Results tagged “Fabian Cancellara” from spare cycles

Ride - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Cancellara could change his nickname from Spartacus to Hercules -- it wasn't hard to spot his yellow jersey at the front of the Saxo Bank train at the start, in the middle, and in the finish. As he zipped through the technical course and his teammates struggled to keep his wheel it was easy to see why he's the best time trialist in the worlds. Saxo Bank may not have won the stage, but Cancellara's final effort protected the yellow he wore today -- by 1/10th of a second over Lance Armstrong and the victorious Astana team.

Astana won the day and their train was a very different story. Armstrong, Contador, Leipheimer, and Kloden all powered together. They each surged to the front in the final kilo to fight for that extra tenth of a second that was denied. A yellow jersey for Armstrong was on the line, but so were important seconds for the GC battle. They may have the most drama, but they also delivered a commanding victory in the TTT.

Garmin would have had the day if it weren't for Astana. As Columbia faded from their efforts yesterday, Garmin shed the chaff and did the team time trial with just five riders. Poor Ryder Hysedal struggled to stay slotted in the back as the likes of Wiggins, Zabriskie, Millar, and Vande Velde put the hammer down.

Is there any doubt that the TTT should be part of every TdF?

Who else but Cancellara?

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Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Cancellara winning was the easy part to pick and watching him catch Menchov as his 1:30 man was a treat, but now that Contador (0:18) laid down the law with a second-place finish, well ahead of Armstrong (0:40), will Armstrong admit the obvious and commit to being a loyal lieutenant? One thing Astana did settle is that they really are the strongest team if they can settle the pecking order: Contador 2nd, Kloden 4th (0:22), Leipheimer 6th (0:30), Armstrong 10th (0:40). Cadel Evans also put in a respectable 5th (0:23), so count on him to be a thorn in the side of the GC.

Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Dave Zabriskie - (c) Ken ConleyLevi Leipheimer - (c) Ken ConleyLance Armstrong - (c) Ken Conley

Tour of California 2009 Prologue Photos

The field was even more impressive, but that did nothing to deter Fabian Cancellara from repeating victory in the Tour of California opener. The dreaded rain stayed away most of the day, with most of the riders racing under blue skies, but the final impressive role of riders was treated to threatening sprinkles. Today was also notable for gargantuan cheers greeting Armstrong's return to racing in America. The organizers awarded him a "Most Courageous" Jersey, aka "anything to get Lance onstage" award.

The slow wifi here in the media room is keeping me from writing (and uploading) more, so look to these sites for more ToC 2009 coverage:

Cancellara: Golden World Champion

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Thumbnail image for BeijingOlympics.jpgCancellara vs. Contador, CSC vs. Astana, CSC vs. CSC, Astana vs. Astana. It was an up and down time trial that constantly redrew the lines of battle. The riders went off in three groups, with Canadian Svein Tuft the best of the first two groups, but it was the third group that really brought the fireworks.

Early on it was Contador scaling the Great Wall uphill, Cancellara tearing down that wall on the descents. Contador set the fastest time at the first time check on the uphill climb; Cancellara took back the lead at the second time check after the descent. Woe to any rider caught anywhere near the two as the passing of 90-second riders was fast and furious. Cancellara even got post-Tour-de-France revenge on Schumacher, who got to watch Cancellara power past at the start of the second lap.

Cancellara and Contador may have been eating up the time checks, but the man who was setting top times before them wasn't fading. Cancellara's CSC teammate Gustav Larsson had set the best times at the first and second checks before Cancellara and Contador rolled through. At first it looked like a battle between Larsson and Leipheimer, but Leipheimer slowly drifted further and further behind. CSC 1, Astana 0.

Big hopes were on Contador as he started his second lap. The uphill climb, which favored him so heavily the first lap, instead seemed to weigh heavily on his legs the second time around. Larsson, on the other hand, only improved on his position: this time when he set the fastest time at the third check, it stuck. CSC 2, Astana 0. Even Cancellara had to bow to Larsson's time.

With Leipheimer and Contador defeated, teammate was now turned against teammate. Contador now as battling Leipheimer for podium and It was up to Cancellara to prove his World Champion stripes by hunting Larsson down for gold.

It wasn't a fair battle. The time trial course was identical to the road race course. That final stretch into the finish is the same stretch that Cancellara screamed across to bridge two gaps and take bronze. They should rename that stretch in his honor because he tore it up again, taking the gold medal by almost half a minute. Larsson took silver and in the battle for bronze, Leipheimer held off both Contador and a late charge from Cadel Evans. On top of Kristin Armstrong's gold medal, USA cycling can be very proud.

