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 30, 2007

Astana fires Vinokourov

Times Online | Vinokourov fired after positive B-test

Alexandre Vinokourov, who created the Astana team after his Liberty Seguros squad was prevented from riding in last year's Tour, has been fired after Saturday's B-sample test indicated an illegal transfusion.

Tour of Germany organizers have said Astana is not welcome in their race, but organizers confirmed their participation in the Vuelta a España.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 30, 2007 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2007

UCI takes ProTour/Grand Tour squabble to EC

CNNSI.com | UCI to file complaint about major Tours breakaway

The UCI is planning to ask the European Commission to intercede in the ongoing squabble between the UCI and its ProTour and the organizers of the three grand tours: The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España.

The UCI posted a press release on its website:

The UCI has today decided to prepare a formal complaint to the European Commission concerning the anti-competitive conduct of the organizers of the Grands Tours.

The organizers of the Grands Tours have acted as a cartel in order to protect their own dominant position in the field of professional road cycling.

In particular the organizers of the Grands Tours have deliberately tried to undermine the development of the UCI ProTour.

This conduct is detrimental to the interest of teams, riders and the wider development of cycling in Europe and in the world as a whole.

The UCI has repeatedly tried to engage the organizers of the Grands Tours in a constructive dialogue; however they have refused to cooperate in any meaningful way leaving the UCI with no alternative other than to seek intervention by the European Commission in this matter.

I find it hard to side with the UCI on this one: The national tours own the crown jewels of the sport (not just the GTs), and the UCI is trying to get them to treat their biggest events like every other race. If you agree with the UCI, make your case in the comments.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 9, 2007 in Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006

Vinokourov has 1st Grand Tour with Vuelta win

Eurosport | Vinokourov wins Vuelta Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov salvaged his season, and the Liberty Seguros/Würth/Astaná team's as well, with a win in the Vuelta a España. Vinokourov and Astaná were barred from the Tour de France because several of the team's riders were implicated by Spanish officials in the Operación Puerto investigation. Vinokourov was not implicated, but Astaná found themselves with only 4 riders, not enough to start the race. Vinokourov railed at the time that organizers had deprived him of his last chance to win the Tour, but Sunday, buoyed by his impending victories, he sang another tune. Vinokourov told Eurosport the Vuelta win is “what I needed to be competitive in the 2007 Tour de France.” Vinokourov took 3 stages of the race, including the Saturday time trial on his 33rd birthday. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, the pre-race favorite, was 2nd overall, 1:12 back, with Vinokourov's teammate Andrey Kashechkin third, at 3:12. Milram's antique sprinter, Erik Zabel, showed he's still got some gas with a win in the Vuelta's final stage on Sunday. Also: CyclingNews.com | First Grand Tour for Vinokourov; another stage win for Zabel | Results | Overall Standings | Photo Gallery GrahamWatson.com | Vuelta a España Stage 21

Posted by Frank Steele on September 18, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Erik Zabel, Top Stories, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Danielson wins Vuelta stage, Vinokourov takes race lead

VeloNews | Danielson wins Vuelta stage; Vino' seizes lead

Danielson's big dayIt's nice to have a little racing news, as Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel took Wednesday's Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, leading Alexandre Vinokourov across the line. Vinokourov took a 9-second lead on Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde.

Valverde doesn't want to see things go down to the final time trial on Saturday, so he told Eurosport he'll be all-out in today's final mountain stage, up the Pandera:

“Nothing is lost. Things will happen on the Pandera. You can't forget that I won here two years ago and have lots of affection for this climb.”

Danielson, who came to the Vuelta as Discovery's GC contender, couldn't hang during the early stages of the Vuelta, but rebounded to take the day after dropping 5 breakaway mates on the day's second 1st-Category climb.

Vinokourov, who has never worn a Grand Tour leader's jersey until now, was able to ride away from Valverde and Sastre on the day's last major climb after teammate Andrey Kashechkin and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante of Saunier Duval cranked up the pace to make a wicked selection. Valverde fought back onto Vino's wheel early in the descent, but the Astana leader slowly pulled away until, with 9 kilometers to ride, he had 32 seconds on Valverde, and sat 13 seconds behind Danielson.

When Vino caught Danielson, the two worked together to maximize the break, while Valverde had to do almost all the work in his small group alone, shadowed by Kashechkin. Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez attacked out of this group to take 3rd on the day.

Top 10:
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA
2) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time
3) Samuel Sanchez, Euskeltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 1:10
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 1:39
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, same time
6) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, s.t.
8) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, s.t.
9) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, s.t.
10) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, s.t.

