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 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 05, 2010

Stage 2: Chavanel survives to yellow

SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 05: After assisting injured cyclists, a medic cleans his case of blood along stage 2 of the Tour de France July 5, 2010 in Spa, Belgium. The 201km route with six categorised climbs travels from Brussels to the city of Spa. France's Sylvain Chavanel won the second stage, taking the overall leader's yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara. The iconic bicycle race will include a total of 20 stages and will cover 3,642km before concluding in Paris on July 25. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)It must have seemed like a great idea to organizers. Run a stage of the Tour over some of cycling's hallowed ground, using parts of Liege-Bastogne-Liege for today's Stage 2, and 7 cobbled sectors that feature in Paris-Roubaix tomorrow.

Throw in rain, and the generally squirrely nature of a first-week Tour peloton, though, and you've got the recipe for a demolition derby. One of the riders who might reasonably have feared the day's profile was Sylvain Chavanel, who fractured his skull on this course a little more than 2 months ago.

Instead, Chavanel rode away from the field with only about 15 kilometers ridden on the day, joined by teammate Jerome Pineau, who would take max points over each of the day's climbs to take over the polka-dot jersey, Marcus Burghardt, Matt Lloyd, Reine Taaramae, and 3 others.

Behind, the descent of the Col de Stockeu looked like the train station scene of “Gone with the Wind,” with riders all over the roadside. Some reporters estimated 70-80 riders went down, and there were reports of soigneurs climbing out of cars to help their riders, then falling down themselves. Some riders (and Eddy Merckx) have suggested there must have been some sort of oil on the road (leading to my favorite tweet of the day), because the road seemed so much more treacherous than when it's been raced in LBL in the past.

Both Andy and Frank Schleck, Alessandro Petacchi, Robbie McEwen, Alberto Contador, George Hincapie, and Lance Armstrong spent time on the tarmac, with the largest crash occurring at around 30km to ride, when a photo motorcycle trying to avoid a downed rider became the first domino. With confusion reigning in the peloton, Chavanel's break, which had appeared doomed, had new life.

July 05, 2010 - 06134192 date 05 07 2010 Copyright imago Panoramic 05 07 2010 Tour de France 2010 2 Stage Brussels Spa Sylvain Chavanel FRA Quick Step Photo News PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRAxITAxBEL Cycling men Wheel Road Tour de France Award Ceremony Single Vdig xkg 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd o0 Stage victory cheering happiness Yellow Jersey Emotions.Armstrong and Contador found themselves allies on the road, as they were dropped from the yellow jersey group, but rode together back into Cancellara's company, as Cancellara and Riis calculated whether it was better for Cancellara to hold the yellow jersey, or to sit up and wait for the Schlecks. With Cancellara off the gas, the group mostly came back together, with a few notable exceptions.

Caught up in the many crashes were seemingly the entire Garmin-Transitions team, with Christian Vande Velde having to withdraw with two broken ribs, continuing his disastrous season. Nearly as bad were Tyler Farrar's injuries -- a fractured wrist, sprained elbow, and scratches and bruises suffered in two separate crashes. David Millar may have a broken rib, but didn't have x-rays. Julian Dean and Robbie Hunter also went down.

Cancellara spent a fair amount of time in discussion with the race director, apparently trying to get the day's GC losses neutralized. Barring that and apparently with the consent of other riders, Cancellara went to the front of the pack at the end of the stage, and decreed that no one would contest the sprint. Chavenel took the stage by 3:56 ahead of a 6-wide pack, which led race officials to withhold sprint points from everyone but Chavanel. This didn't sit too well with Norwegian champion and defending green jersey winner Thor Hushovd, who had apparently targeted today's stage, and hoped to improve in the points competition:

"I've been riding all day for the stage win and the green jersey and I end up with nothing," Hushovd continued. "This is not fair. Will the same thing happen tomorrow? Will the times for GC be taken before the pavés sections? If Alberto Contador or another big rider crashes tomorrow on the cobblestones, he's entitled to ask for the race to be neutralised too! So when will we race, really?"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2010 in 2010 Stage 2, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Lance Armstrong, Sylvain Chavanel, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 03, 2010

What's past is prologue: Cancellara, Armstrong star in Rotterdam

The Tour de France is all about control. Riders pre-ride key stages. Teams bring multiple spares for their protected riders, who have spent months tracking every calorie to make sure they're at their best race weight.

July 03, 2010 - Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS - epa02235688 Saxo Bank team rider Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland cycles during the prologue of the 97th Tour de France 2010 cycling race in Rotterdam, 03 July 2010. The 198 riders begin the 2010 Tour de France with an individual lap of the 8,9km circuit around Rotterdam.So it's always revealing when the uncontrollable rears its head. For Saturday's Prologue, it was the weather that shook things up. Many riders with overall hopes opted for early starts to try to beat expected afternoon rains, but the rain started earlier than expected, and cleared before the last riders started, so the strategy seemingly backfired for some of the early starters.

Not so for HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin, who was the 11th rider to start, and covered the 8.9-km course in 10:10, a time that wasn't even approached for more than three hours. Other outstanding performances early were Garmin-Transition's David Millar, in 10:20, Garmin's sprinter Tyler Farrar, whose 10:28 would place him 7th on the stage, and Sky's Geraint Thomas, who would wind up 5th on the stage.

On the other hand, Sky's Bradley Wiggins, who was once a prologue specialist, rolled in with a 10:56, while former teammate Christian Vande Velde clocked in at 11:00 flat. For Wiggins, especially in a Tour with only one long TT, that's a worrying result.

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 03: Tony Martin of Germany and Team HTC - Columbia won the white jersey for the best young rider after finishing second in the 8.9km Prologue for the 97th Tour de France on July 3, 2010 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Organizers managed a very TV-friendly end to the Prologue, with Armstrong, Cancellara, and Contador leaving consecutively as the day's final riders. At the first time check, Armstrong was just 5 seconds slower than Martin. Less than a minute later, Cancellara would obliterate Martin's time, 6 seconds faster than the young German. When Contador came through, no one expected him to rival Cancellara, but could he match Armstrong? Contador was laboring even on the short stage, but at Time Check 1, he was just 1 second behind Armstrong.

At the finish, Armstrong was a whisker slower than Millar, finishing in 10:22, with Cancellara closing. Spartacus would trip the guns at 10:00, leaving only Contador to finish, battling up the long final stretch. Contador would finish in 10:27, ceding 5 seconds to Armstrong, but making time on every other GC contender.

And among GC contenders, perhaps the most disappointing ride was Andy Schleck's, newly crowned TT champion of Luxembourg, who finished in 11:09, and effectively summed it up on his Twitter feed.

Nobody wins or loses the Tour in the prologue, but those small gaps over a short distance are a pretty good indicator of who has brought their best time trialing legs to the party, and more generally who is rocking the highest power-to-weight ratios in the peloton. First indication is that we might get the Armstrong vs. Contador battle that I'm sure Versus is hoping for.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2010 in 2010 Prologue, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2009

Cadel Evans attacks to world road title

Evans Races Home
Evans Races Home,
originally uploaded by Dot Cycling.
Maybe Australia's Cadel Evans was just waiting for the right moment.

