July 15, 2011

Stage 13 as it happens

Stage 13 started fast, with five or six atttempts to make a breakaway all being chased down and the field averaging around 50 km/hr or 31 mph.

The high pace put Andreas Klöden in trouble off the back of the peloton. Klöden is still suffering from injuries to his lower back suffered in a crash in Stage 9, and with about 40k ridden, Klöden abandoned the Tour, barely able to climb off his bike, or to stand up once he was helped off. His abandon leaves just 5 Radio Shack riders in the Tour.

Also put in trouble early was Rabobank's Lars Boom who trailed the field by more than 3:00 on the first climb of the day, the 3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron. Yesterday's 2nd-place finisher, Jelle Vanendert, led the peloton over the climb, with occasional attacks still trying and failing to get clear of the field.

3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron:
1) Jelle Vanendert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, +2 pts
2) Niki Terpstra, Quick Step, +1 pt

With more than 50k ridden, a breakaway group was finally successful, and had more than 1:00 in hand after 60k. In the group were Thor Hushovd, Jerome Pineau, Martin Tjallingi, Dmitri Fofonov, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Alessandro Petacchi, Lars Bak, Vladimir Gusev, David Moncoutie, and Jeremy Roy. With these 10 away, the pace in the field finally dropped a bit, and the gap quickly pushed out toward 2:00.

Lars Boom and Vladimir Isaichev, both gapped way before the Tourmalet, abandoned the race on the road.

4th Category Côte de Belair:
1) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +1 pt

Gap went out beyond 4:00 as the field worked the climb.

For the intermediate sprint, Hushovd and Petacchi were expected to go for max green jersey points, but the group pretty much just pacelined through the sprint line. In the field, Philippe Gilbert launched an attack from way too far to the line, then was easily swamped by Rojas and Cavendish and their teammates. At the line, Rojas nipped Cavendish, who gestured angrily, but didn't appear to be impeded in any way.

Bielle sprint:
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky, +20 pts
2) David Moncoutie, Cofidis, +17 pts
3) Vladimir Gusev, Katusha, +15 pts
4) Dmitri Fofonov, Astana +13 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre, +11 pts
6) Martin Tjallingi, Rabobank, +10 pts
7) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, +9 pts
8) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +8 pts
9) Lars Bak, HTC-Highroad, +7 pts
10) Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, +6 pts
11) José Rojas, Movistar, +5 pts
12) Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad, +4 pts
13) Francisco Ventoso, Movistar, +3 pts
14) Mickaël Delage, FDJ, +2 pts
15) Mark Renshaw, HTC-Highroad, +1 pt

Soon after the leading 10 hit the Col d'Aubisque, the group was shredded by an attack by World Champion Thor Hushovd. Hushovd may have had visions of his 2009 Stage 17 spent in a long solo break, but he was quickly joined by Jeremy Roy of FDJ, with David Moncoutie and Edvald Boasson Hagen close behind, and the other break survivors fading away. Hushovd's lead on the field stretched out over 6:30, while Delage, Mollema and Gadret counterattacked off the front of the field.

With a little more than 50k to race, gravity returned to normal, and Roy, then Moncoutie were able to come around Hushovd. Edvald Boasson Hagen initially had followed Moncoutie, but never made the bridge to Hushovd.

Atop the Aubisque, Roy held his lead of about :50 on Moncoutie, and coupled with his points from the Tourmalet yesterday, Roy will take the King of the Mountains jersey if he finishes the stage.

HC Col d'Aubisque:
1) Jeremy Roy, FDJ, +20 pts
2) David Moncoutie, Cofidis, +16 pts
3) Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo, +12 pts
4) Vladimir Gusev, Katusha, +8 pts
5) Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, +4 pts
6) Lars Bak, HTC-Highroad, +2 pts

Moncoutie began the descent :50 down on Roy, with Hushovd chasing more than a minute behind Moncoutie. Hushovd reeled in Moncoutie on the descent. On the uncategorized climb of the Soulor, Roy saw his lead on the pair at 1:27, but over the last 25 kilometers of the stage, Hushovd did most of the work to close on Roy. At 20k, the gap was 1:10, but over the next 4 km, Hushovd cut that lead in half. In the next 4 km, he cut it in half again, leaving Roy a bare :20 in front with 12 km to the line.

Roy fought valiantly, but the Norwegian world champion chipped away at his lead, until inside of 3 kilometers to the finish, Hushovd used a small hill to thunder away from Moncoutie, catching and riding straight past Roy. Hushovd rode alone to the finish for his 8th career stage win. Moncoutie also passed a dejected Roy to take 2nd on the stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2011 in 2011 Stage 13, Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, David Moncoutié, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd | 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


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 05, 2011

Evans the master in Mur-de-Bretagne

For a number of years, you wouldn't have raised an argument saying Cadel Evans was Australian for ‘Levi Leipheimer.’ Like the Montanan, Evans could keep it close in the mountains and gain time in the time trials, but he seemed to lack panache, racing defensively with his head instead of his legs.

The last few years, Evans has become a rider with some brio, winning the world championships with a perfectly timed attack in 2009, and taking Fleche Wallone and a powerful stage win at the Giro in 2010. On Tuesday, he again showed power and grit, climbing to a stage win ahead of Alberto Contador and Alexandre Vinokourov, and picking up time on most of his rivals for the overall win in this year's Tour.

Jeremy Roy of FDJ spent another long day in a doomed break, today with Movistar's Imanol Erviti, Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Izagirre, and AG2R's Blel Kadri. The five escaped about 9 kilometers/5.5 miles into the stage, and were captured with about 4.5 kilometers/2.7 miles to the finish.

Omega Pharma's Philippe Gilbert, the winner of Stage 1, was the pre-stage favorite to double up on his 29th birthday, and Omega Pharma did a lot of work to pull back the break and set Gilbert up for the climb of the Mur-de-Bretagne, but with less than 4k to the finish, BMC took over, with George Hincapie playing locomotive, as he has for hundreds of miles through the French countryside in July in 16 Tours.

At 1.5 kilometers to the summit, Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador was the first to attack, followed by Gilbert and Evans. Thor Hushovd, holding the yellow jersey by a narrow second over Evans, battled onto the back of this high-octane group as rider after rider put on a burst to try to break clear for the win. Jurgen van den Broeck, Rigoberto Uran, and Gilbert all pressed attacks, but Contador and Evans matched them all, and Evans led in the final 100 meters as Contador quickly closed the gap.

At the line, there was no telling who had won. Contador gave a celebratory fist pump, but the photo finish cameras showed it was Evans at the line by a tire's width. Evans had taken the stage, but Hushovd finished 6th in the same time, so the big Norwegian holds the leader's jersey for another day.

While Evans's victory shows style and form, it also may signal that Evans thinks he'll have trouble in the high mountains, and needs to make time wherever he can from now until then. Contador, finishing alongside Evans, put at least a few seconds into everyone but Evans, and showed he's far from conceding, despite trailing by 1:42 after 4 stages.

In the green jersey competition, Tyler Farrar took the intermediate sprint for 6th, picking up 10 points ahead of José Rojas, Borut Bozic, and Mark Cavendish, but the pure speed riders were shut out of the finish, where Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd picked up 22 and 20 points, respectively, with high finishes. Here are the overall standings in the geen jersey competition so far. Cavendish seems bound to pop through for a stage win soon, but the Wenatchee Wonder looks fast enough to limit the damage from the Manx Missile this year.

Stage 4 Top 10:

1) Cadel Evans, BMC, in 4:11:39
2) Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank, same time
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, s.t.
4) Rigoberto Uran, Sky, s.t.
5) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma, s.t.
6) Thor Hushovd, Garmin, s.t.
7) Frank Schleck, Leopard, s.t.
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
9) Jurgen van den Broeck, Omega Pharma, s.t.
10) Andreas Klöden, Radio Shack, s.t.

In the overall, there was a bit of a shakeup, as a number of riders lost a few seconds, including Andy Schleck, who was in a group of 28 riders eight seconds back.

GC, after Stage 4

1) Thor Hushovd, Garmin, 13:58:25
2) Cadel Evans, BMC, at :01
3) Frank Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at :04
4) David Millar, Garmin-Cervelo, at :08
5) Andreas Klöden, Radio Shack, at :10
6) Brad Wiggins, Sky, at :10
7) Geraint Thomas, Sky, at :12
8) Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Sky, at :12
9) Andy Schleck, Leopard-Trek, at :12
10) Jakob Fuglsang, Leopard-Trek, at :12


VeloNews | Cadel Evans wins stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France, Hushovd retains overall lead | Video: Finish-line analysis: tenacity and surprise on stage 4

cyclingnews.com | Evans takes photo finish over Contador | photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2011 in 2011 Stage 4, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, David Millar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Frank Schleck, Jurgen van den Broeck, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2011

Stage 3: Garmin doubles up as Farrar brings the fireworks

Tyler Farrar has been the future of American sprinting for the last few years, notching victories at the Vuelta in 2009 and two stages each in the Giro and Vuelta in 2010. In America's favorite bike race, he had come close, but never edged HTC's Mark Cavendish.

Monday, with the team still aglow from its first Tour win in Sunday's TTT, Farrar finally sealed the deal, riding a beautiful leadout from world champion and yellow jersey Thor Hushovd and Julian Dean to a resounding Garmin victory. At the line, Farrar saluted his late friend and training partner Wouter Weylandt, flashing a "W" with his hands.

Cavendish, the favorite for the stage win, managed 5th on the day after the rails came off the HTC train in the final 2 kilometers of the stage. To add insult to injury, the 10 green jersey points Cavendish had won in the day's intermediate sprint (and 4 to Hushovd) were nullified by Tour commissaires for a fairly mild bump between Hushovd and Cavendish when both wanted Philippe Gilbert's wheel.

After the stage, Cavendish blamed Vacansoleil's Romain Feillu, who Cav said “causes havoc in every sprint.”

“He took me out in the last corner. I was 40 meters behind out the last corner with no speed whatsoever. I went full gas, I gained 40 meters and finished with the front four and I gained points and it just shows my form.”

José Rojas, who I think of as the Spanish Joe Rogan, took over the green jersey with his 3rd place finish on the day. Hushovd holds yellow, Geraint Thomas holds white, and Gilbert keeps the polka-dots, on the strength of a single point earned in Stage 1.

The sacrificial break of the day featured Nicki Terpstra, Mikael Delage, Maxime Bouet, Ivan Gutierrez, and Ruben Perez. Delage would take the red combativity race number and points in the sprint and mountains competition for his efforts.

With the win, Farrar joins two select clubs: Americans with Tour stage wins, and Americans with stage wins in all three grand tours (the only other member is Zabriskie, with an asterisk for Tyler Hamilton, who tested positive for blood doping during the 2004 Vuelta in which he won Stage 8).

Top 10 (all same time):
1) Tyler Farrar, Garmin, in 4:40:21
2) Romain Feillu, Vacansoleil
3) Jose Rojas, Movistar
4) Sebastien Hinault, AG2R
5) Mark Cavendish, HTC
6) Thor Hushovd, Garmin
7) Julian Dean, Garmin
8) Borut Bozic, Vacansoleil
9) André Greipel, Omega Pharma
10) Jimmy Engoulvent, Saur-Sojasun


cyclingnews | Farrar nabs his first Tour de France stage | photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2011 in 2011 Stage 3, Julian Dean, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | 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.