1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, 67:29:41
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :09
3) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:51
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 2:14
5) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, at 4:32
6) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA, at 6:07
7) Manuel Beltran, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 6:33
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 7:25
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 7:49
10) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, at 9:04


CyclingNews | Vinokourov and Danielson combine to unseat Valverde | Results | Photo Gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Vuelta a España Stage 17 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on September 14, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Sastre Vuelta's first leader

VeloNews | Sastre leads Vuelta as CSC storms short TTT

CSC showed it's still the fastest time-trialing team in the business, as they won the unusual team time trial kickoff at the 2006 Vuelta a España. The 7.3-kilometer effort kicked off from inside the stadium in Málaga, and Magnus Backstedt told VeloNews, "It was almost like riding a team pursuit on the track. I loved it.”

The TTT added another dimension to the race, as teams had to rotate their leader to the head of their paceline for the finish line to set placings. Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi must loom large in the mirrors for Sastre, as Milram turned in an impressive 3rd, 8 seconds back, and either or both could spend time in the Maillot Oro this week.

Team finishes:
1) CSC, in 7:36
2) Caisse d'Epargne, at :07
3) Team Milram, at :08
4) Discovery Channel, at :09
5) T-Mobile, at :11
6) Astana, at :12
7) Saunier Duval-Proder, at :13
8) Credit Agricole, same time
9) Liquigas, s.t.
10) QuickStep, at :15
11) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at :18
12) Rabobank, same time
13) Gerolsteiner, at :19
14) Lampre-Fondital, at :21
15) Bouyges Telecom, at :24
16) Davitamon-Lotto, at :25
17) Phonak, at :27
18) AG2R Prevoyance, same time
19) Française des Jeux, at :28
20) Cofidis, at :30
21) Relax, at :37

CSC's 9 riders have the top 9 spots in the overall, with José Garcia Acosta of Caisse d'Epargne 10th at 7 seconds.


cyclingnews.com | Team CSC muy rápido

Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Carlos Sastre, Top Stories, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2006

Good news, bad news from Cycling.TV on Vuelta

So there's a bit of good news from Cycling.TV. In an e-mail to its premium subscribers, the web-only streaming network confirms that it has web rights to the Vuelta a España,, running August 26th through September 17th and will broadcast it live outside of Europe and Japan.

The accompanying bad news: It's an additional 19.99 euros on top of their annual 19.99 subscription.

Posted by Frank Steele on August 7, 2006 in Television, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

ASO president says grand tours done with ProTour

procycling | Tour, Vuelta and Giro "will never join ProTour"

Patrice Clerc, president of Tour organizers ASO, says his organization, Vuelta a España organizers Unipublic and Giro d'Italia organizers RCS, have given up on integration with the UCI's ProTour.

The grand tours worked out a provisional agreement in 2005 that has been in force since, and the UCI and grand tour organizers met in April to try to hammer out an agreement, but Clerc today said, “There will be no further discussions over a commercial system that is purely economic, closed and cut off from the outside world.”

The grand tour organizers don't want their races to become merely the longest of the ProTour events, and so had lobbied for fewer ProTour teams (and correspondingly more wildcard teams in the GTs) and for a system of promotion and relegation like European football.

If in fact the alliance is over, the grand tour organizers take with them many of the season's best-known races, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Milan-San Remo.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Giro d’Italia, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2006

Valverde to refocus on Vuelta

procycling | Valverde now aiming for Vuelta

Caisse d'Epargne team leader Alejandro Valverde will make an unscheduled start in September's Vuelta a España, which must have organizers rubbing their hands together in glee.

The 26-year-old, knocked out of the Tour de France yesterday with a broken collarbone, went down when teammate Oscar Pereiro clipped his front wheel as other riders slowed ahead. George Hincapie apparently didn't realize the danger when he rode Pereiro's wheel to victory in Stage 15 of last year's Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

Danielson exits Giro, will lead Discovery at Vuelta

VeloNews.com | Danielson leaves Giro; Confirmed as leader for Vuelta

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson didn't take the start this morning at Stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia. Team director Johan Bruyneel said Danielson has been suffering from sinusitis, and that his fever worsened overnight.

Danielson had hoped for a top 10 finish, but was sitting in 16th after yesterday's stage.

Bruyneel also confirmed that Danielson will be the team's Vuelta leader:

"He has combination of time-trailing and climbing that you need to be a contender in major tours, but only time will tell whether he's a guy who can go for the top five, the podium or the win in major tours," Bruyneel said. "He finished in the top ten in his first full major tour and that was really good to see, but we're not going to raise our expectations too high either. We have to be realistic."

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2006 in Tom Danielson, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2006

Heras suspended for 2 years

ESPN.com | Ex-Armstrong teammate Heras banned for EPO

Spain's Roberto Heras has been banned for two years for EPO.

Heras, who tested positive while riding for a record fourth Vuelta a España win last year, is considering whether to appeal to Spain's cycling federation or directly to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Said Jose Maria Buxeda, Heras' lawyer:

"We need to study the decision carefully to see where we will take the appeal," Buxeda was quoted as saying by Spanish daily El Pais (link in Spanish). "If we take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport it will take at least five months for a resolution."

The finding hands the 2005 Vuelta title to Denis Menchov of Rabobank, who finished 2nd overall.

Heras, of course, insists he is innocent.

"I never doped myself," he said. "I didn't do it during the Vuelta nor at any other time. I've always won cleanly. I can't allow all my sacrifices to be trampled due to an error. I have to take the result on board, but I question it."


VeloNews.com | Heras suspended and stripped of Vuelta title

Posted by Frank Steele on February 9, 2006 in Denis Menchov, Doping, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2005

Grand Tours to ProTour: Drop dead!

Reuters.co.uk | Three major Tours quit fledging circuit

The Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España are splitsville with the UCI's ProTour. After more than a year of negotiations turned to squabbling, the big 3 can see no reason to stick with the newish ProTour, which the UCI hoped would become as well-known as other season-long sports tours, like the PGA tour.

In a joint statement released Friday, the Grand Tour sponsors say the ProTour was fundamentally unfair because all events were worth the same points, and because race-winning teams who weren't part of the ProTour, including Comunidad Valenciana and Panaria, earned no points.

This removes not only the three-week tours, but their sponsored events, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Nice, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Lombardy, Flèche Wallonne, and Tirreno-Adriatico from the ProTour.

The big 3 will still allow all ProTour teams entry in 2006, if they desire, but in 2007, they plan to take the 14 highest-scoring teams on a new points system, plus up to 8 wildcards for each tour.

Patrice Clerc, the president of Tour de France organisers, said: "Maintaining for 2006 the agreement we had for 2005, in other words a status quo, makes no sense because the situation was only a transition aimed at reaching a global agreement on the Pro-Tour, which the UCI are now saying they will not come up with."

To encourage squads to ride all three Grand Tours, which the ProTour rules required, organizers will pay a 100,000 euro bonus to teams participating in the Vuelta, Giro, and Tour, and will bring back the Trophee des Grands Tours, with a 2 million euro total split among the 7 teams with the best combined performance in the national tours.


cyclingnews.com | Grand Tour organisers split from ProTour

Posted by Frank Steele on December 9, 2005 in Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2005

Hamilton hearing likely in late Feb., early march

Tyler Hamilton | February 1, 2005

The long-dormant TylerHamilton.com website has been updated, with news of the successful Phonak appeal, Hamilton's own case, which he said is scheduled to be heard late this month or early next, and the usual personal anecdotes (and pictures of his new puppies).

Hamilton apparently testified before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the Phonak case, and provides his take on former teammate Santiago Perez' case:

...as far as I know, the media reports stating that a two-year suspension is on his horizon are incorrect. From what I understand, he did make an unsuccessful appeal to have the case against him thrown out based on how and when he was asked to provide his final blood sample. However, I’m told his case with the Spanish Cycling Federation probably won’t be heard until May or June, which means Santi will most likely be racing for the first half of the year awaiting his hearing.

Elsewhere, ProCycling.com reports that the Vuelta doesn't know how it will accommodate Phonak this year. Since they won their appeal, they've become the 20th ProTour team, which should allow them to race in all the UCI races, including all three grand tours. Unfortunately, the Vuelta had held 19 places open for ProTour teams, and intended to offer 2 places to Spanish teams, likely two of Comunitat Valenciana, Relax, and Kaiku. If they add Phonak, it would require taking only one Spanish team, or expanding to 22 total squads, more than organizers believe they can handle logistically.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 3, 2005 in Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Petacchi to skip Tour, focus on Vuelta and World's

procycling.com | Alessandro Petacchi opts for Worlds over Tour de France

The world's fastest closer will skip the Tour de France this year.

Alessandro Petacchi, who won 4 stages of the 2003 Tour but faltered in 2004, will instead focus on winning the biggest one-day race in the world, the road World Championship, this year in Madrid. Petacchi will also race (but probably not finish) the Vuelta a España, which finishes one week before Worlds.

Petacchi, who set a record last year with 9 (!!!) stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, will also contest the Italian grand tour in May.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 20, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2004

ProTour finalizes agreements with grand tours

procycling | Tours enter ProTour reluctantly

Organizers of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España have agreed to be part of the 2005 ProTour, guaranteeing the new tour's teams entry in all three events, and 8 others run by the grand tour organizers.

Representatives of all three races still have reservations about the new system, and have asked UCI president Hein Verbruggen for changes before the 2006 ProTour.

The three major tour organisations, ASO (Tour), RCS (Giro) and Unipublic (Vuelta), restate in their letter to Verbruggen that they still want to see the development of an ethical code, the introduction of some form of promotion/relegation format for the ProTour and a written understanding about TV, image and other rights relating to events.

Posted by Frank Steele on December 1, 2004 in Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack