Results tagged “Col de Portet d'Aspet” from spare cycles

Vino - JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Vino!

Vinokourov may have five Tour de France wins under his belt, but this is the most amazing that I've ever seen in his career. It's not his first comeback win -- Stage 10 in the 2005 Tour stands out in my mind -- but he can barely walk from what I've seen of his interviews and yesterday was downright disastrous (big time losses and a crash). I guess you don't need to walk when you can ride. Nancy Toby calls him Rasputin, Bobby Julich calls him The Bull.

A stage victory won't get Vino back on the podium, but there's little doubt in my mind that he would be winning this whole thing if it weren't for his crash. Vino was part of an early 20+ rider break that also contained Menchov and Hincapie. Vino knew his chances were good and his teammates did as well -- Ivanov burned himself through to bridge Vino back up when the breakaway split to keep Vino near the front. Vino's big attacks came as the Peyresourde approached. After bridging up to the leaders, he attacked the remnants repeatedly until he was all alone. He crossed the top of the Peyresourde solo and time-trialed down the descent to victory.

Contador and Rasmussen battled it out again today. The contenders seemed a bit tired today, sticking together in a large group on the slopes of the Peyresourde, six-seven minutes behind the break. Discovery decided to stir it up by sending Popovych up the road. Rabobank chased that back but lost Menchov as a result. Contador then decided to test Rasmussen... repeatedly. Contador attacked again, and again, and again, as the two twig riders got a bigger and bigger gap on the rest of the contenders. Contador caught Hincapie at the top of the climb and Hincapie drilled it at the front to give Contador and Rasmussen nearly a minute on their rivals at the finish.

Leipheimer had to sit content with the rest of the contenders as he watched his teammate up the road. The accelerations aren't his style and he couldn't help the others bridge back. Contador needed the time gaps on Evans to protect himself in the upcoming time trial. We'll see if Leipheimer gets a chance to put his own attacks on Evans after tomorrow's rest stage -- 1:25 on Evans separates Levi from the podium right now. Kloden is also nipping at Levi's heels, 9 seconds behind.

There wasn't much GC shakeup in the top five even if gaps were gained, but the overall top ten did get some juggling around due to Kim Kirchen's (T-Mobile) great second-place effort and Zubeldia's (Euskatel) third-place. Kirchen climbed five spots back to 9th while Zubeldia rocked into 7th to bump Kashechkin down a spot. Valverde dropped back out of the top ten to 11th and, for all his lieutenant efforts, Popovych sadly drops out of the top ten to 12th.

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.23
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 4.00
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 5.25
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 5.34

There were quite a few abandons and non-starters today: Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) were the non-starters, while Fast Freddie (Predictor-Lotto), Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) abandoned -- Le Mevel due to a crash.

Hincapie! Since 1999 Hincapie has ridden for Armstrong in the Tour, helping Armstrong to many victories but never taking one for himself. With this being Armstrong's final Tour, it's about time that Hincapie gets his just rewards for his hardwork. It probably wasn't in the playbook for Hincapie to take the stage, but as things shaped up on the penultimate climb things just got better and better for Discovery. The other riders isolated Armstrong again, but the attacks were less spirited. Eventually it was just Armstrong and Basso, while up the road Hincapie's breakaway kept getting smaller and smaller. Hincapie didn't have to do any work in the breakaway, which left him with fresher legs with which to easily outsprint Pereiro for the victory.

This was the 'queen' stage of the Tour -- no stage has quite as many leg-punishing climbs. Discovery sent Hincapie in the early breakaway of 14 riders, which was slowly whittled down over each of the day's big climbs. Discovery probably wanted to put Hincapie in the break for two reasons: 1) to force other teams to chase the breakaway and 2) to have an extra teammate for Armstrong available if the breakaway was chased down -- with all the isolation attacks on Armstrong, a good way to counter them is to just place a teammate further up the road. The strategy worked better than planned. CSC and T-Mobile did give chase and they did repeat their isolation attacks on Armstrong on the Col de Val-Louron Azet. After those attacks was Armstrong, Ullrich, and Basso. Some riders caught up on the descent, but it was quickly those three again as they attacked up the Pla d'Adet. Ullrich looked good, but eventually he could hold on no longer, and it was just Armstrong and Basso.