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 02, 2011

Stage 1: Gilbert win brings early Tour chaos

For a long time, Saturday's Stage 1 looked like a parade, with three drum majors leading the team floats on a quiet (if speedy) processional. Sure, there might have been a Shriner or two who tore their fez, but everyone would stay in line, there would be a quick performance for the stage win, and we would move on to the Stage 2 Team Time Trial for the first blows in the overall competition.

Late in the stage, though, we discovered it was really the parade from Animal House, with Alberto Contador and Sammy Sanchez among the hapless ROTC cadets mowed down by 10,000 marbles, the early unveiling of Leopard-Trek's Fabian “Spartacus Deathmobile” Cancellara, and a swashbuckling appearance from Philippe “Sen. John Blutarsky” Gilbert.

It was Jérémy Roy of FDJ, Perrig Quemeneur of Europcar, and Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil who built a gap that, at times, stretched out to more than 6:00, but were pulled back by long leading pulls by riders from Garmin-Cervelo, Omega Pharma-Lotto, and finally Quemeneur's own Europcar team.

The first appearance of the mid-race intermediate sprint meant that American Tyler Farrar was the first true sprinter to score green jersey points ahead of Andre Greipel, with green jersey favorite Mark Cavendish putting his team on the front but not effectively competing in the sprint.

After the leading trio were absorbed with about 19k in the stage, the pace remained high to the finish. With less than 9 kilometers to ride, an Astana rider trying to widen the narrow French road met up with a spectator trying to widen the quaint French roadside, and the resulting pileup left most of the GC contenders riding in a group of around 40. Caught behind were Alberto Contador, Sammy Sanchez, and Garmin-Cervelo all-rounders Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde, and Tom Danielson.

Radio Shack and BMC immediately moved to the front and lit the afterburners, but Contador's former DS, Radio Shack's Johan Bruyneel told reporters after the stage he didn't know Contador was gapped. A further crash inside of 3 kms to the line made a gumbo of the stage standings, with riders caught in the later crash given the time of the group they were with at the time, and riders caught in the earlier crash losing time picking through the later crash.

Cancellara launched a fierce attack with about a kilometer to ride, but the favorite for the day, Omega Pharma's Philippe Gilbert followed the move he later said he had expected, and pulled away from Cancellara over the last 500 meters, with BMC's GC hope Cadel Evans closing the gap off the front of the field. At the line, Gilbert finally took his first Tour stage, Evans was second, showing he's brought great form to the race, and world champion Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo took third.

In the end, Contador and Sanchez are 1:20 back on the Tour's very first day. That isn't so much for an unheralded rider, who might sneak into a break and make up a handful of minutes, but Contador is the overall favorite, and can't make a move without 10 very strong shadows. Unless Saxo Bank has an unbelievable team time trial tomorrow, Contador will have to make this time up in the mountains.


VeloNews | Philippe Gilbert wins stage 1 of 2011 Tour

CyclingNews | Gilbert conquers Mont des Alouettes

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2011 in 2011 Stage 1, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2009

Stage 19: Cavendish takes five on day for breakaway

Tour de France 2009 Stage Nineteen

Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish got schooled on Thursday, with Thor Hushovd launching a long solo attack that netted 12 points in the green jersey competition. Hushovd looked to be reacting to comments from Cavendish that a Hushovd green jersey would be stained after Cavendish was relegated back in Stage 14.

Saturday, Cavendish responded, as his squad shepherded their sprint ace over the day's biggest climb, the 2nd Category Col de l'Escrinet, despite losing Michael Rogers and Mark Renshaw to the fast finishing pace. Cavendish launched his sprint from a long way out, but held off Hushovd and Gerald Ciolek all the way to the line, to take his 5th stage of the 2009 Tour. No sprinter has won 5 Tour stages since Freddy Maertens in 1981, and Cavendish still has a chance in Sunday's Stage 21 to the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Cavendish also becomes the all-time British leader in stage wins, surpassing Barry Hoban with his 9th career stage win in just two Tour starts.

The day started like a typical transitional stage, with a large group of strong riders away, including Yaroslav Popovych, David Millar, Cadel Evans, José Gutierrez, Leonardo Duque, and 15 others. Rabobank did most of the chasing, since they were one of the teams absent in the break, and first 5 riders, then just Leonardo Duque, would escape the break in an attempt to stay clear of the peloton, riding way ahead of the projected arrival times along the route.

On the day's final climb, the Col de l'Escrinet, Laurent Lefevre launched from very low on the climb, and was matched by world champion Alessandro Ballan, who would survive until the final 2 kilometers, before being reeled in by the surviving 3 Columbia-HTC riders, trying to set up Cavendish, who survived the climb, shadowed by Hushovd.

Hushovd's 2nd place finish limits the damage to his green jersey lead, where he leads Cavendish now 260-235, with 35 points to the winner in Paris on Sunday. Even if Cavendish wins there, Hushovd will be safe in green if he can finish in the first 10 or 15 riders at the finish.

Lance Armstrong was attentive at the finish, and picked up 4 seconds when a gap formed in the field, with Klöden, Wiggins, both Schlecks, and Contador on the wrong side. It's unlikely that 4 seconds will make a difference, but it points up how Armstrong rides this race, always aware of every chance to make or lose time.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2009 in 2009 Stage 19, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, David Millar, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

Schlecks climb onto podium with Stage 17 win

Tour de France 2009 Stage Seventeen

Stage 17 is one that will be remembered for three things: The Schleck brothers finishing together with race leader Alberto Contador more than 2 minutes clear of the field, Thor Hushovd going out on an audacious solo Alpine attack to grab the green jersey by the throat, and a probing attack by Contador late on the stage that triggered an absolute Twit-storm.

Mark Cavendish has criticized Hushovd, who protested the Stage 14 finish, leading to a Cavendish relegation for irregular sprinting. This is nothing unusual -- Hushovd lost the jersey in 2006 partially as a result of a relegation in Stage 4, and won the jersey in 2005 partially due to Robbie McEwen's relegation in Stage X. Cavendish, who features in a Nike campaign that declares “green is my yellow,” said the green jersey would be stained if Hushovd won it through Cav's relegation.

So Hushovd set off on a little jersey-cleaning mission, attacking with Thomas Voeckler over the top of the Col de Roselend to join an early break, then setting off solo over the Col des Saisies and the Côte d'Araches, more than 70k alone, while Cavendish was getting unhitched from the back of the field. With the 12 points collected, Hushovd moves 30 points clear in the green jersey competition, with 35 available in Paris on Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hushovd off the front again on Friday.

The end of Hushovd, early on the Col de Romme, was the end of the break as well, with Saxo Bank stringing out the field for the inevitable attack by Frank and Andy Schleck. Carlos Sastre was the first to attack, but was soon reeled in, with Andy Schleck still sitting near the back of the GC group.

When Frank Schleck attacked, he was quickly joined by Armstrong, Wiggins, Contador, and Andy Schleck, who attacked again, gapping Wiggins, Vande Velde, Armstrong and Frank Schleck. When Schleck launched a bridge move, Armstrong and Wiggins followed. Andy Schleck pushed the pace again, and Wiggins was gapped, with Armstrong alongside. Once again, Frank Schleck jumped the gap, this time alone. The lead group on the road was Contador and Klöden for Astana, and the Schleck brothers for Saxo Bank.

Behind, Christian Vande Velde fought back up to Wiggins, Nibali, and Armstrong, setting pace for several kilometers, but slowly losing ground to the fearsome foursome up front, before Vande Velde fell away. With the gap to Wiggins, Armstrong, and Nibali over 2:00, and 2k to climb on the day's final climb, Contador launched an attack. Klöden, who had been sitting on the back of the group for several kilometers, didn't have the legs to match, and was suddenly 20 seconds back. Contador came off the attack, and spent the rest of the climb looking back for Klöden.

It was a testing attack, one that we would usually see 100 times in a normal Tour, but the Twitterverse exploded. Suddenly, Andreas Klöden was the most popular rider in the peloton and Contador was screwing a beloved teammate. Bruyneel would say after the stage he didn't want Contador to attack, and Armstrong would immediately question Contador's move on Twitter, as well, but it seems like the math is pretty simple: “I've got gas in the tank, most of my rivals are losing time, and if I can drop these two guys, I might take a stage in the yellow jersey and put time in everybody.”

The Schlecks covered and pushed the pace enough to guarantee Klöden wasn't coming back. Meanwhile, Armstrong was on full boil, 5th on the road, riding hard toward Klöden, and towing Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas. They would catch Klöden near the finish, with Nibali taking 4th on the stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2009 in 2009 Stage 17, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2009

Haussler descends to Stage 13 victory

Tour de France 2009 Stage Thirteen

In the words of the immortal Tom T. Hall, I love winners when they cry.

Cervelo Test Team's Heinrich Haussler is 25, and an up-and-coming star. He took Stage 2 at Paris-Nice this year, and was surprised by Mark Cavendish in the last 100 meters, taking 2nd at Milan-San Remo. A lot of pundits had suggested that Cervelo should consider letting Thor Hushovd lead out Haussler, instead of the other way around, but tonight, Cervelo looks pretty smart indeed.

Haussler went in one of the day's first breaks, just 3k out of the blocks, with Christophe Moreau, Jens Voigt, Juan-Manuel Garate, Ruben Perez, Sylvain Chavanel, and Rigoberto Uran, but Garate was highly enough placed that the field wouldn't let him go, so Haussler, Perez, and Chavanel took off after about 60k ridden.

The peloton was happy to let these three go, and the lead kept growing out to around 7:30 with about 85 kilometers ridden. On the day's first climb, Egoi Martinez was able to just nip Franco Pellizotti for KoM points, but on the Platzerwasel Martinez was dropped and Liquigas' Pellizotti would come off the front as the field reached each summit to pick up a few KoM points. The three men up the road prevented Thor Hushovd from doing likewise in the intermediate sprints.

Meanwhile, Perez was dropped by the leaders, and once over the top of the Platzerwasel, Haussler dropped like a rock on the wet roads. He pushed his advantage in just about every mile, prompting our Tweet of the day from Cycle Sport, “It's a good move by Haussler. You could say, a ‘Heinrich manoeuvre.’ ”

Amets Txurruka and Brice Feillu attacked out of the field, gradually closing on the leaders, but Haussler was not going to be caught on this stage, about 30 kilometers from his home. Behind, Chavanel just ran out of gas, and was caught by Txurruka, then Feillu as the riders approached Colmar.

As Haussler came to the line for his first Tour stage win, he was in tears.

Haussler's teammate Thor Hushovd finally could take advantage of Mark Cavendish, riding in the autobus, on the field sprint, but was nicked at the line by Peter Velits of Team Milram. Still, the 15 points for 6th catapulted Hushovd back into the green jersey for tomorrow.

