Results tagged “Saunier Duval” from spare cycles

Stage 12: Cavendish x 3, Ricco idiot

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letour.jpgCavendish has more than established himself as the sprinter of now and future. Three stage wins in his first Tour de France is an amazing feat and there may be more to come. It was a messy setup for the sprint finish. No team could really hold the front. Columbia drove it until about 1k to go, then got swarmed by Milram, which got overtaken by Credit Agricole, which got overtaken by Quick Step. Cavendish was attentive throughout and surged to the front with his impressive acceleration. Poor sprinter Robbie Hunter, who lost Cooke today as well continuing Barloworld's streak of losses. Hunter was forced to grab whatever wheel he could.

The big news today was of course the loss of Stupido Ricco, who demonstrated that his poor judgment when he runs his mouth is as bad as his judgment otherwise. Also, it is too much to have two amazing mountain stages in a row. Saunier Duval became the first team to withdraw, which makes me wonder what they caught Ricco with. Perhaps it was inevitable: his idol is Pantani.

Today's break was Oroz, Dumoulin and Gerard, who seemed to dangle just off the front of the peloton forever. Stuart O'Grady did the final reel-in, but then switched into an interesting tactic. TV cameras showed Cadel Evans with nary a teammate in sight, so O'Grady moved back to the front with Schleck on his wheel. Evans was forced to take third wheel, at least until the sprint teams reasserted control. It's not a move that cost Evans much, except perhaps the sly insult at his team. It's a sprint stage, Silence-Lotto. There's gotta be one rider you have left that can watch after your yellow jersey rider.

letour.jpgAt last, we get a rock 'em sock 'em mountain stage with carnage spread over two giant mountains. The race was blown up like a pinata by CSC and Saunier Duval swept in to pick up the candy.

It was a familiar sight in the mountains: Saunier Duval went 1/2 as Piepoli crossed first and Cobo second. Not far behind was Frank Schleck, who was desparately seeking prize that CSC was seeking most: the yellow jersey. But he'll have to wait for the next mountain stage. Cadel Evans may have been far down the road, but he was able to snag a 1 second lead, and he tearfully accepted his prize. Saunier Duval's Riccardo Ricco may not have been part of the finishing duo, but he finished with the Evans group and also took enough points on the Tourmalet to take two jerseys, KOM and best young rider.

CSC have been the harbingers of pain this Tour. If see them at the front, you know that something hard and nasty is brewing. Last time we saw them digging in at the front the peloton was split in half. They setup their cards early as Fabian Cancellara worked hard to make the breakaway and stay up the road over the Col du Tourmalet. Back in the peloton, Gustov kicked it up, stringing out the leaders on the Tourmalet. Next was Jens Voigt. Riis said he had been saving Voigt, winding him up as a spring, and today he was sprung. With a face screwed up in agony, he pulled the ever-dwindling selection up and cover the rest of the Tourmalet.

The damage was huge -- Valverde and Cunego had been cracked. Not all hope was lost for Valverde and Cunego, though. They were only half a minute down and had the descent to catch on for the Hautacam. But CSC wasn't done yet: they still had one more pain bringer, Fabian Cancellara, waiting in the wings. Cancellara dropped back and banished hope for Valverde. Even with a couple of Caisse d'Epargne teammates, there was little chance of outdoing Voigt and Cancellara.

On the slopes of the Hautacam, Saunier Duval emerged unscathed from CSC's attacks. It was quickly a blur of CSC and Saunier Duval jerseys jumping up the road: Piepoli, Sastre, Cobo, Frank Schleck, back and forth. Piepoli, Cobo, and Schleck were the survivors, and soon the Saunier Duval tandem was able to shed Schleck. The Saunier Duval tactics weren't as well-honed as CSC's -- at one point Schleck was able to use Cobo to bridge up to Piepoli -- but in the end they stuck.

Further down the road the Evans group contained the rest of the riders who can hope to be on the podium in Paris. Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde was a happy man as he was able to stick with the attacks and put in some of his own in order to slot into 3rd in the GC. As usual, I'll leave it to the eloquent words of Jonathan Vaughters to summarize their day:

Go F*ckin' Christian!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JV

Gerolsteiner's Bernhard Kohl also did well as he jumped off the front of that group to vault up to 4th in the GC. CSC's Carlos Sastre was probably a little less happy to have to stick with Evans as he had to sacrifice GC aspirations to preserve Frank Schleck's position. Menchov can be happy that he stuck with the group after all the bad luck he's had this Tour. A good time trial could get him on the podium in Paris.

The biggest losers on the day were Valverde and Cunego at almost 6 minutes back (there goes my prediction). They can almost certainly say farewell to the GC as it's hard to imagine they making up that time on Evans. Kim Kirchen lost four minutes and the yellow jersey today.

Stage 9: Ricco the Cobra strikes again

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letour.jpgIt's a good thing that Ricco decided to come to the Tour de France after all. With a more proper mountain stage win to his credit he can now start accepting the comparisons to Marco Pantani in earnest. Saunier Duval was all over the front of the peloton as riders tried their attack. He flew off the front of the pack on the Col d'Aspin -- it looked like he was climbing a different mountain the way he blazed past everyone else on the mountain. from there was long 26km descent to down the long descent to the finish in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, which Ricco tackled with ease. Meanwhile, Caisse d'Epargne looked to have the chase group in control up the Col d'Aspin and on the half-hearted chase to the finish -- plenty of riders were attacking out of the chase, including Efimkin, who took second place.

Ricco's success was in part due to the conservativeness of the GC leaders. Evans managed a small crash to get road rash to match Valverde's and everyone seemed content to save energy for tomorrow's big stage. The 26km descent from the Col d'Aspin to the finish line was really too much energy for any of them to waste. Tomorrow there's the Col du Tourmalet and a mountain top finish on the Hautacam to contend with.

Schumacher tried a small acceleration on the Col d'Aspin which cost him in the ended -- Vande Velde took over his third place spot as he ended up losing time to the rest of the GC contenders. Columbia's Thomas Lövkvist also had trouble today and passed his white jersey to CSC's Andy Schleck.

It will be interesting to see if Ricco takes over for teammate David de la Fuente in the hunt for polka dot points. de la Fuente had his own battle today as he had to protect his jersey from assault by Sebastian Lang, who was part of the early break that lasted all the way to the Col d'Aspin. de la Fuente dug deep to get 4th on the climb and keep his lead.

letour.jpgRicco and his teammates had confidence that today could be his day, and despite all brashness we should have listened. Valverde and Evans followed a second behind, but it was the Cobra's day and a well-earned victory for Saunier Duval. Behind them was race carnage as race leader Stefan Schumacher crashed in the final kilometer.

Stefan Schumacher's misfortune was Kim Kirchen's gain -- in fact, it was an accidental touch of Kirchen's rear wheel that caused the crash. Kirchen stayed close enough to Evans with a fifth-place finish (0:04 back) to take the yellow jersey. He also regained his green jersey lead from Thor Hushovd.

Several teams launched efforts at the start of the final climb but strong tempo riding from Caisse d'Epargne kept them in check. Garmin-Chipotle's Vandevelde launched an attack with Saunier Duval's Piepoli that got a good gap, but they lost time on the false flat before the final 1.5k steep slope and were quickly swallowed up and as soon as the road start going back up. Vandevelde's efforts leapfrogged him into 4th place on GC, while teammate David Millar fell to fifth.

Chavanel continued his efforts off the front, this time netting himself a KOM jersey by virtue of a tie-breaker over Tommy Voeckler.

