by Mark Cavendish, who increased his lead in the green jersey competition.

With the pack coming in at 7 seconds, there were no significant changes to the standings. Ignatiev takes the red race numbers of the “most agressive rider.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2009 in 2009 Stage 5, Mark Cavendish, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2008

Stage 15 on the road

Welcome to the Alps! The Tour moves into France's highest mountains, and finishes up in Italy, atop Prato Nevoso for the first time.

The elements are in place for another exciting stage, as Valverde and Cunego sit far enough back that they may be given some slack on the final slope, while Fränk Schleck can move into yellow if he can pull more than a single second back on Cadel Evans.

It's a rainy day at the start, and the stage starts uphill almost immediately, up to 9,000 feet on the hors categorie Col Agnel, whose summit comes 58 kilometers from the start. We've got two intermediate sprints, and wind up with a 3rd category climb as a warmup to the 1st Category climb to Prato Nevoso.

In the U.S., Versus offers wire-to-wire live coverage, and Johan Bruyneel will be joining the commentary team.

Versus Stage 15 predictions:
Roll: Damiano Cunego
Hummer: Alejandro Valverde
Sherwen: Fränk Schleck
Liggett: Andy Schleck

Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish has called it a Tour, resting up for his Beijing Olympic races.

The day's first successful breakaway is Danny Pate, José-Luia Arrieta, and Egoi Martinez. They collected the day's first sprint points, then were joined by Simon Gerrans of Credit Agricole.

Sprint 1:
1. Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 6 pts
2. José Luis Arrieta, AG2R, 4 pts
3. Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle, 2 pts

The four leading riders are about 3:30 ahead of the field with almost 25 kilometers ridden.

On the first climb, the gap continued to go out, to almost 14 minutes, before Lampre put some men on the front, and began to put a dent in the lead.

Two more riders abandoned on the climb -- Mark Renshaw of Credit Agricole, and QuickStep leader Stijn Devolder, whose performance is among the bigger (non-pharmaceutical) disappointments of this Tour.

1st Climb, the HC Col de Agnel:
1. Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 20 pts
2. José Luis Arrieta, AG2R, 18 pts
3. Simon Gerrans, Credit Agricole, 16 pts
4. Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle, 14 pts
5. Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, 12 pts, @ 11:50
6. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, 10 pts
7. Remy di Gregorio, Française des Jeux, 8 pts
8. Yaroslav Popovych, Silence-Lotto, 7 pts
9. John Lee Augustyn, Barloworld, 6 pts
10. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, 5 pts

On the descent into Italy, the gap continues to fall, now a little more than 11 minutes, then went out a bit as riders began taking nature breaks in advance of the feed zone. Voeckler continued to ride ahead of the field, on a quixotic solo attack that seemed unlikely to close down the 10+ minute gap.

On a hairpin with around 90 kilometers to ride, Oscar Pereiro went over a guardrail at the top of a hairpin, landing on the road below, and fractured his femur and collarbone. He was taken away in an ambulance. Pereiro was awarded the 2006 Tour win when Floyd Landis was disqualified for doping.

The gap went out to more than 16 minutes as the peloton's pace fell after the accident.

At the day's second sprint, the gap was more than 17 minutes.
Sprint 2:
1. Simon Gerrans, Credit Agricole, 6 pts
2. Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle, 4 pts
3. Jose Luis Arrieta, AG2R-La Mondiale, 2 pts

The breakaway appears likely to succeed. Pate hasn't established the climbing bona fides of the other three, and has been gapping slightly on the climbs so far.

Colle del Morte, 3rd Category climb:
1. José Luis Arrieta, AG2R, 4pts
2. Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3 pts
3. Simon Gerrans, Credit Agricole, 2 pts
4. Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle, 1 pt

CSC-Saxo Bank has moved to the front, and on the Colle del Morte, set a pace high enough to split the field. Will they be able to launch Schleck to yellow? Or will Carlos Sastre deliver their final punch?

You can follow my updates in near real-time on Twitter.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2008 in 2008 Stage 15, Egoi Martinez, Oscar Pereiro, Thomas Voeckler, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Stage 1 on the road

It's like a classic for the jersey today, as the Tour foregoes a prologue and gives the leader's jersey to the first man to finish a 197.5 kilometer stage in Brittany, the far west of France.

To borrow from Liggett, this one's got a sting in the tail, as there's a tough climb up to the finish that would seem to preclude the field sprint experts and throw things toward the classics specialists and sprint opportunists like Zabel and Freire.

Eight riders went away early: Jegou (FdJ), Voeckler (Bouyges), Auge (Cofidis), de La Fuente (Saunier Duval), Perez (Euskaltel), Arrieta and Lequatre (AG2R), and Schroeder (Milram). Their gap got up to 8:15, but has been creeping down for 70 kilometers.

There are polka-dot points up for grabs today, and it looks like Thomas Voeckler may be chasing them.

First rider out of the Tour is Herve Duclos-Lassalle of Cofidis. Son of longtime pro Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, he fell and injured his left wrist.

1st climb, 4th Category:
1) Bjorn Schroeder, 3 pts
2) Thomas Voeckler, 2 pts
3) David de la Fuente, 1 pt

2nd climb, 4th Category:
1) Voeckler, 3 pts
2) Schroeder, 2 pts
3) Geoffroy Lequatre, 1 pt

3rd climb, 4th Category:
1) Jegou, 3 pts
2) Voeckler, 2 pts
3) Schroeder, 1 pt

We've also had two intermediate sprints:

1st intermediate sprint:
1) Lequatre, 6 pts
2) Jegou, 4pts
3) Perez, 2 pts

2nd intermediate sprint:
1) Lequatre, 6 pts
2) Auge, 4 pts
3) Jegou, 2 pts

One interesting change to this year's Tour is that there are NO time bonuses available, either at intermediate or finish lines.

You can get an idea of which teams feel like they've got a chance at the finish by who is working at the front to bring the break back. Today, that's Rabobank (for Oscar Freire), Caisse d'Epargne (for Alejandro Valverde), Liquigas (for Fillippo Pozzatto) and Credit Agricole (for Thor Hushovd).