Top 10:
1) Heinrich Haussler, Cervelo Test Team, in 4:56:26
2) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 4:10
3) Brice Feillu, Agritubel, at 6:12
4) Sylvain Chavanel, Quick Step, at 6:30
5) Peter Velits, Team Milram, at 6:46
6) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, same time
7) Vladimir Efmikin, AG2R, s.t.
8) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
9) George Hincapie, Columbia-HTC, s.t.
10) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, 53:30:30
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :06
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :08
4) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :46
5) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :54
6) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 1:00
7) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:24
8) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:49
9) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:54
10) Luis Leon Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, at 2:16

Thanks to Fritz at Cyclelicious, who turned me on to PicApp, a new service to use editorial art on your weblog. That's the provider for the Haussler picture above; you can click on the Gallery button to go to a Stage 13 gallery from Getty Images and others.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2009 in 2009 Stage 13, Amets Txurruka, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Brice Feillu, Egoi Martinez, Franco Pellizotti, George Hincapie, Heinrich Haussler, Mark Cavendish, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2009

Sorensen adds some sizzle in Stage 12 win

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 14, 2009

Cavendish delivers a perfect 10

Cav for 3
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Mark Cavendish continued his dominance of the Tour's sprint stages, taking his third victory in three contested sprints this year.

The expected Bastille Day breakaway featured three French riders: Samuel Dumoulin of Cofidis, who never met a break he didn't like, Benoit Vaugrenard of Française des Jeux, and Thierry Hupond of the “little wildcard who could” Skil-Shimano squad, plus Katusha's Mikhail Ignatiev.

With radios banned for the stage, the peloton never let the break get more than about 4 minutes up the road, and made the catch with less than 2 kilometers to ride, after a day raced at touring club speeds, as things picked up for the finish.

Garmin-Slipstream tried to disrupt the Columbia-HTC train, with Julian Dean squeezing in on the day's last right-hander, but Mark Renshaw led Cavendish in, and Thor Hushovd, perfectly positioned on Cavendish's rear wheel, never closed the gap to the Manxman.

Garmin-Slipstream's Tyler Farrar was 3rd on the stage. A break in the field cost quite a few riders 15 seconds in the overall. No changes to jerseys (Cavendish is now down only 6 in the green jersey hunt), while Hupond was “most aggressive rider” on the “least aggressive Tour stage” of recent memory.

Cavendish can equal his stage win total from last year's Tour with a win in Stage 11 tomorrow, which would also tie him with Barry Hoban for most career Tour wins by a Brit.

Hoban won his stages over 8 Tours, the last in 1975. Cavendish is in only his 2nd Tour.

Stage 10 Top 10:
1) Mark Cavendish, Columbia-HTC, 4:46:43
2) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, same time
3) Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
4) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
5) Jose Rojas, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
6) Lloyd Mondory, AG2R-La Mondiale, s.t.
7) Kenny Van Hummel, Skil-Shimano, s.t.
8) William Bonnet, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
9) Daniele Bennati, Liquigas, s.t.
10) Said Haddou, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, 39:11:04
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :06
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :08
4) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :54
5) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :54
6) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 1:00
7) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:01
8) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:24
9) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:49
10) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:54

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2009 in 2009 Stage 10, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 11, 2009

Stage 8: Sanchez loves Saint-Girons

AP Photo by Bogdan Cristel

Today's Stage 8 was one for the breakaway men, while two contenders launched testing attacks that ultimately came to nothing.

On the day's first big climb, right out of the gate, Cadel Evans set off, with Vladimir Efimkin, David Zabriskie, Egoi Martinez, and Christophe Kern in pursuit of Sandy Casar. The group would grow to include Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, and Thor Hushovd, who had seen Mark Cavendish off the back, and collected enough intermediate sprint points to take the green jersey for tomorrow.

The presence of Evans in the break put Astana on the defensive, and they slowly reeled it in. Cancellara exchanged words with Cadel Evans, and the broadcasters felt he was accusing Evans of not working, but I think Cancellara wanted Evans to go back to the field, and give the fairly strong escape a chance to make a break that could stick (Evans confirmed on his site: “Pro cyclists start carrying on like 3 y.o's in a temper tantrum when a G.C contender in their break is no longer to their advantage. Oh well, that's racing, and a little bit to do with why you don't often see serious GC threats in breaks - usually a waste of energy... Landis and Rasmussen have been the exceptions in the last few years.”) As Evans was recaptured, Luis Leon Sanchez and Mikhail Inatiev bridged to the escape, which was finally given some room to roam by the peloton.

Later, early on the climb of the Col d'Agnes, Andy and Frank Schleck turned up the heat, shedding riders faster than Rock Racing, Yellow jersey Rinaldo Nocentini was among those dropped, but none of the overall contenders, so the Schlecks came off the front and the peloton reformed.

As the climb progressed, the leading group shrank, until over the top, 4 riders rode alone at the front of the stage: Sanchez, Efimkin, Mikel Astarloza, and Sandy Casar. Efimkin refused to work in the break, since his teammate Nocentini could potentially lose his race lead if the break gained 4:10 on the field, so he looked to the freshest on the run-in.

With 5k, Astarloza was the first to attack. When Sanchez responded, Efimkin went hard up the left curb, and gained about 5 seconds on his former breakmates. Closing to the line, it looked like Efimkin might have the stamina to hold the trio off to the line, but well into the final kilometer, Sanchez finally got across.

As he did, Casar attacked hard, but Sanchez expected it, grabbed his wheel, checked the back door for Astarloza or Efimkin, and powered by for the stage win.

The field came in at 1:54, led in by Sanchez teammate Jose Rojas.

Stage 8 Top 10
1) Luis-Leon Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, 4:31:50
2) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, same time
3) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, same time
4) Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, at :03
5) Jose Rojas, Caisse d'Epargne, at 1:54
6) Christophe Riblon, AG2R-La Mondiale, same time
7) Peter Velits, Team Milram, s.t.
8) Sebastien Minard, Cofidis, s.t.
9) Jeremy Roy, Française des Jeux, s.t.
10) Thomas Voeckler, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

General Classification
1) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, 30:18:16
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :06
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :08
4) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :39
5) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :46
6) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :54
7) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 1:00
8) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:24
9) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:49
10) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:54

The King of the Mountains jersey also changes hands, moving over to Christophe Kern of Cofidis.

Astana falls out of the team classification lead, now trailing AG2R-La Mondiale by a scant 3 seconds.


CyclingNews.com | Sanchez wins Tour's second day in Pyrenees | photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | 2009 Tour de France Stage 8 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2009 in 2009 Stage 8, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Luis Sanchez, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tour de France 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 8 on the road

VS broadcaster picks: Liggett - Andy Schleck, Hummer - Kim Kirchen, Sherwen - Franco Pellizoti, Roll - Luis Leon Sanchez

Cadel Evans went almost from the gun, joined by David Zabriskie, Vladimir Efimkin, Fabian Cancellara. With Mark Cavendish dropped on the climb to Port l'Envalira, Thor Hushovd would join this group with an eye toward the intermediate sprints.

1st Category Port d'Envalira
1) Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux +15 pts
2) Christophe Kern, Cofidis +13 pts
3) Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +11 pts
4) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, +9 pts
5) Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R, +8
6) David Zabriksie, Garmin-Slipstream, +7
7) Juan Antonio Flecha, Rabobank, +6
6) George Hincapie, Columbia, +5 pts

Kern currently leads the King of the Mountains competition.

With the advantage vanishing on the descent, Juan Antonio Flecha attacked to shed marked men Evans and Martinez. Soon after, Evans, Zabriskie, Kern, and Martinez would be recaptured, leaving 6 riders out in front: Cancellara, Flecha, Casar, Efimkin, Hincapie, and Hushovd.

Hincapie led on the approach to the intermediate sprint in Luzenac, but Hushovd attacked and took 6 pounts as first man through.

Luzenac sprint:
1) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, +6 pts
2) George Hincapie, Columbia, +4 pts
3) Juan Antonio Flecha, Rabobank +2 pts

After Luzenac, a number of riders bridged to the leaders, including Mikel Astarloza. Luis Leon Sanchez, Sebastien Rosseler, and Mikhail Ignatiev, so with around 100k/63 miles to ride, 10 riders had about :40 on the field.

Tarascon-sur-Ariege sprint:
1) Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team, +6 pts
2) George Hincapie, Columbia, +4 pts
3) Fabian Cancellara, Saxo Bank, +2 pts

Hushovd moved to 11 points clear of Mark Cavendish in the green jersey competition.

As the 10 leaders began the climb of the Col de Port, they had about 2:20 on the main field, moving slowly enough that the sprinters' group rejoined from behind.

With 90k ridden, Oscar Pereiro of Caisse d'Epargne pulled out of the race. Pereiro was awarded the 2006 Tour title when Floyd Landis was disqualified for illegal testosterone levels.

In the last few kms to the summit of the Col de Port, Hushovd fell out of the break, followed by Rosseler. The remaining 8: Cancellara, Flecha, Casar, Ignatiev, Sanchez, Hincapie, Efimkin, and Astarloza.

2nd Category Col de Port
1) Casar, Française des Jeux +10 pts
2) Ignatiev, Katusha, +9 pts
3) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +8 pts
4) Flecha, Rabobank, +7 pts
5) Cancellara, Saxo Bank, +6 pts
6) Efimkin, AG2R, +5 pts

Rosseler would rejoin the break in time for the climb to the Col d'Agnes, but Hushovd's day in front was over. On teh day's final climb, the time gap began shrinking, falling below 2 minutes with around 60 kilometers/37 miles to ride.

The Col d'Agnes shook things up, as Andy Schleck launched an attack low on the climb, dropping Nocentini and whittling the contenders group down to around 15. Ultimately, the two groups reintegrated, but only after sweeping up a few of the earlier breakaway.

1st Category Col d'Agnes
1) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +15 pts
2) Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, +13 pts
3) Efimkin, AG2R, +11 pts
4) Casar, FdJeux, +9 pts, at :18
5) Hicapie, Columbia, +7 pts, at 1:28
6) Pierre Rolland, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +6 pts, at 2:05
7) Haimar Zubeldia, Astana, 6 pts, at 2:45
8) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, 5 pts, same time

Those results guarantee that Christophe Kern will be the new King of the Mountains tonight, deposing Brice Feillu.

On the descent, Casar quickly rejoined the three stage leaders, while George Hincapie attempted to do likewise. After a few kilometers, Hincapie sat up and left just Astarloza, Casar, Efimkin, and Sanchez leading the stage.

Vic d'Oust Sprint
1) Casar, Française des Jeux, +6 pts
2) Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne, +4 pts
3) Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +2 pts

The first attack in the breakaway came at 5k to go, as Mikel Astarloza, who has never won a single day event (a stage or one-day race), tried to get free. He was countered immediately by Sandy Casar, but Sanchez had to pull across a small gap with Efimkin on his wheel. As they caught up, Efimkin went hard up the left-hand side of the road, and took about a 5 second lead.

Efimkin's timing was perfect. The chasers didn't want to do the work to tow their breakmates up to Efimkin, only to lose a sprint, but they soon got together and, with Astarloza doing the majority of the chasing, the slowly reeled Efimkin back.

The final catch didn't come until the last kilometer, with Sanchez leading the catch. Casar chose that moment to go all-out to the line, but Sanchez was alert and covered Casar, then beat him to the finish line for the stage win.

