Results tagged “Michael Rasmussen” from spare cycles

Discovery hit Rasmussen with everything they had, isolating Rasmussen early on the slopes of the Col d'Aubisque. Levi and Contador launched attacks back and forth, but in the end it was Rasmussen who launched the final attack in the final kilometer to take the stage win. Rasmussen rolled through to a chorus of cheers and boos.

Discovery's game plan was near perfect, but Rasmussen was not to be broken. Popovych went to the front to set a blistering pace after Rabobank's Menchov cracked. Boogerd was quickly shed as well, leaving Rasmussen all by himself. Soon it was just six riders, with three of those riders from Discovery. Levi launched the first attack and zoomed past Sastre's and Mayo's breakaway. Levi and Contador exchanged attacks on Rasmussen until it was just Contador and Rasmussen together, with Levi and Evans chasing. Levi was able to chase back up and setup the final selection for the day: Leipheimer, Rasmussen, and Contador.

Levi led Contador and Rasmussen up the slopes of the Aubisque with Evans dangling behind. Rasmussen was in control, worried more about waving off TV motos than Leipheimer's and Contador's efforts. He even took the time to encourage Levi's effort at the front to move onto the podium over Evans. The attacks from Discovery were over and as the final kilometer kite dangled overhead, Rasmussen left Contador and Rasmussen in his dust. Levi jumped for second to take the 0:12 time bonus and a 0:43 gap on Evans. Evans fought valiantly to keep his losses to a minimum, even pulling back some time before losing most of it in the final kilometer. Levi pulled to within 0:56 of Evans, so Levi will have to ride the time trial of his career to finish in third -- he seems motivated to do it, but Evans is the unofficial winner of the first time trial.

Sastre tried to make it his day by attacking on the very first mountain and being joined by Mayo and Soler, but by the Aubisque their lead was less than a minute -- it didn't last very long with Discovery's assault on Rabobank. The break was worthwhile for Soler, who took most of the KOM points on the day to move into the KOM lead (he no longer has to wear a borrowed jersey from Rasmussen). Soler moved into the tenth overall.

Valverde moved into seventh place while Kirchen dropped to eighth. Astarloza lost his top-ten placing.

The stage was harsh on the peloton today. It was whittled down to 25 riders on the very first climb and many riders spent their time chasing back on the descents.

Also:

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Contador took the stage win on a great day for Discovery -- and me, as I got my pick :). It was a battle of the skinny boys and Contador's white jersey was lighter on the shoulders than Rasmussen's yellow. Rasmussen and Contador initially worked well together to get separation on an elite group of Leipheimer, Sastre, Evans, and Soler. That cooperation shutdown with a couple kilometers to go as Contador took advantage of Rasmussen's need to defend his yellow jersey. Contador grabbed a hold of Rasmussen's wheel and didn't come around until the final meters for the victory. Rasmussen can't be too disappointed: he put lots of time into strong TT riders like Kloden and Evans, and he defended both the yellow and polka dot jerseys.

Astana and Discovery traded roles today. Yesterday Astana finished 1-3-4 while Discovery finished 6-7-9. Today Discovery finished 1-4-10 while Astana finished 6-8-9. Discovery is also now 2-4-10 in the GC. Contador only got eight seconds closer to the yellow jersey, but he did leapfrog Cadel Evans for second place. Leipheimer did a great job of riding to finish in 4th -- he yoyo'd with Sastre quite a bit as they were both unable to match the frightening accelerations of Rasmussen and Contador. Leipheimer's time gains moved him past Kloden in the GC into 4th and he closed his gap on Evans. Popovych was Discovery's hero today: fighting to bridge back after the Port de Pailheres to bring bottles up to his teammates, then setting the tempo on the Plateau de Baille that whittled the field down to eight riders. And he finished in 10th. Hincapie did similar work to bridge back after the Pailheres and was in the driver's seat on the lead-in to the Plateau de Beille.