As expected, the uphill course didn't suit Zabriskie's style and he wasn't able to best Svein Tuft's early best time. It seemed the course didn't really suit anyone, in fact. Plenty of riders in both the men's and women's time trial immediately dismounted and laid out on the ground just pass the finish. Even Cancellara had to take a seat and pour water of his head repeatedly.

Sanchez is Gold

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BeijingOlympics.jpgSpain got a well-earned gold as Samuel Sanchez took the sprint over Davide Rebellin and Fabian Cancellara. Spain played a good set of cards, first sending Carlos Sastre in an early break of 25+ riders that panicked teams like USA. USA was forced to burn Zabriskie and then McCartney early on in order to keep the gap on that break under control. When the peloton came back together, Sastre was then able to form the head of a top-class Spanish train: Sastre, Contador, Sanchez, and Valverde. Or as they now refer to themselves: le Tour, Giro-le Tour, Gold, and Spain.

The attrition was high under the assault of the Spanish Armada and even Contador had to pull the cord early, but it was Luxembourg's Andy Schleck that finally broke the race open. A group of twenty-or-so riders went off the front and Schleck attacked to whittle it down to Rebellin, Sanchez, Kolobnev, and Rogers. With some more digs it then became a select group of Schleck, Rebellin, and Sanchez, which looked like it could be the medal podium for the day.

But that was spoiled by the superhero move of the day, which goes to Fabian Cancellara. Michael Rogers and Alexandr Kolobnev were in a chase group behind, but as the kilometers ticked down -- 7km to go, 6km to go, 5km to go -- it just seemed that they would stay out of reach. With 2km to go the chase camera behind Rogers and Kolobnev suddenly panned back: Fabian Freakin' Cancellara, screaming across the gap! The TT champ's horsepower shot them across the gap to catch the leaders with 1km to go. It made for a tighter sprint and in the end it was Schleck who lost out as Cancellara rocketed to a podium position (sorry Luxembourg).

Leipheimer and Vande Velde were Team USA's best shots at a podium position. They both made the group of twenty that went away at the end, but neither could bridge up to the attack of Schleck. Leipheimer worked hard to bridge back to Vande Velde after being dropped, but the chase group lacked proper motivation with the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans and Paolo Bettini hanging on.

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.

Prologue: Fabian Cancellara Dominates

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Fabian Cancellara
Photo by Ken Conley

Palo Alto Prologue Photos

Cancellara showed he is a man of the prologue by dominating his way to victory and becoming the first non-US recipient of the Tour of California leader's jersey. On a day in which tenths of seconds mattered, Cancellara dominated the field by nearly six seconds on the short 2.1 mile course.

I'll have many photos to come, including Zabriskie's retro-ugly mustache as well as non-racing news makers Hamilton, Sevilla, and Landis.

Palo Alto Prologue Photos

The luggage has returned

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What makes Cancellara happier: the fact that he has yellow jersey for another day or the fact that his luggage has returned? Cancellara's answer: "Now I have a way to get all these yellow jerseys back home."

Pozzato wins - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Filippo Pozzato called his own shot today and won the stage in a mass uphill sprint finish. Freire, Zabel, Bennati, and Hincapie were in the mix, but Pozzato had the best line to the finish line. Zabel lost the stage but he must still be very happy: he took the green jersey from Tom Boonen, who was dropped from the front group.

It's not exactly the finish that I expected as the breaks were relatively contained. Sylvain Chavanel used an early 4-man break to catapult into the KOM lead by taking all but the last climb. Various riders attempted to get a gap on the final ascent and descent, but things remained tight. Popovych had his chances ruined as he overshot a turn into the grass, quickly followed by Cancellara who was putting in another impressive defense of his yellow jersey.

thumbe.getty-tdf2007-cycling-vinokourov_11_53_25_am.jpg
JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
The biggest news on the day is that Vinokourov lost over a minute on the day after crashing and now sports a big welt on his right butt cheek. The peloton was busy chasing down the break, so Vino quickly found himself far behind. All of his teammates except for Kloden came back to help him chase and he ended up burning them all to try and catch back on, eventually using the Astana team car as his final teammate. Still, Vino could only catch onto one of the rear groups near the top of the final climb and didn't get much help in the finale.