The peloton, with Rinaldo Nocentini in place, rolled in at 1:54.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2009 in 2009 Stage 9, Andy Schleck, George Hincapie, Luis Sanchez, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 09, 2009

Stage 6 on the road

Today's stage is 181.5 miles/112.8 miles, from Girona, where many US cyclists have been based in Europe, to Barcelona.

With Robert Gesink's broken wrist, 177 riders took the start, in rainy conditions.

Two 3rd Category climbs are the first on the Tour, so there's a good chance that Jussi Veikkanen's time in the polka-dots will come to an end.

There's a bit of a sting in the tail to today's stage, with the final categorized climb (if only a 4th Category) at 22 kilometers/13 miles to ride. There's also a 500-meter springboard at 2 k to ride that might play a role.

4th Category Côte de Sant Feliu de Guixols
1) Botcharov, Katusha, +3
2) Zabriskie, Garmin-Slipstream, +2
3) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +1

A 3-man break formed with Garmin-Slipstream's David Millar, Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel, and Cofidis' Stéphane Auge. These guys are all leaders on their squads, if not necessarily their team's Tour captain.

4th Category Côte de Tossa de Mar
1) Auge, Cofidis, +3 pts
2) Chavanel, Quick Step, +2 pts
3) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +1 pt

Sprint 1, Lloret de Mar:
1) Chavanel, Quick Step, +3 pts
2) Auge, Cofidis, +2 pts
3) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +1 pt

Sprint 2, Sant Pol de Mar:
1) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +6 pts
2) Chavanel, Quick Step, +4 pts
3) Auge, Cofidis, +2 pts

As the peloton neared the top of the race's first 3rd Category climb, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Amets Txurruka, last year's overall most aggressive rider for the Tour, went off the front of the main field.

3rd Category Côte de Sant Vincenc de Montalt
1) Auge, Cofidis, +4 pts
2) Chavanel, Quick Step, +3 pts
3) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +2 pts
4) Amets Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +1 pt, at ~:50

Astana has moved to the front on the descent, and Txurruka continued to attempt to bridge to the escape. On the 3rd Category Collsacreu, Txurruka closed the gap, but Auge, looking to take over the King of the Mountains jersey, drove the trio, and they hit the top a few seconds clear, so Auge should take over the polka-dots tonight.

3rd Category Collsacreu
1) Auge, Cofidis, +4 pts
2) Chavanel, Quick Step, +3 pts
3) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +2 pts
4) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +1 pt, at ~:10

On the descent, Txurruka joined Auge, Chavanel, and Millar, and the gap stretched back out to around 1:45.

With 50k/31 miles to ride, the gap is 1:35.

Cardedeu sprint:
1) Chavanel, Quick Step, +6 pts
2) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +4 pts
3) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +2 pts

As the leading quartet approached the day's last categorized climb with around :50 on the field, a crash on a roundabout took down Columbia's Michael Rogers and Tony Martin, Cervelo's Heinrich Haussler, and Garmin-Slipstream's Tyler Farrar. Rogers was very slow to get back on his bike.

At almost the same time, Millar dropped his breakaway companions, and quickly pushed his advantage back out around a minute. Just at 25 minutes to go, Auge and Chavanel were recaptured by the field, but Txurruka continued between Millar and the field.

At the summit, Millar led, with Txurruka close behind, and Cofidis sent Remi Pauriol, apparently to keep anyone from picking up ground on Auge in the KoM competition.

4th Category Côte de la Conreria
1) Millar, Garmin-Slipstream, +3 pts
2) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +2 pts
3) Pauriol, Cofidis, +1 pt

Over the top, Pauriol continued the attack, and bridged to Txurruka, while Astana controlled the pace in the field. Millar pushed his advantage until it again just touched 1:06, making him the yellow jersey on the road. Pauriol and Txurruka rode :45 back.

As the riders rolled into Barcelona, Millar continued to drive it, giving up a few seconds per kilometer. With 11k, he had 1:11. At 7 kilometers, :45. On the run-in, Tom Boonen tangled with a white line (if I had a dollar for every time...), and was out of contention for the day.

Milram and Columbia moved to the front, and Millar's lead continued to erode. With 5k, it was :37; at 3k, :23. Just inside 2k, a 6.6 percent grade did the Garmin-Chipotle in. With 1.2 kilometers to ride, he was caught.

Cavendish was still in the lead group, but it looked to be Kim Kirchen that Columbia tipped today, with Tony Martin providing the lead-out. Around them, the sport's punchers: those guys with Classics-style power and speed, including Pippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, Gerald Ciolek, Thor Hushovd, and Oscar Freire.

Feillu was first to go, tailed by Freire, when Thor Hushovd shot through on the left. Freire and Hushovd drag-raced to the line, with Hushovd getting the win.

It was Hushovd's 7th career victory in the Tour, and threatened Cavendish's hold on the green jersey. Adding 35 for the stage win Hushovd holds 105 points, just 1 fewer than Cavendish. Gerald Ciolek sits 3rd.

General classification is largely unchanged, although David Millar slipped from 10th to 20th, at 2:28.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2009 in 2009 Stage 6, Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2008

Oscar wild on Stage 14

Rabobank's Oscar Freire extended his lead in the green jersey race in the sweetest way possible, with a stage win at Digne les Bains.

A late climb marooned 4-stage winner Mark Cavendish in a 2nd group, so his Team Columbia worked instead for Kim Kirchen, but to no avail. Erik Zabel was well-placed, following Marcus Burghardt into the final 300 meters, but when Freire got his cranks turning, he easily outdistanced Zabel and Leonardo Duque for his 4th career stage victory.

Freire extended his green jersey lead, as Thor Hushovd could manage only 10th on the day.

Stage 14 Top 10:
1. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, in 4:13:08
2. Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, same time
3. Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
4. Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.
5. Steven de Jongh, QuickStep, Netherlands, s.t.
6. Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
7. Ruben Perez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, s.t.
8. Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France, s.t.
9. Matteo Tossato, QuickStep, Italy, s.t.
10. Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.

Overall standings are, once again, unchanged. That will probably change tomorrow.

General Classification, after Stage 13:
1. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, in 59:01:55
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ :01
3. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :38
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ :46
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ :57
6. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Span, @ 1:28
7. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:56
8. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 2:32
9. Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 3:51
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ 4:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2008 in 2008 Stage 14, Erik Zabel, Julian Dean, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

Manx cat pounces again: Cavendish takes 4th stage win

Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish continues to dominate the sprints of this year's Tour, today riding away from the field to take his 4th stage win of the 2008 Tour.

It was clearly a day for the sprinters, but former French champion Florent Brard and Milram's Belgian track star Niki Terpstra spent most of the day in a breakaway that took top points at all the day's intermediate climbs and sprints.

Milram, Liquigas and Columbia powered the peloton in the final kilometers, but the orderly leadout trains tangled up in the last 1000 meters, leaving a classic field sprint.

Silence-Lotto's Robbie McEwen, who has been largely invisible so far this year, marked the Manxman's wheel in the final 200 meters, but just couldn't ramp up the horsepower to get by Cavendish. It's the 6th career stage win for Cavendish, just 22.

Top 10, Stage 13:
1. Mark Cavendish, Columbia, Great Britain, in 4:25:42
2. Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto, Australia, same time
3. Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
4. Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
5. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
6. Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
7. Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, s.t.
8. Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
9. Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.
10. Sebastian Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.

Freire will extend his gap on Thor Hushovd in the green jersey race, while Cavendish moves into a tie with Hushovd at 2nd.

Niki Terpstra takes the aggressive rider red number for today's stage.

The overall is unchanged, as well.

General Classification, after Stage 13:
1. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, in 56:48:47
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ :01
3. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :38
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ :46
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ :57
6. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Span, @ 1:28
7. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:56
8. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 2:32
9. Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 3:51
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ 4:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2008 in 2008 Stage 13, Erik Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2008

Cavendish makes good on Stage 5

Legendary Tour de France commentator Joe Namath once said, “It's not bragging if you can do it.”

That's the motto for today's stage, the first (but doubtful the last) won by Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish.

Everybody and his brother thought today was a stage for Mark Cavendish. Team manager Bob Stapleton was even talking about whether his Team Columbia would be able to get help chasing down the breaks today.

It's insanely difficult for a sprinter to pick his stage -- it's so easy for someone to grab his wheel, and slingshot by for the win at the line. But Cavendish delivered the win in a finish complicated by the catch, at 50 meters (!) of French champion Nicolas Vogondy, who spent all day in the break.

Stage 5 results
1) Mark Cavendish, Columbia, Great Britain
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, same time
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
5) Baden Cooke, Barloworld, Australia, s.t.
6) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, s.t.
7) Leonardo “El” Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, s.t
8) Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto, Australia, s.t.
9) Francesco Chicchi, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
10) Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.

There was essentially no change in the yellow, white, or polka-dot jersey competition, but Thor Hushovd takes over the green with his 4th on the stage.

General Classification after Stage 5
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, in 19:32:33
2) Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ :12
3) David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Great Britain, @ :12
4) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ :21
5) Fabian Cancellara, CSC-Saxo Bank, Switzerland, @ :33
6) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :37
7) Georgie Hincapie, Team Columbia, USA, @ :41
8) Thomas Lövkvist, Team Columbia, Sweden, @ :47
9) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ :58
10) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:01

Out of the race today was Maurcio Soler of Barloworld. Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler took a serious spill with less than 4 kms to ride, but finished the stage 6:30 behind Cavendish.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2008 in 2008 Stage 5, Baden Cooke, Erik Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 06, 2008

Hushovd bags Stage 2

Another select sprint, and a 6th career stage win for the God of Thunder, Thor Hushovd.

With 1 kilometer to go, Fabian Cancellara attacked strongly, and was countered by Filippo Pozzatto, who won here on Stage 7 in 2004. But the two opportunists couldn't hold off the sprint specialists, and were caught up by a strong group that included Alejandro Valverde, Kim Kirchen, Jerome Pineau, and Thor Hushovd.

When Hushovd launched, Team Columbia tried to follow, but Kim Kirchen couldn't quite match Hushovd.

Stage 2:
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole
2) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, same time
3) Gerald Ciolek, Team Columbia, s.t.
4) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, s.t.
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
6) Yury Trofimov, AG2R, s.t.
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
8) Jimmy Casper, Agritubel, s.t.
9) Martin Elminger, AG2R, s.t.
10) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.

Kirchen moves up into the green jersey lead, the first jersey for Team Columbia, while Thomas Voeckler takes undisputed lead in the King of the Mountains competition.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2008 in 2008 Stage 2, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2007

Stage 12: Boonen finds a bonus

Most commentators saw today's stage as a long breakaway or a sprint from a select group, with a 2nd-Category climb about 45 kilometers/28 miles from the finish.

But things didn't follow the script. A long breakaway by Euskaltel-Euskadi's Amets Txurruka and Bouygues Telecom's Pierrick Fedrigo looked like it might stay away, but after the day's big climb, Lampre and Française des Jeux, both still seeking stage wins, powered the chase along a plateau and down into Castres.

By the time Txurruka and Fedrigo were caught, just outside of 1 kilometer to ride, Quick Step was setting up the blue train for Boonen, peeling its riders off one by one, and keeping the pace high enough that no one could counter.

