Results tagged “ITT” from spare cycles

Stage 20: The Race is Decideth

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letour.jpgI had a really nice stage summary, really, but the Internets ated it and I had to take off for Comic-Con. But here is a simpler summary:

Everyone was wrong

Evans didn't race Sastre for the yellow jersey; he raced Bernard Kohl for second, which either reflects poorly on Evans, really well on Kohl and Sastre, or both.

I could also say:

Bjarne Riis was right

Riis may have raced with three GC contenders, but Sastre was his go-to rider. Sastre is his ever-consistent Grand Tour rider, full of experience and strong GC finishes. Even with Frank Schleck in yellow, Riis bet it all on a Sastre gambit on Alpe d'Huez. That gambit put Sastre in yellow, strained Evans, and delivered today's outcome.

As someone who's always emphasized the role of teams in the sport of cycling, I was a bit worried that Evans would defy this pseudo-truism. There's much to admire in Evans gutsy attempt, the mix of strong TT abilities and solo defenses on the climbs. It would also have been a nice storyline to have the Tour bookended with Silence Lotto's Evans and first and Wim Vansevenant in last.

But it is a team sport. CSC once again proved that. Kudos to Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Volodymir Gustov, Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, and Nicki Sorensen. Evans, Valverde, Cunego, and Vande Velde are just a small sampling of their victims. Bernard Kohl found himself asking them permission to collect his KOM points.

Even on today's Individual Time Trial they did their damage as a team and they will rightly ride into Paris first together tomorrow with all nine of their riders.

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Note: travel/vacation day, limited coverage

It was an amazing finish with all three of the top riders delivering the time trials of their careers. Levi Leipheimer, who's ridden near the top but never ahead this Tour, started almost a minute behind Cadel Evans. Levi delivered a smashing time trial, winning the stage and having us audience members thinking that he might have closed the gap with Evans. Evans rode strong over the final distance, pulling on the handlebars in the final straight to just save his second place podium spot. Alberto Contador, climber not time trialer, saved his yellow jersery and held off both Evans and Leipheimer.

Discovery Channel had an amazing day with Lance in attendance. They finished 1-4-5-7 on the stage and will head into the final Paris stage tomorrow in 1-3 overall. Levi will start 8" behind Evans, so the final standings are not settled yet. Contador has a 23" lead and should be able to cruise to the top podium spot tomorrow.

Preview links:

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.

Gonchar wins the stage, but Landis won what mattered. Floyd Landis will become the third American to win the Tour de France. America will be lucky enough to see the eighth straight year of Tour victories. It's a comeback that surpasses Lemond's. While Lemond also won a yellow jersey with an unexpected -- fastest ever -- time trial victory, Lemond didn't lose 10 minutes to fall from 1st to 11th, outrace the entire peloton the next day to claw his way back into third, and then race into first on the final time trial.

As unwanted as Landis' collapse was for him, the comeback got him a stage victory he probably never would have had and mucho 'panache' credit. What would have been a conservative, well-defended, but ultimately doping-overshadowed victory instead has become the most memorable Tour of this century.

There were other battles on the road today. Cunego put in an unexpectedly great time trial to defend the white jersey, Kloden clawed his way onto the podium while passing Evans on the road, Pereiro put in a strong 4th place finish to earn respect for his podium spot, and Sastre fell off the podium as he couldn't change the fact that he is a climber.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Zabriskie (though it will probably be Landis) * Actual: Gonchar, in a repeat of the first time trial, with Landis second and Zabriskie three minutes behind