Category: Pro Tour 2006

November 8, 2006

Basso to Discovery

San Franscisco Grand Prix-77

"It's done" -- Lance Armstrong

After much speculation over whether or not Discovery Channel would sign a prominent rider under a cloud of suspicion, Basso will now be trading red and white for blue and grey. I'm a little surprised: Basso was cleared, but he steadfastly refused to submit to DNA sampling that would have definitively cleared him. I'm not saying that Basso is guilty for not submitting DNA; I'm just surprised that Discovery -- one of the few teams not impacted by Operation Puerto -- would sign him without such a test.

Basso to Discovery Channel

October 12, 2006

The Landis Defense

Floyd Landis' defense effort is now in full effect. For the past couple of days he has been posting on DailyPeloton threads (thread one, thread two), and today he posted his motion for dismissal as well as testing documents on his blog. It is a very bold defense with a smart purpose: tired of seeing the media interpret for the public what his defense is (e.g. 'beers and whisky', 'cortisone injections', 'thyroid medications'), Landis has chosen to state his defense directly to the public. No misinterpretations, and Landis can strongly state he has nothing to hide.

After reading the motion for dismissal, I'm not sure how I stand. There's simply too much science that I don't have the professional experience to understand. The main thrust of the argument in the motion for dismissal is that by WADA's own criteria, Landis' result wasn't a positive: only two of the four metabolites were above the positive threshold, and one of those two was within the error range of measurement to be negative. There is also a second main argument put forth that the calibration of the equipment on the negative control sample shows that the equipment was off.

There is a separate presentation made available that makes slightly different arguments from the motion for dismissal. It visually documents multiple surprising errors in the test documentation: there are multiple cases of Landis' barcode and sample numbers are incorrectly recorded or rewritten. There is also a slide indicating that Landis' sample shows measured contaminations levels above what is allowed to be used. Also surprising is the amount of variance in the lab's measurements: Landis' T:E ratio jumps from 4.4 to 11.8 between test runs.

Regardless, bold move. At the very least, it makes WADA look bad, which I am in favor of, as I personally believe that athletes should be incriminated with the best possible evidence so that we, as a public, aren't subject to endless doubt when doping cases arise.

September 11, 2006

Andreu, anonymous 1999 USPS rider admit EPO use

The New York Times has just published this bombshell: 2 Ex-Teammates of Cycling Star Admit Drug Use along with an article focusing on Andreu in particular, Fears for Sport Made Cyclist Come Clean. Neither Andreu nor the unnamed rider implicate Armstrong directly, though Andreu traces his usage back to their Motorola days and he also says he saw Armstrong sorting little round pills, which Armstrong claims were caffeine.

I'm of mixed minds about Andreu's admission. * update: Andreu clearly takes responsibility for his own actions in his statement today, so it doesn't feel as dishonest anymore.* The article clearly tries to frame him not as a cheater for himself but as a cheater for Lance, as if Andreu had nothing to gain for himself by doping. But Andreu had plenty to gain: a coveted spot on a Tour team and a chance to ride into Paris on the winning team. Now, of course, Andreu has little to lose after being let go from the Toyota-United team, which was surprising given how good that squad was doing its first year out. Regardless, it's a damning admission for the old US Postal squad and I'm sure everyone will wonder now who the unnamed rider is. The 1999 roster was:

  • Lance Armstrong (USA) of course not
  • Frankie Andreu (USA) admitted
  • Pascal Deram� (Fra)
  • Tyler Hamilton (USA) unlikely
  • George Hincapie (USA) unlikely
  • Kevin Livingston (USA)
  • Peter Meinert-Nielsen (Den)
  • Christian Vandevelde (USA) racing for CSC
  • Jonathan Vaughters (USA) heading up TIAA-CREF

August 9, 2006

ToG Stage 7 and 8: Voigt TT, Everything

Voigt is a powerful rider, but winning his third stage of the Tour of Germany on a time trial? That's just crazy talk, but Voigt is a crazy rider. With that TT victory, Voigt sealed up his overall win as the final stage 8 only had one climb to get over and ended in a sprint finish.

Everyone was clustered at least a minute back in the time trial, with Leipheimer finishing in fifth at 1:14 back. Levi's time was good enough to stay in the second spot on the podium; Discovery's Gusev was unable to leapfrog Kashechkin for the third and final podium spot -- Petrov dropped to fifth after a slow time trial. Astana didn't get the two stage victories that they wanted, nor did the get the performance from Vinokourov they probably wanted, but Kashechkin's third place overall was good finish for the team that's been fighting back from its Tour ejection.