Boonen came off of Gert Steegmans' wheel with around 200 meters to ride, and Erik Zabel and Robbie Hunter, trailing Belgium's former world champion, launched to either side of Boonen. Neither could match Boonen's finishing speed, and he took his 2nd stage win of the 2007 Tour.

Boonen also pads his lead in the green jersey competition, where his 195 points lead Robbie Hunter's 175 and Zabel's 174, with Thor Hushovd a distant 4th with 132.

Stage 12 Top 10:
1) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, same time
3) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, s.t.
4) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
6) Bernhard Eisel, T-Mobile, Austria, s.t.
7) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
8) Nicolas Jalabert, Agritubel, France, s.t.
9) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
10) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.

No significant changes to the overall standings.

Overall Standings after Stage 12:
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 57:37:10
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) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:39
7) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
8) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
9) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 5:20

Stef Clement of Bouygues Telecom finished outside the time limit, after a crash at 35 kilometers.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2007 in 2007 Stage 12, Erik Zabel, Robbie Hunter, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Stage 11: At last, Robbie Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2007

Stage 4: Hushovd holds off Hunter

Thor Hushovd took his 1st victory of the season on Stage 4 of the Toru de France today. Hushovd's teammate Julian Dean provided an incredible leadout to put Hushovd in perfect position to outlast a charging Robbie Hunter at the line.

It was Hushovd's 5th career stage win, at the end of a chaotic sprint, that followed a day-long breakaway by 5 men: Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Christian Knees of Milram, and Gorko Verduga of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Top 10:
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway
2) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, same time
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
4) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
5) Danilo Napolitano, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
6) Gert Steegmans, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
7) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
8) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
9) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
10) Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile, Great Britain, s.t.

The stage bonus moves Hushovd up to 2nd in the overall classifcation, and Sylvain Chavanel (brother of 9th place Sebastien Chavanel of FdJeux) collected some time throughout the stage to move up to 6th in the GC.

Caisse d'Epargne's Xabier Zandio was involved in a crash, the 2nd significant crash of the Tour for him, and broke his collarbone. He exited the Tour during today's stage, leaving 186 riders in competition.

GC Top 10:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, at :29
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at :33
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain, at :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, at :43
6) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, at :43
7) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, at :33
8) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, at :45
9) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, at :46
10) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at :46

Tom Boonen holds the green jersey, but still lacks a stage win, while Stéphane Augé holds the King of the Mountains jersey for another day, with some real climbs arriving tomorrow.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 4 on the road

A five-man breakaway, including Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Gorka Verdugo of Euskaltel, and Christian Knees of Milram, is away. Their lead has yo-yoed out to 4 minutes, back almost to 2 minutes, and is gradually extending beyond 3 minutes to 3:15 with about 100 kilometers/63 miles to ride.

With 80 kilometers to ride, the gap is 3:49. I doubt the peloton will let the capture go to the last kilometer today, but this is a high-quality break. Flecha won a stage in 2003 out of a 3-man break.

With 55 kms, the gap is 1:55.

Sylvain Chavanel has been picking up bonus time at the intermediate sprints, and will move up the leaderboard tonight. He's also kept the polka-dot jersey of teammate Stéphane Augé from being attacked over 4 minor climbs, and moved up in the competition himself.

At 33 kilometers, it's 1:37. I don't think the sprinters' teams will wait until the last kilometer today, not after yesterday's surprise attack by Fabian Cancellara.

With 25 kms/16 miles, the gap has fallen under a minute.

At 15 kms/10 miles the leading 5 are almost in site, just 50 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Predictor-Lotto, Lampre, and Quick Step are leading the chase for their sprinters.

With 10kms/6.2 miles, the gap is only 20 seconds. A few hundred meters later, the break splinters, as Matthieu Sprick attacks. Flecha and Knees match him, and Sylvain Chavanel and Gorka Verdugo are reabsorbed by the peloton. Knees attacks, matched again by Flecha, but the two can't hold out against the field, and with 7 kms to ride, they're captured.

It's a classic sprinters finish, with a wide boulevard to finish, and the teams with a sprint threat all make an appearance on the front of the field in the last kms. Quick Step is the last to drive the field, with around a kilometer to ride, and then, the field fractures into 3-4 little trains, and there's Julian Dean leading the fastest of them, and he pulls off, and Thor Hushovd goes hard for the line, Robbie Hunter closes in, and it's Hushovd at the line! Hunter 2nd, Rabobank's Oscar Freire 3rd.

The best way to follow the stage and the site in real time is to subscribe to my Tour de France Twitter feed, which you can route to your IM client or cell phone. It's also being featured at the Ubilabs Tour de France tracker which brings together heart rate, GPS, and Google Maps data on each stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2007

Stage 1: Rapid Robbie scratches for the win

Struck from behind while waiting for a crash to clear with about 20 kms/12.5 miles to ride, Robbie McEwen went over the bars, injuring his wrist. Adding insult, he then had to organize a chase to get back to the peloton, and only hooked back up with less than 5 miles to ride.

But it apparently takes more than that to slow the fastest man on two wheels, who struck like lightning in the stage's last 200 meters, whipping the other sprinters' Canterbury tails. From at least 10 places back, McEwen catapulted past Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd and won with a bike length to spare.

It was McEwen's 12th career Tour stage win, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Tom Boonen.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, 4:39:01
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, same time
3) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
4) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
3) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
6) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
8) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, Germany, s.t.
9) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.
10) Tomas Vaitkus, Discovery Channel, Lithuania, s.t.

McEwen said he landed on his knee, hand, and wrist in the fall. “At first, I couldn't bend my leg,” he said. “The guys rode like a team time trial to get me back in the bunch” for 13 or 15 kilometers, finally catching up in the last 5 miles of the stage.

McEwen takes over the green jersey, David Millar takes the cheap King of the Mountains, and Vladimir Gusev holds the white jersey.

Overall standings after Stage 1:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland 4:47:51
2) Andreas Kloden, Astana, Germany, @ :13
3) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain, @ :21
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :23
5) Brad Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, @ :23
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ :25
7) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ :26
8) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, @ :29
9) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ :30
10) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, @ :31

There are 188 riders left, after Eduardo Gonzalo of Agritubel crashed through the rear window of a Caisse d'Epargne team car, and had to leave the race.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (7)

Stage 1 on the road

Agritubel's Eduardo Gonzalo is the first man out of the 2007 Tour. He apparently touched wheels with someone and is out of the Tour almost before it's begun.

David Millar is trying to make good on his promise yesterday to win a Tour stage, and he wants it as soon as possible: He was solo off the front earlier, and now is part of a 5-man group. He's taken maximum sprint points at 2 intermediate sprints. Also in the break are Andrey Grivko, Freddy Bichot, Stephane Auge, and Aleksandr Kuschynski.

Millar has updated his rider diary over at Bicycling.com with his reaction to the Prologue.

With less than 80 kilometers/50 miles to ride, the break is about 5:50 ahead of the peloton.

CSC leads the chase, which is suddenly making some progress -- the gap is now 5:20.

With 74 kms/45 miles to ride, the gap is down to 4:45.

Credit Agricole, Quick Step, and Predictor-Lotto have put riders on the front to reel in the 5 leaders, with less than 40 miles to ride, the gap has fallen below 3:00.

Day's last intermediate sprint points go to Kuschynski (6), Bichot (4), and Grivko (2). The peloton rolls through 2:35 behind.

Auge, Bichot and Kuschynski raise the pace, and Grivko and Millar can't hang, so the 5 are now 3 with less than a 2:00 advantage, and less than 30 miles/49kms to ride.

Grivko and Millar are caught, and the gap hovers at 2:00. The sprinters' teams don't want to swallow the 3 breakaway riders too soon, which would just encourage another breakaway. On the other hand, David Millar leads the King of the Mountains competion, unless Freddy Bichot takes points at the final 4th-Category climb of the day, so Saunier Duval now is helping on the front of the peloton. Less than 24 miles/40kms to ride, and the gap is down to just over a minute.

With 27k/17m to ride, Bichot and Kuschynski are caught, and Auge has increased the advantage to 27 seconds. Auge will take over the KoM jersey if he's first over the upcoming climb and Millar doesn't take points there. Augé does his part, but Millar is next across, so David Millar will wear the King of the Mountains jersey tomorrow. Augé is captured.

Mark Cavendish and Robbie McEwen have been isolated by a crash or mechanicals. They're chasing along with about 20 other riders, with Quick Step driving the field and less than 10k to ride.

McEwen has caught the back of the field, but it remains to be seen whether he can thread his way through the field and figure in the sprint. We're at 4 miles to ride.

With 2 k to ride, Milram takes over from QuickStep, setting up 6-time green jersey Erik Zabel.

Into the last kilometer, and Zabel, Bennati, and Boonen are up front. Now there goes Robbie Hunter of Barloworld, with a Discovery rider in his wake. He's building a good lead, but he's gone from way out, and as he fades, here comes Robbie McEwen, appearing out of the crowd as always, and he rockets to the win!

Top Five was 1) McEwen, 2) Hushovd, 3) Boonen, 4) Sebastien Chavanel, 5) Feilleu.

To follow my comments alongside the Tour broadcast, or to keep up in real-time, I recommend my Tour de France Twitter updates -- there's no RSS lag, and you can get updates direct to your mobile phone with SMS.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2007 in David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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

February 14, 2007

Tour of California rosters released

Amgen Tour of California | 2007 Rider Roster Announced

I am going to hate missing the Tour of California. With the obvious exception of Floyd Landis, fans will get to see pretty much every American racing in the ProTour, and many of the world's best riders will be racing in the US for the first time.

The race, kicking off Sunday, will feature the winners of 4 stages and the prologue of the 2006 Tour de France: Thor Hushovd, who took the prologue and Stage 21, CSC's Jens Voigt, Stage 13, Michael (Spider) Rasmussen, who dominated the Alpine climbs and won Stage 16 and the king of the mountains, and Matteo Tosatto, who won Stage 18.

You want Americans? They got 'em: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, and Jason McCartney from Discovery Channel; Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Christian Vandevelde from Team CSC; Freddie Rodriguez and Chris Horner from Predictor-Lotto; Aaron Olson, now with T-Mobile; and of course the US-based Pro Continental and Continental teams, mostly populated by US riders.

You want ProTour royalty? They got 'em: World champion Paolo Bettini, world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, reigning Giro champion Ivan Basso, and former world TT champion Michael Rogers.

There are also lots of old faces on new teams, as with Michael Barry, Greg Henderson and Jakob Piil, all now with T-Mobile, Juan-José Haedo, dominant in US sprints last year, and now racing for CSC, and Henk Vogels, now racing for the Continental Toyota-United squad.

Also, injured Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin, whose recovery continues, plans to ride each stage noncompetitively and visit with fans at the start and finish. He's also promoting a ride March 31st in Dalton, Ga. called Raisin Hope.

