Results tagged “Christian Vandevelde” 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.

letour.jpgLots of riders were sent up the road today -- some for individual glory, some as GC pawns. Cyril Dessel took the glory and didn't even seem to see the finish line as he sprinted across ahead of Casar, Arroyo, and Popovych. Columbia seemed well positioned with Hincapie and Siutsou in the break, but they weren't able to make the selection over the top of the final Cime de la Bonette. Schumacher spent much of the day off the front by himself but full apart on the Cime de la Bonette-Restafond.

CSC continues to dominate the peloton in the mountains. O'Grady, Cancellara, and Gustov all went to the front to crack some legs on the Cime de la Bonette-Restafond. They also won the send-a-teammate-up-the-road sweepstakes as both Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Jens Voigt were able to come back and provide assistance and tempo. When it wasn't one of those riders in front, it was grimacing face of Andy Schleck dosing out the pain pills. Bjarne Riis wanted more climbs to force selections, but even with the full armada firing salvos, CSC didn't push the group hard enough -- perhaps they were saving energy for tomorrow.

Vande Velde was the big casualty, losing time on final climb and then even more time on the descent as he crashed. Luckily he was able to have Ryder Hesjedal drop back from the break to help out. Menchov was a smaller casualty as he became unhitched on the windy descent to the finish -- Kirchen joined him on the chase to the finish. Valverde lost ground on the steep ramps at the top of the Bonette, but his descending skills got him back into the yellow-jersey group.

Evans seemed unthreated by the pressure of CSC, even prefering to weather it all himself san teammates. He had Popovych up the road, but Popovych got the green light to go for the stage win instead of dropping back to provide help Evans. CSC has to hope that they hurt his legs enough before tomorrow's Galibier-Telegraphe-Croix de Fer-Alpe d'Huez smackdown.

The Tour's youngest rider John-Lee Augustyn of Barloworld probably had the best and worst day of his career: he took the final climb up the Bonette-Restafond, then proceeded to shoot straight off the side of the mountain on the descent. The helicopters were there to catch his head-first belly-slide down the slopes in all its glory, but most importantly he was not seriously injured.

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.

Olympians

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Levi and DZ - (c) Ken Conley

USA Cycling announced most of the Olympic roster today. Several womens' selections won't be announced until July 15.

Men's Road Race

  • Levi Leipheimer
  • George Hincapie
  • Jason McCartney
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • Dave Zabriskie

Men's TT

  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Dave Zabriskie

Women's TT and Road

  • Kristin Armstrong
  • Two more TBA

Men's MTB

  • Todd Wells
  • Adam Craig

Women's MTB

  • Georgia Gould
  • One more TBA

Men's Track

  • Michael Blatchford
  • Bobby Lea
  • Taylor Phinney
  • Adam Duvendeck
  • Michael Friedman
  • Giddeon Massie

Women's Track

  • Sarah Hammer
  • Jennie Reed

See the USA Cycling press release for more.

Who knew the NYTimes is a cycling site?

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More Stage 7 Photos: Champagne Fight and More

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Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley Levi and Odessa - (c) Ken Conley Christian Vande Velde - (c) Ken Conley Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Dominique Rollin - (c) Ken Conley Tom Zirbel - (c) Ken Conley Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Alexandre Moos - (c) Ken Conley

Levi was relentless when it came to the champagne fight -- I've never seen such a bleary-eyed podium. Dominique Rollin also tried to score points with the Rock Racing girls by handing them flowers, David MIllar showed patience in opening his champagne even as Levi sprayed him, Christian Vande Velde was smart enough to hand-off his baby before the champagne fight began, and Zabriskie was even smarter to use the giant check as a shield and then run off the stage with it.

Hincapie Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Team High Road got redemption today as George Hincapie delivered from the breakaway. After misjudging Dominique Rollin in Stage 4 and losing victory in Stage 6, High Road can at last celebrate. You had the feeling that there were many in the peloton content to see if Hincapie or any of the other riders in the break could pull one out for their teams. Tom Zirbel had the boldest move, surviving several laps off the front, Michael Creed made a go for Rock Racing, Rory Sutherland put his Most Aggressive jersey to use, and Jason McCartney tried to bookend the ToC for CSC, but Hincapie had the best legs.

It's only fitting that the 2008 Tour of California end with soggy conditions, though more severe snow and flash flood conditions were avoided. As if tuned to race time, the sun and a rainbow emerged for Levi Leipheimer to gaze upon as he accepted his second straight overall victory. Leipheimer used the platform to continue to argue for Tour de France entry, as well as spray David Millar and Christian Vande Velde with champagne.

Slipstream-Chipotle has made impressive gains in just a year. With second and third place overall, best team, and Steven Cozza animating the breaks, it looks like they will be a team to watch on the international stage.

Millcreek Summit Descent - (c) Ken Conley

Millcreek Summit Descent - (c) Ken Conley Cavendish Takes the Bunch Sprint - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Stage 5: Levi Wins in Solvang Again

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Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

David Millar - (c) Ken Conley Christian Vandevelde - (c) Ken Conley

Dave Zabriskie - (c) Ken Conley Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley Podium - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 5 Solvang Photo Gallery

Today started off ominously -- the skies poured rain off and on before the stage start and the navigation dial on my camera, which has the important duty of selecting my autofocus point, was only recognizing two out of its nine directions. Riders were stilled dazed from yesterday's efforts: Danny Pate talked about only being able to put down 1000 calories yesterday on a day he burned 5000. There seemed to be a lot less riders taking warmup rides than last year. And then it got better, much better. The roads dried off. Blue skies rolled in. My camera started working again.