I thought Cancellara would lose the yellow jersey today as CSC started the day claiming that they wouldn't defend. This tactic seemed to work -- the other teams contributed most of the pace-making early in the day. But CSC was nearly in full force in the final pullback of the breakaway and then it was Cancellara himself who was driving to bring back Popovych's break.

It was an odd day for team leaders: Sastre, Valverde, Zabel, Hushovd, Mayo and Vino all found themselves off the back for mechanical, crash, and other reasons. Also, second-in-command's Kloden and Pereiro were off the back. Perhaps it was a nervous day with the first day of climbing and Stage 7 mountains looming in the distance.

Bookends: Cancellara and Zabriskie

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Fabian Cancellara starting Zabriskie Warming Up-1

CSC's Time Trial Titans are now Tour de France bookends: Cancellara took the stage win in amazing fashion and Zabriskie soft-pedaled into the last place. Apparently he gets DZ gets apples. Fabian's prize might be better. He'll need to lose a lot more time to take the Lanterne Rouge from Kuchynsky

Update: to quote Vande Velde:

Jens was laughing the other day, commenting on how the first three guys who had to work on the first stage would be team captains on any other team. Jens, Stuey and Dave Z had to work first and God bless anyone trying to get away with those guys pulling behind them.

Cancellara Wins - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most boring stages became one of the most exciting as Fabian Cancellara blazed to victory in his yellow jersey. It nearly appeared that the breakaway would stay away as it still had a 0:20 advantage with 1.4k to go. As the peloton massed behind a breakaway on the final cobbled stretch, it was Cancellara in his bright yellow jersey jumped across the gap, past the breakaway, and solo'd to victory as the sprinter's nipped at his heels. That's a yellow jersey. Cancellara becomes the first rider to hit the two-win mark of this Tour.

The longest stage allowed for a really long break: Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Mathieu Ladagnous (FD Jeux) went at 5k and were joined by Stephane Auge (Cofidis) and Frederik Willems (Liquigas), who jumped with 58k to go. The peloton seemed to be riding in 'recovery' mode, doing little to reel in the break other than keep it at a containable distance: when the break slowed down, the peloton slowed down, and vice versa. It became a real stage with around 30k to go as the sprint teams started putting in an earnest effort to bring things back. The break last for about 231k as Cancellara caught them with half a kilometer to go.

Auge can celebrate his breakaway effort: he was able to take the KOM polka dots from David Millar. Boonen gained some points in the green jersey competition over McEwen.

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.

Amazingly, Vaitkus is the only rider not to start (shattered thumb). Everyone else is "sore" (quotes from cyclingnews live report):

  • Thor: "Thor fell heavily on his right side and has damaged his sciatic nerve. He has pain but he's a tough rider who will still be our protected man again today." A thousand PMU green hands couldn't take Thor out.
  • Hincapie: Sore knee
  • Bennati: Sore hip but will start. "We have decided that it’s best for him to take it easy today and instead of working for Daniele - the team’s objective is to protect Danilo Napolitano instead."
  • Fast Freddie: Sore collarbone. See also: Fast Freddie saved by Ti?](http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12658.0.html)
  • Cancellara: Sore wrist, but still strong enough to grab the stuffed lion and hoist the flowers. Vande Velde diary: "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."
  • Cavendish: Sore left knee
  • McEwen: Stiff knee and back from Stage 1
  • Quinziato: Multiple contusions
  • Forster: Cut to left elbow. "Tonight it starts to hurt," he wrote, "I am all taped up and bathed in ice." (source)
  • Schleck: Sore elbow -- he's been riding near the back of the peloton, chatting away

Steegmans wins - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Cancellara - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
CRASH!

An ugly stage but good one for Quick Step as they went one-two in the sprint. Boonen didn't come around his own leadout man Gert Steegmans for the race finish, but he had no real reason to: they outsprinted the rest of the pack by several bike lengths.

The big story of this stage was a major pileup that occurred just before the finish. Only about 20 riders made it through as the crash covered the whole width of the road. Erik Zabel clipped out, which caused him to sweep hard right near the front of the peloton and take out a Liquigas rider. The riders pinballed left and right, crashing into barriers on both sides. Cancellara came in holding his arm as did Vaitkus (Discovery) and Fast Freddie (Lotto). Hincapie appears shaken from this photo as well. The injury reports won't be pretty after this one. Vino gave a little prayer as he crossed the finish line, probably to give thanks for making it uninjured.