Should be a heck of a race.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 14, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Igor Astarloa, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Saul Raisin, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2006

Hushovd adds Paris to Strasbourg; Landis triumphs

Two lions top the podiumA late escape attempt by Discovery Channel may have overcooked Robbie McEwen, as Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd easily outsprinted Davitamon-Lotto's sprint king to take the final stage of the 2006 Tour de France. CSC's Stuart O'Grady, recovering from a fractured spine suffered early in the race, took 3rd on the day.

Hushovd completed an unusual set of bookends, winning the Prologue time trial 3 weeks ago yesterday and now taking the final stage into Paris.

Floyd Landis stayed near the front early and stayed out of the dicey sprint at the end to nail down his first-ever Tour de France victory, finishing 69th on the day, 8 seconds behind Hushovd. It's the 8th straight US win of the race, after Lance Armstrong's 7 consecutive wins.

McEwen can take some solace from his 3rd green jersey win, resulting from his 3 stage wins.

Michael Rasmussen's tremendous breakaway win to La Toussuire, overshadowed by Landis's attack the following day, shot him to the lead, and the overall win, in the climber's polka-dot jersey competition.

Damiano Cunego, already a winner of the Giro d'Italia, takes the best young rider's white jersey, just 38 seconds ahead of Marcus Fothen of Gerolsteiner. The pair were about 90 minutes ahead of the next competitor in the under-25 competition.

Saunier Duval's David de la Fuente, the climbing jersey leader until Rasmussen's big day out front, takes the overall “most combative rider” prize.

Landis took his final yellow jersey of the Tour with his daughter Ryan on the podium.

Post-race interview with Frankie Andreu: Landis says, “Right now, I have no intention of switching teams.” Leaves a little wiggle room, but sounds like the iShares team (as Phonak will be called next year) has its Tour captain for 2007.

Top 10:
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, in 3:56:52
2) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, same time
3) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, Australia, s.t.
4) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
5) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
6) Samuel Dumoulin, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, Austria, s.t.
8) Anthony Geslin, Bouyges Telecom, France, s.t.
9) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
10) Peter Wrolich, Gerolsteiner, Austria, s.t.
Stage results

1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, in 89:39:30
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :57
3) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 1:29
4) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:13
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 5:08
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 7:06
7) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 8:41
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 9:37
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 12:05
10) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 15:07
Final overall standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Erik Dekker, Floyd Landis, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Oscar Pereiro, Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 20 on the road

For the first and only time this Tour, OLN's “Pre-Race Coverage” actually starts before today's stage. There are two 4th-Category “climbs” on the day, but they'll have no impact on the climber's jersey race, which will be won by Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen. Similarly, there are two intermediate sprint lines and bonus points at the stage finish, but they'll have no impact on the sprinter's jersey race, to be won for a 3rd time by Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen. French champion Florent Brard of Caisse d'Epargne couldn't start this morning after breaking his hand during yesterday's time trial. Robbie Hunter of Phonak also doesn't start, as he finished outside the time limit yesterday. That means 139 riders start Stage 19. Landis sips champagne in yellowAs retiring Tour director Jean-Marie LeBlanc signals the end of the neutral zone, Landis and Pereiro ride side-by-side. White jersey Damiano Cunego rides just behind, next to Viatcheslav Ekimov, today finishing his 15th Tour de France. Fifteen starts, fifteen finishes. Robbie McEwen in the green jersey rides at the field's left front with Michael Rasmussen. Photos all around, as riders and the journalists get photos of all the jersey leaders. Landis poses with the obligatory flute of champagne, Phonak poses stretched across the road in front of the field, and riders chat peacefully in the peloton. The 4 jerseysWith 110 kilometers to ride, Michael Rasmussen comes to the head of the Phonak parade, and leads the field over the day's first little climb, to increase his polka-dot jersey lead. He's got 166 points, while Landis teammates Moerenhout and Grabsch are 2nd and 3rd. Some idiot is standing in the middle of the road; the riders smoothly split and go around, but that's the sort of thing that can quickly change the face of the Tour. At the second 4th-Category climb, it's Victor Hugo Peña of Phonak ahead of CSC's Fränk Schleck and Caisse d'Epargne's David Arroyo. With that, the climbing competition is over: Rasmussen 166, Landis 131, David de la Fuente 113. As they approach the first sprint line of the day, Robbie McEwen rides out of the pack on teammate and lanterne rouge Wim Vansevenant's wheel. As they near the line, McEwen pulls alongside, and pushes Vansevenant across the line first. Then McEwen, then Victor Hugo Peña, leading the peloton at the head of the Phonak team. Vansevenant picks up 6 bonus seconds, narrowing the battle for the last-placed rider: he's now only 10 seconds behind Jimmy Caspar of Cofidis. The pace is picking up, and Phonak is leading the peloton to the Champs-Elysees for the 1st circuit. Discovery Channel's Viatcheslav Ekimov comes to the front and leads the field to the Place de la Concorde, in recognition of his 15th Tour finish. He's ridden 36,000 miles in the Tour alone. Eki goes back into the field, and quickly we have our first attack; Bouyges Telecom's Walter Beneteau, pursued by Carlos da Cruz, and quickly absorbed. Next it's a Euskaltel, Aitor Hernandez, and he's got 50 meters. Hernandez leads at the close of the first lap, and is captured. Commesso is off the front with a Saunier Duval, David Millar, who is right in the gutter, 4 inches from the curb. They can't get a good gap and are recaptured. Cunego has flatted! He's off the back. If he loses 36 seconds, he'll lose the white jersey, and he's soloing back. Landis on the Champs-ElyseesJens Voigt has attacked off the front, with Fabian Wegmann and Mikel Astarloza; Wegmann leads Astaloza and Voigt over the sprint line. They're caught, but not by the peloton, by about 5 other riders. If they form a group, It's a strong one. Horner is hear, a Discovery -- looks like Popovych -- is here, Johann van Summeren is here. Horner and Van Summeren are disrupting the break as well as they can. Philippe Gilbert, Garcia-Acosta, Reuben Lobato, Christian Knees, are there. Bothcarov, Albasini, and Da Cruz are chasing to the escapees. Cunego is back on the rear of the peloton. Liquigas and Cofidis have missed the move, and they're powering hard at the front of the field, 20 seconds behind the 15-rider break. It was as much as 40 seconds. Gilbert attacks out of the escape, and Chris Horner jumps onto his wheel. They now lead the other escapees by 50+ meters. They're reintegrated. Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang flats with 3 laps to ride, and it takes a long time to get a wheel change. Six riders Millar, Astarloza, Chris Horner, Christophe Mengin, Vincente Garcia-Acosta and David Millar lead the race, but are only 9 seconds ahead of the peloton. The rest of that break are back in the field. Padrnos is in a 5-man group chasing, and it's been gobbled by the Liquigas and Cofidis-led pack. As they come through the flamme rouge for 2 laps to go, Astarloza raises the pace, and his breakmates match it, but the field is breathing down their neck. They're captured. Landis is right at the front as they take a 180-degree turn. Française des Jeux leads the pack, and now Davitamon-Lotto comes forward. Discovery is coming up the right side of the pack en masse as they come to the beginning of the final lap of the day. Gonzales of Agritubel is gone up the left side; 1 lap, 6.8 kilometers, less than 4 miles to race. Three DVL riders, a QuickStep and an FDJ push the pace at the front, and Gonzales is reabsorbed. Jens Voigt takes a little dig, but nothing doing. With a half-lap, Flecha tries to go, gets 5 meters, and here comes Ekimov! He's riding them off his wheel. Schleck is behind him; Hincapie and Popovych are just behind. Hincapie and Popovych are off the front! Popovych goes super hard. He's countered by a Liquigas and Calzati. Popovych drops off and the sprinters are coming forward, with 400 meters to go. Zabel follows McEwen, Hushovd goes hard , and Thor Hushovd takes the Prologue and the final stage of the 2006 Tour de France! Incredible sprint by Hushovd, getting maybe 5 meters on McEwen, who takes the green jersey. Floyd Landis finishes safely in the field, and completed his amazing 2006 Tour victory.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in Fabian Wegmann, Floyd Landis, Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | 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 12, 2006

Stage 10 on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 07, 2006

McEwen launched to third stage win

Tom Boonen was denied again, as Gert Steegmans launched Robbie McEwen like a booster rocket today straight up to his 3rd stage.

Boonen was in perfect position for the sprint, trailing a couple of leading teammates coming up the left side of the road, with the field stretching out behind him. But the field sprint launched before he did, swamping Boonen and holding him against the rail, so that by the time he kicked hard, he had to work through traffic to finish 3rd.

Boonen retains the yellow jersey, but honestly might just as soon be rid of it, and he will be tomorrow night. Tomorrow is the first long time trial of the Tour, where we'll finally separate the pretenders and contenders. I think that will make for better organized sprints on Sunday and Tuesday (rest day Monday), as it's likely one team will be defending the yellow jersey, and others trying to set up the sprint, instead of QuickStep doing both, as we've had the last couple of days.

Wednesday, the race hits the mountains.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto
2) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, same time
3) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, s.t.
4) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
7) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
8) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Gert Steegmans, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
10) Inaki Isasi, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
Full Stage 6 results

1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, in 29:21:00
2) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, at :12
3) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :21
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :25
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :25
6) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :27
7) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :35
8) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :36
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :37
10) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :37
Full GC standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 06, 2006

Freire fastest on 5; Boonen holds yellow

Rabobank's former world champion Oscar Freire launched a perfect sprint to win the Tour's Stage 5. Freire uncoiled from about 12th place in the field at about 250 meters to go, put on an incredible burst of speed up the right side of the road, then just kept his head down to the line, as current world champion Tom Boonen couldn't close him down.

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Inaki Isasi takes 3rd, for what must be Euskaltel's earliest stage podium in a recent Tour. Usually, you only see them pacing crashes and flats back into the field until the mountains start.

Boonen pads his lead, by virtue of the 12 bonus seconds for 2nd. A few other GC changes, as misfortune claims Egoi Martinez, and Freire powered to the podium, sitting 3rd, for now.

Dollars to donuts Dumoulin will be the most combative rider, by virtue of being a Frenchman in a suicide break.

Top 10:
1) Oscar Freire, Rabobank
2) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, same time
3) Inaki Isasi, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
4) David Kopp, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
5) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
6) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.
7) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
8) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval, s.t.
9) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.

1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, in 25:10:51
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :13
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :17
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :17
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :19
6) Robbie Mcewen, Davitamon-Lotto, at :24
7) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :27
8) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :28
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :29
10) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :29

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0)

So what happened with Hushovd?

The first inkling I had of Thor Hushovd's relegation was at the end of last night's OLN coverage. For once, I'm glad that OLN kicks off every morning with a recap, as they isolated Hushovd's finishing sprint.

Before Julian Dean's fall, Hushovd came alongside Dean, his teammate, with Dean on his right. Bernard Eisel of Française des Jeux was trying to come around Hushovd on Thor's left, and Thor moved left, and as Eisel caught up, actually made contact with Eisel.

He continued the contact for 20 meters or so, including through a break in the barriers, and Eisel twisted hard to keep from catching the corner as the barriers picked back up.

Hushovd appealed the decision of the race jury, but lost.

Getting knocked back from 4th to 148th on the stage, and losing the attached 24 points will make it almost impossible for Hushovd to take the overall green jersey, as he did last year.