At the day's last intermediate climb, Schroeder took 1 more point than Voeckler, so whichever of that pair finishes the stage more highly placed will wear the first King of the Mountains jersey:

4th climb, 4th Category:
1) de la Fuente, 3 pts
2) Schroeder, 2 pts
3) Voeckler, 1 pt

With less than 40k to ride, the gap is down to just over 2 minutes.

3rd intermediate sprint:
1) Lequatre, 6 pts
2) Perez, 4 pts
3) Jegou, 2 pts

The gap has continued to drop. As it approached 1:30, the break started to splinter, with Auge and then de la Fuente attacking. Jegou was the only one who could bridge to de la Fuente, and the pair have kept about 1:30 on the field, while their 6 compatriots have been reabsorbed.

Jegou and de la Fuente were caught with about 7 kilometers to ride. At almost the same moment, a crash in back took down 3 Barloworld riders, including last year's King of the Mountains, Mauricio Soler, who has said he hopes to ride for yellow this year. He's seriously gapped as Silence-Lotto and now Team Columbia are full gas at the front.

Coming to the finish, a series of attacks went off the front, including Stefan Schumacher, then a big attack by Kim Kirchen that looked like it might stick with 250 meters to go, but Alejandro Valverde showed amazing closing speed, reeled in and rocketed past Kirchen and took the stage and the first yellow jersey of the 2008 Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in Alejandro Valverde, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Vaughters on Slipstream's next goal: the Tour

CyclingNews | Slipstreaming with Le Tour in sight

Jonathan Vaughters manages the US Continental Slipstream-Chipotle team, which spent almost half its season racing in Europe this year, and hopes to become a ProTour (or ProTour level, if the UCI designation doesn't survive) team in 2009. To that end, they're aiming at a Tour wildcard next season. In this interview with CyclingNews (conducted after the Sinkewitz positive was made public Wednesday), Vaughters talks about the team's next steps:

“2008 is going to be a very transitionary year, we are going to have some very high-profile riders and we are going to gun specifically for the Tour de France,” said Vaughters. “We have been very careful in who we hired to make that happen and we are going to have to perform very well in a very French calendar in the early part of the season to actuate that as well.”

The CyclingNews.com article mentions speculation on the team's possible 2008 roster, but Vaughters refused to jump the gun, announcing rider signings before September 1. “I have signed a lot of high-level riders,” CN.com's Mark Zalewski quotes Vaughters.

Bart Hazen at Daily Peloton offered rumors of possible Team Slipstream signees in a Tour preview on Saunier Duval in early July, including David Millar (openly attached to Slipstream in the British press), David Zabriskie, Christophe Laurent, Thomas Voeckler, David Cañada, Marcus Burghardt, Martijn Maaskant, and Jerome Pineau.

Vaughters will continue the team's anti-doping program, one of the most extensive longitudinal programs in the sport.

The team will be in action in August at the Tour of Ireland.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Thomas Voeckler, Tour de France 2008, Tour de France 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 02, 2007

FdJeux, Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole confirm Tour squads

Fox Sports Australia | McGee injury opens Tour door

The French squads are pinning down their final Tour rosters.

At Française des Jeux, Sebastien Joly and Bradley McGee are unavailable, leaving Sandy Casar the team's remote GC hope. Thomas Lovkvist may factor in the young riders' competition, as could Remy Gregorio, a heralded young Frenchman.

    Française des Jeux 2007 Tour de France roster:
  • Sandy Casar (France)
  • Sebastien Chavanel (France)
  • Mickael Delage (France)
  • Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
  • Remy Di Gregorio (France)
  • Lilian Jegou (France)
  • Matthieu Ladagnous (France)
  • Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden)
  • Benoit Vaugrenard (France)

Four rookies: Chavanel, Delage, Di Gregorio, and Ladagnous.


At Bouyges Telecom, former world champion Laurent Brochard, the mullet-est man on two wheels, will miss the Tour.

Riding instead will be:

    Bouyges Telecom 2007 Tour de France roster:
  • Stef Clement (Netherlands)
  • Pierrick Fedrigo (France)
  • Xavier Florencio (Spain)
  • Anthony Geslin (France)
  • Laurent Lefevre (France)
  • Jerome Pineau (France)
  • Matthieu Sprick (France)
  • Johann Tschopp (Switzerland)
  • Thomas Voeckler (France)

At Credit Agricole, Pietro Caucchioli can't start.

    Credit Agricole 2007 Tour de France roster:
  • William Bonnet (France)
  • Alexandre Botcharov (Russia)
  • Anthony Charteau (France)
  • Julian Dean (New Zealand)
  • Dmitri Fofonov (Kazakhstan)
  • Patrice Halgand (France)
  • Sebastien Hinault
  • Thor Hushovd (Norway)
  • Christophe Le Mevel (France)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, Bradley McGee, Julian Dean, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2007 | 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

March 11, 2007

Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue

VeloNews | Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue

David Millar made it all the way back, with his biggest win since returning from an EPO suspension.

Saunier-Duval's Scottish time trial specialist scorched the 4.7 km course in 6:01. CSC's Bobby Julich won the prologue last year, but was slightly slower this year, finishing 11th on the day, at 6 seconds. Roman Kreuzinger of Czechoslovakia, riding for Liquigas, was just a tick back of Millar, and a tick ahead of FdJ's Sebastian Joly to fill out the podium.

Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer was 6th, 3 seconds behind Millar.

Dave Zabriskie was back in action after his accident at the Tour of California, finishing 40th, 14 seconds behind Millar. Discovery Channel's late signing, Alberto Contador, was 5th on the day.