Astana's 6-8-9 was a bit of a mixed bag. Kloden did well to finish in sixth, despite being the main rider dropped by Popovych's pace making. Colom and Kashechkin both fought to keep Kloden's losses to 1:52. The big hurt for Astana is Vinokourov. Vino appears to have left it all on the line with yesterday's TT victory: Vino was already in trouble on the Port de Pailheres and lost gigantic time on the Plateau de Beille.

CSC had a so-so day. Sastre managed fifth place and moved up a spot in the GC to 6th, but Schleck was far behind. Whereas Discovery had three riders in the final selection of eight, Sastre had none and found himself at a big disadvantage. Levi was able to just sit on Sastre's wheel because of Contador's place up the rode and Soler sat on as well.

Soler was a surprising rider to make the selection. He took enough points on the Pailheres to move into the KOM lead by 10 points, but Rasmussen's second place finish regained his lead by 2 points. After impressive moves on the Pailheres and the lower slopes of Plateau de Beille, I was a bit disappointed by the way Soler rode in the end -- he didn't have a good excuse like Levi to sit on Sastre's wheel and then he had the nerve to launch a big attack to get the third place KOM points.

Saunier Duval is probably in a sour mood. Millar and others did a lot of work up front on the Pailheres to set things up for Mayo, but Mayo didn't have the legs today and performed disappointing for his team.

Valverde had a second-straight awful day. Perhaps its because he's used to bowing out of Tours at this point, but he picked two of the worst days to be off, especially after having look so strong in the first week. Valverde actually managed to move into the top ten despite his weak legs. He can thank Arroyo and Pereiro for forming a train for him as well as Vino and Kirchen for plummeting.

GC Shakeup (previous position holder in ()'s ):

1 Rasmussen
2 Contador 2.23 (Evans)
3 Evans 3.04
4 Leipheimer 4.25 (Kloden)
5 Kloden 4.38
6 Sastre 5.50 (Kascheckin)
7 Kashechkin 6.58
8 Astarloza 8.25
9 Valverde 9.45 (Vinokourov)
10 Popovych 10.55 (Kirchen)

Tour de France '07 Stage 13: Albi TT

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Vinokourov - JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

13 was a lucky number for Astana as they turned their disasterous Stage 5 on its head: Vinokourov first, Kloden third, and Kashechkin fourth. Vino's effort jumped him from 19th to 9th place in the overall standings, 5:10 behind. Kloden is 4th and Kashechkin is 6th, giving Astana several weapons in the GC.

Evans broke up the Astana 1-2-3 by finishing in second, 1:14 behind, but he will be disappointed that he didn't take the yellow jersey with his effort: Rasmussen did the time trial of his career and even passed Valverde on the finishing straight. Valverde's poor 47th-place finish dropped him out of the overall top ten after starting in second.

Discovery didn't have an Astana day but put in a respectable 6-7-9 in the standings with Popovych (despite crashing), Contador, and Leipheimer. Contador appears to be taking over the leader status from Leipheimer as he finished 0:21 faster and moves into third in the overall, while Levi takes fifth. CSC, as expected, couldn't deliver a strong effort with Sastre or Schleck, but Sastre was able to stay seventh overall.

Early rain saw many riders finish with wet and bloody skinsuits. Cancellara put in a good early time check but quickly fell from the standings after he crashed and appeared to hurt his arm. Wiggins instead had the top early mark on the day, which stood until Vinokourov put in a shockingly fast TT: 2:13 faster than Wiggins. Gusev was putting in a good time until he crashed into a roundabout and went skidding over the curb.

Despite drying road conditions, none of the riders who started later than Vino could match his pace. Kloden nipped at his teammate's heels but lost time when he crashed in a wet, slippery corner.

Big doping charge leveled at Rasmussen

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Michael RasmussenVeloNews has a new top headline: VeloNews Exclusive: Ex-cyclist levels doping charges at Rasmussen. The charges come from an MTB athlete who claims that Rasmussen tried to trick him into transporting a cow-based blood substitute into Europe. The accuser first told VeloNews back in 2002 under the condition that Rasmussen and he remain anonymous but became by Rasmussen's "You can trust me" line.

Rasmussen in Yellow - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

They don't make yellow jerseys small enough for Rasmussen. Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

The Tour de France finally got some fireworks in the overall standings. Rasmussen showed why he wears the polka dots so much as he cranked over the Cat 1 climbs, dropped all who sat on his wheel, and took the stage win 2:47 over the nearest rider, Iban Mayo. Rasmussen took the triple polka-yellow-win as he racked up big KOM points and time gains on this stage.

Moreau - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Valverde - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Moreau almost single-handedly led a group of overall contenders (Valverde, Evans, Schleck, Kashechkin) up the road to chase Michael Rasmussen. Although they had no chance of catching Chicken Legs, they put in half a minute or more on some top contenders: 0:28 to Contador, 0:32 to Sastre and Menchov, 0:46 to Leipheimer, and 1:16 on Kloden and Vinokourov. They probably would have done better if it weren't for the fact that the other riders were content to jump on Moreau's wheel every time he tried to attack. Moreau was visibly frustrated as he gestured for Evans to pull through. On a day that saw the losses of three Aussies -- O'Grady, Rogers, and McEwen -- I can't say that Evans gave fans too much hope that he'll learn to attack this Tour. Valverde eventually pipped the group on the line by outsprinting them for a 1-second gap, but it was Mayo who was the only rider strong enough to launch an attack that wasn't pulled back. With a little more cohesion they could have put in bigger time gains and they may come to regret the energy they expended.

It was a day that the backup leaders/lieutenants shined: Rasmussen, who took yellow and polka dots while Menchov lost time; Kasheckin, who finished the top contenders; Kloden, who limited Vino's losses; Contador who still finish ahead of Leipheimer despite having a mechanical; and Schleck, who road the aggressive race for CSC today.

Plenty of teams missed their chance to shine today:

Discovery: I thought Discovery had its tactics sorted out as they managed to get both Hincapie and Paulinho up the road in a break, but those riders were quickly shot off the back on the final climb of the Tignes. Mechanical problems then upset their next move. Discovery then sent Contador and Popovych up the road and Popo did a good job of sacrificing himself to raise the pace for Contador. But notably absent from any Discovery moves was Levi Leipheimer. Contador was doing well and matching the moves of the Moreau group until a tire change forced him back into the Astana/Leipheimer group. Leipheimer sat on the wheels of the Astana train, Sastre, and Menchov, but couldn't follow when Contador decided to try and bridge back up to the Moreau group. Sastre and Menchov did and limited their losses to Rasmussen, Evans, Moreau, Valvderde, and Schleck. Discovery's plan had to been to have Levi ride conservatively and let Popo and Contador be aggressive, but mechanicals ruined Contador's efforts and Levi was a bit too conservative -- he's still waiting for the Pyrenees. As Levi himself said, he had an "okay day" -- what would have made a good day would be if he was able to follow Sastre and Menchov. Nevertheless, losing less than a minute on a mountain stage isn't much to worry about yet.

O'Grady - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
CSC: Schleck was a bright spot as their shadow leader showed good strength, finishing with the Valverde/Moreau/Evans group. Sastre rode conservatively, though a late effort with Menchov to follow Contador limited his losses. Sastre can't afford to lose much time in the mountains given his lacking time trial abilities, but perhaps is saving up. Harder to stomach for CSC was the loss of O'Grady, who crashed out of the Tour and was taken off in a stretcher with some pretty bad injuries. Cuesta also crashed, though appeared fine.

Astana: Astana's day was a mixed bag. Kashechkin was their sole rider who survived their stage 5 carnage and he had to carry the banner for Astana all by himself today. Kashechkin got into the Moreau group and looked strong pulling back Moreau's attacks. Back with the rest of the team things were not as well. Astana initially found itself at the front pulling for Vinokourov, but Vino was cracked when Contador launched his attack to jump back up. Kloden had to drop back to pace the wounded warrior back. In all of Vino's interviews, he can barely walk, so his efforts have nevertheless been amazing.