Levi Leipheimer and Astana were the big winners on the day as Levi once again defended his overall lead in Solvang. Slipstream had a banner day as well -- they weren't able to beat Levi, but they took second, third, and sixth places. CSC took fourth and fifth, but Cancellara wasn't pull off his best effort after a rough week in the rain.

Stage 5 Solvang Photo Gallery

Steven Cozza
Slipstream rider Steven Cozza at the ToC
I may be the last cycling site reporting this, but Millar, Zabriskie, and Vande Velde are all confirmed to be future argyle-sporting riders. Millar and Vande Velde are training partners according to ROAD Mag, and DZ + VV are already teammates. Add Millar's reformed anti-doping stance and the CSC drug testing program and it seems like a good trio of riders to pick up. I'm happy as it means that I should be able to see more of those riders state-side.

Update: "Former Paris-Roubaix winner" to Slipstream as well, which, according to CyclingNews, means either Stuart O'Grady (2007), Fabian Cancellara (2006), Tom Boonen (2005), Magnus Backstedt (2004), or Peter Van Petegem (2003). Backstedt was part of early rumors, so my money's on him.

Vande Velde's take on the crash

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A humorous diary from Vande Velde:

Fabian went over the top like Walter Payton into the end zone, landing his big 86-kilo Swiss cheese ass on top of all of those tiny little men. The Swiss bear was down but not out, he came back to dinner, loud as ever, turning on Shakira full blast during dinner. And to make it worse, he tries to sing along.

Tour de Georgia Stage 5: Brasstown Bald

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Levi Leipheimer by James/jctdesign
Levi Leipheimer 150m from the finish by jctdesign
It's the mountaintop finish that Tour-of-Californians dream of, with a result fitting for the Tour of California as Levi Leipheimer took the stage win with a solo attack up Brasstown Bald. With his TdG and ToC performances, Leipheimer's season is starting out much like Floyd Landis' infamous 2006 season, except the Stage 3 29-minute gap will keep Leipheimer from donning the TdG overall jersey. For all intents and purposes, though, the ITT and Brasstown Bald wins clearly anoint Leipheimer as the strongest rider. Leipheimer's teammate Brajkovic gets the official honor after sticking to Christian Vandevelde's wheel the whole way up, while Tom Danielson, another TdG hopeful, took second on the day to complete the dominance for Discovery Channel.

The US continental teams sent their best riders on a breakaway to get some coverage and hopefully get on the board. Danny Pate (Slipstream), Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United), Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net), Ben Day (Navigators Insurance), Anthony Colby (Colavita/Sutter Home), Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance), and Alexandre Moos (BMC) were all present. CSC also managed to sneak in Michael Blaudzun. Their break managed to make it over the penultimate climb in the lead but the peloton was highly interested in bringing it back for Brasstown Bald.

Moos was the first rider from the break to reach the slopes and his attack sent many of the breakaway riders back into the peloton. From the peloton, Danielson, Leipheimer, and Simoni were the first to launch a move. Much like his move on Sierra Road in the ToC, Leipheimer was able to quickly bridged up through the remnants of the early break. Danielson and Simoni were left behind as Leipheimer soloed his way up most of the climb.

In the race for the overall lead, Vandevelde and Brajkovic stayed glued to one another. Brajkovic just had to stay on Vandevelde's wheel to stay in the lead and keep the day all-Discovery.

Levi Leipheimer, TdG stage 4, Photo by whileseated
photo by whileseated
Leipheimer continues to show his early-season TT form with a dominating 41-second win over David Zabriskie. Brajkovic was able to leap into the overall lead by easily besting Canada's TT. Today's results show what might have been: with Leipheimer, Zabriskie, O'Neill, and Danielson in the top four, they could have been the ones fighting for the overall win. But either storyline is good for Discovery that is now starting to dominate this TdG. Discovery and CSC split most of the glory in the ToC, but we're still waiting to see some sparks from CSC in the TdG. Christian Vandevelde is sitting in second overall, so it now looks up to him or JJ Haedo to start putting CSC on the board.

The New York Times has just published this bombshell: 2 Ex-Teammates of Cycling Star Admit Drug Use along with an article focusing on Andreu in particular, Fears for Sport Made Cyclist Come Clean. Neither Andreu nor the unnamed rider implicate Armstrong directly, though Andreu traces his usage back to their Motorola days and he also says he saw Armstrong sorting little round pills, which Armstrong claims were caffeine.

I'm of mixed minds about Andreu's admission. * update: Andreu clearly takes responsibility for his own actions in his statement today, so it doesn't feel as dishonest anymore.* The article clearly tries to frame him not as a cheater for himself but as a cheater for Lance, as if Andreu had nothing to gain for himself by doping. But Andreu had plenty to gain: a coveted spot on a Tour team and a chance to ride into Paris on the winning team. Now, of course, Andreu has little to lose after being let go from the Toyota-United team, which was surprising given how good that squad was doing its first year out. Regardless, it's a damning admission for the old US Postal squad and I'm sure everyone will wonder now who the unnamed rider is. The 1999 roster was:

  • Lance Armstrong (USA) of course not
  • Frankie Andreu (USA) admitted
  • Pascal Deram� (Fra)
  • Tyler Hamilton (USA) unlikely
  • George Hincapie (USA) unlikely
  • Kevin Livingston (USA)
  • Peter Meinert-Nielsen (Den)
  • Christian Vandevelde (USA) racing for CSC
  • Jonathan Vaughters (USA) heading up TIAA-CREF