Prologue standings
1) David Millar, Great Britain, Saunier Duval, in 6:01
2) Roman Kreuzinger, Czechoslovakia, Liquigas, at :01
3) Sébastien Joly, France, Francaise des Jeux, at :02
4) Luis Sanchez, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at :02
5) Alberto Contador, Spain, Discovery Channel, at :02
6) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, at :03
7) Francisco Ventoso, Spain, Saunier Duval, at :04
8) Reinbert Wielinga, Netherlands, Saunier Duval, at :04
9) Thomas Lövkvist, Sweden, Française des Jeux, at :04
10) Joost Posthuma, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :05
11) Bobby Julich, USA, Team CSC, at :06
12) Thomas Voeckler, France, Bouygues Telecom, at :06
14) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, at :06
17) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto, at :08
21) Luke Roberts, Australia, Team CSC, at :09
38) Simon Gerrans, Australia, AG2R, at :11
40) David Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC, at :11
43) Tom Danielson, USA, Discovery Channel, at :11
44) Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, at :11
49) Brett Lancaster, Australia, Milram, at :12
54) Tyler Farrar, USA, Cofidis, at :14
56) Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step, at :14
62) Greg Henderson, New Zealand, T-Mobile, at :15
70) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
74) Christian Vande Velde, USA, Team CSC, at :17
86) Aaron Kemps, Australia, Astana, at :18
95) Mathew Hayman, Australia, Rabobank, at :21
125) Axel Merckx, Belgium, T-Mobile, at :26
126) Matthew White, Australia, Discovery Channel, at :26
136) Michael Barry, Canada, T-Mobile, at :28

Also:

cyclingnews.com | A new beginning for avowed anti-doper Millar | photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Paris-Nice prologue photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Levi Leipheimer, Paris-Nice 2007, Thomas Voeckler, Tom Boonen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2006

Crazy Jane, back with a vengeance

Some of the most literate and passionate weblogging on the Tour has come from “Crazy Jane,” who often contributes to Daily Peloton's Tour coverage (anywhere you see “Updated and Delicieux”), and whose weblog, Le Tour Delicieux, remains in my blogroll, despite being silent for two years (2! years!), in the hope that she'll turn her considerable talents back to the Tour. She's also (along with Velogal and Marianne's Twenty-One Stages, others?) one of the few women writing about the Tour.

Jane is in Paris for the Tour finale, and has posted a number of terrific pictures of riders before yesterday's La Creusot TT, including Hincapie (above), Viatcheslav Ekimov, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Voeckler, Jens Voigt, Chris Horner, Axel Merckx (times two), Vladimir Karpets, Stefano Garzelli, Stuart O'Grady, and Didi “Tour devil” Senft, plus some fan shots.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Photo galleries, Stuart O'Grady, The Tour Devil, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Stage 11 on the road

Today's a legbreaker; 5 major climbs, which are likely the reason the peloton was somewhat passive yesterday.

First up is the Col du Tourmalet, one of the Tour's legendary climbs.

CSC's Giovanni Lombardi withdrew low on the climb of the Tourmalet, and Iban Mayo sits almost 3 minutes behind the main field, gesturing angrily at the race motorcycle, hovering nearby in case he drops out.

AG2R and Phonak are leading the peloton, with Merckx, Perdiguero, and Robbie Hunter (!) leading Landis. Saunier Duval's David de la Fuente, Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann, Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha, and Euskaltel's Iker Camano are 5:11 ahead of the field. Wegmann apparently wasn't joking earlier in the Tour when he went out grabbing king of the mountains points, and he's doing most of the work in the leading quartet today.

Rubiera is off the back for Discovery, Thor Hushovd, Samuel Dumoulin. Gilberto Simoni is off the back. Boonen, Brard and Voeckler have reportedly also fallen off the pace. Chris Horner is reportedly dropped, and Paolo Savoldelli (!). Some of these guys will chase back on, but they've got 4 more 1st-Category climbs to go. Sandy Casar is off the back.

Zabriskie is maybe a minute back, and three Discovery riders are sitting together at the back of the leading group. Egoi Martinez finally falls off the back, and Ekimov and Noval work back up into the field. AG2R still has 6 riders in the front, doing their yellow jersey proud.

As the leading quartet approach the summit, they all are climbing out of the saddle, and De la Fuente marks Wegmann. Wegmann keeps the pace low, and finally, De la Fuente launches an attack. Wegmann sits on his wheel, looking for the summit points and cash prize, but De la Fuente has the inside line and gets the prize. As the main chase group approaches the summit, Rasmussen attacks, joined by Voeckler, and Voeckler outscraps the skinny Dane for 5th place points. Yellow Jersey Dessel takes 7th, good for 8 points.

There was a split in the front group, but they're back together now, approaching the base of the Col d'Aspin, our next climb. The peloton is growing on the descent, and Voeckler attacked over the Tourmalet and has more than a minute on the field, sitting about 4 minutes behind Camano, Wegmann, De la Fuente, and Flecha.

Col d'Aspin is not splitting the field like the Tourmalet. The peloton is still 70-80 strong. Casar is off the back, and Benjamin Noval, among a few others. Voeckler is 2:20 behind the leaders, and more than 3 minutes ahead of the field. Zabel and Garate have fallen out of the field; Rinero, David Millar, Philippe Gilbert, Chechu Rubiera are also dropped. Voeckler is closing fast on the leaders.

Wegmann launches with more than 300 meters to the summit, and De la Fuente wasn't ready to contest it, so Wegmann takes the 18 points over the top, ahead of De la Fuente, Flecha and Camano. Voeckler 5th at 1:30, and Michael Boogerd leads Rasmussen up to the line for 6th place points at 4:05.

Next, the Col de Peyresourde.

Voeckler continues to close, 35 seconds to the leaders, while the peloton is now 3:49 back as the leading quartet pass the "10 kilometers to the summit" sign.

Camano is falling off the lead group as Voeckler approaches from behind. They're about 15 seconds back. Flecha is laboring hard, and he's dropped. Voeckler goes by Camano.

Egoi Martinez and Stefano Garzelli have fallen off the field. Klöden is right up front, with Michael Rogers on his left shoulder. Pereiro is off the back for, and Popovych is "stretching the elastic" at the back of the pack.

Wegmann and De la Fuente are riding alone for the summit, gaining time on Voeckler and Flecha. Flecha's 1:00 back, Voeckler's at 1:39. The sweat is dripping out of his helmet.

Leaders are 1k to the top; let's see how the games go. De la Fuente is trying to get Wegmann to come around. They're side-by-side. De la Fuente hits the afterburners from pretty far out, and Wegmann couldn't match him. De la Fuente may be cramping, but he's the new leader of the King of the Mountains competition, for now at least. Camano is caught by the main field. Flecha is 3rd to the summit at 2:10, but Voeckler is caught, and Rasmussen gets 4th over the top at 3:00.

Popovych is 40 meters off the back, and looking for the team car.