Eurosport | Thor storm continues

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2006 in Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2006

Kessler gets his stage, Boonen gets his yellow jersey

Matthias Kessler attacked over the Cauberg and kept his lead to the line, avenging his last second loss yesterday, earning T-Mobile probably its first bright spot of the 2006 Tour.

Just 5 seconds behind, world time trial champion Michael Rogers led in a group of strongman sprinters and GC candidates. In 3rd on the day was Lampre's Daniele Bennati, ahead of world champion Tom Boonen, who had made no secret of his intent to take today's stage.

He can take solace in the yellow jersey, the first ever for the 25-year-old world road champion, as Thor Hushovd came in 62nd, at 17 seconds back. He'll wear it in Belgium tomorrow, where he's a huge celebrity. Boonen also takes the lead in the green jersey competition as Robbie McEwen came in 34 seconds back in 89th. Lampre's Daniele Bennati, 4th on the day moves into 2nd in the points competition: Boonen 67, Bennati 66, McEwen 65, Hushovd 62, Zabel 59.

This was a “declare your intentions” day for the GC; if you're not riding for the overall, why break your legs on the Cauberg? Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Carlos Sastre, Paolo Savoldelli, Yarolav Popovych, Jose Azevedeo, Denis Menchov, Andreas Klöden, David Millar, Sergei Honchar, Cadel Evans, and even Gilberto Simoni all made the break to come in 5 seconds behind Kessler.

Bookie favorite Alejandro Valverde crashed and broke his collarbone with about 20 kilometers to ride in an overlap of wheels -- a wide-open Tour de France is even more so this evening. Also out are Freddie Rodriguez and Erik Dekker, who went down together and were taken to a local hospital.

Chris Horner came in 159th on the day, at 8:05. Stuart O'Grady rode in alone after an accident, 11:35 back, and Magnus Backstedt and Filippo Pozzato, 18:36 back, were the day's final finishers.

Top 10:
1) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, in 4:57:54
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :05
3) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, same time
4) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, s.t.
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
6) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
8) Eddy Mazzoleni, T-Mobile, s.t.
9) Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
10) Fabian Wegmann, Gerolsteiner, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :01
3) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :05
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :07
5) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :15
6) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, at :15
7) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :16
8) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :15
9) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :17
10) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, at :17

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Chris Horner, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Filippo Pozzato, Georg Totschnig, Magnus Backstedt, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 03, 2006

Stage 2 by the numbers

rec.bicycles.racing | Tour de France stage 2 summary

One of the most concise daily Tour wrapups is Bob Martin's stage summary, every day on the Usenet newsgroup rec.bicycles.racing.

Martin lists the day's biggest gainers and losers by position and time, and how all the favorites fared by time, by position (up or down), and the current standing of the favorites.

Today, for example, Aitor Hernandez paid for his long breakaway by coming in 13:25 behind McEwen, while only three riders gained time on the general classification — McEwen, Boonen, and Hushovd.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2006 in Links, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 2 on the road

This is being touted as a day for the sprinters, but there are a couple of small climbs late in the stage that could trigger a break by a classics-style rider or a small group.

Two Spaniards, Aitor Hernandez of Euskaltel-Euskadi and David de la Fuente of Saunier Duval, attacked from the line, and got as much as a 10:30 lead on the soft-pedaling peloton, led by Discovery Channel.

With 120 kilometers to ride, world champion Tom Boonen and former yellow jersey Thor Hushovd went mano a mano for a 2-second time bonus. Boonen edged out Hushovd, keeping Hincapie in yellow, for now.

At the second sprint of the day, Hushovd takes 3rd -- that gets him back the 2 seconds Hincapie took yesterday. If Hincapie wants to keep the yellow jersey (and it doesn't look like Discovery wants to work for it), he's going to have to either beat Hushovd at the last intermediate sprint, the final sprint, or both.

Gap is down to 3 minutes with 38 kilometers (around 23 miles) to ride. De la Fuente took the 3rd mountain sprint, ahead of Hernandez, who has fallen off de la Fuente's pace. Fabian Wegmann, riding in the polka-dots, went out and took 3rd over the 4th-category climb.

Hincapie is near the front, surrounded by Credit Agricole riders. De la Fuente takes the sprint, and the peloton has overtaken Hernandez with less than 1 kilometer to the sprint -- that means there's a 4-second and a 2-second bonus up for grabs.

CA is all over the front, Hincapie sits up, there goes Boonen, Hushovd, and O'Grady, and Boonen takes 4 seconds, Hushovd, 2 seconds, and O'Grady misses out. There are time bonuses for 1st through 3rd place on the finish as well.

Hincapie trails Hushovd by 2 seconds in the overall. Boonen is another 5 seconds back, with a shot at bonus time in the finish. The sprinters' teams are going to be all over anyone who tries to get away late -- the stakes are too high for them.

De la Fuente is still off the front, and will lead over the 2nd-to-last climb, but they'll probably catch him before the last climb. Fabian Wegmann has sprinted out of the field to take 2nd-place KoM points, ahead of Laurent Lefevre. Wegmann, Lefevre, and an Euskaltel-Euskadi have taken the opportunity to go after de la Fuente. Wegmann has caught de la Fuente to take max points on the last 4th-category climb of the day. Wegmann has shed his compatriots, and gone hard for the line, but he's getting reabsorbed.

All together now, with less than 8 kilometers (5 miles) to ride.

Calzati launches a probing attack, is caught, and T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler goes off the front. He's got 6 seconds on the last uncategorized climb. Kessler's out to 10 seconds with 5 k, and there's no organized chase.

At 4k Kessler has 12 seconds. At 3k, he's got 14 seconds. Milram is trying to chase him down, Lampre is chasing -- there's a crash in the field.

With 1k, he's got 9 seconds, and the field is chasing hard. Kessler's getting reeled in. He's caught in the last 50 meters, and Robbie McEwen pops up for the stage victory. Stuart O'Grady was on his wheel, Hushovd pulled out of the pedal right at the line, but he'll be back in yellow.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2006 in George Hincapie, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2006

Hushovd will continue in race

VeloNews | Hushovd's injury not serious: Tour will ban giant PMU hands near finish

Thor Hushovd suffered an ugly gash on his upper right arm near the finish line of today's stage. He came to a stop just after the finish, and sat down against the barricades, where he proceeded to bleed all over his leg and jersey (and that should bring in some of those American fans!) as an onlooker pressed on his arm to stop the flow of blood.

Apparently, Hushovd was cut by a promotional hand brandished by a spectator as he went full-bore to the line.

After a brief hospital visit, and four stitches, Hushovd is expected back on the start line tomorrow morning.

World champ Tom Boonen said his deceleration late in the sprint wasn't because he was beaten, but because he was hit by a fan's camera, as he followed Hushovd's lead, sprinting a hair's-breadth off the right-hand barricades.

Tour organizers will prohibit PMU, sponsors of the green jersey contest, from distributing the hands in the last 2 kilometers of sprint stages, which is pretty much their only point.


Velogal's Cycling Race Blog

Sammarye shares her opinion on “those damn hands.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Casper the stage, Hincapie in yellow, Hushovd injured in sprint

Race leader Thor Hushovd was taken away in an ambulance at the end of Stage 1 in Strasbourg. It appeared that Hushovd, sprinting right along the right edge of the road, caught a fan's hand-shaped poster, cutting his arm with less than 50 meters to race.

It was a chaotic sprint, and favorite Tom Boonen went too soon, and couldn't go top 10 (cyclingnews.com says Boonen may also have hit a fan). Robbie McEwen switched off wheels from Hushovd to Boonen, and as he does, appeared in the thick of it at the last instant, but he waited a touch too long, and the French got their first stage win of the year: Jimmy Casper of Cofidis, who edged McEwen and Milram's Erik Zabel.

Discovery Channel's George Hincapie takes the race leadership, after a cagey attack for an intermediate sprint that gave him 2 seconds bonus, against the possibility that none of the riders near the top of the GC competition would take bonus time from a top-3 finish on the day.

Top 10:
1) Casper, in 4:10:00
2) McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, same time
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
4) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, s.t.
5) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
6) Isaac Galvez, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
7) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, s.t.
8) Bernard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
9) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
10) Oscar Freire, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Hincapie, Discovery Channel
2) Hushovd, at :02
3) David Zabriskie, CSC, at :03
4) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, at :06
5) Alejandro Valverde, at :06
6) Stuart O'Grady, CSC
7) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :08
8) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :10
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :11
10) Benoit Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, at :11

Wegmann takes the first (cheap) mountains jersey, while Vaugrenard, involved in a long break where he took some bonus time, takes the young riders' white jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Dave Zabriskie, Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Stage 1 on the road

There's a doomed break of 7 quality riders with about 20 miles to ride: Stephane Auge of Cofidis, Walter Beneteau and Matthieu Sprick of Bouyges Telecom, Unai Etxebarria of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Nicolas Portal of Caisse d'Epargne, Benoit Vaugrenard of Française des Jeux, and Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner. They had 4:30 in hand for a long time, bu the gap is now only about 90 seconds.

Wegmann took the first King of the Mountains points, over a 4th Category climb, so he'll be the first rider in polka-dots.

Tom Boonen told the Tour website he thinks he'll take the yellow jersey off Thor Hushovd today, and wear it into Belgium. There's a 20-second time bonus for the win, 12 seconds for 2nd and 8 seconds for 3rd, and Boonen finished just 11 seconds behind Hushovd in yesterday's Prologue: "If I’m first and Thor is third, then it’s enough for me to get the lead and I think I have the speed to beat him..."

Boonen told Jason Sumner of VeloNews he thinks Hushovd's performance yesterday gives Boonen a better chance today, since the training Hushovd has focused on endurance and time-trialling is likely to hurt his sprinting.

With 21 kilometers, about 12.5 miles to ride, the team cars are getting pulled, and the gap to the 7 breakaway riders is down around 45 seconds.

At 10 miles to ride, the break is splitting. Beneteau has attacked off the front, he'll be the last one caught. Portal and another rider are trying to get back up with Beneteau, while the other 4 are sitting up, waiting to be caught.

Portal and Wegmann have given up, so only Beneteau is out there. The peloton slowed down on the capture, so he's out to 35 seconds, but he's got long, long odds.

Beneteau took the final intermediate sprint points and a 6 second time bonus. As the peloton approached the line, George Hincapie threw down, sprinting out of the field for the bonus time. One of Hushovd's Credit Agricole teammates countered, and passed Hincapie for the 2nd-place and 4 seconds bonus, but Hincapie took 2 seconds and became the loneliest man in the race, “the Yellow Jersey on the road.” It's going to be an interesting race for the GC.

Beneteau is caught and we're down into the last 3 miles to ride.

Danilo Di Luca has gone off the back. Apparently, he's on antibiotics, but he's going to lose a couple of minutes at least today.

Rabobank goes, then falls back. Liquigas has a few riders together on the right of the field. Less than 2 kilometers to ride. Hincapie is in the top 15, Hushovd is in the front 10.

One of the Liquigas riders pulls off, Backstedt is 8 riders back. Zabel, Freire, Hushovd near the front with a k to ride. Hushovd is in 2nd wheel, with McEwen right on his wheel. Zabel right behind McEwen.