T-Mobile: They certainly had the worst day. All seemed promising as Michael Rogers was one of the few riders able to get onto Michael Rasmussen's wheel. Then a run-in with a guard rail and Caisse's Arroyo put him into some hurt. Rogers bridged back up, but his injuries were too much and eventually he was falling backwards, until he had to abandon into the team car. Focus shifted to Gerdemann, who rode valiantly to stay with the overall contenders as long as possible, but he still fell into second at 0:43 behind Rasmussen. At least he keeps the white jersey. Things got worse for T-Mobile after the race when Sinkewitz collided with a spectator and may be out of the Tour. Cavendish was yet-another abandon. Even though this last one was planned, it means the T-Mobile bus will be even more empty.

Links:

Okay, now it's a wide open Tour. Ever since the time trial, it was the Landis show, but the final climb today change the story of this Tour and broke it wide open. Landis lost over ten minutes today and dropped to 11th overall, off the podium for good. It's now just Pereiro, and Sastre Kloden, and Evans left to duke it out, as Menchov probably lost a bit too much time as well (GC -3:58). The final time trial, sometimes for show, sometimes decisive, will be perhaps the most decisive time trial ever. And there's one more day of Alps before that.

I'll break down today's results by team, as it's the teams that mattered today:

  • Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRabobank: What a day for Rasmussen, who took the stage and the KOM jersey. Rasmussen had been sacrificing KOM points in order to help out Menchov. After Menchov's bad day yesterday, Rasmussen was given free reign and showed the form he's been holding back. Unfortunately for Rabobank, Menchov could have used Rasmussen's help most as Landis cracked, the contenders pushed their advantage, but Menchov couldn't hold with that group. (Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

  • CSC: CSC continues to have an amazing week as Sastre gained the most today in the overall, but it wasn't enough to catch Pereiro. Sastre will have to try again tomorrow to take that jersey, but Sastre's bigger concern is the good time trialers who are just behind him in the standings now. Sastre got a lot of help from Schleck and Vandevelde. Schleck somehow managed to find legs after yesterday's hard win and Vandevelde was constantly fighting back into the group to do some pulls and hand over water. Just think, CSC lost Basso and Julich, O'Grady is injured, and they ride themselves to stage victory yesterday and second place overall today.

  • Caisse: Caisse believed in Pereiro's chances and were there in numbers untl the final attack. I believe I counted three teammates with him (Karpets, Arroyo, and Xandio). Imagine their strength if Valverde was still in the hunt. I expect a strong defense from Caisse tomorrow.

  • Phonak: I've been dissing Phonak since the Tour of California, and today gives me no reason to stop. Merckx was the only teammate there for Landis, but more often than not he was riding on Landis' wheel or yo-yoing off the back. Landis needed more than one dedicated teammate, because he got hit hard by T-Mobile and CSC today and it wasn't until he had lost about five minutes that Merckx reappeared to pace him into the finish.

  • Discovery: I guess having Armstrong in the car behind you doesn't help. Popo and CheChu couldn't press the break and Azevedo popped like Landis at the end.

  • AG2R: Where did Dessel come from? I don't know, but his teammates and him are pulling themselves inside out to stay top 5 and give France something to cheer about in the overall.

  • T-Mobile: I'm putting T-Mobile last on this list because T-Mobile has the dumbest tactics of any team in the Tour. Last year they chased back an attack by their own teammate Vinokourov, pulling Armstrong with them. In [stage 11][stage11], they blew their own team and leader up by attacking too hard on the penultimate climb, at a time when they dominated the top ten standings. Today, they made two big mistakes. The first was when Menchov attacked and Rogers latched on: Mazzolini and Kloden pulled the break and their own teammate back, towing Landis with them. That didn't matter too much in the end as Landis cracked, but the second mistake was then never attacking. They had four riders on the final climb. Maybe they didn't want repeat their stage 11 mistake, but instead of pushing the advantage, they watched Sastre climb ahead to victory. Today was a chance to gain time on all the other contenders, but for the most part they just held the status quo. I think they are placing too big of a bet on the time trial. It's a descent bet, but a better bet would have been to trim away a bit of Pereiro's and Sastre's lead.

Pereiro in the yellow jersey again will renew the [Landis giveaway debate][debate], but really it didn't matter for Landis. Landis lost so much time today that someone other than him would be wearing yellow. If it matters to anyone, it will be Sastre and Kloden, who now have another contender to knock off. Sastre would be wearing yellow right now, but instead he has to figure out how to get two minutes on a rejuvenanted Periero.

The current overall standings tell the tale: 1. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B. 2. Carlos Sastre (Sp),

Stage 15: Gap - L'Alpe-d'Huez

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Frank Schleck won the day and Landis probably won the Tour. Scheck's victory was earned by the hard work of his CSC team. CSC put three riders into a 24-man break and Zabriskie and Voigt pushed that break through rain and shine until it was whittled down to a select group at the base of Alpe d'Huez. Lampre also did a bit of work in that break and both Schleck and Cunego were launched on the final climb. Schleck and Cunego rode up together most of the way, but with 3k to go, Schleck attacked and put in the gap he needed to win, having enough time to zip up his jersey at the end. It's Schleck's first Tour de France and first Tour victory.

Landis finished in fourth and it looks like in all certainty he'll be wearing this yellow jersey in Paris. He took his yellow jersey back from Pereiro, who fought hard but lost out by 10 seconds. Landis never showed a second's weakness while all of his GC competitors did. Menchov couldn't hold Landis' wheel, not even with Rasmussen somehow bridging up to Menchov to help out. Evans couldn't hold on either and Sastre made a good effort, but was dropped further up the climb. Kloden was the only GC contender that stayed with Landis the whole way, but even when his T-Mobile teammate Mazzolini dropped back from the break, Kloden could never get a gap.

The breakway was a big factor in the finish as riders in the break dropped back on the Alpe d'Huez to help out their GC hopefuls. Voigt was first, putting in a big effort for Sastre not long after helping to launch Schleck -- Voigt may have done the biggest effort on the day. Merckx was next, as Landis jumped onto his wheel and shouted for him to go. Merckx was a caught a bit by surprise, but quickly jumped to the front and handed over a bottle. Mazzolini was last, coming back to pace Kloden.

The big abandon on the day was Tom Boonen, who leaves with some yellow jerseys but no stage win or green jerseys. Most would be happy with that sort of haul, but the Belgian press is probably letting him have it today.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Azevedo * Actual: Azevedo, where did you finish? Somewhere way back (7+ minutes)

Post Stage 11 Analysis

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Some times you need pre-race plan, sometimes you don't. Discovery, already on the ropes from a poor time trial showing, probably came in with a race plan, but they disintegrated well before execution. T-Mobile, vaulted into the top of everyone's mind after a strong time trial performance, came in with a plan and over executed: they went so hard on the penultimate climb that they couldn't hold onto their own pace -- a mistake they made last year as well. Gerolsteiner, which had all the pieces for a plan -- three riders in the lead on the penultimate climb -- no longer had a leader to call the plan into play. Rabobank, which seemed more concerned with helping Rasmussen pick up third-place KOM points, suddenly came together on the penultimate climb and decided, hey, our leader Menchov is strong, let's give it a go.

Boogerd and Rasmussen were the uber domestiques, the true stage winners on the day. Rasmussen, previously criticized for being too selfish, sacrificed himself pulling Menchov and the rest of the lead pack to the final Pla da Beret climb. Granted, he did get beat by Voeckler going for some KOM points, so Rasmussen may not have had full chicken-leg power today, but he had more than enough power to give over the Menchov. Boogerd then put in the super effort on the Pla da Beret, an effort that reminded me of Landis' super pulls for Armstrong. Boogerd created the final selection, and then was able to finish in a descent position himself... all of this after helping lead out Rasmussen for his KOM points earlier in the day.