Evans, who has earned a reputation as a GC rider who is content to ride within himself and wait for others to fail, launched a brilliant attack from about 4 kilometers out, then fought off a counter by Alexander Kolobnev and Joaquin Rodriguez to take the biggest win of his road career.

Fabian Cancellara, a fatally marked man racing on Swiss soil, laid waste to a quality escape group including Tom Boonen, defending world champion Alessandro Ballan, Michael Rogers and others with about 2 laps to ride. Cancellara brought Evans, Alejandro Valverde, and a number of other strong riders along and may have dulled his amazing afterburners before the decisive move came on the final lap.

With no one in his group (including Basso, Pozzato, Valverde, Sanchez) willing to chase, Cancellara finally went after the 3 men up the road with only a little more than a kilometer to race, and by then the race was over. Adding insult to injury, Sammy Sanchez outsprinted the newly minted world TT champion to the line to take 4th overall at :30.

Australia has never had a world road race champion, despite world titles in most other cycling disciplines, and the win by Evans is the perfect prelude to the 2010 World Championships, to be held in his hometown of Geelong, Australia.


grahamwatson.com | 2009 World Road Championships photo gallery

cyclingnews.com | Evans becomes road World Champion in Mendrisio

Posted by Frank Steele on September 27, 2009 in Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 20, 2009

Contador takes Stage 15, race lead

Tour de France 2009 Stage Fifteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 07, 2009

Stage 4 TTT: Astana firing on all cylinders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 06, 2009

Stage 3: Columbia puts on a show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 04, 2009

Stage 1 preview: 15.5-km Monaco TT

Well, we're certainly going to kick things off with a bang. Today's course is both longer and harder than a Tour prologue, with about a 5-mile/7.5-km incline on the front end, and some technical bits on the back end. The climb to 205 meters is officially a 4th Category climb, so we'll get a King of the Mountains for tomorrow, as well.

To claim the race's first yellow jersey, riders will need to put out the power to get up that rise, without going anaerobic, or they'll find themselves losing time on the flatter, power-friendly final 4 kilometers.

You can't run a Tour time trial without anointing Fabian Cancellara the favorite, but it takes a lot of watts to drive Cancellara uphill, so maybe he'll leave an opening for another rider. TTs with climbing tend to reveal the GC threats, so Alberto Contador's got to factor in. Bradley Wiggins has made his career out of shorter TTs, so keep an eye on him, as well. I'll be pulling for David Zabriskie, whose climbing has improved tremendously in the last 4 years, sometimes to the detriment of his TT'ing; here, that could make for a competitive combination.

And it's not a given that everybody lines up as expected. In 1989, defending Tour champion Pedro Delgado missed his prologue start time, finally leaving the starthouse 3 minutes behind schedule. In 2004, current Garmin-Slipstream director Matt White, then a Cofidis rider, broke his collarbone in a spill while warming up on the morning of the prologue, and had to be replaced by Peter Farazijn.

VS broadcaster picks:
Hummer - Cancellara
Sherwen - Contador
Roll - Armstrong
Liggett - Evans


VeloNews | Andrew Hood pre-rides the Monaco TT with Bobby Julich

CyclingNews.com | Armstrong and Leipheimer to start early

LeTour.fr | Stage 1 - Monaco -> Monaco 15.5 km

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2009 in 2009 Stage 1, 2009 Tour de France, Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VeloNews | Armstrong, Cancellara win time trial gold

NBCOlympics.com | Armstrong, Leipheimer win time trial medals

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

July 26, 2008

Schumacher takes 2nd TT as Sastre holds yellow

Team CSC has been the best-ranked team in the world for years, but has never taken the sport's biggest victory. Today, Carlos Sastre nailed down his first Grand Tour victory, and his team's first TdF win, with a 12th place in the longest time trial of the 2008 Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher, who won the Stage 4 TT and has been active in attacks throughout the Tour, was the stage winner today, clocking a 1:03:50, again beating out world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara and Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen.

Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto, widely expected to put serious time into Sastre, was unable to gap the Spaniard. At each time check, Sastre trailed Evans by less than 30 seconds, and Evans would finish in an unspectacular 7th on the stage, in 1:05:56. Combined with Bernhard Kohl's 1:06:11, Evans will move up to 2nd, with Kohl falling to 3rd. Kirchen climbs to 8th overall, while Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde moved into the Top 5 overall.

Fränk Schleck had a rough day, finishing in 1:09:28 and getting caught by Sastre on the road, and falling to 6th overall.

Stage 20:
1. Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, 1:03:50
2. Fabian Cancellara, CSC-Saxo Bank, Switzerland, @ :21
3. Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:01
4. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ 1:05
5. David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Great Britain, @ 1:37
6. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:55
7. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ 2:05
8. Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ 2:19
9. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 2:21
10. George Hincapie, Columbia, USA, @ 2:28

General Classification, after Stage 20:
1. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Spain, 84:01:00
2. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ 1:05
3. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Austria, @ 1:20
4. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 2:00
5. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, @ 3:12
6. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ 4:28
7. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 6:32
8. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 7:02
9. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 7:26
10. Tadej Valjavec, AG2R-La Mondiale, Slovakia, @ 9:12

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2008 in Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 20 ITT underway

So the whole Tour comes down to today's TT. Silence-Lotto's Cadel Evans needs 1:34 to overtake yellow jersey Carlos Sastre for the race lead. Sastre will have the advantage of starting last and the mythic power of the maillot jaune on his side.

The battle's not only for the top spot today. Bernhard Kohl, Denis Menchov, Fränk Schleck, and Christian Vande Velde all hold hopes of making the podium, and will burn their last matches to try to get there today.

It's a pity they can't borrow matches from Wim Vansevenant and Bernhard Eisel, locked in a struggle to be the lanterne rouge of this year's Tour. Vansevenant was last-placed overall in the 2006 and 2007 Tours, and can become the first man ever to finish last in three Tours. Vansevenant took advantage of starting second on the TT and rolled in 2:00 behind Eisel to retake the cellar.

    Vs. Broadcaster Picks:
  • Hummer: Cadel Evans
  • Sherwen: Fabian Cancellara
  • Liggett: Christian Vande Velde
  • Roll: Kim Kirchen

They also discussed the overall podium: Roll wouldn't commit on placings, but tipped Menchov, Sastre, and Evans as the podium. Sherwen picks Sastre to win, Evans second, then Vande Velde; Liggett and Hummer both say Evans, then Sastre, then Menchov.

Danny Pate of Garmin-Chipotle was an early leader, finishing in 1:06:45, but his teammate David Millar and world TT champion Fabian Cancellara are on the road now, beating Pate's time at each Time Check.

At the finish, it's David Millar in 1:05:27, and Cancellara coming just behind, looks like he's got time to take the lead; he comes in with a 1:04:11.88! There are a lot of strong riders left to ride, but that's an impressive time that could easily take the day.

Out on course, Stefan Schumacher, who won Stage 4's 29-km time trial, equals Cancellara at TC1, loses 12 seconds at TC2, but finishes in 1:03:50.48. That's going to be tough to beat.

Vande Velde hits TC1 with the 4th best time, a 21:58. Menchov is next, it's a 21:52. Evans is coming , and puts up a 22:08. He's got a little more than a minute on Menchov on GC, but he's already lost 16 seconds of that. Now Bernhard Kohl comes through in a 22:06. Things are looking tight!