Fast Freddie - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images Vaitkus - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

The stage had been fairly sleepy up until that point. Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), and Cedric Herve (Agritubel) went in a break at 18k and lasted until 3k to go. There was a bit of infighting over the intermediate sprints as Sieberg was unhappy with Herve trying to take more than one prize, but, with the exception of a minor crash by Frank Schleck, there was little drama until the big pileup at the end.

Cancellara didn't blow me off

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cancellara.autograph.400.jpgDuring the Tour of California I managed to track down Fabian Cancellara for an autograph. He loosely grabbed my pen and proceeded to wiggle it around in circles for awhile and then handed it back. I filed away the signed photo in deep storage because I thought he was just blowing me off and leaving scribbly marks on my photo. But after watching Cancellara sign autographs after the Prologue I realized that is his autograph. Go figure.

Tour de France '07 Prologue: London

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cancellara.jpg

Cancellara did his world champion stripes proud. After Kloden set a shockingly fast time on the day that no one could beat, Cancellara came in a full 13 seconds faster -- the only rider to crack the nine-minute barrier. The is Cancellara's second Prologue win and turn in yellow -- TdF fans may remember Cancellara's tearful victory in the 2004 Tour Prologue when he raced for Fassa Bortolo.

The Great British Hopes Wiggins and Millar couldn't crack the podium. In post-race interviews, Millar seemed to be promising a stage win later on. Not all was good for CSC, either. American favorite Dave Zabriskie was all the way down in tenth place at 9:22 and O'Grady crashed on one of the final turns (redubbed "O'Grady Corner" by Liggett).

Discovery Channel will be happy as Gusev placed well enough to move into the young rider's jersey and Hincapie did America proud by finishing in third. Leipheimer had a respectable 9:30.

Astana should be even happier as Vino is the highest placed overall favorite in 7th (9:20) and Kloden showed amazing form that only Cancellara could trump.

  1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 8.50 (53.7 km/h)
  2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 9.03
  3. George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 9.13
  4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis 9.13
  5. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel 9.15

Links:

Live stage log after the jump.

Tour of California Stage 5: Solvang TT

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Jen Voigt vs. Levi Leipheimer warming up

*left: Jens Voigt on the finishing straight of the Coit Tower Prologue. right: Levi Leipheimer warms up. *

Photo Gallery

Even with 91 riders within 1 minute of Levi's overall time, this was a race between two riders: Levi and Jens (CSC vs. Discovery, as it often is). Jens was the stronger sprinter on stage 3 and beat Levi across the line to move within three seconds of Levi's overall lead. Jens is also an amazing time trialist -- it was going to be close.

Jens and Levi started last, but that doesn't mean that the "pre-battle" wasn't entertaining as well. Priority Health put in an amazing showing early on. Tom Zirbel set the best time on the day. Priority Health had another good showing with Ben Jacques-Mayes, who was able to finish 4th overall and best Zirbel's time. It wasn't until World TT champion Fabian Cancellara came rolling through at 30:17 that the battle started to tilt towards the ProTour riders.

The Discovery Armada put huge dents in the standings with Basso, Hincapie, and Danielson, but none were able to best Cancellara's time. The big (but pleasant) surprise came from Discovery's Jason McCartney, who was the first to be Cancellara's time. McCartney has been Leipheimer's lieutenant for this Tour of California and always seems to show up well in the North American series.

Horner, Julich, and Rogers came in with respectable times, but their split times made it clear that the real battle was Jens vs. Levi.

At the first time split they broadcast, Jens was three seconds up on Levi. It was a virtual tie on the road. The second time split we heard: Levi was 4 seconds faster than Jens at the halfway point.

Jens Voigt crossed the line at 29:58, the fastest time on the day and the first sub-30-minute time. It was an amazing time that best world TT champ Fabian Cancellara as well as Jason McCartney's amazing effort. It seemed that Jens may have pulled it off.

Jens Voigt

above: Jens Voigt crosses the finish line, the first rider to break the 30-minute barrier

That is, until they announced Levi only had 1k to go. The clock was just ticking up to 29 minutes -- that gave Levi more than enough time to do the final kilometer. Levi didn't know though because Johan Bruyneel was yelling in his ear that he needed to give it full gas because it was going to be close. Levi charged to the finish a full 18 seconds faster than Jens Voigt, sealing the stage victory and most likely putting keeping him in the overall jersey for good.

below: Levi sprints and crosses the finish line to take the stage

Levi Leipheimer Levi Leipheimer Levi

Keeping the overall lead from start to finish is an amazing achievement for Leipheimer. Last year his attempt was undone by a poor showing in the stage 3 time trial. Whether or not it is his new time trial position, new team, or better conditioning, who knows, but Leipheimer has undoubtedly been the strongest rider to show up to this Tour of California.

CSC could attempt something amazing tomorrow, but the KOMs are so far from the finish it would have to be epic. Discovery has been hit hard this Tour: Sierra Road cost Discovery Davis and the green jersey. Discovery was lucky that this year's Pacific Coast Highway stage was relatively tame.

Fabian Cancellara had set the best time on the day until Jason McCartney amazingly beat it

Jason McCartney IMG_1225

IMG_0955 IMG_0909 IMG_0996 Leipheimer and McCartney IMG_1137 Fabian Cancellara starting Tom Danielson starting IMG_1539

IMG_1603 George and Lance IMG_1556

kwc Stage 5 Photo Gallery

VeloNews Stage 5 Summary

Vuelta Stage 1: Malaga

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It was nice watching a European stage where I had some more familiarity with the route. With the exception of the Tour de France finish in Paris, most of the racing occurs on remote countryside roads that I have little chance of ever rolling through. Not so for Malaga -- although I couldn't exactly place the coverage, I have fond memories of strolling along its flat seaside roads with the Castle of Alcazaba above. It's a great place for this unusual start to a grand tour -- a prologue-ish team time trial.

I love the team time trial and after watching this prologue, I think the idea of a prologue team time trial is growing on me. With such a short distance, it is all the more important that your team is well-drilled. Make a couple mistakes -- like Discovery did -- and you can easily lose the seconds you need to finish in first. Very unforgiving, very fast, very fun to watch. CSC was nearly perfect in their run and quite deservingly wears the golden jersey -- for a night at least, as it should quickly be handed over to a sprint team with the stages ahead.

The Vuelta coverage was a bit funky to watch -- the footage focused mainly on the first half of the course for each team, the Vuelta graphics kept obscuring the coverage, and the cameramen were a bit rusty. Here's my observations, as best as I could tell:

  • CSC was clearly the best of the lot. There was a tricky turn/roundabout combination that splintered most of the pacelines going through and caused a crash for Gerolsteiner, but CSC kept everything tight and in control. They dropped Fabian Cancellara in the final kilometer, but Cancellara had put in a great effort at the front and burned everything he had to put his teammate Sastre in the golden jersey.
  • Caisse D'Epargne looked like a well-drilled team. I'm placing big bets on Valverde -- they should be in a good position to pick up their second Grand Tour this year.
  • Discovery didn't look great at the start. They seemed to have a bit of trouble falling into line at the beginning and they confused the rotations a bit. Still, they managed a very respectable fourth place at nine seconds back
  • Gerolsteiner looked horrible. They couldn't keep the line together, they didn't have their rotations down, and it cost them: heading into a roundabout they really split apart and team captain Davide Rebellin went down when he ran into the rear wheel of his teammate. They didn't wait for Rebellin, so he lost over two minutes on this very short stage, and the team only finished with 6 riders at the finish. In fact, Gerolsteiner looked as bad as Euskatel, but at least Euskatel didn't crash and finished with 7 riders.

Links:

ToG Stage 5: Levi

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It was a dark and stormy stage that the riders refused to race until it was shortened -- the snowy, icy HC K�htal Pass climb was removed. The riders made up for the shortened route by riding the 100 miles very fast: 3:40:20. There was still a mountain top finish, and with a couple of kilometers to go, Levi attacked Kashechkin and Piepoli. Kashechkin and Piepoli couldn't give much chase until Jens Voigt joined their wheels, and it was Voigt, racing for the overall lead, that helped lift up the pace in order to put more distance between him and Discovery's Gusev. Levi still took the stage, but Voigt's determination got him into the overall lead, well earned after his stage 2 victory. I'm impressed to see that Gusev was even hanging in there, given that he's more of a time trialist and has had to hold his placing in the overall largely on his own efforts, as Discovery hasn't been able to protect him (correction: Gusev did have Devolder with him on the final climb today, though he was by himself on stage 2). I'm impressed with Voigt's high finish as well, though he admits he was helped by the elimination of the HC climb.