Voigt considers his Tour of Germany victory above all others, and it's easy to agree. I've never seen him ride at this level, Levi's never seen him ride at this level, and to win three very different stages -- breakaway, mountain top, time trial -- is an impressive demonstration of cycling talent.

On a side note, I find it incredibly amusing that the Tour of Germany plays the Star Wars fanfare when awarding the podium prizes.

August 7, 2006

ToG Stage 6: Voigt on Fire!

Wow, I love watching Voigt race but I never knew he could pull out performances like this -- he beat out Levi for an impressive stage 6 victory, holding onto his lead in the overall. I don't know what kind of legs Voigt will show for the time trial tomorrow, but this has already been an amazing showing by Voigt: two stage wins and two days in the overall lead.

Levi led an attack on the final climb that whittled the pack down to Voigt, Kaseschkin, and Petrov. With a little with a little over 2k to go, Levi lited the pace again on a steep part of the climb and Voigt started to fall off the pace. Kaseschkin jumped around Voigt and grapped Levi's wheel, and the two increased their gap on Voigt and Petrov. The race entered a tunnel (some great video) and Kaseschkin attacked Levi, but Voigt caming charging from behind with Petrov on his wheel. Voigt managed to catch back on about half way through the tunnel, and in the final 1k charge to the finish line, Voigt showed too much power in the tank to be challenged. Levi was the only one to hold close, but he had to be impressed by Voigt's effort: bridging back and then taking the stage win.

The overall standings are still fairly close given the pending time trial. Levi hasn't put in a good time trial since the Dauphine, so Voigt has a descent chance of winning the overall.

  1. Jens Voigt, CSC 27.39.29
  2. Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner 0.24
  3. Evgeni Petrov, Lampre-Fondital 0.56
  4. Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel 1.00
  5. Andrey Kashechkin, Astana 1.03

CyclingNews Stage 6 Summary

August 6, 2006

ToG Stage 5: Levi

It was a dark and stormy stage that the riders refused to race until it was shortened -- the snowy, icy HC K�htal Pass climb was removed. The riders made up for the shortened route by riding the 100 miles very fast: 3:40:20. There was still a mountain top finish, and with a couple of kilometers to go, Levi attacked Kashechkin and Piepoli. Kashechkin and Piepoli couldn't give much chase until Jens Voigt joined their wheels, and it was Voigt, racing for the overall lead, that helped lift up the pace in order to put more distance between him and Discovery's Gusev. Levi still took the stage, but Voigt's determination got him into the overall lead, well earned after his stage 2 victory. I'm impressed to see that Gusev was even hanging in there, given that he's more of a time trialist and has had to hold his placing in the overall largely on his own efforts, as Discovery hasn't been able to protect him (correction: Gusev did have Devolder with him on the final climb today, though he was by himself on stage 2). I'm impressed with Voigt's high finish as well, though he admits he was helped by the elimination of the HC climb.

Levi has now moved within 18 seconds of the overall, so he seems to be making up for his poor prologue performance. He definitely has a shot at repeating his Tour of Germany victory from last year. At least he won't have to worry about Vino, who lost 4:39 on the stage. It's now up to Kashechkin for Astana.

This is yet-another great day for CSC: in addition to Voigt's yellow jersey, Cancellara won the Tour of Denmark. This comes just three days after CSC's impressive three wins on Thursday: Voigt's stage 2 ToG victory, Cancellara's stage 2 ToD victory, and Ljungqvist's Paris-Correze win.

August 3, 2006

ToG Stage 2: Voigt

Voigt, Kashechkin and Rebellin rolled into the finishing city, barely holding off a charging peloton. Voigt attacked going into the final corner, Kashechkin seemed to be out of gas, and Rebellin had a shot, but his rear wheel slid out going through the turn, which gave Voigt plenty of room for the victory. It was a well-earned victory for Voigt, who had to bridge up to Kashechkin and Rebellin, who had attacked on the Cat 2 Bockswiese climb.

The breakaway managed to hold off a chase group of 30 riders by five seconds, perhaps helped by the fact that Discovery had no riders to help out Gusev, who was riding all alone in the yellow jersey. Luckily for Gusev, T-Mobile seemed interested in giving chase, so he was able to ride in their train.

CyclingNews Stage 2 Summary

August 1, 2006

ToG Prologue: Gusev wins rainy opener

AP Photo/Martin MeissnerDiscovery Channel's Vladamir Gusev barely held of Linus Gerdemann and Sebastian Lang to take the opener to the Tour of Germany. I haven't had a chance to watch but I'm hoping to catch some highlights with my subscription as it sounds like a darky and stormy prologue, much like the final TT in the Tour of Switzerland this year.

I don't know what's up with Levi's TT abilities: he finished 111th in the prologue, 42 seconds behind. Vino faired much better, finishing in 10th place, 9 seconds behind. I don't know who will be leading CSC, but Bobby J is racing again, which is great considering how badly his forearms were injured.

Photo by AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Cycling News Tour of Germany Prologue Results

July 24, 2006

Contract news

Landis got a one-year contract extension and the rest of the team got two-year extensions. I'm not sure what the difference means for Landis' future, but at the very least we know that the iShares logo will move from his butt to his chest as iShares takes over lead sponsorship.

Discovery will announce a major signing tomorrow. Well, we know it's not Landis. Update: It's Levi! (paceline registration req'd for link. via)

Trouble is brewing at T-Mobile, as if there weren't enough trouble for the team that fired its former leader by fax. The speculation is that general manager Ludwig and team manager Kummer will be shown the door for their inability to use cycling tactics, among other things.

June 10, 2006

Mayo's back, Levi's win is nearly complete

Even if he is wearing #1 due to his 2004 Dauphin win, Iban Mayo is not the rider I expected to see winning the this year's Stage 6 from Brianon - La Toussuire. Mayo was placed under high expectations after that 2004 win but he failed to deliver a month later in the Tour de France and was winless in 2005. Today's stage win and yesterday's second place finish should mean that we see much more crazy Basque climbing out of Mayo in the Tour.

Levi continues to be strong in his defense of the overall. If he wins, he'll get to join the ranks of Armstrong, Indurain, and Hinault as winners of this Tour-de-France tune-up. Levi seems to be the only Tour contender that wants to showoff his form right now. For whatever reason, Landis seems to not be in the same class he was earlier this season (did he peak too early?), Ullrich continues to have minor health issues though a strong TT effort in the Giro, and Vino has shown no hints of great form yet.

Yesterday's stage 5 brought victory to French rider Ludovic Turpin on home soil. Whlie this was cause for great celebration in France, the celebration is short-lived as Turpin broke his femur today and will not be able to give France a similar victory in this year's Tour.

June 8, 2006

Levi into the lead atop Mont Ventoux

Levi didn't win stage 4 of the Dauphin Libr, but he's taken the lead in the overall after leading a three-man group with Menchov and Moreau to the top and not challenging the attack by Menchov at the end. Levi's been busy in California riding local races like the Sea Otter Classic and Copperopolis, but now on French soil he seems to be in plenty good shape for the Tour de France. Both his time trialing and climbing look strong.

As for the other American contenders, Zabriskie finished 50th at 8'10" back and Landis finished 56th at 9'30". Hincapie fared slightly better in 20th at 3'27" back, but it was his teammate Azevedo who know seems to be in the best position for Discovery after finishing 4th on the day and moving into 4th place overall.

June 7, 2006

Zabriskie gets his second win at Dauphine Stage 3

Zabriskie kicked some butt at 30.4 mph -- no one else cracked the 30mph barrier. Americans dominated the time trial, taking the top four positions, with Landis in second followed by Leipheimer and Hincapie. It looks like Leipheimer got his handlebars squared away this time around.

The effort wasn't enough to put Zabriskie in the lead as Gilbert is strong enough in the time trials to keep a 2'47" lead going into the mountains. I'm looking forward to seeing who has the mountain-climbing legs.

June 5, 2006

Wegmann wins stage 1 Dauphine sprint

Zabriskie's ride in the leader's jersey didn't last very long -- Fabiann Wegmann beat out the rest of his four-man break to take the victory and the overall lead. Wegmann's got the strength for the breakaway sprint -- I've previously seen Wegmann catch up to a Jason McCartney/John Lieswyn breakaway and then outsprint them for victory in San Francisco. Fellow breakaway-ees Tommy Voeckler couldn't beat Wegmann in the sprint, but France should be excited to see him in the King of the Mountains jersey tomorrow.

Zabriskie takes the Dauphine prologue

Dave Zabriskie won the 4.1km prologue and George Hincapie took second, making for a great American showing. It was fun watching Zabriskie finally beat Floyd's "Praying Landis" time trail position after being bested by Floyd in the early season racing. Levi Leipheimer was probably glad for the short course, as he crossed the finish line with one of his handlebars twisted to the side. The Dauphin� Lib�r� is a tune-up for the Tour, so hopefully Levi and his mechanic will get all those bugs out before the big event.

Graham Watson Prologue Photo Gallery VeloNews Prologue Summary

May 29, 2006

Basso Triumphant

Basso won the overall in the Giro, a victory that he has had all sewn up for about two weeks now. Even with other competitors complaining of sickness and whatnot -- Savoldelli and Cunego with allergies, Danielson with sinusitis -- the nine-plus-minute victory was so dominant that it's hard not to see Basso in his own class. Simoni called Basso "extraterrestrial" as an insult to complain about the fact that Simoni's era is past, but the truth was that no other rider to hold Basso's wheel as he pedalled to three stage victories. Discovery Sport Directory Sean Yates admits that last year's champ Savoldelli, even without allergies, would not have been able to challenge Basso. Had Basso not gotten sick last year, it's quite likely that he would be completing his second consecutive dominant victory now instead of embarking on the "Basso Era" as Velonews describes it.

I feel comfortable staying on the Basso train for the Tour de France. Although he brought his best form to the Giro this year, he did the same last year and managed to stay fit enough for the Tour. He also will have a strong team around him -- Jens Voigt was an amazing teammate to have for the Giro and could be awesome in the Tour. Zabriskie and Julich will also probably be there, so Basso will the chance, if need be, to share the yellow jersey with some teammates before donning it for good.

Who knows how much to trust my Tour predications given that my predictions for the Giro predicted as many sick riders (Danielson/Savoldelli/Petacchi/McCartney) as they did victorious riders. This is reminder, of course, of how amazing it is that any of these riders manages to finish a three-week Grand Tour and makes me marvel that Armstrong kept himself and his team healthy for seven consecutive tours. Dan Smith of SportVelo told me today that Jens Voigt burned 8,000 calories over his normal metabolic rate during one of the Tour de France mountain stages. That's a lot of PowerBars. Other top competitors -- Leipheimer, Landis, Vinokourov, Hincapie, etc... -- are busy saving their strength for the rough July ahead.

May 23, 2006

I'm back

TiVo didn't record most of the Giro for me so I'm caught up a bit faster than I thought I'd be. So far my predictions seem so-so. Of course, a broken kneecap by Petacchi does kind of change things :). The biggest surprise for me was Ullrich winning the time trial, which has rocketed him back into Tour de France speculation. I'm not convinced yet. Where I do remain convinced is that Basso is on the form of his life. If he can hold onto it for the Tour de France, I'll keep him as my pick to beat. He did the Giro/Tour last year and did alright, minus the illness that took him out of Giro contention, so I remain positive on this.

May 3, 2006

Going out of town, Giro predictions

I'm going off on a worktrip and vacation that will pretty much last the entire Giro, so this blog is going to be quiet for awhile. I figured I might as well leave off with a WAG as to the results this time around. I didn't do so well with the Tour de Georgia, so take this as you will.

  • Overall winner: Basso
  • Savoldelli and Danielson in the top five.
  • Cunego also top five, but not a threat.
  • Multiple stage wins by Bettini and Petacchi
  • Something awesome from Jason McCartney (i.e. breakaway victory)
  • Single stage wins for McEwen and Di Luca
  • Discovery wins team time trial (CSC second)
  • Prologue win by Savoldelli
  • Basso wins stage 11 time trial.

April 27, 2006

Go Horner!

The Tour de Romandie is the last big race in the leadup to the Giro di Italia, and while everyone has their eyes on Giro favorites like Paolo Savoldelli and Alejandro Valverde, it was American Chris Horner who shined on today's stage. Horner is a rider meant for the breakaway and on this stage he was able to freeze Savoldelli, Valverde, Moos, and Contador with his attack because Horner's Davitamon teammate Cadel Evans was there to keep watch. Davitamon has an interesting lineup with sprinter Robbie McEwen (stage 1 winner) and overall contender Cadel Evans, and I look forward to seeing Horner shine in the Grand Tours.

April 9, 2006

Paris-Roubaix 2006

Paris-Roubaix is my favorite of the one-day classics and every year many American cycling fans and I hope to see George Hincapie finally get his win. Paris-Roubaix is one of the toughest races in all of cycling and this year, with the dreaded Arenberg Forest back in the lineup, it continued to demonstrate why. I wouldn't hestitate to call this year's Paris-Roubaix one of the craziest road races I've ever seen.

Paris-Roubaix is somewhat like a videogame. There are 27 sectors of cobblestones the riders must cross as they count down to sector 1. Each sector is rated on a scale of difficulty from one to five stars. There are no real climbs, but it doesn't matter because the gaps between the cobblestones are wicked enough to grab your wheel and flip you into the ground.

Tom Boonen put a huge amount of pressure on the peloton in the infamous Arenberg Forest sector and managed to split off a lead group of seventeen riders that quickly dropped to fourteen. Hincapie was right on Boonen's wheel and had the superior tactical position. Last year, Hincapie had to take on Boonen by himself and wasn't strong enough to counter Boonen's sprint in the finishing velodrome. This year, Hincapie had two teammates -- Hoste and Gusev -- riding alongside him whereas Boonen had none.

So was this finally Hincapie's year? No. The cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix snapped off Hincapie's handlebars. Hincapie threw up his hands in surprise as his bike spun into the side of the road and flipped him into the ground. Hincapie had crashed earlier in the day and there was speculation that the handlebars may have been weakened.

As Discovery Sport Director Johan Bruyneel stood alongside his fallen rider, he had to think quick. Boonen was already attacking in the ensuing chaos and managed to drop Hoste and Gusev. They fought back into the breakaway but Gusev was then sent flying as his wheels got caught in the cobblestones coming around a curve. Luckily, he was able to get back on his bike and join back up. The day wasn't going great for Discovery, but they still had two riders in the lead break.

Another team that had a good tactical position in the lead breakaway was CSC, which had both Fabian Cancellara and Lars Michaelsen. Cancellara attacked and Gusev followed. Both are strong time trialers and set nearly identical times in the Tour of California Stage 3 time trial, but Cancellara was stronger this time around and Gusev slowly lost ground on the cobblestones. Back in Boonen's chase group, Hoste and Lotto's Van Petegem attacked and the isolated Boonen finally showed weakness as he couldn't follow.

Gusev and Hoste linked back up into a group of three with Van Petegem as they tried to chase down Cancellara's lead of half a minute. They weren't doing a very good job pulling Cancellara back, but a train gate came down and disrupted their pursuit even further. The three riders decided to slip around the gates in front of the oncoming train, but Boonen's group had no choice but to wait for the train to pass.

Cancellara easily coasted across the finish line in the velodrome. Even without the train he probably would have held off his chasers and he added another thirty seconds to his lead in the final sectors. The craziness of this year's race wasn't quite over, though: Hoste came across the finish line in second but was disqualified with the rest of his group for going across the train tracks with the gate down. Tom Boonen, who crossed the finish line in fifth, ended up taking second place, beaten, but still on the podium.

Update: some post-Paris-Roubaix reports: * Davitamon is officially protesting Van Petegem's disqualification * Bruyneel: Paris-Roubaix Reflections (Paceline registration required) * Hincapie Update - Post Paris-Roubaix (Paceline registration required) * Trek Discusses Hincapie's P-R Crash (Paceline registration required)

April 4, 2006

Pais Vasco Stage 2, Horner's strategy

Samuel Sanchez grabbed the lead at Pais Vasco, but the bit of news from that race that caught my eye was this bit about Horner, who was in the lead break with 7km to go when he punctured a tire:

When [Horner] rolled up to the finish line, he stopped just short of the tape and just idled there before slipping across 50th at 3:28 back.

"I got the flat, so there goes the GC. I knew there was no way I was chasing back, so that's why I wanted to lose as much time as possible," Horner said. "I just sat there two minutes. Maybe that's enough time that they'll let me go in a break and not worry about me."

April 2, 2006

Tour of Flanders 2006

Tom Boonen continues to have a ridiculously good year in the World Champion's jersey. His repeat victory at the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) will certainly have his stock flying high for a repeat victory at Paris-Roubaix.

QuickStep had all the cards in this one. After several cobblestone sections had whittled the lead group down to the main contenders, QuickStep still had four riders in that group. Three of those riders -- Boonen, Bettini, and Pozzato -- had already won stages this year. Discovery, the next strongest team, only had two riders in this selection: Hincapie and Hoste.

Hoste put in a spur-of-the-moment attack that pretty much guaranteed Boonen the stage victory. With 33km to go, Boonen was the only rider to follow Hoste's attack. Even with Hoste's victory at De Panne just several days prior, there probably isn't a tactic in the world that would have let him beat Boonen. Hincapie might have had a slim chance, but he was forced to sit in the chase group and mark the other riders, including Bettini. Discovery still managed second and third place, which is probably the best result that could have played out on this day. Hincapie sounded a bit disappointed in the post-race interviews to have been stuck back in the chase group, but this was Belgian territory and it was up to the Belgians to duke it out.