    Time Check 2
  • Fabian Cancellara 42:38
  • Stefan Schumacher 42:50
  • Kim Kirchen 43:35
  • Christian Vande Velde 43:35.13
  • Denis Menchov 43:46.50
  • Cadel Evans 44:08
  • Bernhard Kohl 44:11.77
  • Carlos Sastre 44:31.23
    Finishing times, riders of note:
  • Schumacher 1:03:50
  • Cancellara 1:04:12
  • Kim Kirchen 1:04:51
  • Christian Vande Velde, 1:04:55
  • Millar 1:05:27
  • Menchov 1:05:45
  • Cadel Evans 1:05:55.54
  • Bernhard Kohl 1:06:11.01
  • Hincapie 1:06:19
  • Carlos Sastre 1:06:24.79
  • Pate 1:06:45
  • Andy Schleck 1:07:52
  • Voeckler (last placed today) 1:15:09

Andy Schleck was caught by Bernhard Kohl, who started 3 minutes behind him, but held off Roman Kreuziger to hold on to his white jersey.

Cadel Evans never was able to put serious time into Carlos Sastre, finishing in 1:05:56. Sastre, for his part, reeled in teammate Fränk Schleck on the road, limiting his losses to Evans to only about 30 seconds, and Carlos Sastre and CSC will take the 2008 Tour de France.

As always, you can follow these updates and more at my Twitter feed.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2008 in Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Stefan Schumacher | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008

Schumacher takes the time trial!

Classics specialist Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner turned in a head-turning performance to dominate the Stage 4 time trial at the Tour.

Schumacher was the only man to go under 36:00 on the day, finishing in 35:44. Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen just edged Garmin-Chipotle's David Millar, both in 36:02 to round out the stage podium.

Stage 4 results
1. Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, 35:44
2. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, 36:02
3. David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Great Britain, 36:02.53
4. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, 36:11
5. Fabian Cancellara, CSC-Saxo Bank, Switzerland, 36:17.22
6. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, 36:18.01
7. Jens Voigt, CSC-Saxo Bank, Germany, 36:19
8. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, 36:21
9. George Hincapie, Columbia, USA, 36:25
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, 36:31

Among the overall GC threats, Cadel Evans had the best day, finishing 4th on the day in 36:11, better than world champion Fabian Cancellara, who finished in 36:18. Denis Menchov showed he's here to win, only 7 seconds slower than Evans, while riding from a very early start, without benefit of many time checks.

Damian Cunego scored a 37:10, Alejandro Valverde a 37:18, while Carlos Sastre managed only a 37:27. Mauricio Soler, tipped by some as a longshot, must still be suffering from his accident on Stage 2, and was 161st on the day in 40:24, already 17:46 back of the race lead.

Overall standings mirror the stage finish, with Schumacher taking the overall race lead.

Overall after Stage 4:
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, in 14:04:41
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) George Hincapie, Columbia, USA, @ :41
8) Thomas Lövkvist, Columbia, Sweden, @ :48
9) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ :58
10) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:01
11) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:12

Columbia's Kirchen leads the green jersey competition, teammate Thomas Lövkvist leads in the white jersey competition, Thomas Voeckler holds the polka-dots, and Garmin-Chipotle extends its team competition lead, now leading Team Columbia.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2008 in 2008 Stage 4, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Mauricio Soler, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 29, 2007

Stage 20: Bennati the sprint, Contador the Tour

Lampre's Daniele Bennati disrupted Tom Boonen's leadout train, taking a big pull from Sebastien Rosseler up to victory on the Champs-Elysees.

Boonen was surrounded by the other green jersey hopefuls, and the leadout men were scrambled. Bennati found himself behind Rosseler, pulling hard, with about 250 meters to ride, and when Rosseler pulled off to his left, Bennati had an unimpeded line to the finish, and just hammered. Robbie Hunter went hard up the right, with Hushovd and Zabel in between, but it was Bennati on the line, ahead of Hushovd, Zabel, Hunter, and finally Boonen. It's Bennati's 2nd stage win after Stage 17.

The slight loss of points won't take the green jersey of Boonen's shoulders, so he'll finish in the final points lead with 2 stage wins.

Cadel Evans chose not to go hunting for bonus seconds, and he and Contador finished safely in the peloton, giving 24-year-old Alberto Contador his first overall Tour de France title. It's by far the closest Tour podium in history, eclipsing Stephen Roche's 1987 victory, where the 3rd-place rider, Jean-François Bernard, was 2:13 behind Roche.

Stage results
1) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy, 3:51:03
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, same time
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
4) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa, s.t.
5) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
6) Sebastian Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
7) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, s.t.
8) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, s.t.
9) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
10) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.

Overall final standings:
1) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, 91:00:26
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ :23
3) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :31
4) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, @ 7:08
5) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 8:17
6) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 11:37
7) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ 12:18
8) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @ 12:25
9) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 14:14
10) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 14:25

Contador becomes the first rider since Jan Ullrich in 1997 to take the white and yellow jerseys. Discovery Channel wins the team competition. Barloworld's Juan Mauricio Soler wins the King of the Mountains, and Euskaltel's Amets Txurruka was named the most agressive rider of the entier Tour.

Tom Boonen takes his first career overall green jersey.

It's another indicator of the arrival of a new generation of riders, as Contador, Soler, and Txurruka are 24, while Boonen is 26.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 29, 2007 in 2007 Stage 20, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Daniele Bennati, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Juan Mauricio Soler, Robbie Hunter, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2007

Stage 13 ITT on the road

VS. Broadcaster Picks:
Trautwig: Klöden (per Hinault)
Sherwen: Cancellara
Roll: Evans
Liggett: Leipheimer

Bradley Wiggins of Cofidis is the early leader in the first long individual time trial of the 2007 Tour.

Over the up-and-down 54 km course in Albi, Wiggins finished in 1:08:48.
David Millar has come through the time checks as high as 3rd, and finishes in 3rd at 1:10:01.

World TT champion Fabian Cancellara was 2nd-fastest at the 1st time check, then faded, finishing in 1:15:19. Cancellara had bike handling problems on the wet roads, and crashed in a 90-degree left-hander.

Yaroslav Popovych is followed onto the course by Alexandre Vinokourov. Vino has a bandage only on his right knee today.

Vinokourov is scorching the course. He's fastest at the first two time checks, by 52 seconds at the 2nd. He's closing on Popovych, even though Popovych is racing the 4th best TT so far.

At TC 3 (38.5 km), Vinokourov came through at 50:06, 1:19 faster than Wiggins. Popovych finished almost even with Wiggins, but Vinokourov still finished close behind, with Vino setting the standard at 1:06:34.

Discovery's Levi Leipheimer was 19th at the first time check, and Carlos Sastre passed TC1 1:41 slower than Vinokourov.

Popovych appeared to have fallen on the course, and Klöden slid out on what seemed a tame right-hander.

Kashechkin also had an early accident, but kept improving at each time check, finishing 2nd only to Vinokourov in 1:08:19.

Christophe Moreau's early time checks put him many minutes behind Vinokourov. He finished in 1:16:01, 9:26 down to Vino.