Levi has now moved within 18 seconds of the overall, so he seems to be making up for his poor prologue performance. He definitely has a shot at repeating his Tour of Germany victory from last year. At least he won't have to worry about Vino, who lost 4:39 on the stage. It's now up to Kashechkin for Astana.

This is yet-another great day for CSC: in addition to Voigt's yellow jersey, Cancellara won the Tour of Denmark. This comes just three days after CSC's impressive three wins on Thursday: Voigt's stage 2 ToG victory, Cancellara's stage 2 ToD victory, and Ljungqvist's Paris-Correze win.

Paris-Roubaix 2006

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Paris-Roubaix is my favorite of the one-day classics and every year many American cycling fans and I hope to see George Hincapie finally get his win. Paris-Roubaix is one of the toughest races in all of cycling and this year, with the dreaded Arenberg Forest back in the lineup, it continued to demonstrate why. I wouldn't hestitate to call this year's Paris-Roubaix one of the craziest road races I've ever seen.

Paris-Roubaix is somewhat like a videogame. There are 27 sectors of cobblestones the riders must cross as they count down to sector 1. Each sector is rated on a scale of difficulty from one to five stars. There are no real climbs, but it doesn't matter because the gaps between the cobblestones are wicked enough to grab your wheel and flip you into the ground.

Tom Boonen put a huge amount of pressure on the peloton in the infamous Arenberg Forest sector and managed to split off a lead group of seventeen riders that quickly dropped to fourteen. Hincapie was right on Boonen's wheel and had the superior tactical position. Last year, Hincapie had to take on Boonen by himself and wasn't strong enough to counter Boonen's sprint in the finishing velodrome. This year, Hincapie had two teammates -- Hoste and Gusev -- riding alongside him whereas Boonen had none.

So was this finally Hincapie's year? No. The cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix snapped off Hincapie's handlebars. Hincapie threw up his hands in surprise as his bike spun into the side of the road and flipped him into the ground. Hincapie had crashed earlier in the day and there was speculation that the handlebars may have been weakened.

As Discovery Sport Director Johan Bruyneel stood alongside his fallen rider, he had to think quick. Boonen was already attacking in the ensuing chaos and managed to drop Hoste and Gusev. They fought back into the breakaway but Gusev was then sent flying as his wheels got caught in the cobblestones coming around a curve. Luckily, he was able to get back on his bike and join back up. The day wasn't going great for Discovery, but they still had two riders in the lead break.

Another team that had a good tactical position in the lead breakaway was CSC, which had both Fabian Cancellara and Lars Michaelsen. Cancellara attacked and Gusev followed. Both are strong time trialers and set nearly identical times in the Tour of California Stage 3 time trial, but Cancellara was stronger this time around and Gusev slowly lost ground on the cobblestones. Back in Boonen's chase group, Hoste and Lotto's Van Petegem attacked and the isolated Boonen finally showed weakness as he couldn't follow.

Gusev and Hoste linked back up into a group of three with Van Petegem as they tried to chase down Cancellara's lead of half a minute. They weren't doing a very good job pulling Cancellara back, but a train gate came down and disrupted their pursuit even further. The three riders decided to slip around the gates in front of the oncoming train, but Boonen's group had no choice but to wait for the train to pass.

Cancellara easily coasted across the finish line in the velodrome. Even without the train he probably would have held off his chasers and he added another thirty seconds to his lead in the final sectors. The craziness of this year's race wasn't quite over, though: Hoste came across the finish line in second but was disqualified with the rest of his group for going across the train tracks with the gate down. Tom Boonen, who crossed the finish line in fifth, ended up taking second place, beaten, but still on the podium.

Update: some post-Paris-Roubaix reports: * Davitamon is officially protesting Van Petegem's disqualification * Bruyneel: Paris-Roubaix Reflections (Paceline registration required) * Hincapie Update - Post Paris-Roubaix (Paceline registration required) * Trek Discusses Hincapie's P-R Crash (Paceline registration required)

Prologue: Liege-Liege

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07-03-04.prologue profile

It was a good day for Armstrong, even if he didn't emerge victorious. He put 15' on Ullrich and 16' on Hamilton in the short, seven-minute prologue and finished a close second. (Side note: Phil Liggett, as much as I enjoy his commentary, never seems to know where the finish line is). He looked strong on his bike and I am encouraged at his prospects for this year.

Cancellara showed that he's the man to pull Petacchi towards the finish line. The young, emotional rider was a surprise name to see at the top of the standings, but he put in a strong ride.