I'm going to start a new post for the Portillon and the Pla de Beret.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2006, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 08, 2006

So who are the team leaders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 07, 2006

Dauphiné Stage 3 now underway

Italy's time trial champion Marco Pinotti was the early leader of today's time trial, finishing the 43 kilometer (26 mile) course in 54:42. Levi Leipheimer comes through superfast: He clocks a 54:05.1! Looks like his disappointing prologue really was because of the loose handlebars. Landis is on the course, and was 3rd fastest at the 8-kilometer mark. Moreau, Vinokourov, Valverde, and Kashechkin are on course, as well. Popovych comes in with a very respectable 54:51; that's got him in 3rd, but likely to slide. Rabobank's Denis Menchov comes in a little slower than Popovych. At the 2nd check, at 28.5 km, Landis is 4 seconds faster than Leipheimer. Zabriskie betters Landis's time at the first checkpoint. Landis comes in at  53:41! That will take the lead, at least for now. Moreau 56:15. Kashechkin 57:27. Hincapie looks extremely smooth; he's likely to overtake Mancebo. He's third at the 2nd check point. Valverde comes in at 7th so far, essentially tied with Popovych at 54:51. Zabriskie is 45 seconds up on Floyd Landis at the 28.5-k checkpoint! He's so quiet on the bike -- I couldn't believe his 3rd place at the Tour de Georgia time trial, because he doesn't labor on the bike like a lot of riders, just goes fast, fast, fast. Hincapie puts Americans on all three steps of the podium, coming in at 54:23, 18 seconds behind Leipheimer. Zabriskie is certain to slot in there, probably right up top. Mancebo 55:38. Zabriskie in 52:48! That's 53 seconds faster than Landis, who was 24 seconds faster than Leipheimer. That's very likely to vault him up into 2nd on the GC tonight. Nobody coming will better that; the question is how close Zabriskie can get to Philippe Gilbert on the overall. He's 5:22 or so back before the stage -- that's too much to take the jersey back. Gilbert gives back about 2 and a half minutes. He'll hold the leader's jersey for another day. Landis's teammate Bert Grabsch did an awesome TT, in 54:26, that stood up for 5th on the day. The United States takes all 4 top spots: Zabriskie, Landis, Leipheimer, and Hincapie. Current GC: 1) Philippe Gilbert, Francaise des Jeux 2) Zabriskie, CSC, at 2:47 3) Landis, Phonak, at 3:48 4) Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 4:20 5) Hincapie. Discovery Channel, at 4:24 6) Grabsch, Phonak, at 4:34 7) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel

Posted by Frank Steele on June 7, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Christophe Moreau, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Thomas Voeckler, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Wegmann takes Dauphiné Stage 1, overall lead

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann joined 3 other riders on the attack over a late 4th Category climb and worked hard in the break to keep the cushion to the finish. Wegmann, Thomas Voeckler of Bouyges Telecom, Francisco Mancebo of AG2R, and Egoi Martinez of Discovery Channel went away just after the peloton reabsorbed Nicolas Inaudi of Cofidis, who had been on a solo break for 190 kilometers (almost 120 miles). Wegmann split the break in the last kilometer with a strong attack off Voeckler's wheel. Mancebo couldn't counter, and Voeckler couldn't muster enough speed to outkick Wegmann to the line. The field came in 12 seconds back, led in by Danilo Napolitano of Lampre. Wegmann took a time bonus at the finish that puts him in the overall race lead. He also holds the points jersey. Voeckler moves into the the climber's jersey and the combination jersey. No live coverage at CN.com or VeloNews for the Dauphiné, so you've got a choice between Cycling.TV's premium web stream, DailyPeloton's stage commentary, an open thread at PodiumCafe.com, or my “as it happens” report for more details on the stage. Top 10: 1) Wegmann, Gerolsteiner, in 5:06:36 2) Voeckler, Bouyges Telecom, same time 3) Martinez, Discovery Channel, same time 4) Mancebo, AG2R, at :02 5) Napolitano, Lampre, at :12 6) Sebastian Siedler, Gerolsteiner, same time 7) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t. 8) José Rojas, Astaná-Würth, s.t. 9) Philippe Gilbert, FdJeux, s.t. 10) Mauro Da Dalto, Liquigas, s.t. GC (CORRECTION 1:30 p.m.): 1) Wegmann, Gerolsteiner, in 5:11:23 2) Voeckler, Bouyges Telecom, at :05 3) Dave Zabriskie, CSC, at :05 4) Egoi Martinez, Discovery Channel, at :07 5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :07 6) Mancebo, AG2R, at :09 7) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :11 8) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, at :11 9) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, at :12 10) Joost Posthuma, Rabobank, at :13 Valverde, Landis, Moreau, and Vinokourov are all within 15 seconds of the race lead. Of course, nearly the whole field is within 1 minute of the race lead.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 5, 2006 in Chris Horner, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Wegmann, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 21 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 21 photo gallery

Retiring Armstrong, retiring Leblanc Voeckler's new drag helmet Arc de Triomphe Armstrong & young'uns
(L-R) Two legends exit the Tour: Armstrong & Leblanc; No wonder Voeckler's
3:25:32 back - look at that helmet; Arc de Triomphe; Lance & brood
-- from GrahamWatson.com

Also:

ThePaceline.com | Graham Watson Stage 21 Report

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Lance Armstrong, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