Cadel Evans was 2nd best at the 3rd time check, just 1:01 behind Vinokourov.

Klöden hit the line in 1:08:13, putting Astana in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on the day, but Cadel Evans broke up the set, coming in at 1:07:48, 2nd at that point.

Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador, Discovery's supposed two leaders, finished 21 seconds apart, in 1:09:13 and 1:08:52, respectively. Teammate Yaroslav Popovych was better still, in 1:08:50.

The time checks were cruel to Alejandro Valverde, sitting in 2nd overall -- he was 46th at the 4th check, 4:34 down on Vinokourov. In fact, race leader Michael Rasmussen passed Alejandro Valverde late in his ride, rocking more like a duck than a Chicken.

Iban Mayo struggled to the line in 1:12:38, a disappointment for the rider who started in 3rd today.

Rasmussen fights all the way to the line, finishing in 1:09:29. That will save the yellow jersey for Rasmussen, and the race returns to the high mountains tomorrow.

Current Top riders:
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, 1:06:34
2) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, 1:07:49
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, 1:08:13
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, 1:08:19
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, in 1:08:48
6) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, in 1:08:50
7) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, in 1:08:52
8) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, in 1:09:12
9) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, in 1:09:13
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 1:09:16
11) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 1:09:29
12) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, 1:09:30
13) Leif Hoste, Predictor-Lotto, in 1:09:30
14) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, in 1:09:43
15) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step, in 1:09:47
16) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, 1:09:47
17) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:09:51
18) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile 1:09:52
19) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, 1:09:57
20) David Millar, Saunier Duval, in 1:10:01
21) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, 1:10:04
22) Sébastien Rosseler, Quick Step, in 1:10:09
23) Markus Fothen, Gerolsteiner, in 1:10:14
24) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, in 1:10:16
25) George Hincapie, DSC, in 1:10:19
26) Carlos Sastre, CSC, in 1:10:35
27) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, in 1:10:39
28) Andrey Grivko, Milram, in 1:10:51
29) Kanstantsin Siutsou, Barloworld, in 1:10:54
30) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, in 1:10:56

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2007 in 2007 Stage 13 ITT, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christophe Moreau, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Iban Mayo, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro | 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 12, 2007

Stage 5 on the road

Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, who could have taken the King of the Mountains jersey yesterday, is on the attack, alongside FdJeux's Philippe Gilbert, Credit Agricole's William Bonnet, and Barloworld's Gianpaolo Cheula, who caught the trio after a long chase.

Chavanel has taken 1st over each of the minor climbs so far, and looks likely to take over the polka-dot jersey tonight.

CSC has announced it won't defend the yellow jersey today, as a late 2nd Category climb and a 3rd Category climb only 8 kilometers from the finish should shake up the overall classification. We're likely to see the first gruppetto, as the big sprinters huddle together, working together to finish before the time limit.

Milram's Brett Lancaster of Australia withdrew after 2 hours of riding today, complaining of ongoing stomach problems. That leaves 184 riders in the race.

Lots of little crashes have happened as the Tour's first real climbs approach. Saunier Duval's Iban Mayo was paced back to the peloton by all 8 teammates, while Astana's Andreas Klöden fell with a teammate and visited the medical car. More serious was a fall just after the feed zone by Geoffroy Lequatre of Cofidis, who spent several minutes sitting by the side of the road after as doctors examined his arm.

Chavanel's group has led by nearly 15 minutes, but they're slowly being reeled in, with a 7:42 lead with 60 miles/97 kms to ride.

On the day's biggest climb, Chavanel turned on the heat, and only Philippe Gilbert could match him. Over the top, Chavanel led Gilbert, with Cheula and Bonnet 3rd and 4th, and Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank jumped from the field to take 6 pts in 5th place ahead of Sergio Paulinho of Discovery Channel leading the pack.

The gap is hovering a little over 2 minutes, and Bonnet and Cheula have been captured, so only Chavanel and Gilbert still lead, with less than 40 kilometers/25 miles to ride.

Vinokourov has gone down hard! His whole team besides Andreas Klöden and Andrey Kashechkin come back to chase, and Vinokourov blows each in turn, until he's left with nothing but the team car to draft, working up through the back traffic.

Chavanel and Gilbert are captured just before the day's final summit, with CSC pounding the field forward, and Vinokourov struggling to rejoin.

Discovery Channel's Yaroslav Popovych launched an attack on the capture of Chavanel, and yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (!) powered the chase, which was short-circuited when Popovych and Cancellara overshot a corner and lost their momentum.

Coming into the finish, David Millar took a flier, with a Bouygues Telecom rider (probably Anthony Geslin), but they just dangled off the front into the final kilometer.

In the last 500 meters, Zabel and Freire looked well positioned, there comes George Hincapie, Bennati, and coming up fast through the middle, it's Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas taking the sprint! Pozzato took Milan-San Remo in 2006 and Stage 7 of the 2004 Tour, and told CyclingNews.com this morning that this was his stage.

The best way to follow the action in real time is to subscribe to my Twitter feed, which you can direct to your IM client or cell phone. A number of others are also Twittering the Tour, including David Bernstein of FredCast, CyclingNews.com (whose updates are usually truncated), Phil from Spinopsys, and Ken Conley.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rasmussen | Permalink | Comments (2) | 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)

July 10, 2007

Stage 3: The best jersey defense is a brilliant attack

Yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara showed brilliant tactical sense to take a beautiful stage win in Campiégne.

A 4-man break of Stéphane Augé, Matthieu Ladagnous, Frederik Willems, and Nicolas Vogondy were being reeled in with less than a kilometer to ride, and Cancellara attacked out of the field as the peloton neared the foursome. Like a flash, the world TT champion was past the four and flying. The chaos of setting up their finish sprints, the chaos of the catch, and the sudden and vicious attack put the sprinters on their heels, and by the time they could wind it up to speed, Cancellara was out of reach for a dramatic win.

It was Cancellara's 3rd career stage win, the first outside of a Prologue.

Top 10:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany
3) Danilo Napolitano, Lampre-Fondital, Italy
4) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium
5) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa
6) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany
7) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia
8) Bernhard Eisel, T-Mobile, Austria
9) Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile, Great Britain
10) Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, Germany

Stéphane Augé takes over the King of the Mountains jersey from David Millar, and Cancellara extends his yellow jersey lead with the bonus time from the stage win.

Overall standings after Stage 3:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland, in 15:12:08
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at :33
3) David Millar Saunier Duval, at :41
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :43
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, same time
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, at :45
7) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, at :46
8) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, same time
9) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, at :49
10) Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau, Euskaltel - Euskadi, Spain, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2007 in Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 09, 2007

Stage 2 crash roundup

Rodriguez checked after Stage 2 crash

Fabian Cancellara: The Guardian says it's a minor wrist injury for Cancellara, but that Lampre's sprint threat, Daniele Bennati was taken to the hospital and will have his hip scanned.

Discovery Channel's George Hincapie and Tomas Vaitkus were also in the thick of the crash. Cathy Mehl reports at ThePaceline.com that Hincapie appears OK and Vaitkus is being checked for a possible broken thumb. Update: Vaitkus “suffered unstable fractures of the right thumb,” and “will undergo surgery this evening and will not start TDF Stage 3.”