Hincapie will certainly have Hoste's full support in Paris-Roubaix. Unfortunately, he probably won't have Roger Hammond, who got 14 stitches to his knee, and he certainly won't have Michael Barry, who will be out for several months with face and vertebrae injuries. The cobblestones are wicked.

March 26, 2006

Basso looking strong

The results of this year's CSC Criterium International (three straight CSC victories) will certainly have more people putting Basso into their Tour de France pools:

Criterium International Photos by Graham Watson

Basso showed his ability to jump with all the breaks and his great early season time trialing. In Tyler Hamilton's second Daily Peloton interview, he hinted at Bjarne Riis' unwillingness to bet it all on the Tour. With Basso yet again competing for a Giro title, there certainly isn't Armstrong-like mentality at CSC, but Bobby Julich is adjusting his training from last year to put in a stronger effort for Basso so it seems that there will be less of the "look, we're on TV" strategy that CSC has employed in the past.

One Tour favorite who will not be competing against Basso in the Giro is Floyd Landis, who has announced he'll be skipping the Italian tour. Was Floyd worried about peaking too early with all his early season success? Is he going to spend those three weeks training on Tour stages? Beats me, but Ullrich will be riding the Giro, so we'll get to see two podium finishers riding side-by-side.

San Franscisco Grand Prix-84

Basso is popular with the ladies and will be even more popular with Tour/Giro pundits

March 20, 2006

Milan-San Remo

How good is Quickstep that you can have two race favorites -- Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini -- and manage to win the race with a rider (Pozzato) you sent to cover a break? The season has barely started and Boonen has three wins, Bettini has two wins, and now Pozzato has a win. Poor Petacchi had to know he was outgunned on this one. Bettini may have been recovering from a crash, but he seemed to be riding pretty well and Boonen was never hard to spot riding far up in the pack. Milram did its best to bring back the break, but all they did was give Pozzato the opportunity to launch himself with 300m to the finish. (VeloNews Milan-San Remo summary)

Pozzato's victory raises the question of whether or not Pozzato punked the other riders in the breakaway. Personally, I say no. Pozzato was sent into the break to mark the other riders, doing no work and disrupting them as necessary so that Boonen's chances at victory would be preserved. If you look at this photo, you can see that he at least has the disruption part down pat. The crucial bit of Pozzato's victory, for me, was that he didn't attack until the breakaway had failed. If the breakaway had survived by itself and then Pozzato attacked, then I might cry out that it was a punking. But Pozzato timed his jump perfectly at the moment of the breakaway was being caught and sprinted to a victory that was an excellent strategic setup by the Quickstep team.

The notion of punking is obviously subjective, so here are some case studies from my point of view.

Paxti Vila getting the stage 3 Paris-Nice victory over Floyd Landis: If the rider you beat gets to don the overall leader's jersey at the end of the stage, then I usually wouldn't think to call it a punking. Weening sat on Kloden's wheel for the final kilometer of a Tour de France stage, but Kloden was gaining valuable seconds in the overall and Weening also did plenty of work before that final km. What qualified Paxti Vila's victory as a punking in my book was this post-victory quote: "I now have hopes for final victory, but it will be hard to knock off Floyd." Paxti Vila ended the day only nine seconds down on Landis in the overall. Even if he wasn't a realistic threat to Landis -- he wasn't -- I don't think you should pretend to be an overall contender and do no work for it.

Hincapie's Stage 15 Tour de France win: Although I was happy to see Hincapie win, I wish it were slightly more noble than this victory. Hincapie jumped on a break as a strategic move to help out Armstrong. The strategy of placing teammates ahead on the course is a great one -- if Armstrong needed another rider by his side all Hincapie would have to do is sit up and wait. It also means that other teams have to work to pull the breakaway back. Hincapie never did any work in the break, which eventually became just him and Pereiro, and a well-rested Hincapie easily beat Pereiro to the line. Pereiro was understandably upset. When you have a strong team leader like Armstrong, then you have the privilege of lazily sitting in a break. The punking question for me is, once it became clear that Armstrong wouldn't need Hincapie, should Hincapie should have started doing work in the break? I think he should have, but I also think that those occassional wins are part of the bonus in working for such a strong leader. I'd call this a well-earned punking.