Results tagged “Rabobank” from spare cycles

Gesink Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 3 Photo Gallery

Mount Hamilton was a big addition to today's stage, but the results were eerily familar -- so much so that Fritz of Cyclelicio.us was able to pull one of my 2007 photos for his stage 3 summary. Last year it was Levi, Voigt, and Gesink over the top of Sierra Road. The trio survived and Voigt easily took the sprint. This time around, Levi and Gesink were lucky to leave Voigt behind and negotiate a rider's agreement: Gesink took the stage, Levi the overall lead. From comments Leipheimer made after the stage, it sounds like Astana and Rabobank had worked this possibility out the night before.

With Farrar being a sprinter, it was well expected that the overall lead would be up for grabs. This came sooner than expected, however, as Farrar dropped out with a stomach bug. Farrar had hoped to transfer the jersey to Danielson, but Danielson was already far behind on the Mount Hamilton climb. Millar and Zabriskie had good rides and are both within striking distance to take the lead at the Solvang time trial. Fabian Cancellara also rode in with Millar and Zabriskie and sits in a close second at 13 seconds back.

Mario Cipollini - (c) Ken Conley Scott Nydam - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 3 Photo Gallery

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)

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),

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.

Well, a day with five hard climbs will sort out the standings, won't it? Menchov takes the stage win on a day that Rabobank controlled the end, but it's Floyd Landis that takes the yellow jersey. Menchov and Landis are the clear leaders now; Kloden, Evans, and Sastre are close, but they will have to look towards the Alps to prove themselves better than they were today. If Landis continues to ride the way he did today, without any teammates to really help him, then he should be in yellow in Paris. It won't be an easy defense as Menchov's Rabobank showed themselves to be a strong mountain threat. T-Mobile hasn't given up yet either, though all their bets are riding on Kloden now. One team that won't give Landis any trouble is Discovery. I picked them as the strongest team going into this Tour, and let me say I couldn't have been more entirely wrong. They haven't controlled a second of this race and certainly weren't ready for today's attacks.

Leipheimer hung in there with Landis and Menchov, hoping that his loss of contender status would allow him to escape for the win, but Menchov kept nailing back his attacks. It didn't seem like it was going to be a Rabobank day: T-Mobile did the initial damage on the penultimate Col du Portilon climb, dropping all of Discovery except Azevedo as well as Caisse rider Vladimir Karpets; however, T-Mobile did the most damage to itself, knocking all of their highly placed riders out of contention, except Kloden, who they pushed into cramping. Rabobank seemed more concerned with helping Rasmussen get some KOM points, as Boogerd led out Rasmussen twice to collect points. On the lead-in to the final climb, though, Rasmussen moved to the front of the surviving 18 riders and set a pace that kept the peloton from closing down the gap. Then on the final climb it was Boogerd who shattered the rest of the group, shedding Azevedo, Fothen, Parra, Schleck, Simoni, Moreau, and Zubeldia. With a final push he popped off Kloden.

Menchov, Landis, Leipheimer, Evans, and Sastre were the only riders to survive Boogerd's final acceleration. Leipheimer made several attacks, but wasn't going to be allowed to get the win by Menchov. Landis did the majority of the work, with Menchov and Evans doing a bit of pacing as well. An attack by Levi and counterattacks by Menchov and Landis were enough to drop Sastre and Evans. Menchov timed his final sprint perfectly, coming around the final corner ahead and holding off Levi and Landis. From there it was a race to see if Dessel could pull a Voeckler and stay in the yellow jersey. Dessel needed to limit the time gap to about four and a half minutes, but was eight seconds too slow in the end -- the difference was Landis' twelve-second time bonus.

David de la Fuente deserves a big mention as he and Fabian Wegmann duked it out for KOM points early in the day. de la Fuente won that battle and was able to stay away until the final climb.

Prediction check:

  • Prediction: First I picked Sastre and then swapped for Rasmussen, with Floyd in yellow.
  • Actual: Rasmussen was nowhere close as he sacrificed himself for Menchov, who took the stage win. Sastre got dropped near the very top and came in fifth.

Stage 9: Bordeaux - Dax

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by -/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was a messy sprint finish with multiple sprinters trying to launch their lead outs. Eventually it was Zabel, Freire, and McEwen grabbing the wheel of Boonen, who could do little to fight them off as they each came around one by one. McEwen jumped way across to his left, which was perhaps too much ground, as it was Freire who came up between McEwen and Boonen and beat McEwen by just a tiny bit of wheel. (Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was a very, very flat stage, which didn't generate too much excitement. A three-man break -- Beneteau, Knees, and Aug� -- was away most of the stage. It's a bit odd how breaks are gong so easily and staying away until the final kilometers so frequently. The break was caught at about the 3.5km point. O'Grady tried an attack in the final kilometers, but QuickStep was prepared and pulled it back quite easily. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

There was some splitting of the peloton that caused some contenders to lose time. Zabriskie's report implies there was a crash; whatever it was caused Denis Menchov lost 13 seconds as did best young rider Marcus Fothen, who fell to ninth place -- Kloden/Karpets/Evans/Zabriskie moved up a spot. Levi should have followed Zabriskie's decision to move up near the front, and Levi ended up losing 0:26 on the day. He actually crossed about 1:40 back, but the refs gave him the time of the end of the peloton as he had an unspecified mechnical problem. Levi seems to be talking stage win as his strategy now, with yet-another-top-10-finish not meaning as much to him anymore if he can't reach that podium, so time doesn't matter as much as regaining his legs.

Prediction check: * My prediction: McEwen first, Boonen second. * Actual: McEwen second, Boonen fourth

Stage 5: Beauvais - Caen

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Boonen finally beat McEwen, but it wasn't for first place. Oscar Freire came charging up the right side of the finishing straight and jumped around everyone with a perfectly timed burst of speed. Boonen desparately tried to catch back up and McEwen came rolling in fifth. Quickstep was leading out the sprint with 1k to go -- two leadout men with Boonen just behind -- but things started to mix up as Milram sent a rider in front of Boonen's leadout men. Credit Agricole jumped to the front of the mix, but then it was McEwen's Lotto leadout man that came bursting through on the final straight. McEwen seemed to realize that his leadout man went a little too soon and jumped over to some other wheels, but by then Boonen was already leading the charge to Robbie's left. As Robbie jumped to the left to grab some wheels, Freire jumped clear on the right with a huge burst of speed that was more than enough to hold off Boonen.

This stage was in danger of being dangerously boring. It was dominated by a two-man breakaway by Dumoulin and Schr�der with most of the excitement on the day consisting of Pineau fighting for the single third-place KOM points leftover after the two-man break went through. The peloton waited a bit long to pull the break back, which stressed the peloton and lead to a couple crashes. Discovery rider Egoi Martinez went down -- he finished but lost his fifth overall position. Another crash took down Lotto rider Vansummeren (a good week for McEwen, bad for the rest of the team) and a CSC rider.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Boonen first, McEwen second (I'll keep using it til it works) * Actual: Boonen second, McEwen fifth