T-Mobile team reports that Mark Cavendish “was thrown head-long into the barriers where he lay for some minutes on the tarmac.” Cavendish suffered mostly bruises and is expected to continue in the race.

I still haven't seen anything on Fred Rodriguez, other than Richard Martin's AP photo at right.

CNNSI.com reports that Chris Horner had a front-row seat for the crash:

"Everybody went down, Thor (Hushovd) went down, (Fabian) Cancellara down, (Francisco) Ventoso went down, two guys from my team -- Leif (Hoste) and Freddy Rodriguez -- both crashed," Horner said. "I was behind it ... I started backing off."

Eurosport notes:

“Given the size of the crash and the speed of the pack when it took place, it would be a surprise if all 188 riders who started the stage will be ready to resume on Tuesday morning.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 in 2007 Stage 2, Chris Horner, Fabian Cancellara, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish | Permalink | Comments (7)

Stage 2: Steegmans leads self out for win

The story of the day is a late-stage crash, which took out a number of key riders with about 2 kms/1.25 miles to ride. It appeared a Milram rider pulled out of his pedal, slid out on the narrow road, and took a number of riders with him. Yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara went down hard, and riders filtered in for several minutes after the day's winners.

Most of the sprint specialists were positioned in front of the wreckage, including Stage 1 winner Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, and Robbie Hunter. Quick Step had Tom Boonen's leadout underway before the crash, and they followed through almost to perfection. The team asked Steegmans, Boonen's final draft, to stay on the front longer than normal because of a finishing hill. Boonen then had trouble getting around his big Belgian teammate, and Steegmans led Boonen across the line for a Quick Step, and Belgian, 1-2 on the day.

Afterward, Steegmans said if Boonen let him win, “it's the best present I have ever had,” Steegmans said.

“Anyway the important thing is we were first and second. It's my biggest win and at the best possible place and I won my first race as a child just 200m from this finishing line. I was overjoyed at the end.”

Top 10
1) Gert Steegmans, Quick Step-Innergetic, Belgium
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step-Innergetic, Belgium, same time
3) Fillippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
4) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa, s.t.
5) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
6) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, s.t.
7) Erik Zabel, Team Milram, Germany, s.t.
8) Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
9) Oscar Freire, Spain, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, s.t.

UCI rules neutralize the effect of late crashes by giving everyone held up by the crash the same time as the winner, so there's no significant change in the overall standings.

Overall standings after Stage 2:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany
3) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain

Boonen takes over the green jersey and moves up to 7th in the GC based on bonus time awarded for his 2nd on the stage.

The Guardian reports that Cancellara's wrist is a “minor injury,” but that Lampre's Daniele Bennati was taken to a local hospital after injuring his hip in the crash. Over at ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.), Cathy Mehl reports George Hincapie appears to be all right after lacerating his knee in the crash, and Tomas Vaitkus may have broken his thumb.


SportingLife.com | Steegmans prevails as crash mars finish

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Flickr'ing the Prologue

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

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

Some of my favorites:

Didi, by One Del?

Christophe Moreau, by Rider Planto

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

Vinokourov 2 3 4

Andreas Klöden

Zabriskie 2 3


Thomas Dekker

Fränk Schleck

Levi Leipheimer 2

David Millar

Bradley “Oasis” Wiggins, and underway

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

by popsarmchair


Tour de France, by One Del?

Tour de France 2007, by Rider Planto (131)

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

Le Tour de France 2007 - Prologue, by photoverulam

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

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

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

Tour de France, by sarflondondunc

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

Tour de France Prologue, by b3n bR0WN

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

July 08, 2007

Prologue photo galleries

GrahamWatson.com | Prologue photo gallery

Graham Watson again offers prints of every photo in his current Tour gallery -- this is a great chance to get a print of a favorite rider competing in the London Grand Depart.

www.cyclingnews.com | Prologue photo gallery

BBC SPORT | Tour de France prologue photo gallery


BBC London | Tour de France Saturday

BBC London is collecting pictures from the public, and here's the collection from yesterday. Quality is not great -- there are several better Flickr photosets -- but there are some fun pictures in here.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2007 in 2007 Tour de France photo galleries, Andreas Klöden, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2007

Cancellara hammers Tour prologue

CSC's Fabian Cancellara takes the first yellow jersey of the 2007 Tour, with a dominant time trial, 13 seconds faster than Astana's Andreas Klöden.

Klöden's performance looked like it wouldn't be matched, as Britain's Prologue favorites Brad Wiggins and David Millar clocked 9:13.92 and 9:23.60, respectively. But Fabian Cancellara predicted he would win this stage, and went out like a jet, scorching the flat, super-fast course.

George Hincapie makes yet another Prologue podium in 3rd, with Wiggins 4th for Cofidis. Discovery Channel and Astana both put 3 riders in the top 20: Hincapie, Vladimir Gusev, and Alberto Contador for Disco; and Klöden, Vinokourov, and Kashechkin for Astana.

Stage and Overall Top 20:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland, 8:50.74
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, 9:03.29
3) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, 9:13.75
4) Brad Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, 9:13.92
5) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, 9:15.99
6) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia
7) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, 9:20
8) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, 9:21
9) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, Italy, 9:23
10) Benoit Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, France, 9:23
11) Dave Zabriskie, Team CSC, USA, 9:23
12) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, 9:23
13) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, USA, 9:24
14) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, 9:24
15) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, 9:25
16) Andrey Kaschechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, 9:26
17) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, 9:26
18) William Bonnet, Credit Agricole, France, 9:26
19) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, France, 9:27
20) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, 9:28

Cancellara takes the first yellow jersey, while Vladimir Gusev takes the first white jersey.

My back-of-the-envelope math puts this at 53.586 kms/hour or about 33.3 miles/hour, assuming a course that's exactly 7.9 kilometers long.

David Millar was philosophical about his 13th place finish: “I was as good as I could be today,” he said. “I'm going to win a stage -- I guarantee I'm going to win a stage.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Thomas Dekker, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2007

Z's in! CSC announces Tour roster

David Zabriskie
David Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

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

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

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

Left off were veterans Bobby Julich, and Karsten Kroon.

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

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

June 28, 2007

Vaugrenard, Cancellara, Ascani win TT nats

With the Tour a little more than a week away, most of the European countries are holding their time trial championships, with road nationals this weekend.

Sweden: Gustav Larsson won the TT title ahead of TdFblog favorite Magnus Backstedt, with Thomas Lövkvist 8th.

France: Benoit Vaugrenard of Française des Jeux won the French time trial championship today, ahead of Dimitri Champion and Nicolas Vogondy. Last year's winner, Sylvain Chavanel, did not compete.

Switzerland: Fabian Cancellara showed why he wears those rainbow stripes, earning his 5th Swiss national title.

Italy: Luca Ascani of Aurum Hotels beat out '05 TT champ Marco Pinotti and Vincenzo Nibali to earn a maglia tricolore.

Germany: Former Phonak Bert Grabsch beat out Lars Teutenberg and Robert Bartko in Warnemünde on Sunday, while many of Germany's top TT men competed at the Tour de Suisse.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2007 in Fabian Cancellara | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

Zabriskie signs The Pledge

David Zabriskie
David Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
www.cyclingnews.com | Zabriskie wants 100 percent transparency

US time trial champion and former Tour yellow jersey David Zabriskie has signed the UCI's Riders' commitment to a new cycling.