Now the chaos comes, Boonen may have gone early, shadowed by McEwen, Jimmy Casper drops Boonen, Zabel is right there. Hushovd is bleeding heavily from his right arm. He's sitting against the barricades after the stage finish.

Looks like Jimmy Casper of Cofidis for the stage win, but it's very close.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prologue photo roundup

There's a wealth of great photos available from the prologue.

I thought the quality of shots on Flickr had taken a quantum leap forward, but it turns out some joker just uploaded Graham Watson's pictures to his own account. Still, Francois Schnell has a nice group of Tour snaps from yesterday; I love the composition of this one.

Speaking of Watson:

(l-r) Leipheimer, Landis, Hincapie from GrahamWatson.com prologue gallery.

Also, Apple offers a nice profile of Graham Watson, who touts the company's Aperture workflow software.

Sammarye's recommendations were spot on:

Mark Shimahara at BikeZen:

(l-r) Moreau, Valverde, Hushovd, one for the ladies from BikeZen's Prologue Gallery.

The revelation of the Tour for me so far is Caroline Yang. Here's the entry page for her prologue pictures, and she also shot the Tour in 2005 and in 2004.

And, of course, CyclingNews.com has the most extensive Prologue photo gallery. Looking for Sebastian Joly, Marzio Bruseghin, and Magnus Backstedt:

(l-r) Joly, Bruseghin, and Backstedt from cyclingnews.com Prologue photo gallery.

Also, the saddest car in Strasbourg.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Photo galleries, Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 01, 2006

Hushovd takes 2006 Tour prologue

Thor Hushovd will wear yellow for at least a couple of days, after an astounding ride at the Tour prologue in Strasbourg.

Hushovd is an annual combatant in the sprinter's jersey competition, which he won last year, but is more a pure power rider than some of the other sprinters (Robbie McEwen, I'm looking at you). He should be able to stay close enough to the sprinters over the next few stages to hold the overall race lead.

He edged out Discovery Channel's George Hincapie and CSC's Dave Zabriskie, with Sebastian Lang 4th and Spain's Alejandro Valverde 5th.

Phonak's Floyd Landis missed his start time, and lost nearly 10 seconds before his Tour even started. His 9th place at 8:26.26 would certainly have bettered Zabriskie, and would have rivalled Hincapie and Hushovd if he had ridden the same ride with an on-time start. OLN reports Landis had a flat tire as he came to the start.

David Millar, returning from a 2-year suspension for EPO, could manage only 17th, in 8:31.65.

    Top 10:
  1. Hushovd, Credit Agricole, in 8:17.00
  2. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :01
  3. Dave Zabriskie, CSC, at :04
  4. Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, at :05
  5. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at :05
  6. Stuart O'Grady, CSC, at :05
  7. Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :06
  8. Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :08
  9. Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :09
  10. Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :10

Other Americans:
19) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, at :16

29) Bobby Julich, CSC, at :19

35) Christian Vande Velde, CSC, at :21

36) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at :22

112) Fred Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto, at :38


This story doesn't really seem to capture the whole moment.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Bobby Julich, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Floyd Landis, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Basso the oddsmakers' pick

Oddschecker.com | Tour de France Betting Odds

European oddsmakers have Ivan Basso a big favorite in the 2006 Tour, sitting at 5-to-4 odds right now.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 winner, is a 5-to-2 pick, followed by Alejandro Valverde at 10.9-to-1, Floyd Landis at 16-1, and Alexandre Vinokourov at 20-1 (and shortening: maybe somebody knows a guy who knows a guy at the CAS?).

For the mountains jersey, it's Michael Rasmussen 2-to-1 ahead of Christophe Moreau (8-1), and Oscar Pereiro (11-1).

For the green jersey, Tom Boonen is a major favorite at 6-5, followed by Robbie McEwen at 9-4 and Thor Hushovd a polite 5-1.

Proving that people will bet on anything, oddsmakers put T-Mobile and CSC even to win the team competition, each at 15-8, while Discovery Channel sits at 11-4.

Here's OddsChecker.com's odds page for every rider.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rasmussen, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 11, 2006

Leipheimer wins Dauphiné; Hushovd takes last stage

Eurosport | Leipheimer wins on road to Tour - Eurosport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DailyPeloton.com | Stage 7 Live

CyclingNews.com | Stage 7 full results

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

June 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

Dauphiné Stage 1 underway

Nicolas Inaudi of Cofidis has been off the front for about 110 miles now, but he's slowly getting reeled in by the field, led by CSC, defending Zabriskie's race lead, and Credit Agricole, whose sprinter Thor Hushovd has said he wants today's stage win.

I'm not sure whether there's a time bonus for today's stage; if so, Hushovd may also have a shot at race leadership -- he's only 9 seconds and change behind Zabriskie at stage start, and he's already taken a 2-second time bonus a the first sprint.

Inaudi's time gap's down to about 3:45, with around 30 kilometers to ride.

Inaudi's into Biol, site of the day's final intermediate sprint. And the field is coming through only about a minute back, with CSC sending an escort out with Hushovd to take the intermediate sprint and 2nd-place time bonus.

Coming out of Biol, Nabali and Quinziato of Liquiges and CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen take off to try to take advantage of Inaudi's reabsorption, but they're only away for a couple of minutes, and don't even stay away until Inaudi's capture.

They've brought Inaudi back after 190 kilometers. There's a 4th Category climb now, and AG2R's Francisco Mancebo attacks up its slope. Mancebo, Thomas Voeckler of Bouyges Telecom, Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner, and Egoi Martinez of Discovery are the first 4 over the top.

The foursome has about 30 seconds in hand already, and we're 10 kilometers from the finish.

It's 40 seconds with 8 k to ride. Wegmann is the guy to watch if they stay away.

With 6 kilometers to ride, it's 34 seconds. It's going to be close -- the foursome is working together very well, and the peloton is watching each other.

Martinez attacks with 2 k to ride, but he's countered by Voeckler, and the other two claw their way back. At less than 1k Wegmann winds it up from 3rd position, and gets a gap. With 300 meters to ride, he goes all-out, Voeckler's on his wheel, and he makes a run at it as they come to the line, but Wegmann takes the stage win. Voeckler's 2nd, Martinez 3rd, and Mancebo 4th.

The peloton comes in 12 seconds back. Danilo Napolitano takes the field sprint. Chris Horner was 7th -- is he scrambling for time bonuses?

Posted by Frank Steele on June 5, 2006 in Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Dave Zabriskie, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2006

Leipheimer back in Europe for Tour of Catalonia

IOL | Leipheimer seeks strong showing in Catalonia

Levi Leipheimer is back in Europe for the Tour of Catalonia (aka the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya). A number of other 2006 Tour likelies will also take the start, including Phonak's Santigo Botero, Rabobank's Denis Menchov, T-Mobile's Giusepe Guerini, CSC's Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans, Francisco Mancebo, Inigo Landaluze (fresh from an overturned suspension), Thor Hushovd, Erik Zabel, and Filippo Pozzato.

Today's stage is a short time trial, 12.6 km (about 7.5 miles) in length.

Update: VeloNews reports this morning that, in pre-race blood tests, former Liberty Seguros rider Jan Hruska of the Czech Republic, now riding for 3 Molinos (sponsored by The Wallflowers?) failed his hematocrit and is barred from racing for 2 weeks.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Francisco Mancebo, Levi Leipheimer, Santiago Botero, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2006

Dekker takes Tirreno-Adriatico overall

SI.com | Holland's Dekker wins Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race

Petacchi coming up to speed
Petacchi coming to speed
AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi
Alessandro Petacchi avenged his two recent sprint losses in Tirreno-Adriatico, perfectly timing his finishing kick to nip Robbie McEwen, Paride Grillo, and Thor Hushovd for the Stage 7 win. It was his 3rd stage win of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Thomas Dekker takes the overall, for the biggest victory of his career. Not Thomas Dekker the Jacobean dramatist, nor the 18-year-old TV actor (“7th Heaven”), but the 21-year-old Dutch Rabobank who was 2nd in last year's Criterium International.

Petacchi said this one was especially sweet:

"I wanted this win," Petacchi said after his 166-km stage victory on Tuesday. "I'm feeling good and this win came just at the right time for both me and the team."

"The other day (Saturday) when I lost to (Norway's Thor) Hushovd I was very angry. Today I was more determined, everything went perfectly and my team mates did a great job."

Dekker trails Floyd Landis by only one point in the new ProTour standings, but Landis isn't riding the spring classics, and plans to throttle back soon to build for another peak in July.


Eurosport | Dekker wins race, Petacchi stage

VeloNews.com | Dekker wraps up title at Tirreno-Adriatico

cycloblog.com | Petacchi scores in T-A, Dekker takes overall glory


cyclingnews.com | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 7 (also: picture of Discovery's Viatcheslav Ekimov back in the peloton)

Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Thomas Dekker, Thor Hushovd, Tirreno-Adriatico '06, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2006

Bettini again at Tirreno-Adriatico, O'Grady out 4-6 weeks

www.cyclingnews.com | Deja vu for Bettini

Quick Step's triple world champion Paolo Bettini is 2-for-2 at Tirreno-Adriatico, after a 2nd stage win in Frascati on Thursday.

Said Bettini:

CSC's O'Grady broke 5 ribs and his collarbone
O'Grady hurting
Fotoreporter Sirotti/

"I'm not thinking about the general classification, I'm taking things on a day by day basis. Tomorrow's stage is one that I have already won twice, in 1999 and 2003. We'll have to see if I can make it three."

Bettini closed almost 30 seconds on Daniele Contrini in the last 2 kms, passing him in the last 500 meters and outsprinting Milram's Erik Zabel (again). It was Zabel's 9th 2nd-place on the young season. LPR's Mikhaylo Khalilov was 3rd. That's how the overall shakes out, so far, since both stages had the same 1st and 2nd-place riders.

Stuart O'Grady, now riding for CSC, was victim to a pothole, and broke five ribs and his collarbone.

Overall Standings
1) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, in 8:11:54
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, at :08
3) Mikhaylo Khalilov, LPR, at :16
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, same time
5) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, and about 50 other riders, at :20

Eurosport | Bettini does it again
procycling.com | Bettini doubles up at Tirreno

cyclingnews.com | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 2 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 9, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Paolo Bettini, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tirreno-Adriatico '06, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

McEwen draws season's first blood at Tour Down Under

procycling | McEwen wins fourth Adelaide criterium

Robbie McEwen looks to be coming out of the blocks fast at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, just like last year.

McEwen took the final sprint ahead of Liquigas-Bianchi's Daniele Colli and Milram's Simone Cadamuro.

The only really A-level sprinter also in the race is Thor Hushovd, who was working a leadout for Aussie teammate Mark Renshaw, but timed it badly. and Renshaw was 6th on the day. Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros was 5th.

Thanks to a rules change, McEwen's win won't count toward the overall lead at the TDU, but it does count as his record 11th victory in the Australian tour.


RoadCycling.com | Tour Down Under Results - Prologue (Top 20)

VeloNews.com | McEwen takes Tour Down Under 'prelude'

Posted by Frank Steele on January 17, 2006 in Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack