Results tagged “Spain” from spare cycles

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.

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.

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