Stage 18 underway

Alexandre Vinokourov attacked ahead of the day's first sprint, and took 2nd for 4 pts, and a 4-second time bonus. After a number of early breakaways, all pulled back, a group of 10 has gotten away and built a lead, now at 12:45. In it are Davitamon-Lotto's Axel Merckx, CSC's Luke Roberts, Cofidis' Cedric Vasseur, Bouyges Telecom's Thomas Voeckler, T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler, Illes Balears' Xabier Zandio, Carlos da Cruz of Française des Jeux, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, and Marcos Serrano of Liberty Seguros. Kessler's presence in this breakaway, and the absence of Discovery Channel, would likely give T-Mobile the team lead, since they trail Discovery by 37 seconds. In the break, Kessler is wearing his race number upside down: He's highly superstitious and riding in number 13. With the gap at 15 minutes, Discovery has put all its riders at the head of the peloton. Armstrong apparently predicted Axel Merckx for today's stage, being run on Belgium's National Day. On the second-to-last climb, Carlos Da Cruz has attacked. He's gotten out to 25 seconds on the 9 other breakaway riders. Now Merckx counters, and goes right over the top of Da Cruz. Serrano is trying to come back up. And there goes Voeckler trying to bridge up. Zandio, Serrano, and Vasseur are just a few seconds behind Mercx and Voeckler, and chasing on the descent. Zandio, Serran, Vasseur, Merckx, and Voeckler are joined by Pellizotti on the descent, and they're starting up the very steep, short final climb. Inside of 4 km, and Merckx has picked up the pace. Zandio and Pellizotti are dropped. Serrano pushes it, and Voeckler is dropped. It's Serrano, Vasseur, and Merckx. Merckx is gapped, but not yet really dropped. As the climb steepens, Serrano pulls away, and Merckx tries to counter, but Serrano has a gap. They're 1 k to the top, 2.5 to the finish. At the top, Serrano has 14 seconds on Merckx and Vasseur. The peloton is now at 12 minutes plus, with Andrey Kashechkin holding a 20 second advantage: he's looking to get back into the white jersey. Marcos Serrano has taken the first stage for Liberty Seguros! As they roll in, Vasseur comes off Merckx's wheel for 2nd. Zandio is 4th, then Pellizotti. Back with the peloton, there's been another big selection on the 2nd-to-last climb of the day, with Sastre, Popovych, Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich, Rasmussen, Evans, Landis, Leipheimer. Now they've dropped Rasmussen, Vinokourov and Leipheimer. Basso, Armstrong, Ullrich, and Evans are riding together. Vino, Rasmussen, and Leipheimer are the first chase group. Don't know about Landis. Ullrich is at the back of the leaders, falling back. Now he's clawed his way back onto the other three! Armstrong leads over the top. They've got 1.5 kilometers to go. He leads the group up to the line, and there comes Cadel Evans, who pips him at the line for 11th, with Basso and Ullrich behind. Mancebo has rejoined Leiphemer, Rasmussen, and Vino for the finish. A Saunier Duval is in between, then Landis comes in with Eddy Mazzoleni.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Thomas Voeckler, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 07, 2005

DailyPeloton's Jambon Report for Stage 6

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 6

One of the best daily wrap-ups of Tour action on the web is dailypeloton.com's Jambon Report, where Locutus picks out his Golden Hams and Ham-Gazers for each day.

Today is probably my favorite of the Tour so far:

Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo). ... His teammate, former Yellow Jersey wearer Fabian Cancellara, went down in the crash, but immediately popped up and saw the gap Bernucci had. He got onto his radio microphone and screamed, "Vai! Vai! Vai Lorenzo!," and man did Lorenzo vai (by the way, I think that's Italian for, "Lorenzo! The lycra on your buttocks, it is on fire! Ride quickly and perhaps you shall extinguish it!") Bernucci had put himself in position to win, and when luck fell his way he drove it home to the finish to claim his first professional victory. This was an outstanding victory for Bernucci and his Petacchi-less Fassa team, a product of hard work, talent, and taking the risks necessary to win.

More good stuff on Vinokourov, Hushovd, Voeckler, and Zabriskie.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 2 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France Stage 2 Photo Gallery

Landis, Zabriskie Voeckler heads the break 1st Tour sunflowers
Girona roommates Landis & Zabriskie, Voeckler leading the break
and the Tour's first sunflowers from grahamwatson.com

Here's Watson's Stage 2 Report from ThePaceline.com (free registration required).

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CyclingNews monster Stage 2 photo gallery

www.cyclingnews.com | Stage 2 Photo Gallery

Vino's Kazakh jersey Boonen's stage win Voeckler in maillot pois
Vino your Kazakh champ, Boonen takes the stage, and
Voeckler finds a jersey from cyclingnews.com

CyclingNews.com has a huge photo gallery today, with more than 90 photos in all. If you've got a favorite rider, he's likely in there. Also, the first devil-sighting (what?) of the year.


Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Alexandre Vinokourov, The Tour Devil, Thomas Voeckler, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stage 2 underway

We have the 2005 Tour's first doomed break! Out in front Sylvain Calzati, Thomas Voeckler, Laszlo Bodrogi, and David Canada flew their team flags, at one point around 3:30 up on the field.

Voeckler is the rider who got into an opportunistic break in last year's Tour (while the French national champion, no less) and wore the yellow jersey for 10 days, fighting and scratching to hold on to it as the race headed into the Alps. He then held the young rider's white jersey until the final TT, when Vladimir Karpets took over the lead in that competition.

Lance Armstrong is wearing the green jersey today, since David Zabriskie can only wear one jersey at a time. Whoever wins the stage today will become the first real green jersey.

It's a very easy course profile today, and only 181 kilometers, or around 110 miles.

Everybody and his brother is predicting McEwen today; I'm going to be contrarian, and go with Quick Step's Tom Boonen. McEwen will be adjusting to a new lead-out man, American Fast Freddie Rodriguez. Other sprinters to watch: Baden Cooke and Thor Hushovd.

There's a 4th category climb coming up, and if the break can survive to the top, one of its riders will wear the mountain jersey for at least tonight.

The breakaway has survived, and will contest the polka-dot jersey; David Cañada launched an attack and gapped the group, and now Voeckler slingshots off of Calzati, bridges up to Cañada, and sprints away from him with 50-75 meters to ride. At the top, he's over first, so he'll wear his third different Tour jersey (yellow, white, polka-dot).

Bodrogi falls back into the field, leaving three leaders to catch. Erik Dekker tries a late attack, but FdJ puts Carlos da Cruz on his back wheel, and he can't make it stick.

With 6 kms to ride, the breakaway is absorbed. It's a sprint finish with some turns; could get dicey.

In the last 2 kms, a couple of opportunistic attacks from Beneteau and Zaballa, but for nothing.

It's the big boys for the sprints: McEwen may have jumped a little early, and Tom Boonen gets his back wheel and comes around him for the win. Thor Hushovd is right there.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2005 in Fred Rodriguez, Robbie McEwen, Stage profiles, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2004

Unstoppable Armstrong takes TT

Armstrong by more than a minute; Klöden up to 2nd overall, but Basso holds 3rd. Voeckler loses white jersey to Vladimir Karpets. More later.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Thomas Voeckler, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2004

Mercado takes Stage 18

Juan Miguel Mercado of Quick Step launched from a 6-man breakaway with a few kilometers to go, then sprinted by Vincente Garcia-Acosta for the stage win. Garcia-Acosta was second, while Cofidis rider Dmitry Fofonov led in 4 chasers.

Sandy Casar made an attack late in the stage to try to move up in the white jersey, but Illes Balear-Banesto shut it down in support of Vladimir Karpets.

An incredible field sprint today goes to Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd, then green jersey Robbie McEwen.

Stage results:

1) Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step)
2) Vincente Garcia-Acosta (Illes Balears-Banesto)
3) Dmitri Fofonov (Cofidis) at :11
4) Sebastian Joly (Credit Agricole) same time
5) Marc Lotz (Rabobank) s.t.
6) Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
7) Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) at 11:29
8) Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) same time
9) Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
10) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) s.t.

McEwen hasn't quite locked up the maillot vert, but only Hushovd moved any closer.

Points:
1) McEwen 238
2) Hushovd 227
3) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) 221
4) O'Grady 215
5) Hondo 201

The only points still available are on Sunday at 2 intermediate sprints and the finish line.

Complete results are available over at RoadCycling.com.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2004 in Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2004

Armstrong his 4th win; mark this one over

An incredible finish, as the hard climbs eliminated all but the contenders, and they had to shoot it out on the run-in to the finish.

Landis was the 1st to go, but the T-Mobiles saw a chance to gain on Basso, and pounced with 1 km to go. At 500 meters, Klöden sprinted for the line, but Armstrong was too strong, as he has been for the entire field, and took him at the line.

1) Armstrong
2) Klöden
3) Ullrich
4) Basso at :01
5) Landis at :13
6) Merckx at 1:01
7) Leipheimer at 1:01
8) Sastre at 1:02
9) Rasmussen at 1:02
10) Totschnig at 1:02
11) Azevedo at 1:02

GC
1) Armstrong
2) Basso at 4:09
3) Kloden at 5:11
4) Ullrich at 8:08
5) Azevedo at 10:41

Thomas Voeckler, at 21:12 back, has 45 seconds on Vladimir Karpets in the white jersey competition.

Based on the strong finish by Azevedo, Landis, and Armstrong, US Postal is now 2nd in the team competition to T-Mobile, who took over the lead from CSC, now 3rd, after yesterday's time trial.

There's also a new lanterne rouge, as Jimmy Casper of Cofidis now trails Armstrong by 3:43:48, slipping behind Credit Agricole's Sébastian Joly, who is 3:42:24 back. That's a closer race than for the race lead...

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 21, 2004

Voeckler's time machine

cyclingnews.com | Thomas Voeckler's Brioches La Boulangère Time VXRS

Cyclingnews.com offers a look at the bike Thomas Voeckler rode for 10 days in the yellow jersey. It's a carbon-fiber compact-frame Time model, with an interesting mix of Time, Campy, Mavic and Stronglight components, and with some of his componentry painted red, white and blue to celebrate his French national championship, won just before the Tour.

Brioches La Boulangère is one of the teams riding Michelins, and they have used the new tubeless clinchers on the mountain stages.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2004 in Thomas Voeckler, Tour Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 20, 2004

Armstrong in familiar yellow

BBC SPORT | Armstrong rides into yellow

T-Mobile tried to save Jan Ullrich's Tour on Tuesday, shredding the peloton, then launching Ullrich on an attack with nearly 40 miles to ride.

Rather than rise to the bait, and ride one-on-one with Ullrich, Armstrong stayed in a select group with teammates and other elite riders, gradually reeled in Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Michael Rasmussen, and other riders who had gotten up the road, then matched the tempo set by Ullrich and T-Mobile teammate Andreas Klöden on the final climb before finally riding away from the pair, along with CSC's Ivan Basso, in the last 300 meters of the day.

"Johan Bruyneel (the US Postal team boss) said to me this morning he expected Jan to break," said Armstrong afterwards.

"But it was harder than I expected - more aggressive. But it's great to be back in yellow today."

Ullrich has clawed his way back into the Top 5 on the race, but hasn't put significant time into either CSC's Ivan Basso or Ullrich's teammate Andreas Klöden, and it looks like he will have to unseat one of them to move onto the podium.

Thomas Voeckler was finally unseated from the race lead, a lead that seemed precarious when he took it but led to the 25-year-old becoming the toast of France. He can take comfort in the white jersey awarded to the best rider 25 or under, a competition he currently leads by 7:41 over fdjeux.com's Sandy Casar.

Also:

BBC Sport | Tour de France stage 15 photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Photo galleries, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Armstrong takes 2nd stage win, moves into yellow

10 men with a chance:

Armstrong and Azevedo of Postal, Basso, Sastre, and Voigt for CSC, Kloden and Ullrich of T-Mobile, Rasmussen and Leipheimer of Rabobank, Richard Virenque of Quick Step.

Sastre, Voigt, Azevedo, Rasmussen, and Virenque have fallen off the back.

Down to Kloden, Ullrich, Basso, Armstrong, and Leipheimer.

500 meters to go; Leipheimer is off the back. The T-Mobile's are pushing the pace, now Basso has sprinted away, and Armstrong turns on full steam. Basso can't hold him off; Armstrong has his 2nd stage win of the 2004 Tour.

Stage 15:
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC)
3) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at :03
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at :06
5) Leiphimer (Rabobank) at :13
6) Virenque (Quick Step) at :48
7) Rasmussen (Rabobank) at :49
8) Azevedo (US Postal) at :53
9) Voigt (CSC) at 1:04
10) Sastre (CSC) at 1:24

It's Armstrong's 20th career stage win. Voeckler finished down 9:29, so Armstrong will take the 61st yellow jersey of his career, and start last in tomorrow's individual time trial up l'Alpe d'Huez.

Armstrong gains a little time on Ivan Basso based on the time bonus for the stage win.

GC Top 10:
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC) at 1:25
3) Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) at 3:22
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 5:39
5) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 6:54
6) José Azevedo (US Postal) at 7:34
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 8:19
8) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere) at 9:28
9) Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 10:10
10) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 10:58

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Stage 15 underway: Jan attacks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 19, 2004

Voeckler to ride for France at Athens Olympics

procycling | Olympic reward for Voeckler

Yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler's performance in the French national championships and in the 2004 Tour de France have earned him a place on France's squad for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Also on the squad will be Laurent Brochard, Sylvain Chavanel, Christophe Moreau, and Richard Virenque.