Cyclingnews.com reports that Zabriskie becomes the 4th American to sign, after Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, T-Mobile's Aaron Olson, and Tyler Farrar of Cofidis.

Zabriskie's teammate Fabian Cancellara told tuttobiciweb.com the UCI statement “is truly stupid. I am 100 percent against it.”

Zabriskie awaits the CSC Tour squad announcement:

“I am sitting here in limbo, in space. ... I am waiting to see if I can go to the Tour,” he said. “I am should know in the next couple of days. The way I performed my chances should be good. I have improved a lot in mountains and I will help Carlos [Sastre] and Fränk [Schleck] in the mountains.”

Update: The latest provisional start list at Cycling4All.com has 7 CSCs confirmed: Arvesen, Cancellara, Kroon, O'Grady, Sastre, Schleck, and Voigt; and says the final 2 riders will come from Lars Bak, Inigo Cuesta, Bobby Julich, or Nicki Sørensen.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

Karpets is last Vladimir left at TdS

cyclingnews.com | Flying Karpets grabs Tour de Suisse

Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Karpets emerged victorious from the Tour of Vladimirs, as his teammate and former race leader Vladimir Efimkin faded in the time trial at the Tour of Switzerland Sunday.

CSC's Fabian Cancellara looks like a pretty good bet for the Tour de France prologue in London, as he took the day's 33.7-km time trial by 20 seconds ahead of Astana's Andreas Klöden. Cancellara also took the Swiss prologue, but Sunday was sweeter, coming in Bern, his hometown.

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher was 3rd on the day, at :33, ahead of Discovery's Stijn Devolder at 1:04, Discovery's Vladimir Gusev, who won Stage 7, at 1:05, and Karpets 6th at 1:06.

Efimkin could manage only 38th, dropping 3:22 to Cancellara.

Frank Schleck had promised to go all out to take the race lead, but he fell to 7th overall with a 29th-place finish on the day, 2:50 back.


VeloNews | Karpets wins Swiss tour; Cancellara bags final stage

cyclingnews.com | Stage 9 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 25, 2007 in Fabian Cancellara, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse 2007, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Dekker takes TdS Stage 6, Efimkin in yellow

With a major hailstorm striking during the race, organizers shortened the day's stage, skipping the Nufenenpass, and restarting the stage at Ulrichen at the 95 kilometers to ride point. Some riders reportedly needed medical treatment from hail strikes, and some team cars were damaged.

With the finish line just 1.7 kilometers below the day's last climb, the peloton's climbers had their eye on today's stage. Lampre's Damiano Cunego attacked on the slope, to be matched by (who else?) Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni.

When the select group brought those two back, Simoni's teammate José Angel Gomez Marchante attacked, but Cunego countered (shadowed by Simoni), and as the top of the climb approached, it looked like the strong group of 8 riders, including two Vladimirs, Karpets and Efimkin, as well as Simoni, Cunego, and Gomez Marchante, would come down to a sprint.

But Rabobank had a rider sitting quietly at the back of that group, fighting to hang on, and perhaps 200 meters before the top, Thomas Dekker gapped the leading group. Once over the top, Dekker streaked away on the downhill to the finish, going hard, tongue out, all the way to the 200-meter mark, when he finally felt comfortable sitting up, zipping the jersey, and enjoying the big win.

Former race leader Frank Shleck managed to stay with the climbers until the day's last 5 kilometers or so, but lost 1:20 on the day, and passes the jersey to Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Efimkin.

Dekker, the Tour of Romandy winner this year, said he was here starting his training for the Tour, and was surprised to feel so strong.

Tour of Switzerland Stage 6 Top 10
1) Thomas Dekker, Netherlands, Rabobank
2) Gerrit Glomser, Austria, Volksbank
3) Gilberto Simoni, Italy, Saunier Duval-Prodir
4) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
5) Damiano Cunego, Italy, Lampre
6) José Angel Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
7) Vladimir Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
8) Matteo Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
9) Andreas Klöden, Germany, Astana
10) Uran

Overall standings after Stage 6
1) Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
3) Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, CSC
4) Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
5) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
6) Kim Kirchen
7) Damiano Cunego
8) Xavier Florencio
9) Gilberto Simoni
10) Stijn Devolder

Bennati holds the sprint jersey, while Alessandro Proni holds the King of the Mountains jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Damiano Cunego, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Dekker, Tour de Suisse 2007, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Leipheimer dominates Cali TT

Leipheimer extends Amgen Tour lead with superb TT victory

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

Voigt over the top

Levi Leipheimer
By Ken Conley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 5 photo gallery

CyclingNews.com | Stage 5 ITT photo gallery

Ken Conley | Tour of California Stage 5 Flickr gallery

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

February 18, 2007

Leipheimer ekes out ToC prologue win

Jason Donald of Team Slipstream (formerly TIAA-CREF) shocked the field with a 4:50.497 on the course up to Coit Tower.

Donald was 7th to start the prologue, and as the riders got more and more established, nobody could top his early time. Discovery Channel's George Hincapie rode a 4:57 and change, US time trial champion Dave Zabriskie finished in 4:59.169, and even current world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara could manage only 4:55.098.

The last man to go was Levi Leipheimer, who won the inaugural Tour of California prologue last year, but in 4:53. Riding this year as the leader of Discovery Channel's squad, Leipheimer streaked through the course in 4:49.050, to take the first leader's jersey of the race. He'll wear it into his hometown, Santa Rosa, during tomorrow's stage.

1) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, 4:49.050
2) Jason Donald, US, Slipstream-Chipotle, + 1.447
3) Ben Jacques-Maynes, US, Priority Health-Bissel, +5.176
4) Rory Sutherland, Australia, Health Net-Maxxis, +5.649
5) Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, Team CSC, +6.048
6) Adam Hansen, Australia, T-Mobile, +6.55
7) Mauricio Ardila, Colombia, Rabobank, +7.86
8) Hilton Clarke, Australia, Navigators, +7.91
9) George Hincapie, US, Discovery Channel, +8.19
10) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators, +8.25

Jason Donald, 2nd on the day, is a climbing specialist out of Colorado, and had Phil Liggett doubting the race timekeepers during the broadcast. His 2 previous wins were a stage at the Tour of the Gila and the Colorado state criterium championship.

Priority Health-Bissel's Ben Jacques-Maynes rounds out the podium.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 18, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 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)

June 26, 2006

National championships roundup

Peter Mazur
Peter Mazur,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
A few surprises in the European national championships, as 32-year-old former Telekom pro Dirk Muller took the German title, and Spain called the whole thing off.

Riders in bold are provisional 2006 Tour de France starters.

