Results tagged “Carlos Sastre” from spare cycles

Stage 17: All on Sastre, Was it Enough?

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letour.jpgWas it enough? That's the big question today as CSC played a great hand today, successfully transferred the yellow jersey to their anointed leader, Carlos Sastre. Another stage win on Alpe d'Huez and another yellow jersey are cause for celebration, but Evans knew he could sacrifice both today as long as he kept the gap close. 1'34" seems like a pretty small number when you think of Evans on his prototype Ridley TT bike. It seems strange to say, but CSC, sitting in first and second in the GC, must be worried.

Alpe d'Huez, it's switchbacks adorned with drunken and partially dressed fans, delivered the promised drama as all the GC contenders had to duke it out on the last decisive mountain stage for this Tour. As it has been in the mountains of this Tour, it was Riis' CSC team that controlled the tactics on the day, delivering his three climbers to the base of the Alpe d'Huez primed and ready. The Sastre/Schlecks trio worked to perfection as Sastre attacked at immediately, once, then twice, to solo his way to victory and yellow. As all eyes watched Frank Schleck in the yellow jersey among them, no one seemed intent on chasing the future yellow jersey ahead.

Move after move attempted to go up the road, but Andy Schleck was on amazing form and played the role of sheep herder to perfection. Anyone who attacked quickly found Andy stuck to their back wheel, dragging them back. It all seemed effortless as he moved back and forth up the chase group, keeping his wheeled sheep in a tight bunch. The chase group was unable to maintain any sort of pace: Menchov had been dropped after unwisely attempting to go with Sastre's first dig, but was able to claw his way back in as the pace stuttered.

As Sastre's lead hit the two minute mark, the grand moment that everyone seemed to be waiting for happened: Evans went to the front to chase. He proved his reserve was simply patience, not weakness, as he single-handedly kept Sastre's lead contained even under the brunt of CSC's three-pronged attack.

Christian Vande Velde fought valiantly to try and claw back the time he lost yesterday, but ultimately his efforts were spoiled by both Andy Schleck's policing and Bernhard Kohl, who seemed eager to chase down every move early on the climb. Vande Velde was able to put in a final jump with less than 2k to go, but he couldn't stay free of the chase and was caught at the line.

AG2R had a good ride today with Valjavec and Efimkin both putting in good attacks today to round out the top ten in GC.

Stage 15: Deadly Andy, Triumphant Frank

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letour.jpgThere were two races today. Egoi Martinez, Danny Pate, Simon Gerrans, and José Luis Arrieta formed the early break and probably weren't expecting to stay away, but nasty conditions on the road changed the storyline. Oscar Pereiro was the victim of a terrible broken-bones crash, going over a guard rail and falling five meters to the switchback below. There was also a double pileup on both sides of roundabout as the slick conditions knocked the peloton over like dominoes. Even Menchov had a big dig undone by a slippery switchback.

In the race of the breakaway, Egoi Martinez looked to be the strongest as he broke the group apart on the slopes of Prato Nevoso. But Pate bridged back and, more slowly but surely, Gerrans bridged back as well. Gerrans then somehow found the legs to attack on the steep slopes of the finish to take the win ahead of Martinez and Pate. I've photographed Danny Pate winning on the flat turf of Missouri, but little did I expect the "TT specialist" to hang with a Spanish climber in the Pyrenees. I think Vaughters owes him a giant bottle of wine as well.

In the race of the GC, CSC again brought the pain. Nearly the entire team was in force to ratchet up the tempo, but it was Deadly Andy Schleck who deserves the big kudos on the day as he slew the yellow dragon Cadel Evans. So much was expected of Andy Schleck, even a yellow jersey, but he had a bad time in the Pyrenees. Today he showed why so much potential is seen in the young rider. He hammered the leaders repeatedly and each time he seemed used up, Sastre would then launch a big attack. Then it would come back together, Deadly Andy would fight back up, and then kill them again. Brother Frank sat comfortably on Cadel Evans' wheel, letting him try and dig the sharp attacks back, weakening with each attempt. It was cruel, almost, to watch the CSC trio dismantle Evans.

Sastre, Kohl, and Menchov finally sprung free and Valverde bridged up. It was open bar on Evans as everyone in the top ten sensed the opportunity to gain time. Kohl, sitting in fourth place in the GC, was suddenly in position to take the yellow jersey from Evans. Only Sastre could hold onto his wheel as Kohl sprinted for fifth place on the day. Kohl is a familiar sight in the mountains, but who would have predicted that the Gerolsteiner rider would be laying it all on the line on in the Alps to take yellow?