French technical director Patrick Cluzaud recognized Jérôme Pineau as the last man out in the selection process, edged by Chavanel, and named David Moncoutié and Sandy Casar as two others who "are going well."

Moreau and Brochard will race the time trial for France.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2004 in 2004 Olympics, Christophe Moreau, Richard Virenque, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2004

Armstrong takes Stage 13; Voeckler fights to keep yellow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage 13 on Plateau de Beille

Armstrong and Basso are head to head. Now Azevedo will rest for another day.

We've just passed the first naked fan of the day.

Ullrich has dropped off the back of the elite group, with Leipheimer.

Totschnig is only about 10-15 seconds behind Armstrong/Basso.

Right now, it's Armstrong, Basso, then Totschnig, then Mancebo, then Klöden, then Ullrich. Leipheimer is 2:15 behind the leaders. Voeckler has fallen 4:10 down to Armstrong and Basso. He's not going to keep the yellow jersey tonight. Update: Shows what I know!

Off the back are Simoni, Scarponi, Sastre, Moreau, Voeckler, Virenque, Mercado, and others.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 13 underway

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

US Postal
Team CSC
Quick Step-Davitamon
Rabobank

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann has also abandoned today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2004

Moncoutie savors home win

Yahoo! Sport | Moncoutie and Voeckler continue French celebrations

Moncoutie:

"I knew that if I attacked on the last slight incline and managed to build a lead of 30sec on them I would manage to hold them off," said Moncoutie, who had tried several times early on to escape the clutches of the peloton.

"It's my best ever win, and it definitely helped the fact that it was in my region.

"Winning a stage on the Tour de France was one of my career ambitions, so you can imagine how I feel."

Defending yellow is starting to leave Thomas Voeckler green around the gills:

"I'm feeling okay, but not much better," Voeckler said after the stage. "Today the team did well again helping me to defend the jersey, but I'm beginning to feel the effects of the past few days of racing.

"I'm not looking forward to tomorrow (the climb to La Mongie) but who knows, maybe I'll feel better than I anticipate."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2004 in David Moncoutié, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Moncoutie takes Stage 11; what French drought?

David Moncoutie found a winning break and rode away from it to take Thursday's Stage 11.

Moncoutie's breakaway companions were next, with Fassa Bortolo's Juan Antonio Flecha 2nd and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Egoi Martinez 3rd.

Thor Hushovd took the field sprint, ahead of Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, and Paolo Bettini. Armstrong again rode in with the sprinters in search of any time gap among the leaders on the uphill finish.

The Top 10:
1) Moncoutie
2) Flecha
3) Martinez
4) Hushovd
5) Zabel
6) McEwen
7) Bettini
8) Danilo Hondo
9) Lance Armstrong
10) Stuart O'Grady

It was the second consecutive stage win for a French rider, and the 2nd stage win of the Tour for Moncoutie's Cofidis team. Additionally, Thomas Voeckler of France is wearing the yellow jersey at least until Friday.

The GC is essentially unchanged, although Jakob Piil lost 12 seconds on the uphill finish, as did Gilberto Simoni and Laurent Dufaux.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2004 in David Moncoutié, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 14, 2004

Virenque takes stage, polka-dots on Bastille Day

Richard Virenque pulled off a trademark long breakaway on the Tour's first truly mountainous stage, and took a stage win in Saint Flours.

It was Virenque's 7th career stage win, and by taking 1st place in each of the 9 king of the mountain contests today, he moves into the lead for the polka-dot jersey, which he's won 6 times. Like Lance Armstrong, Virenque is looking to set a new career record this year, by becoming the first 7-time King of the Mountains.

Virenque's 200-km breakaway, first in a group of 18, then with Axel Merckx, and finally alone, is one of the longest in Tour history. I'll be wearing my polka-dot jersey pin today -- that was a hell of a ride.

After 5:19, the peloton approached the finish. On the finish line, T-Mobile's Andreas Kloden led in Erik Zabel, who will score some green jersey points, then Francisco Mancebo, yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler, then Lance Armstrong, right among the leaders. Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, and Jan Ullrich were a few meters back, but in the same time. Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer were caught behind a gap on the finish, and lost 7 seconds in the overall, but that's no big deal.

Top 5:

1) Virenque (Quick Step)
2) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
3) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)
5) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere)

Virenque moves into 4th overall, and some of the flatlanders are starting to move down the GC. About half the peloton came in 24:24 back of Virenque. Au revoir, Magnus!

Thomas Voeckler remains the race leader for at least another day, capping a terrific Bastille Day for French cycling. The GC:

1. Thomas Voeckler
2. Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) at 3:00
3. Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com) at 4:13
4. Richard Virenque at 6:52
5. Jakob Piil (CSC) at 7:31
6. Lance Armstrong at 9:35
7. Erik Zabel at 9:58
8. Jose Azevedo (US Postal) at 10:04
9. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) at 10:09
10. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 10:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2004 in Richard Virenque, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 13, 2004

Caught at the line; McEwen takes a 2nd stage win

Another tragic breakaway, as two riders who were away for about 80 miles were just nipped by the sprinters with less than 200 meters to race.

I hate to tell Jens Voigt "I told you so", but it's Robbie McEwen (as I predicted overnight) taking the stage.

The Tour site reports Inigo Landaluze and Filippo Simeoni were caught in the last 50 meters, while VeloNews says it was "less than 10 meters from the line...!!!"

Looks like:

1) McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
2) Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
3) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
4) Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere)
5) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
6) Janeck Tombak (Cofidis)
7) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
8) Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)
9) Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze)
10) Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Landaluze's breakaway partner, Domina Vacanze's Filippo Simeoni, finished in 17th on the day.

No effect on the overall leaderboard, except that O'Grady takes a time bonus to move within 3 minutes of Thomas Voeckler, who will wear the yellow jersey on Bastille Day in the longest stage of this year's Tour.

Current GC top 10:
1) Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere)
2) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) at 2:53
3) Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com) at 4:06
4) Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) at 6:27
5) Jakob Piil (CSC) at 7:09
6) Lance Armstrong (USPS) at 9:35
7) George Hincapie (USPS) at 9:45
8) Jose Azevedo (USPS) at 9:57
9) Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) at 10:02
10) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) at 10:06

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2004 in Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (4)

Stage 9: 160.5 km Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat to Guéret

VeloNews predicts Petacchi for this stage. I'm predicting that won't happen.