Menchov did his job as leader -- he took the setup, and then delivered the final punch. Landis was stronger, but Menchov was the better sprinter, and Levi just couldn't time it right. In a game of what-if, Levi might have been in the same position had he not had a disasterous time trial. Menchov had two teammates going over the penultimate climb, but so did Levi: Totschnig and Fothen. Instead of riding for Levi, though, Totschnig seemed to be protecting their rider in the best young rider jersey, guiding him along. Levi was no longer in a position to ask for a sadistic effort from them, and he essentially rode alone.

Landis also rode alone, but it didn't matter. He had delivered in the time trial, all he needed to do today was defend and pad. He had no riders to send to the front to set the tempo, so he sat on the T-Mobile train instead. When the T-Mobile train ran out of gas, he sat on the Rabobank train. And when the Rabobank train was just Menchov, Landis lead the train himself.

The race is far from over, as the five-minute gaps that were made today could easily become five-minute deficits in the Alps, but no rider has looked nearly as strong as Landis. As predicted, Landis' team is nowhere to be found, but it's going to take a lot more than an imploding Discovery and an exploding T-Mobile to take him down. Cadel Evans' Lotto seems to have no riders to throw at Landis in the mountains, as Chris Horner went backwards today, and CSC only has six riders left, though the Sastre/Schleck combination could definitely net a stage win. Rabobank could enact a plan -- they didn't have one before, but perhaps they'll have one now. Denis Menchov looks to have his podium spot sealed up, they just have to fight for the top seat.

Stage 16: Mourenx - Pau

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arm pereiro finish

(AP Photo/Ena/Edme/Trovati)

Pereiro loudly complained about Hincapie's victory yesterday -- Hincapie had sat on Pereiro's wheel on the final climb and came around at the end to take the victory. That was uphill, where drafting doesn't matter as much.

Today, Pereiro and two other riders sat on Evans wheel on a flat stage sprint, letting Evans pull for the final 5k or so. In the final sprint Pereiro jumped around Evans' wheel and took the stage victory. Evans did all the work because he wanted to jump into the top ten in the overall standings, so he had no time to lose time and play games.

This is not to say Pereiro didn't deserve to win today -- he more than earned this finish after riding himself into the "Most Aggressive Rider" designation and doing his work for teammates Botero and Landis. He also nearly soloed his way to victory on this stage but was stopped short by a rock in his wheel that forced him to wait for repairs. Perhaps he should be more careful, though, about what he chooses to complain about, lest people like me make these snarky comparisons.

Despite not getting the stage victory, it was a big day for Evans who climbed all the way into seventh place, with Landis and Vino right behind him. It should make for a good time trial performance by all three. The Tour from here on out is about the sprinters green jersey competition and a time trial to determine who places in the Top Ten, or rather, in 2nd-10th place, as everyone has long conceded that Armstrong is The Boss. Rasmussen is probably in the toughest spot right now: he's riding in a podium position right now (3rd), but sitting in 4th place in Jan Ullrich who can tear the cranks off his bike when it comes to the time trial. Rasmussen has already accomplished all of his goals for this Tour -- King of the Mountains and a stage win -- but those suprise accomplishments are always welcome.

Stage profile and my stage log in the extended.

Stage 9: Gerardmer-Mulhouse

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Armstrong gave up the yellow jersey today, but it was actually a great day for Team Discovery. Armstrong said he wanted to get rid of the jersey to take off some of the pressure and he found an able recipient in CSC's Jens Voigt. While Voigt attacked up the road with Moreau, trying to catch up to Rasmussen, Team Discovery controlled the peloton with a high tempo up the final big climb, Le Ballon d'Alsace. Armstrong had five of his teammates this time up the final climb, no one was able to attack, and Rubiera was earned teammate-of-the-day awards by setting a pace up the whole climb that caused riders to fall off the back left and right.

The big rider on the day was Rasmussen of Rabobank. He won every climb and solidified his lead in the King of the Mountains competition. Not content with that, he soloed his way to victory, with none of the chasing groups behind able to bring him back. I think he'll be needing tomorrow's rest day.

The bad news on the day is that Zabriskie has dropped out. After finishing dead last yesterday, the mountains were too much for his multiple injuries. Maybe we'll see him again in the Vuelta adding another stage victory there.

Maps and live notes in the extended.