It was then up to Frank Schleck to determine who would win the battle for yellow. With Evans reeling, the advantage was Frank Schleck's: he only needed one second and he got nine. It was a bit cruel for poor Kohl, who needed 46 seconds to take yellow and got 47, but he did take the KOM jersey for his efforts.

Christian Vande Velde gained time on Evans as well but lost spots in the GC as Kohl and Menchov were able to leapfrog with their efforts. Menchov suddenly seems a lot more dangerous and will be watched more carefully as he's quietly fought back the time lost due to inattentiveness on the flat, windy stages.

CSC can't celebrate just yet. They'll need a lot more time than 8 seconds on Evans to take yellow in Paris, so expect more fireworks after the rest day.

Discovery hit Rasmussen with everything they had, isolating Rasmussen early on the slopes of the Col d'Aubisque. Levi and Contador launched attacks back and forth, but in the end it was Rasmussen who launched the final attack in the final kilometer to take the stage win. Rasmussen rolled through to a chorus of cheers and boos.

Discovery's game plan was near perfect, but Rasmussen was not to be broken. Popovych went to the front to set a blistering pace after Rabobank's Menchov cracked. Boogerd was quickly shed as well, leaving Rasmussen all by himself. Soon it was just six riders, with three of those riders from Discovery. Levi launched the first attack and zoomed past Sastre's and Mayo's breakaway. Levi and Contador exchanged attacks on Rasmussen until it was just Contador and Rasmussen together, with Levi and Evans chasing. Levi was able to chase back up and setup the final selection for the day: Leipheimer, Rasmussen, and Contador.

Levi led Contador and Rasmussen up the slopes of the Aubisque with Evans dangling behind. Rasmussen was in control, worried more about waving off TV motos than Leipheimer's and Contador's efforts. He even took the time to encourage Levi's effort at the front to move onto the podium over Evans. The attacks from Discovery were over and as the final kilometer kite dangled overhead, Rasmussen left Contador and Rasmussen in his dust. Levi jumped for second to take the 0:12 time bonus and a 0:43 gap on Evans. Evans fought valiantly to keep his losses to a minimum, even pulling back some time before losing most of it in the final kilometer. Levi pulled to within 0:56 of Evans, so Levi will have to ride the time trial of his career to finish in third -- he seems motivated to do it, but Evans is the unofficial winner of the first time trial.

Sastre tried to make it his day by attacking on the very first mountain and being joined by Mayo and Soler, but by the Aubisque their lead was less than a minute -- it didn't last very long with Discovery's assault on Rabobank. The break was worthwhile for Soler, who took most of the KOM points on the day to move into the KOM lead (he no longer has to wear a borrowed jersey from Rasmussen). Soler moved into the tenth overall.

Valverde moved into seventh place while Kirchen dropped to eighth. Astarloza lost his top-ten placing.

The stage was harsh on the peloton today. It was whittled down to 25 riders on the very first climb and many riders spent their time chasing back on the descents.

Also:

Best. Ride. Ever.

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

Floyd Landis at a dinner full of carbs and panache last night and hit the peloton hard out of the gates -- the Tour is his to win once more. What do you do when your team is weak and you lost ten minutes yesterday? You burn them up at the start of the race to jump free from the pack then ride solo across the entire stage, watching as the top ten contenders can't figure out what to do about it. With water bottle in hand, constantly pouring water over his head and back, Landis delivered the ride of the century, winning the stage, 5:42 ahead of Sastre, 7:08 ahead of Pereiro, jumping back on the podium, and positioning himself one time trial away from victory in Paris. Landis' quote at the end of the race talking to his wife, "I wanted six."

As Landis built up a lead of over nine minutes, the top ten continued to let Caisse do all the work, even as their team whittled down to only one rider in front of Oscar Pereiro. CSC and T-Mobile finally sent their riders to the front on the penultimate climb to do some serious chasing, but they still gave Landis 6:32 at the start of the final Joux Plane climb. Voigt and Vandevelde pulled off the CSC train and Schleck pulled through to launch Sastre. From there, it was absolute chaos as Sastre raced ahead, pulling back time on Landis, while Menchov, Kloden, Pereiro, and Evans yo-yo'd back and forth further back. Moreau and Cunego managed to jump ahead, but everyone else eventually fell behind Pereiro's wheel as the yellow jersey fought hard to stay in yellow.