The start town, St. Léonard, is the hometown of Raymond Poulidor, the "eternal second" who was 2nd 3 times, and 3rd 5 times in 14 Tours. He NEVER WORE the yellow jersey, even for a day.

Two Category 4 climbs offer points down to 3rd place, and 3 intermediate sprints could factor in the green jersey race, which Robbie McEwen leads:

1) McEwen 158
2) O'Grady 149
3) Zabel 148
4) Hushovd 147
5) Hondo 139

With the race for green so close, I doubt the sprinters' teams will let a break stay away, so look for a field sprint to the line, and so far, it's looked like Robbie McEwen is the flat-out fastest man in the race.

Starting Stage 8, it's:

m_jaune.gif Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere)

m_vert.gif Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)

m_pois.gif Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon)

m_blanc.gif Thomas Voeckler (worn by Sandy Casar - Fdjeux.com)

Jakob Piil is in the red race numbers. Again. This year, Tour organizers will award an overall combativity award, but not until Paris. Piil's the early nod — he's never met a crazy flyer he wouldn't take.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Stage profiles, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2004

Thor Hushovd takes Stage 8

Norway's Thor Hushovd of Credit Agricole took Stage 8 of the 2004 Tour de France with a beautifully timed sprint.

1) Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
2) Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo)
3) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
4) Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
5) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
6) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
7) Laurent Brochard (AG2R)
8) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
9) Oscar Pereiro (Phonak)
10) Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)

No effect on GC, so Thomas Voeckler holds the yellow jersey at least through the rest day.

Robbie McEwen moves back into the green jersey.

McEwen hooked up with Paolo Bettini, who wanted to take a shot at the stage win with 600 meters to ride. Bettini realized that would set up a sprint he couldn't win, and deny his teammate Tom Boonen a place in the field sprint, so he quickly dropped back into the field. But he wasn't happy about it, and a few Italian hand gestures ensued.

Here's the Top 5 in the green jersey competition, which looks likely to provide most of the race's excitement through the next week or so:

1) Robbie McEwen 158 pts
2) Stuart O'Grady 149 pts
3) Erik Zabel 148 pts
4) Thor Hushovd 147 pts
5) Danilo Hondo 139 pts

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2004 in Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 09, 2004

Say hello to Thomas Voeckler

Eurosport | Meet Mr. Voeckler

Eurosport offers a quick profile of Thomas Voeckler, who looks likely to wear the yellow jersey for at least a few more days:

"But I'm not fooling myself. I know I'm not a threat for the big guys on this race; I'm not at their level. When the race hits the hills, it's going to be tough. But believe me, I won't throw in the towel. I'll gut it out in this jersey as long as I possibly can."

Voeckler is riding in his 4th professional season.

Given the number of riders nearing the end of their Tour years (Armstrong, Ullrich, Hamilton, Julich, Virenque, Zabel, O'Grady, and McEwen are all between 30 and 34), this year's white jersey competition and a few riders who have competed for it in the last few years takes on extra significance.

Yellow jersey Voeckler, today's sprint winner Tom Boonen, yesterday's breakaway Sandy Casar, prologue winner Fabian Cancellara, and this year's Giro d'Italia winner, Damiano Cunego, who's sitting at home, are all under 25 and look likely to play a key role in Tours over the next decade.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2004 in Thomas Voeckler, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Abt calls Voeckler 'dangerous'

IHT | Yellow jersey changes backs as strategizing takes the day

Samuel Abt provides his usual excellent coverage of the stage. He talks with Swiss-American Sven Montgomery, riding for Gerolsteiner, about the effects the weather continues to have on this year's Tour, and about Montgomery's goal: to ride into Paris.

More interesting is Abt's characterization of Thomas Voeckler:

Only Voeckler among the five can be considered dangerous to Armstrong's hopes of winning a sixth successive Tour.

The Frenchman, unlike his fellow fugitives, is a strong climber and won a strenuous mountain stage in the Route du Sud race in France last month. If he holds his lead, nine minutes can be a big cushion into the climbs in the Massif Central on Wednesday and in the Pyrénées on July 16.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

O'Grady the stage; Voeckler takes yellow

The first successful breakaway (take that, Al Trautwig!) of this year's Tour de France puts a Frenchman in yellow, as Thomas Voeckler of Brioches la Boulangere puts on the maillot jaune.

Australia's Stuart O'Grady of Cofidis showed great road smarts, matching a series of attacks from Voeckler, then sprinting off the wheel of Magnus Backstedt from a long way out.

The field came in about 12 minutes back. Robbie McEwen is likely to keep his green jersey, winning the field sprint for 6th place sprint points. Voeckler will hold the white jersey, but it will continue to be worn by Matthias Kessler.

Stage Top 5:

1) O'Grady
2) Jakob Piil (CSC)
3) Sandy Casar (Fdjeux.com)
4) Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere)
5) Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi)

With the GC still pretty close before the stage, these guys will take over the general classification, as well:

1) Voeckler
2) O'Grady at 3:13
3) Sandy Casar at 4:06
4) Magnus Backstedt at 6:03
5) Jakob Piil at 6:58
6) Lance Armstrong at 9:35
7) George Hincapie at 9:45

Full results are up over at RoadCycling.com.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Magnus Backstedt, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 5 underway

There's a group of five 15 minutes up the road this morning:

Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi)
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
Jakob Piil (CSC)
Sandy Casar (Fdjeux.com)
Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere)

French national champion Voeckler looks likely to take the yellow jersey tonight, and O'Grady has taken a couple of intermediate sprints; given a bonus at the finish, he's made a great start in his announced goal of the green jersey. It's a major turnaround for the French, who had little success in last year's Tour until Jean-Patrick Nazon took the last stage.

We could have a French yellow jersey, and a rider from a French team (O'Grady) take the stage today. Heck, Voeckler could do both; he's launched several sharp attacks to try to break from the group.

There have been a few crashes today, including Manuel Beltran and Jose-Luis Rubiera from US Postal, who went down with Alessandro Petacchi, Roberto Heras, and others. Beltran and Rubiera needed medical assistance.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2004 in Magnus Backstedt, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack