Results tagged “Bagneres-de-Bigorrem” from spare cycles

Stage 9: Ricco the Cobra strikes again

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letour.jpgIt's a good thing that Ricco decided to come to the Tour de France after all. With a more proper mountain stage win to his credit he can now start accepting the comparisons to Marco Pantani in earnest. Saunier Duval was all over the front of the peloton as riders tried their attack. He flew off the front of the pack on the Col d'Aspin -- it looked like he was climbing a different mountain the way he blazed past everyone else on the mountain. from there was long 26km descent to down the long descent to the finish in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, which Ricco tackled with ease. Meanwhile, Caisse d'Epargne looked to have the chase group in control up the Col d'Aspin and on the half-hearted chase to the finish -- plenty of riders were attacking out of the chase, including Efimkin, who took second place.

Ricco's success was in part due to the conservativeness of the GC leaders. Evans managed a small crash to get road rash to match Valverde's and everyone seemed content to save energy for tomorrow's big stage. The 26km descent from the Col d'Aspin to the finish line was really too much energy for any of them to waste. Tomorrow there's the Col du Tourmalet and a mountain top finish on the Hautacam to contend with.

Schumacher tried a small acceleration on the Col d'Aspin which cost him in the ended -- Vande Velde took over his third place spot as he ended up losing time to the rest of the GC contenders. Columbia's Thomas Lövkvist also had trouble today and passed his white jersey to CSC's Andy Schleck.

It will be interesting to see if Ricco takes over for teammate David de la Fuente in the hunt for polka dot points. de la Fuente had his own battle today as he had to protect his jersey from assault by Sebastian Lang, who was part of the early break that lasted all the way to the Col d'Aspin. de la Fuente dug deep to get 4th on the climb and keep his lead.

(I just got back from Comic-Con this morning - which I'll have plenty of posts from. Trusty TiVo recorded the TdF for me while I was gone, but I've only had time to catch up on the Individual TT and this morning's Stage 15)

stage profile

photoStage 15 was simply awesome. If you thought the attacks on Stage 8 had drama, this morning's stage had all of that and then some.

The drama first started on the Col du Tourmalet (site of last year's Armstrong-Heras-Beloki train). Ullrich attacked 3/4 of the way up, but Armstrong was able to contain the attack. However, damage was being done to Vinokourov who was dropped and did not catch back up until Luz-Ardiden. With neither able to assert an advantage, Armstrong and Ullrich both waited for their teammates to return to the group for the final ascent.

They didn't get to use their teammates for too long as Mayo launched an attack which Armstrong caught up with and continued. Vinokourov was dropped again and wouldn't recover. And then came the watercooler moment of the ascent: Armstrong was leading the attack with Mayo on his back wheel. As he came around a turn, a fan's musette caught his right brake lever and dropped the bike to the group, with Mayo falling on top. CheChu led Armstrong back into the chase group, and Ullrich and Hamilton slowed the chase group to wait for Armstrong's return. As Armstrong bridged back up to the chase group his right foot slipped out of the pedal, making everyone wonder what sort of damage had been done to his bike.

However, rather than pause to switch bikes, Armstrong caught up to the chase group and then launched the final attack of the day, leaving Ullrich unable to respond. Armstrong caught up to Chavanel, gave him a respectful pat on the back, and then continued his climb to the finish line on Luz-Ardiden. Armstrong finally gets his individual stage win of the tour, and on a stage that people hoped he would leave his mark on.

Congrats to Chavanel who dominated the mountains today, but was caught in the final kilometers of Luz-Ardiden.