Luciano Pagliarini Takes Victory From Second - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Sprint Finish - (c) Ken Conley Luciano Pagliarini - (c) Ken Conley

Above: Mark Cavendish Gets His Victory Salute on Course, Pagliarini Gets His After the Race

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Luciano Pagliarini - (c) Ken ConleyOnce again Luciano Pagliarini once again raised the Brazilian flag on American soil, but first their was much confusion. At first the stage seemed to be the miraculous comeback of Mark Cavendish to take the stage: a crash on the second lap, a hectic chase to get back in the peloton, and victory in the final sprint -- only the miracle turned out to be the assistance of a team car that he hung on to. High Road says that Cavendish's rear derailleur was broken and needed fixing, the judge said 20 seconds and no first for you. It's a disappointing result for the San Luis Obispo-based Team High Road, which is still looking for Tour of California success.


Mark Cavendish - (c) Ken Conley Mark Cavendish in the Peloton on the First Lap - (c) Ken Conley

Above: Mark Cavendish is in the peloton on the first lap, but soon finds himself banged up and chasing alone

Today is the type of finish that makes a photographer groan. You get the shot of the person first across the line. You get lots of photos of the celebration afterward. And then the person who walks onto the podium is not the person you shot.

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Pagliarini wins

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Stage 4 Photo Gallery

Saunier Duval's Luciano Pagliarini outkicked stage-1-winner Ivan Dominguez and Symmetrics' Andrew Pinfold to take the stage win. Crosswinds opened the door for a breakaway but the gaps were kept more manageable with Discovery at the front of the peloton. Pagliarini sent his team to the front to do the final reel in and repaid their efforts with a strong win.

I screwed up the finishing shot. My initial gut told me that it was going to be Pagliarini, but I pulled off at the last second to try and catch the Pinfold coming around the end. I ended up getting not much of either, except some lessons learned.

Long road stages are tough without a motorcycle. You have to drive like a madman and often you still end up missing the peloton flying by. I managed to catch the peloton at a scenic bridge only to see the photographers on motorcycle arrive just in time to take the exact same shot. Its fun, though, and a good excuse to chat up the locals to get to know the local terrain.

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The stage start was a blast. Lebanon brought out the students of Boswell Middle School in full force and decked out in yellow school t-shirts. Groups of students were each assigned a team and they dutifully walked around with their handmade team signs. They also lined the start line and collected high-fives from the passing riders. Even photographers like myself got in on the action as, in the end, the students didn't seem to care who they were cheering or collecting autographs from.

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Slipstream bikes and Levi's new National Champ bike:

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Stage 4 Photo Gallery

*Not* another doper: Mayo

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Update: Mayo's long delayed B-sample was negative and there were admissions of error in the first sample. Hmm, I guess this is why test results should remain confidential until confirmed and people like me should be more careful with headlines.

Not a whole lot of details yet, but CyclingNews reports:

Iban Mayo tested positive for EPO on the Tour de France's rest day, July 24, it was announced Monday night. His team Saunier Duval was informed of the positive test by the UCI and immediately suspended the rider.

Millar almost confirms Slipstream move

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The Vino news trampled the Saunier Duval press conference like a Kazakhstan Railways trainwreck. Lost in the implosion were:

  1. Saunier Duval's announcements about its "100 years from a million trees" program in Mali. VeloNews carried some coverage back in January: A week in Mali - A Glenn Myrent Gallery.

  2. Millar may have been about to announce his move to Slipstream (quote from VeloNews:

"The irony here is that I was hoping to make an announcement today about my future plans," Millar said, likely referring to rumors that next year he will ride for Slipstream Sports, the strict anti-doping squad run by Jonathan Vaughters.

"I have some projects in the works. I am hoping to work with young riders, to show them that you don't have to dope to succeed."

The Slipstream has long been speculated and even 'confirmed' by Reuters, though Millar denied any actual confirmations in the Tour interviews I've seen.

I've been awaiting official Slipstream news as there has been a ton of speculation for big names that Slipstream will supposedly try to sign this year including Zabriskie, Hincapie, and Laurent.

An amazing sprint by Robbie McEwen for the win. McEwen had got caught up in a crash with 20km to go and had to spend the next 15km chasing back with the help of his teammates. McEwen was nowhere to be seen as Quick Step lead the peloton towards the last mile. Milram took over the sprint from Quick Step and had two riders to leadout Zabel. Boonen glued himself to Zabel's wheel, but they quickly found their leadout swamped as Robbie Hunter stirred things up. Hunter jumped early to the right with Discovery's Vaitkus just behind. Hunter ran out of gas and sat up just as McEwen accelerated out of nowhere around the outside of the pack and shot past ten+ riders. Boonen tried to catch McEwen's wheel but McEwen was accelerating too fast -- McEwen by at least a bike length (Steephill.tv video stills). Hushovd was able to jump off Boonen's wheel to take second.

McEwen fans will worry that this is his last of this year's Tour as McEwen's wrist is questionable: "When it happens you're not really thinking too much about it, you get back on your bike, you don't feel anything..But now I'm starting to feel the pain, in my hand, my wrist and my knee. It was a great day for me, but now I'm starting to get a bit worried for the rest of the Tour."

Today's race started across the famous London Tower Bridge. The early story was all about David Millar, who wanted to put on a show while the race was still on his soil. He helped launched an early break and then managed to drop the rest of the riders. He was eventually chased down by four riders from that break: Auge (Cofidis), Kuschynski (Liquigas), Grivoko (Milram), and Bichot (Agritubel). The break extended its lead to over 6 minutes with 90k to go. Along the way Millar picked up two early intermediate sprints, but it wasn't the green jersey he was going for: he was thinking of polka dots.

At first it wasn't clear what Millar was shooting for and I'm not sure he did either: "So today I thought, ‘You know what, I'm just going to go on a suicide mission.' And it ended up being productive, which is a real bonus." Millar didn't bother contesting the Goudhurst Hill KOM. Bichot put in an attack early up the climb-- it looked like he mistimed it as he was caught by Kuschynski, but the Cat 4 climb was longer than Kuschynski thought and Bichot was able to pass again. Millar's plan to take the KOM seemed to hatch once he got caught by the peloton after he was dropped from the break. Correction: According to Millar, "...I decided to radio behind and get my team riding and drop back to the peloton. I was not sure if I could hold my lead in the last KOM and it was 26 km away and we had 2minutes 20seconds. So I decided it would be best to shut the break down and get points after having a rest in the bunch."

Saunier Duval sent some riders to the front to reel in the rest of the break before the final KOM. Auge was the last of the break to stay off the front and managed to survive until the Farthing Common KOM to briefly move into the polka dot jersey. Millar was able to retake the lead by taking second in the KOM while the rest of the peloton was busy reorganizing itself due to the McEwen/etc crash.

McEwen's and Cavendish's troubles made things a bit more interesting for the sprint. Lotto had to organize a chaseback for McEwen and were joined by about 20 other riders. Cavendish appeared caught out by himself and looked very angry as he endured wheel changes then a bike change. Cavendish ended up losing 3:37. This left just Quick Step and Lampre to drive the peloton towards the finish.

Argritubel's Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez was the first abandon of the Tour, apparently due to a crash. There were several crashes today. Lancaster (Milram), Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne), and Mercado (Agritubel) were among riders who crashed into a road island. There was also the big crash that put McEwen and Cavendish (T-Mobile) into trouble.

Links:

Course profile, Versus predictions, my predictions after the jump.

Giro Stage 18&19: 4x4

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Alessandro Petacchi easily took his fourth win on Stage 18 -- it helps when all the other sprinters have abandoned -- and Iban Mayo soloed through the rain for Saunier Duval's fourth win by the fourth different rider (Piepoli, Ricco, Simoni). PezCyclingNews didn't give Di Luca their #1 pick, but you do have to credit them for having this to say about Saunier Duval pre-Giro:

Saunier Duval Should Be The Team Of The Race Gilberto Simoni is the unquestioned leader of the Saunier Duval squad, but they're bringing an explosive combination of riders that should make for some most excellent racing.

Leonardo Piepoli returns to the Giro after setting the mountains on fire last year. Simoni and Piepoli alone were fireworks on the road, but it just gets better with the addition of this year's breakout success, Riccardo Ricco. I can't wait to see the three of them light up the slopes of the mountains all over Italy. And those are just the three sure-things - heaven help us if the Iban Mayo of old returns. I'm not holding my breath on Mayo, but just think of the possibilities...

Tomorrow's time trial looks to be interesting. Danilo Di Luca looks to have things sewn up but a rainy course has a way of mixing things up. I also look forward to seeing if Dave Zabriskie can deliver on another Giro TT win. With Team CSC losing MAN as a sponsor, they could badly use a win right now.

Giro Stage 17: Gibo takes Zoncolan

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It was an amazing ride by the trio of Simoni, Schleck, and Piepoli. Piepoli dug deep for Gibo and the two were able to burn Schleck on the final straight. Piepoli got to salute another teammate across the line, showing that he really deserves that green jersey that he's been sporting. Their break was able to get a gap on Di Luca and Cunego, but at the finish it looked like it was only half a minute. The better gap was on Mazzoleni, who lost his podium spot to make room for Simoni. Andy Schleck is now the surprise second place.

Simoni may not with this Giro but he was finally able to take the stage win instead of watching from the two second places he had on Stage 12 and 14. The Saunier Duval trio of Gibo, Piepoli, and Ricco have rocked the climbs with stage wins for all of them.

TiVo screwed up my planned viewing of the Versus recap, so I'm pretty bummed. I got to catch the early coverage of Stage 14 before I headed off to do a TT -- it was already shaping up to be the most exciting stage of the Giro. I was a bit suprised that a breakaway of that caliber (Bettini, Simoni, Savoldelli, Schleck, Parra, Garzelli, Mayo, Mazzoleni, Rubiera, etc...) could not get even a minute on Di Luca at the finish, but I think it's a sign of how dominant Di Luca has been (with help from Cunego/Lampre). Simoni made the most of the break and gained 0:50 on Di Luca, but he didn't get the stage win as Garzelli caught him on the line... with the help of a TV motorcycle draft.

Saunier Duval tried to continue the attack on Di Luca into Stage 15, but their leader Simoni cracked before Di Luca and Simoni was kind enough to tell his strong teammates to go and take the stage instead of limit Simoni's losses in the overall. A 1-2 finish on the hardest stage of the Giro is a quality achievement for Saunier Duval even if Simoni wiped out his time gains from Stage 14.

Saunier Duval and Liquigas ruled today's stage. SD's Piepoli was able to hold off a charging Di Luca, but Liquigas' Andrea Noe (oldest rider) took the maglia rosa. Each team ended up taking three of the top ten spots on today's stage, leaving enough room for Savoldelli, Cunego, Andy Schleck, and Popovych to squeeze in. Di Luca's second-place finish today is really starting to skyrocket his odds in my book. The former Giro winners (Cunego, Simoni, Savoldelli) aren't looking nearly as fierce so far, though the hardest stages are yet to come.

Hincapie made a move to capitalize on his Stage 8 break by going for the maglia rosa today. A fierce chase and an untimely flat nullified that bid and lost him eight minutes in the overall. All is well for Discovery, though, as Popovych finished less than a minute back and CheChu Rubiera continues to occupy the top ten at 3:22 back.

Zabriskie was perhaps cursed by a VeloNews article touting his GC chances. Z-man plummeted from 10th to 44th after finishing 8.28 down, but his teammate Andy Schleck continues to shine in the mountains and is holding at 12th place.

There were plenty of abandons today, especially among the spritners. Haedo gave up his quest for a sprint victory in the Giro, as did T-Mobile's Greg Henderson. Petacchi lost a part of his train as Ongarato and Ghisalberti abandoned. Lampre's Napolitano barely squeezed in last place at 34:57 back.