This is the GC after today's stage. The Stage 19 time trial will be one for the ages: 1. Oscar Pereiro Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 80:08:49 2. Carlos Sastre Team CSC 0:11 3. Floyd Landis Phonak 0:31 4. Andreas Kl�den T-Mobile 2:29 5. Cadel Evans Davitamon-Lotto 3:08 6. Denis Menchov Rabobank 4:14


* VeloNews Stage 17 summary * Cycling News Stage 17 summary * Graham Watson Stage 17 photo gallery * Bob Martin's Stage 17 by the numbers * Floyd Landis Stage 17 interview * Dave Zabriskie Stage 17 diary

Prediction check: * My prediction: It's going to be hard for a non-GC contender to win given the GC battle that will occur today. This is Discovery's last chance to go for a stage win so they'll be in a break up front. Landis needs to recover and claw back some of those ten minutes he lost. Sastre will jump but Kl�den's charge will be hard to hold off. I'm going to say Landis if he can descend that final peak like he stole something. * Actual: all of that happened, except Kloden's charge wasn't hard to hold off, and I never thought that Landis would get over seven minutes on the yellow jersey. Striking distance of the podium? Perhaps. On the podium, wow.

Okay, now it's a wide open Tour. Ever since the time trial, it was the Landis show, but the final climb today change the story of this Tour and broke it wide open. Landis lost over ten minutes today and dropped to 11th overall, off the podium for good. It's now just Pereiro, and Sastre Kloden, and Evans left to duke it out, as Menchov probably lost a bit too much time as well (GC -3:58). The final time trial, sometimes for show, sometimes decisive, will be perhaps the most decisive time trial ever. And there's one more day of Alps before that.

I'll break down today's results by team, as it's the teams that mattered today:

  • Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRabobank: What a day for Rasmussen, who took the stage and the KOM jersey. Rasmussen had been sacrificing KOM points in order to help out Menchov. After Menchov's bad day yesterday, Rasmussen was given free reign and showed the form he's been holding back. Unfortunately for Rabobank, Menchov could have used Rasmussen's help most as Landis cracked, the contenders pushed their advantage, but Menchov couldn't hold with that group. (Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

  • CSC: CSC continues to have an amazing week as Sastre gained the most today in the overall, but it wasn't enough to catch Pereiro. Sastre will have to try again tomorrow to take that jersey, but Sastre's bigger concern is the good time trialers who are just behind him in the standings now. Sastre got a lot of help from Schleck and Vandevelde. Schleck somehow managed to find legs after yesterday's hard win and Vandevelde was constantly fighting back into the group to do some pulls and hand over water. Just think, CSC lost Basso and Julich, O'Grady is injured, and they ride themselves to stage victory yesterday and second place overall today.

  • Caisse: Caisse believed in Pereiro's chances and were there in numbers untl the final attack. I believe I counted three teammates with him (Karpets, Arroyo, and Xandio). Imagine their strength if Valverde was still in the hunt. I expect a strong defense from Caisse tomorrow.

  • Phonak: I've been dissing Phonak since the Tour of California, and today gives me no reason to stop. Merckx was the only teammate there for Landis, but more often than not he was riding on Landis' wheel or yo-yoing off the back. Landis needed more than one dedicated teammate, because he got hit hard by T-Mobile and CSC today and it wasn't until he had lost about five minutes that Merckx reappeared to pace him into the finish.

  • Discovery: I guess having Armstrong in the car behind you doesn't help. Popo and CheChu couldn't press the break and Azevedo popped like Landis at the end.

  • AG2R: Where did Dessel come from? I don't know, but his teammates and him are pulling themselves inside out to stay top 5 and give France something to cheer about in the overall.

  • T-Mobile: I'm putting T-Mobile last on this list because T-Mobile has the dumbest tactics of any team in the Tour. Last year they chased back an attack by their own teammate Vinokourov, pulling Armstrong with them. In [stage 11][stage11], they blew their own team and leader up by attacking too hard on the penultimate climb, at a time when they dominated the top ten standings. Today, they made two big mistakes. The first was when Menchov attacked and Rogers latched on: Mazzolini and Kloden pulled the break and their own teammate back, towing Landis with them. That didn't matter too much in the end as Landis cracked, but the second mistake was then never attacking. They had four riders on the final climb. Maybe they didn't want repeat their stage 11 mistake, but instead of pushing the advantage, they watched Sastre climb ahead to victory. Today was a chance to gain time on all the other contenders, but for the most part they just held the status quo. I think they are placing too big of a bet on the time trial. It's a descent bet, but a better bet would have been to trim away a bit of Pereiro's and Sastre's lead.

Pereiro in the yellow jersey again will renew the [Landis giveaway debate][debate], but really it didn't matter for Landis. Landis lost so much time today that someone other than him would be wearing yellow. If it matters to anyone, it will be Sastre and Kloden, who now have another contender to knock off. Sastre would be wearing yellow right now, but instead he has to figure out how to get two minutes on a rejuvenanted Periero.

The current overall standings tell the tale: 1. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B. 2. Carlos Sastre (Sp),