Results tagged “Credit Agricole” from spare cycles

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.

Stage 2: Hushovd

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letour.jpgCancellara nearly pulled off another flier off the front of the sprint to take the stage, but it was spoiled by Pozzato, who was hoping for another repeat victory in Saint-Brieuc. Once Pozzato bridged, Cancellara sat up and the field was quick to swarm and pull ahead. Hushovd had the best legs for the uphill sprint and added yet-another TdF stage to his portfolio. Kim Kirchen showed off his well-rounded threat by taking second in the sprint with Columbia teammate Ciolek in third. Kirchen will wear the green jersey tomorrow while Voeckler will get the polka dots for his efforts in the big breakaway of the day. Sylvain Chavanel took the most aggressive award for his efforts to avoid capture as the sprint teams swept up the breakaway in the final kilometers.

Valverde defended his jersey well, even mixing it up in the sprint to take 12th. It was a smart move given that a crash took down riders on the final run-in.

Vuelta Stage 2: Malaga-Cordoba

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Bettini grabbed the first individual stage win of this Vuelta and Thor Hushovd showed his skill in grabbing leader's jerseys as it was a familiar scene with him pulling on the golden jersey -- he must have wanted one to replace the yellow jersey that got all bloodied and torn during the Tour de France.

I once had the opportunity to take the road from Malaga to Cordoba, but my fellow travelers preferred Granada instead. From the coverage, it looks like it an open and exposed road -- plenty of wind to batter the peloton, though with an early start the temperatures weren't as punishing as last year's Vuelta.

It was a day for the sprinters and all the sprint teams did their work -- Milram, Lotto, Liquigas, Lampre, and Credit Agricole all did their work chasing back a break by Discovery's Joachim and Cofidis' Marichal, who jumped past a break by Relax's de Sarraga. With all the work and coordination of the sprint team, It was surprising to see Bettini win the sprint finish.

Milram did the leadout train in the final kilometer, but they seemed to lead Zabel out a little too early and Zabel only managed 10th. McEwen had a bit of trouble with his leadout getting stuck behind Hushovd. As McEwen was giving up his sprint, Bettini came jumping out from behind him and took the stage win.

Sastre had a flat in the final kilometers, but it didn't matter much as he was awarded the same time as the peloton. Either way, he was going to lose his jersey to the finish line bonuses.

Julian Dean Diary

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I read Julian Dean's Diary for the first time today -- he's Thor Hushovd's leadout man -- and found it an entirely appropriate summary of this first week of racing: yellow jerseys, crashes, and McEwen.

juliandean.co.nz

Prologue: Strasbourg ITT

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[Strasbourg - Strasbourg , 7.1km]

Thor! I never thought that OLN host Al Trautwig would get a pick right, but he outdid the followers of the conventional wisdom like myself who thought that Zabriskie would ace this one. This probably won't be the last stage that Hushovd adds to his tally -- there are plenty of opportunities in the opening week for him to outsprint the pack. It might have even been Landis competing for the top time on the day if it weren't for the fact that he lost about eight or nine seconds at the start house. He arrived late because they decided to change one of his tires at the last minute because of cuts that could have lead to a flat.

I enjoy watching the prologue: it can tell you quite a lot about how the Tour is going to shape up. Given the emphasis on long time trials this Tour, a prologue performance is an important indicator. Lets look at the standings:

1 Thor Hushovd, 8.17.00 (51.43 km/h)
2 George Hincapie, 0.00.73
3 David Zabriskie, 0.04.21
5 Alejandro Valverde, 0.04.92
8 Paolo Savoldelli, 0.08.02
9 Floyd Landis, 0.09.26
12 Tom Boonen, 0.11.21
14 Cadel Evans, 0.13.24
29 Bobby Julich, 0.18.84
32 Yaroslav Popovych, 0.20.02
36 Levi Leipheimer, 0.21.60
49 Jose Azevedo, 0.24.90

Some observations:

  • Valverde is living up to his odds-on-favorite status. With a top five prologue time trial and his excellent climbing ability, he can get seconds out of his competitors any which way.
  • Landis, Hincapie, and Savoldelli also stood out with their strong prologues (subtract eight seconds off of Landis' time). Hincapie should be a protected rider after a performance like that and Savoldelli might get a little wind shelter as insurance.
  • Boonen is in great position to grab a yellow jersey
  • Was is the two-year-absense or the lack of performance-enhancing drugs that was responsible for Millar's below-expected performance?
  • I'm still holding out hope for a Zabriskie yellow jersey after the Stage 7 time trial
  • Leipheimer's time wasn't bad, but it doesn't scream 'future Tour winner'

Summaries:

Prediction stats: * My prediction: Zabriskie first, Hincapie second * Actual: Zabriskie thrid, Hincapie second