ITT: Peter Luttenberger, CSC; Road: Bernhard Kohl, T-Mobile

Road: Niko Eeckhout

ITT: Brian Vandborg, CSC; Road: Allan Johansen, CSC

ITT: Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole; Road: Erki Pütsep, AG2R

ITT: Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis; Road: Florent Brard, Caisse d'Epargne

ITT: Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner; Road: Dirk Muller

Great Britain:
Road: Hamish Haynes

ITT: Marzio Brusheghin, Lampre; Road: Paolo Bettini, QuickStep

ITT: Maxim Iglinskiy, Milram; Road: Andrey Kasechkin, Astaná-Würth

ITT: Benoit Joachim, Discovery Channel; Road: Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile

ITT: Stef Clement, Bouyges Telecom; Road: Michael Boogerd, Rabobank

ITT: Kurt Asle Arvesen, CSC; Road: Lars Petter Nordhaug, T-Mobile

ITT: Peter Mazur, Saunier Duval (at right); Road: Mariusz Witecki

ITT: Gustav Larsson; Road, Thomas Lövkvist, Française des Jeux

ITT: Fabian Cancellara, CSC; Road, Gregory Rast, Phonak

ITT: Andrey Grivko, Milram

Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2006 in Fabian Cancellara, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

Cancellara disappointed to miss Tour

Eurosport | Cancellara crestfallen after Tour snub

CSC's Paris-Roubaix winner, Fabian Cancellara, was a surprise omission from Bjarne Riis's Tour squad.

Cancellara says he had structured his season around a possible repeat of his 2004 prologue victory, and is dejected that he won't be among the team's riders looking to give Ivan Basso his first Tour de France title.

“Bjarne has made his decision, which I know was difficult for him. He selected riders who are stronger than me in the mountains. It's a tactical decision, and I have to respect it. What does that change? I can't say right now. It's going to take me a few days to recover from the disappointment.”

Andrew Hood at VeloNews talked to Bjarne Riis about the decision, and Riis said he decided at the last minute to take Tour of Luxembourg winner Christian Vande Velde in place of Cancellara. Riis also cited the lack of a team time trial in this year's Tour in his decision.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 20, 2006 in Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

CSC names Tour nine; Cancellara left off

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

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

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

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

Team director Bjarne Riis:

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

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

June 18, 2006

Tour de Suisse ITT underway

The final stage of the Tour of Switzerland is underway; it's an up-and-down 30 kilometers from Kerzera to Bern.

Jan Ullrich lurks in 3rd, only 50 seconds behind yellow jersey Koldo Gil. He's the favorite to win the stage and the tour.

Early leader is CSC's Fabian Cancellara in 40:11.31.

T-Mobile's Michael Rogers is 2nd at 40:36.

Liquigas' Stefano Garzelli comes in in 40:22 to move into 2nd, so far. His teammate Michael Albasini will finish with both the climbers' and points jersey for the Tour de Suisse, and both are on the just-named Liquigas Tour squad.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 18, 2006 in Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Tour of Switzerland kicks off today

Cycling4all | Tour de Suisse start list

Cycling4All offers a final Tour de Suisse start list. Of course, Jan Ullrich is the biggest Tour GC threat at the race, starting today, but there are a lot of other Tour players involved.

Top sprinters Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen are here, and are the favorites for the Tour's green jersey this year. Thousand-time (okay, six-time) green jersey Erik Zabel is here, as well, leading Team Milram.

Others in competition: Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, and Bradley McGee.

Web streaming coverage is available from Cycling.TV's premium subscription service, where £19.99, or about $37, gets you a full year of racing. Today and tomorrow, subscribers have both the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse to choose from.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Cancellara conquers Catalonia kickoff

VeloNews.com | Cancellara takes his best shot and wins Cataluyna kickoff

CSC is firing on all cylinders. Their Fabian Cancellara took the first stage in the Tour of Catalonia today. Echoing his prologue win in the 2004 Tour de France, Cancellara finished the 12.5-km time trial in 14:55, 3 seconds faster than Illes Balears' Vladimir Karpets, Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic, and Phonak's Robbie Hunter.

Cancellara told VeloNews his personal ambition at the 2006 Tour is another prologue win:

"My entire Tour will be less than 10km. After that, I will do my all to help Ivan win," Cancellara said. "After that, I still have goals. I'd like to win the world (time trial) title in Austria."

Christian Vandevelde was 8th on the day, Levi Leipheimer 13th, and Cadel Evans 20th.


CyclingNews.com | Stage Results | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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

April 18, 2006

Wiggins: Color me yellow

BBC SPORT | Wiggins on target for Tour glory

Bradley Wiggins has made his pick for the 2006 Tour prologue in Strasbourg, and it's ... Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins told BBC Sport he is at his fittest:

“The difference between winning the yellow jersey and ending fifth will be minute but, as it stands, I'm a match for any of the top time triallers.”

That would include 2005 “non-prologue” winner David Zabriskie of CSC, 2004 prologue winner Fabian Cancellara, and 2000 prologue winner David Millar, who will be returning to racing after a 2-year doping ban.

A 2004 gold medal winner on the track, Wiggins was 7th at the Paris-Nice prologue and Top 50 at Paris-Roubaix, but didn't want to mix it up when the P-R going got tough:

“I could have gone with the eventual winners at Paris-Roubaix,” he added, “but I thought ‘what's the point in taking the risk?’ when it wasn't one of my season goals. I decided to save myself for the Tour.”

Posted by Frank Steele on April 18, 2006 in Bradley Wiggins, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

Paris-Roubaix: Cancellara conquers classic

VeloNews.com | Paris-Roubaix: Fabian the giant killer

Cancellara triumphant
Cancellara gives CSC a P-R
AP/Michel Spingler
CSC's Fabian Cancellara took his biggest win since the 2004 Tour prologue, escaping with classics specialist Peter Van Petegem and losing him on the Carrefour de l'Arbre.

Cancellara was aided by a train, whose inopportune timing led to Petegem and Discovery Channel's Leif Hoste and Vladimir Gusev being disqualified for going around the crossing barricades. Boonen and the rest of the field were held up for 15 seconds or so, and after that, with 10 kilometers to ride, Cancellara was home free. The judges' decision has unleashed a firestorm, since Boonen's group also went around the barricades, but after rather than before the train came through. CyclingNews.com offers UCI President Pat McQuaid's take on the ruling, and notes that Petegem's Davitamon-Lotto team has lodged a formal protest (in 3 languages).

Cancellara's DS, Bjarne Riis, on the win:

“This is perhaps the biggest result in the history of the team; it is most definitely one of them, but of course it's hard to compare the different races. In my eyes Paris-Roubaix is the most spectacular one day race of them all, and the way Fabian won it shows his great, great class.”
Hincapie crestfallen
Hincapie fractures shoulder
cyclingnews/Fotoreporter Sirotti
Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, who has long named a Paris-Roubaix victory as one of his goals, crashed out with a broken steerer tube. Hincapie was riding a custom Trek, featuring an elastomer suspension and other features to minimize the vibration and pounding of the most rugged of the classics. Hincapie went down hard on his right shoulder, and reports on Monday say Hincapie will have surgery and miss 15 days of racing. Hincapie's prototype featured an aluminum steerer bonded to an OCLV fork, which Trek will reportedly be examining closely. That puts him out of next week's Tour de Georgia. ThePaceline.com has photos of Hincapie with wife and daughter in his cast and sling at the Atlanta Airport Monday.

