Stage 7: Caisse d'Epargne's Sanchez solos to victory

letour.jpgOn a hard, windy, peloton-fracturing day, Caisse d'Epargne's Luis Sanchez was the most daring and took the stage victory. After sitting in a four-man break that was swept back up, he attacked again on the run-in to the finish and held off the chase. He had plenty of help from his team -- he had two teammates, including Valverde, in the chase group, who marked the attempts to try and reel him in.

Caisse d'Epargne is either one of the strongest teams or burning a lot of matches. They've been patrolling the front of the peloton much of this first week and have two stage wins to show for it. Today was a stage that really challenged teams -- it was hard to figure out which group to call the peloton -- but Caisse d'Epargne showed up to play. The opposite can be said of Cadel Evans' Silence Lotto team. Whereas Caisse d'Epargne had three riders in the final selection of 23 riders, Evans had zero: his lieutenant Popovych was caught back in a chase group. Similarly isolated was Rabobank's Menchov and Columbia's Kirchen, though the latter is understandable given the amount of time that Columbia spent at the front.

CSC did a lot of work today, first to drive a split in the peloton and then help keep the breakaway contained. They didn't get the stage win, but all of their GC hopes -- the Schlecks and Sastre -- were in the final selection. Garmin-Chipotle wasn't expected to contend for GC, but Vande Velde continues to shine and finished with the chase group to hold fourth in the overall. Unfortunately they lost big Maggy Backstedt to the time cut -- he's battling some sort of acid buildup in the legs.

Cunego was the big loser of the GC hopefuls today. He crashed and ended up losing almost half a minute to the other GC contenders.

related articles: Tour de France Tour de France 2008
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