Over at DailyPeloton.com, Vaughn Trevi, summed up Hincapie's day:

Hincapie undoubtedly in the best form of his career in an opportune situation with two of his team in the break was given the worst decision of the fates on this Sunday in Hell.
Tom Boonen, the prohibitive favorite to repeat last year's victory, was isolated from the Quick.Step team that has controlled the spring classics calendar. CSC, Team Discovery, and some opportunists kept the pace at full hammer all day. The disqualifications left Boonen in 2nd, and meant he'll wear the hybrid World Champion/ProTour leader's jersey for a while longer.


Eurosport.com | “I was the strongest”

cyclingnews.com | 104th Paris-Roubaix: The mean machine takes first Roubaix win for CSC


GrahamWatson.com | Paris-Roubaix

cyclingnews.com | 104th Paris-Roubaix photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on April 10, 2006 in Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Team CSC bringing Tour heavyweights to Tour of California

Team CSC | CSC Announces Tour of California Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 24, 2005


Vino takes Champs victory
Vino takes Champs victory
T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov put on an awesome show of force on Sunday, outriding half the field to take the Tour's final stage in Paris.

Breaking away on the last lap of the day, Vinokourov managed to gap and hold a gap to the teams trying to set up their sprinters: Cofidis, Davitamon-Lotto, Liberty Seguros, and FdJeux.

Joined by Fabian Cancellara, then by Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, Vinokourov put his head down, and countered an attack by McGee to take the stage.

Lance Armstrong, of course, nails down his 7th overall victory in the Tour, and took the podium flanked by his 3 children. He also spoke to the crowd (and TV audience) from the podium, an unprecedented act for the Tour winner.

After some debate, judges awarded bonus time to Vinokourov for the stage victory, which lifted him into 5th overall on the Tour and dropped Levi Leipheimer down to 6th.

Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd of Norway nailed down the green jersey competition.

Oscar Pereiro was named the most combative rider of the Tour.

T-Mobile took the team competition, along with 3 stage wins.

Stage Top 10:
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, in 3:40:57
2) Brad McGee, Française des Jeux, same time
3) Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
4) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
5) Stuart O’Grady, Cofidis, s.t.
6) Allan Davis, Liberty Seguros, s.t.
7) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
8) Baden Cooke, Française des Jeux, s.t.
9) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
10) Robert Forster, Gerolsteiner, s.t.

Aussies in 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th on the day.

Overall Top 10 ("GC"):
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, in 86:15:02
2) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 4:40
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 6:21
4) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, at 9:59
5) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 11:01
6) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 11:21
7) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 11:33
8) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:55
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 12:44
10) Oscar Pereiro, Phonak, at 16:14

Compared to last year's final GC, Pereiro is 10th again, Leipheimer climbs from 9th to 6th, Mancebo improves from 6th to 4th, Ullrich goes from 4th to 3rd, and Basso improves from 3rd to 2nd. New names in the Top 10 this year are Vinokourov, who will certainly keep things interesting wherever he winds up next year; Rasmussen, who owned the big mountains; Evans, who had an excellent 1st Tour at 8th; and Landis, who I felt rode a very defensive Tour, and was never really able to take the attack to the leaders.

Final Jerseys:

Lance Armstrong

Thor Hushovd

Michael Rasmussen

Yaroslav Popovych


letour.fr | Stage 21 standings | Overall standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Bradley McGee, Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (14)

July 07, 2005

DailyPeloton's Jambon Report for Stage 6

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 6

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

Today is probably my favorite of the Tour so far:

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

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

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

July 05, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 3 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France Stage 3 Photo Gallery

There goes Dekker Boonen and Cancellara Zabriskie's last night in yellow?
There goes Dekker, Boonen & Cancellara and
Zabriskie's last night in yellow? from grahamwatson.com


ThePaceline.com (free registration required) | Graham Watson: Stage 3 Report

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Stage 2 wrap-ups

VeloNews | Zabriskie, Boonen grab the headlines

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

letour.fr | Stage Standings | Overall Standings

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

July 02, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 1 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France Stage 1 - Individual Time Trial

Leipheimer looks strong and thin Cancellara took the white jersey lead Phonak's Floyd Landis Zabriskie rocking
Levi, Fabian, Floyd, and Dave from GrahamWatson.com

Graham Watson is the premier cycling photographer working today. He's writing a daily column at Chris Brewer's ThePaceline.com (free registration required), as well.

During the Giro, he was providing on-demand prints for sale, so that you could order up-to-poster sized prints of his shots the day they were taken. I'm hoping that will return for the Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stage 1 recaps coming in

BBC SPORT | American duo dominate Tour opener

    Some other thoughts on Stage 1:

  • I haven't heard OLN mention it, but Zabriskie rode for US Postal through last season, and the team apparently didn't make a big effort to keep him. VeloNews interviewed Bobby Julich in late February:
    The first thing was total disbelief ... that Postal Service wouldn't sign David Zabriskie. I was blown away and I had to ask (Riis), are you sure that he's available? Absolutely, 100 percent this is the guy you want because by far he is the top American talent under the age of 25.

    Update: VeloNews asked about the switch:

    Zabriskie, who switched to CSC after riding for U.S. Postal until last year, credited his former squad, saying his years there were "good" and that they "were development years that helped me progress as a rider. They gave me a start and a lot of experience."

    I heard Bob Roll say Zabriskie would wear the white jersey, but he was born in 1979, so he's a few months too old for that competition.

  • Picture of the day:

    See ya -- Armstrong reels in Ullrich
    See ya: Armstrong reels in Ullrich
    from BBC Sport's Stage 1 photo gallery
  • Jersey roundup: Zabriskie does hold yellow and green, there were no climbing points awarded, CSC leads Discovery in team rankings (by 4 seconds!), and Fabian Cancellara of Fassa Bortolo takes the white jersey. Your first lanterne rouge is Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli, who won't hold that distinction once we hit the mountains. Somehow, he finished 4:40 back of Zabriskie; the next slowest rider, Domina Vacanze's Rafael Nuritdinov, was at 3:50 on the day.
  • Iban Mayo, whose form was considered something of a mystery, cleared everything up today, finishing 175th of 189. He's already 3:14 back of Zabriskie.


cyclingnews.com | Zabriskie surprises for stage win and maillot jaune

letour.fr | Stage 1 standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2005 in Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

New national champions at the Tour

Yesterday was the day for national championships across Europe. One side effect of those races is that they provide distinctive jerseys for riders in the Tour de France; here's a rundown of who's stocking new jerseys this week:

National road race champs in the Tour:

Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile: Kazakhstan
Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouyges Telecom: France
Leon Van Bon, Davitamon-Lotto: The Netherlands
Gerrit Glomser, Lampre-Caffita: Austria
Juan Manuel Garate, Saunier Duval-Prodir: Spain

Robbie McEwen won the Australian national championships back in January.

It may be more surprising what jerseys aren't going to be there: Belgium (Serge Baguet), Italy (Enrico Gasparotto), Germany (18-year-old Gerald Ciolek, breaking T-Mobile's 12-year stream of German champions), Russia (Sergei Ivanov), and Norway (Morten Christiansen).

On the Time Trial side:

Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo: Switzerland
Michael Rich, Gerolsteiner: Germany
Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis: France
Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole: Norway

I'm probably overlooking a couple (Luxembourg?) -- please post additional national champs.


Eurosport | National Championships | Time Trial Results

procycling.com | National champs: German teenager wins title

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack