Category: Tour de France 2007

September 20, 2007

Landis loses, questionable precedent

The Floyd Landis guilty decision came in today, with the arbitration panel handed down a decision that says the lab screwed up, but not enough. I'm a bit surprised by the arbitration ruling for Landis. I expected either a complete upholding of the scientific findings or a complete acquittal, but this sort of half decision maintains a high level of internal conflict for me. I want guilty athletes to be punished and was happy to see a house cleaning this Tour. I also want to see the testing meet scientific standards and protect athletes' rights. It's troubling, in light of the decision, to see quotes such as:

  • Prudhomme: "We have waited a long time, too long. We said since the beginning that we were confident in the laboratory (AFLD) at Châtenay-Malabry."
  • McQuaid: "He got a highly qualified legal team who tried to baffle everybody with science and public relations."
  • Decision: "311. In response to these assertions the Panel finds that the practices of the Lab in training its employees appears to lack the vigor the Panel would expect in the circumstances given the enormous consequences to athletes of an AAF. Furthermore, the other matters introduced in evidence and referred to in this section do give some cause for concern. Nevertheless, like other parts of the evidence in this matter there are no ISL Rule violations that might result in the Panel accepting the Respondent’s allegations as affecting the AAF in this case."

I find these to be a troubling trio of comments as they indicate that sloppy science is acceptable and good in the current environment. I could care less at this point if Landis is guilty or not -- he can keep racing 100 mile MTB events. I want to see cycling grow and evolve and this ruling does not feel like a step in the right direction.

Oscar Pereiro officially is the 2006 Tour de France winner, but its hard to feel that justice is served there. Pereiro's time gain was a risky fluke; his ride doesn't stand well on its own. In a scandal-ridden Tour, perhaps that's all you can get.

August 8, 2007

Kashechkin dinged, what's Contador's Friday announcement?

O Captain my Captain: Kashechkin has furthered damaged Astana's credibility by testing positive for homologuous blood doping, just like Vino. Given that Astana is composed of former Liberty Seguros and T-Mobile riders, could we have expected more?

Contador is planning a Friday announcement with Bruyneel by his side -- prepared statement, no questions. The hush-hushness of it all would seem to imply that it has something to do with Operation Puerto allegations that are rearing their head once more.

July 30, 2007

Slipstream'd: Millar, Zabriskie, and Vande Velde

Steven Cozza
Slipstream rider Steven Cozza at the ToC
I may be the last cycling site reporting this, but Millar, Zabriskie, and Vande Velde are all confirmed to be future argyle-sporting riders. Millar and Vande Velde are training partners according to ROAD Mag, and DZ + VV are already teammates. Add Millar's reformed anti-doping stance and the CSC drug testing program and it seems like a good trio of riders to pick up. I'm happy as it means that I should be able to see more of those riders state-side.

Update: "Former Paris-Roubaix winner" to Slipstream as well, which, according to CyclingNews, means either Stuart O'Grady (2007), Fabian Cancellara (2006), Tom Boonen (2005), Magnus Backstedt (2004), or Peter Van Petegem (2003). Backstedt was part of early rumors, so my money's on him.

July 29, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 20: Marcoussis - Paris Champs-Elysees

Prediction: Boonen

Tour de France '07: Stage 19 Link Roundup

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July 28, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 19: Cognac - Angouleme

Note: travel/vacation day, limited coverage

It was an amazing finish with all three of the top riders delivering the time trials of their careers. Levi Leipheimer, who's ridden near the top but never ahead this Tour, started almost a minute behind Cadel Evans. Levi delivered a smashing time trial, winning the stage and having us audience members thinking that he might have closed the gap with Evans. Evans rode strong over the final distance, pulling on the handlebars in the final straight to just save his second place podium spot. Alberto Contador, climber not time trialer, saved his yellow jersery and held off both Evans and Leipheimer.

Discovery Channel had an amazing day with Lance in attendance. They finished 1-4-5-7 on the stage and will head into the final Paris stage tomorrow in 1-3 overall. Levi will start 8" behind Evans, so the final standings are not settled yet. Contador has a 23" lead and should be able to cruise to the top podium spot tomorrow.

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Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 19: Cognac - Angouleme" »

Tour de France '07 Stage 18 Link Roundup

Note: On travel/vacation, reduced coverage

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July 27, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 18: Cahors - Angouleme

Update: Casar wins inspite of dog crash

NOTE: today's sleepy stage finished slowly enough that I wasn't able to see the exciting conclusion.

Another dog-collision day in this strange Tour. This time the collision occurred in the breakaway. Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Axel Merckx (T-Mobile), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Frederick Willem (Liquigas) and Sandy Casar (FD Jeux) had rode away from the peloton, which was content to let them have their day. The dog suddenly cut across the path of Casar, sending him down and sweeping the wheels out from Willem as well. Casar was able to get back with the break, but Willem's chance was shot.

With eleven minutes on the field with 12k to go, I imagine they will succeed.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 18: Cahors - Angouleme" »

July 26, 2007

Tour de France '07: Stage 17 Link Roundup

Shorter roundup as I'm on vacation. The funniest bit from the roundup for me was in Bob Martin's Summary:

Biggest gainers by position : +9 Wim Vansevenant

(Note: Wim Vansevenant is still the Lanterne Rouge.)

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Tour de France '07 Stage 17: Pau - Castelsarrasin

fullj.getty-tdf2007-cycling-bennati_11_25_15_am.jpg

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Bennati takes Lampre's first stage win as the breakaway couldn't shake the sprinter from their midst. Fothen scored a good second-place victory for Gerolsteiner as he led out the final sprint. Voigt attempted to jump for the win with a couple miles to go, but Bennati nullified his effort and he seemed to shake his head in the final mile as if to say that was all that was left in the legs.

Boonen had little trouble taking the field sprint to solidify his green jersey lead.

Related: * Rasmussen calls ex-boss 'mad,' denies being in Italy * European press writes Tour's obituary

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 17: Pau - Castelsarrasin" »

Survivor: Dopage Islands

Echoing Heidi's comment about finishing being an achievement in this Tour: With entire teams capable of 'leaving' this Tour on any given day now, it does seem that just making it to the finish line without any doping cloud over your team is a victory in itself. In fact, quite a few teams are already in danger of losing sponsorship and this Tour is make-or-break for their post-Tour future.

Here's my look at how several of the teams are faring:

Eliminated

Cofidis: They've suffered the embarassment of a mass team withdrawal on the same day it participated in a sit-down protest of doping. Ouch.

Astana: Kazakhstan seems determined to keep up its sponsorship but BMC is looking to pull out. I guess we shouldn't have expected better from the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros that filled its rosters from the T-Mobile Ullrich-era program. And lets not forget about Mazzoleni and Kessler. Gee, when I put it that way Vino seems like a complete surprise.

Rabobank: Rasmussen out, Menchov abandoned, and Boogerd wants to go home. Might as well scratch them all.

Riding strong

Barloworld: Stage victories by Robbie Hunter and Mauricio Soler, plus Soler's King of the Mountains jersey puts the non-wildcard teams to shame.

Gerolsteiner: A strong anti-doping stance and they are riding with a full team roster in this year's Tour, a rarity that deserves some mention even if they haven't made the headlines this Tour.

Predictor-Lotto: They're suing Astana for lost publicity, which seems like a just move given that a TT victory for Evans would have been huge. As is his 2nd place in the GC. A showdown with Contador in the final TT could give him his just due.

Saunier Duval: Iban Mayo can count himself among the Rasmussen-cheated. Unlike Discovery, which moved up in the overall, there is nothing for Mayo to inherit because Rasmussen never tested positive -- Mayo won't officially get a stage victory unless Tour officials make a special decision. Millar has taken a special role this Tour as the Ghost of Doping Past, visiting the peloton to get it to change its wicked ways.

Quick Step: They are the only other team than Gerolsteiner riding with a full roster and Boonen has made the move of calling for a lifetime ban of Vinokourov. With Boonen set to finish in green and perhaps add another stage or two to his tally, they should finish this Tour riding high in spite of the early season team-association with the Belgian doping bust.

CSC: Riis' absense on the account of his own doping past nearly made me stick them in the "in trouble" category. After all, they did lose their Skoda sponsorship (if I recall correctly). But Fabian Cancellara has single-handedly given them team a huge boost this Tour with two stage victories and an entire week in yellow.

In trouble

T-Mobile: Some early sunshine with Gerdemann in yellow, but then came Sinkewitz. Their sponsor was already set to decide their continued sponsorship at the end of the Tour and they will be limping to that decision rather than riding high on Gerdemann's victory. Germany seems to not want to touch this Tour with a ten-foot pole: it may have been a prescient decision to end TV coverage. The team really does seem to have done all the right things, so it would be a shame to see their efforts for naught.

Discovery Channel: despite the whole Basso affair, they've managed to skate the doping issue. But I marked them as being in trouble because the team has no sponsor lined up for next year, which may make any victory pyrrhic in the end. Normally a team would be excited to be 1-3 in the standings and have a positive sponsorship future, but the lead has lost all its luster this year.

Caisse d'Epargne: Neither Valverde nor Pereiro have been able to deliver the goods this year, which perhaps has a silver lining: at least they don't have to complain about people them Puerto questions.

Milram: They lost Petacchi just prior to the Tour, who is not entirely clear of his doping positive just yet. And they have Zabel as their leader.

July 25, 2007

You've got to be kidding me

I'm away from my computer long enough to take a quick flight to San Diego and the first thing I see when I land is that Rasmussen has withdrawn? I'd post a link but this is about all my iphone can handle.

Note: I'm not surprised tha Ras is gone, only that I can't go two hours this Tour without another rider getting kicked out.

End of the link roundups

I hope you all have appreciated the link roundups, but that's it for this year's Tour. I'm switching gears for the Tour de Comic-Con, my yearly pilgrimage to San Diego for the pop-culture convention. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to see the remaining stages, especially the second time trial.

One of these year's I'll write a program to do the link roundups for me as it is a rather robotic task, though it's always fun to survey the sites out there. I've already written a program that does all the handy little icons next to each link, so maybe next year.

Tour de France '07 Stage 16 Link Roundup

NOTE: travel day today for me, coverage sporadic

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Moreni positive for testosterone

Moreni is named as the rider positive for testosterone, confirmed with IRMS as coming from an exogenous source

Update: Cofidis Leaves Tour

Tour de France '07 Stage 16: Orthez - Gourette - Col d’Aubisque

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:

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 16: Orthez - Gourette - Col d’Aubisque" »

July 24, 2007

Tour de France '07 Rest (Vino) Day 2 Link Roundup

Updates: CyclingNews Roundup 5, Carmichael Sez: Hurry Up To Recover, Tour de PEZ: No Rest Today, Millar Diaries Rest Day 2

Doping (Vino, Vino, Ras, Sink, Petacchi) News:

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Millar almost confirms Slipstream move

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.

Welcome to the post-Astana order

Dopers SuckWithout Astana in the standings and assuming that Vino is stripped of his wins (still no B-test yet, so speculative):

...Cadel Evans gets his first stage win for the Stage 13 TT.

...Kim Kirchen gets his first stage win as well for Stage 15.

...In the overall, Sastre is now a top-five rider and Valverde and Popo are once again top ten:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 69.52.14
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.23
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 4.00
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 5.25
5 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 6.46
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 7.27
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team 8.24
8 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 9.21
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 10.41
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 12.29

...Astana had a 3.24 lead in the team competition -- the top four is now more compact:

1 Euskaltel-Euskadi
2 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.27
3 Team CSC 1.55
4 Caisse D’epargne 2.32

Hero to Zero: Vino tests positive, Astana quits Tour

CyclingNews only has brief details:

The Tour de France was rocked by news that Astana's battered team leader, Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion after Saturday's time trial in Albi. L'Equipe reported on Tuesday afternoon that the Kazakh's blood had shown evidence of a transfusion from another person with a compatible blood type in an analysis done in the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory.

...Upon receiving the news, the Astana team has allegedly quit the Tour, according to the French newspaper.

Update: VeloNews News Flash

This on the same day that Petacchi was cleared of doping charges.

July 23, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 15 link roundup

Updates: VeloNews: Evans showing signs of wear as Rasmussen and Contador battle for top spot Casey Gibson Stage 15 Photo Gallery Tour de PEZ: 196KM to Loudenveille!, Carmichael Sez: What Goes Up Must Come Down, WorldCycling.tv: Alexandre Vinokourov Interview, WorldCycling.tv: Michael Rasmussen Interview, WorldCycling.tv: Chris Horner Interview, Vinokourov Stage 15, CyclingNews Roundup, CyclingNews Roundup 2, Bobby Julich ESPN Column, Cyclelicio.us Stage 15 Summary and Links

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  • Fabian Wegmann Stage 15 Diary (translated from German)
  • Versus Stage 15 Diaries: Phil, Paul, Bob
  • Carmichael Sez: What Goes Up Must Come Down
  • Vinokourov Stage 15: "Yesterday I had no legs, I didn’t feel very well in my head and I had no motivation at all. I understood during the yesterday’s stage that I wouldn’t win the Tour this year. My teammates were wonderful, they encouraged me a lot this morning. That’s what make me attack in the first kilometers. I felt good, as well as my legs. At the first break, I thought there were too many riders and that I had to go on with my effort. As I saw I could make it, I tried to be alone and first at the top of the last climb, in order to be sure to win the stage. Today is a great victory. For sure, I wasn’t lucky the first two weeks and without my fall, things could have been different. But that’s sport…"

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July 22, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 15: Foix - Loudenvielle - Le Louron

Vino - JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Vino!

Vinokourov may have five Tour de France wins under his belt, but this is the most amazing that I've ever seen in his career. It's not his first comeback win -- Stage 10 in the 2005 Tour stands out in my mind -- but he can barely walk from what I've seen of his interviews and yesterday was downright disastrous (big time losses and a crash). I guess you don't need to walk when you can ride. Nancy Toby calls him Rasputin, Bobby Julich calls him The Bull.

A stage victory won't get Vino back on the podium, but there's little doubt in my mind that he would be winning this whole thing if it weren't for his crash. Vino was part of an early 20+ rider break that also contained Menchov and Hincapie. Vino knew his chances were good and his teammates did as well -- Ivanov burned himself through to bridge Vino back up when the breakaway split to keep Vino near the front. Vino's big attacks came as the Peyresourde approached. After bridging up to the leaders, he attacked the remnants repeatedly until he was all alone. He crossed the top of the Peyresourde solo and time-trialed down the descent to victory.

Contador and Rasmussen battled it out again today. The contenders seemed a bit tired today, sticking together in a large group on the slopes of the Peyresourde, six-seven minutes behind the break. Discovery decided to stir it up by sending Popovych up the road. Rabobank chased that back but lost Menchov as a result. Contador then decided to test Rasmussen... repeatedly. Contador attacked again, and again, and again, as the two twig riders got a bigger and bigger gap on the rest of the contenders. Contador caught Hincapie at the top of the climb and Hincapie drilled it at the front to give Contador and Rasmussen nearly a minute on their rivals at the finish.

Leipheimer had to sit content with the rest of the contenders as he watched his teammate up the road. The accelerations aren't his style and he couldn't help the others bridge back. Contador needed the time gaps on Evans to protect himself in the upcoming time trial. We'll see if Leipheimer gets a chance to put his own attacks on Evans after tomorrow's rest stage -- 1:25 on Evans separates Levi from the podium right now. Kloden is also nipping at Levi's heels, 9 seconds behind.

There wasn't much GC shakeup in the top five even if gaps were gained, but the overall top ten did get some juggling around due to Kim Kirchen's (T-Mobile) great second-place effort and Zubeldia's (Euskatel) third-place. Kirchen climbed five spots back to 9th while Zubeldia rocked into 7th to bump Kashechkin down a spot. Valverde dropped back out of the top ten to 11th and, for all his lieutenant efforts, Popovych sadly drops out of the top ten to 12th.

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.23
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 4.00
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 5.25
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 5.34

There were quite a few abandons and non-starters today: Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) were the non-starters, while Fast Freddie (Predictor-Lotto), Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) abandoned -- Le Mevel due to a crash.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 15: Foix - Loudenvielle - Le Louron" »

Tour de France '07 Stage 14 Link Roundup

Updates 7/23: VeloNews: Contador claims Stage 14; Rasmussen pads lead, VeloNews: Tour teams hit by surprise roadside searches, VeloNews: Millar says Rasmussen has ruined Tour, VeloNews: Chris Horner Diaries Stage 14, VeloNews: Levi Leipheimer Post-Race, Kloden Stage 14

Updates: VeloNews: Climbers to the fore on Plateau de Beille, CyclingNews Roundup Tour de PEZ: Roadside Pailheres, Barloworld, Masiguy, CyclingNews Roundup 2

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Tour de France '07 Stage 14: Mazamet - Plateau-de-Beille

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)

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 14: Mazamet - Plateau-de-Beille" »

July 21, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 13 Link Roundup

Updates 7/22 2:30PM: Millar Diary, Julich ESPN Column

Updates: Bob Martin's Stage 13 by the Numbers, VeloNews: Lieutenants will factor heavily as Discovery, Astana prepare for battle in Pyrénées, VeloNews: Chris Horner Watching Evans' TT, VeloNews: George Hincapie Post-Race, VeloNews: Levi Leipheimer Post-Race, VeloNews: Astana GM Marc Biver: Evans Most Dangerous, SBS Stage 13 Video Podcast, CyclingNews Roundup 2, CyclingNews Roundup

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  • CyclingNews Roundup 2: Stage 14 preview - the Pyrenees await, McQuaid applauds Gerdemann's anti-doping stance, Schumacher soldiers on
  • CyclingNews Roundup: Rasmussen stuns field in TT, Phoenix from the ashes, Evans calls time trial "very good", Predictor pleased with Evans' ride, Cancellara's crash, Contador continues with consistency, Stage 13 post-race quotes

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Tour de France '07 Stage 13: Albi TT

Vinokourov - JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

13 was a lucky number for Astana as they turned their disasterous Stage 5 on its head: Vinokourov first, Kloden third, and Kashechkin fourth. Vino's effort jumped him from 19th to 9th place in the overall standings, 5:10 behind. Kloden is 4th and Kashechkin is 6th, giving Astana several weapons in the GC.

Evans broke up the Astana 1-2-3 by finishing in second, 1:14 behind, but he will be disappointed that he didn't take the yellow jersey with his effort: Rasmussen did the time trial of his career and even passed Valverde on the finishing straight. Valverde's poor 47th-place finish dropped him out of the overall top ten after starting in second.

Discovery didn't have an Astana day but put in a respectable 6-7-9 in the standings with Popovych (despite crashing), Contador, and Leipheimer. Contador appears to be taking over the leader status from Leipheimer as he finished 0:21 faster and moves into third in the overall, while Levi takes fifth. CSC, as expected, couldn't deliver a strong effort with Sastre or Schleck, but Sastre was able to stay seventh overall.

Early rain saw many riders finish with wet and bloody skinsuits. Cancellara put in a good early time check but quickly fell from the standings after he crashed and appeared to hurt his arm. Wiggins instead had the top early mark on the day, which stood until Vinokourov put in a shockingly fast TT: 2:13 faster than Wiggins. Gusev was putting in a good time until he crashed into a roundabout and went skidding over the curb.

Despite drying road conditions, none of the riders who started later than Vino could match his pace. Kloden nipped at his teammate's heels but lost time when he crashed in a wet, slippery corner.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 13: Albi TT" »

July 20, 2007

Tour de France '07 Albi TT Previews and Predictions

It's a bit early for me to already start posting this entry, but this wide-open Tour has been waiting for a big sorting that a TT can provide and tomorrow is it.

Previews

CyclingNews Stage Preview: "A twisty, tricky out and back time test, stage 13 could prove unlucky for riders who are not competent time trialists. The first 20 kilometres are a gradual uphill, then the course is downhill and flat until the 34-kilometre point, where the four-kilometre climb up the sinuous Cat. 4 Côte de la Bauzié awaits. Then there is a difficult descent and return to Albi on the D999 road where an experienced tester can make a difference."

Update: VeloNews Stage 13 Preview is up as is Carmichael Sez: "Knowns & Unknowns".

Bobby J's Picks

Bobby Julich's Picks given to Neil@ROAD:

  1. Cancellara
  2. Kloden
  3. Hincapie
  4. Contador
  5. Evans

John Hay Jr 2006 ITT tallies (via CyclingNews)

A reader, John Hay Jr, wrote into CyclingNews with tallies of the contenders combined ITT times from last year. You can find it in the Stage 12 live feed at 13:22 CEST. Last year's time trials were similar in distance, though courses change. I assume you divide by 2 to get the approximate splits for tomorrow.

(2) Andreas Klöden, 2h 11'52"
(13) Oscar Pereiro, 2h14'48" - 2'56" behind Klöden's time
(4) Cadel Evans, 2h14'58" - 3'06"
(18) Denis Menchov, 2h15'44" -3'52"
(6) Carlos Sastre, 2h16'11" -4'19"
(14) Christophe Moreau, 2h17'01" -6'19"
(9) Levi Leipheimer, 2h21'35" -9'43"
(10) Mikel Astarloza, 2h21'52" -10'00"
(1) Michael Rasmussen, 2h24'48" -12'56"

There are no results for Valverde, Vinokourov, Contador, or Mayo. Also, Levi did especially terrible in last year's TT, which I think skews his results.

Versus picks

  • Al: Kloden
  • Paul: Cancellara
  • Bob: Evans
  • Phil: Leipheimer

My Predictions

  1. Cancellara
  2. Leipheimer
  3. Kashechkin
  4. Kloden
  5. Evans
  6. Hincapie
  7. Vinokourov
  8. Valverde
  9. Contador

Levi hasn't shown an amazing TT since he raced stateside this year, but he's so much faster than last year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a breakout day tomorrow. Kashechkin finished second to Vino in the Dauphine and sits just outside the top ten. Cancellara had the luxury of soft-pedaling it today to gear up for the the TT -- not that he needs much advantage as World TT champ.

Big doping charge leveled at Rasmussen

Michael RasmussenVeloNews has a new top headline: VeloNews Exclusive: Ex-cyclist levels doping charges at Rasmussen. The charges come from an MTB athlete who claims that Rasmussen tried to trick him into transporting a cow-based blood substitute into Europe. The accuser first told VeloNews back in 2002 under the condition that Rasmussen and he remain anonymous but became by Rasmussen's "You can trust me" line.

Tour de France '07 Stage 12 Link Roundup

Updates 7/21: Bob Martin's Stage 12 by the Numbers, Graham Watson: Time Will Tell, CyclingNews Roundup 2, CyclingNews Roundup, Fabian Wegmann Stage 12 Diary (translated from German), Vande Velde's View: The Motorcycle diaries, VeloNews Stage Notes: Astana on the rebound; Boonen California dreamin'

Updates 12:30-5PM: Cyclelicio.us Stage 12, Casey Gibson Stage 12 Photos, Graham Watson Stage 12 Photos, Gerolsteiner Stage 12, VeloNews Stage 12 Stats WorldCycling.tv: Tom Boonen Interview, WorldCycling.tv: Robbie Hunter Interview, WorldCycling.tv: Michael Rasmussen Interview Graham Watson audio report, Versus Stage 12 Diaries, Carmichael: Headwind Saved Boonen, Tour de PEZ: Let The Real Tour Begin!, SBS Stage 12 Video Podcast

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July 19, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 12: Montpellier - Castres

Boonen - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Steegmans lead out Boonen from the front and the rest of the field was stuck with a view of Boonen's rear end. Zabel stuck to Boonen's wheel like glue, which propelled him to second place just ahead of Robbie Hunter.

Breakaway - JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty ImagesTxurruka (Euskatel) and Fredrigo (Bouygues Telecom) put pressure on the peloton with a breakaway that went with over 130km to go. Many riders couldn't hold on as the peloton charged over the final climb and into headwinds. The peloton pushed its luck with the reel-in, but was able to catch the two riders just before the 1k kite.

Millar was unlucky with his breakaway attempt again as his earlier break was reeled in, making way for Txurruka and Fredrigo to go away.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 12: Montpellier - Castres" »

Tour de France '07 Stage 11 Link Roundup

Update 7/21: Millar Diaries Stage 11: Pace of the Pack

Updates 7/20: Zabriskie Diaries Final Cut, CyclingNews Roundup 2, Pez: LeMond On LeTour: The Finale Begins, Kloden Stage 11

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Zabriskie eliminated

There will be no more Zabriskie Diaries to entertain us (perhaps except for Stage 11) as DZ was eliminated for finishing half an hour behind. DZ had be trailing at the back of the peloton during the stage, which was a bad position for Astana's tactics today. He had been complaining of knee pain due to a change in shoes as well as pain just about everywhere else, so he'll probably welcome the relief of not having to race the Pyrenees. We'll be sad not to see him do his stuff in the Albi TT, though. It also means that he won't get the honor of being Lanterne Rouge, which certainly would have gone to him if he had been able to stay within the limit.

Other abandons include Igor Anton and Sylvain Calzati, who abandoned before the split occurred.

update: The finalpenultimate edition of the Zabriskie Diaries, TdF 07 and the final edition.

July 18, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 11: Marseille - Montpellier

Hunter - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Robbie Hunter got his first and South Africa's first stage wins -- but wildcard team Barloworld's second -- as this flat stage delivered far more fireworks than the lack of terrain promised.

Vinokourov was a big instigator today. After trying to get in an early break, he was next seen at the front as Astana put in a big move to split the peloton in the crosswinds. The move worked and made Moreau the big casualty on the day. Moreau was first bruised after tangling with a teammate and going down, but the real pain came when he found himself over three minutes off the back. Moreau dropped from 6th to 12th in the overall standings. Vino wasn't done yet -- he tried to take advantage of the lack of sprint organization to launch an attack, but Quick Step was able to reel him in.

The sprint was sparser than expected: on top of the abandons thus far, the split in the peloton put Hushovd and Zabel out of contention. Then a crash on the final S-bend knocked Boonen and Fast Freddie out of contention. Hunter just had to outsprint second-place Fabian Cancellara and Liquigas' Fischer and Pozzato.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 11: Marseille - Montpellier" »

Stage 10 Link Roundup

Updates 7/19: Millar Diary, CyclingNews Roundup 2, Bob Martin Stage 10 by the Numbers, Tour Tech: Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto) discusses his prototype Campagnolo electronic shifters

Updates 8PM: Bobby Julich on Sinkewitz+doping, CyclingNews Roundup, Slipstream Interview

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Tour de France '07 Stage 10: Tallard - Marseille

Vasseur - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Cedric Vasseur gave France and Quick Step a victory as he won the sprint finish from a breakaway of five. Vasseur's career TdF stage tally is now two, the previous coming all the way back in 1997. It was a fairly uneventful stage, save for the actions of the breakaway on the final climbs, as the rest of the peloton was content to get some rest as they leave the Alps behind.

Today's stage had breakaway written all over it and there's no name in the Tour more synonymous with breakaway than Jens Voigt. A break of 11 riders, including Voigt, built up early in the stage and stayed together until the last two Cat 3 climbs. Voigt was the first to shake things up, but it was Halgand who really shook things apart. A group of five made it over the last climb together despite a flurry of attacks by Halgand to further whittle things down. With Voigt forced to the front and the riders all marking each other's wheels, Vasseur lead the sprint up the right side and took it to the line.

FD Jeux's Sandy Casar took second despite having been dropped on the final climb and having to claw his way back. Liquigas' Albasini took third, benefiting from having teammate and Lanterne Rouge Kuschynski there to help back when the break was at 11.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 10: Tallard - Marseille" »

Sinkewitz positive, German Tour coverage ends

Sinkewitz is battered, bruised, and now positive for testosterone: Sinkewitz A Sample Positive for Testosterone. The A Sample was taken on June 8 and the positive result is a thorn in the side of T-Mobile's internal athlete testing program.

In response, Germany has ceased public coverage of the Tour, which is a dramatic change in the storyline for the German boost that T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann provided during his brief stay in yellow and white.

July 17, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 9 Link Roundup

Updates 7/18 6-8PM: Sinkewitz A-Sample Positive for Testosterone, CyclingNews Roundup 3, WorldCycling.tv: Cadel Evans, WorldCycling.tv: Michael Rasmussen, DP Jambon Report, Bob Martin's Stage 9 by the Numbers

Updates 10:30PM: CyclingNews Roundup 2, David Millar Stage 9: Lacking Inspiration

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Lab joins Guerini photographer

labcrash.caption.jpg

tdflr linked to the Guardian videocap of the Marcus Burghardt dog crash and I couldn't resist throwing in the comparison to the infamous Guerini collision with Erik the Photographer.

Guerini rode in the pink shirt/black shorts of ONCE when he crashed and later rode for pink/black of T-Mobile. Burghardt: T-Mobile. Coincidence?

Tour de France '07 Stage 9: Val-d’Isere - Briancon

Soler - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Barloworld's Juan Mauricio Soler took a surprise win today, attacking solo on the Telegraphe to bridge all the way from the peloton to a breakaway far up the road. Soler quickly left the break behind and held off a chase group of the top contenders all the way to the finish line.

Today's stage was full of fireworks that made for exciting racing on the classic climbs of the Galibier and Telegraphe. Discovery put the most cards into play with Popovych, Gusev, Contador, and Levi all playing a role. Popovych and Gusev were first as they went on the attack from the start to position themselves far up the road. Popovych was the only rider able to follow Soler's wheel as Soler accelerated past, but even Popo couldn't hold on as the slopes of the Galibier ticked upwards.

Valverde shook things up in the peloton with an attack that shed Vinokourov and Schleck. The other contenders were able to follow, but Contador became the next Discovery card to be played as he put in an attack that Evans briefly followed. Contador's attack was strong enough to catch Popo up the road and Popo dug deep to try and pull Soler back on the descent towards Briancon.

The Valverde/Rasmussen group reeled Evans in on the descent and set their eyes on Popo and Contador. Evans was caught sleeping and the group split in half, with Evans/Levi/Mayo/Moreau/Sastre caught behind. They had trouble organizing a chase and Levi was able to use the position of his two teammates up the road to sit and do little work. Levi was a bit annoyed with Saunier Duval as Cobo wasn't willing to do work for Mayo to pull things back.

Valverde and teammate Gutierrez were able to reel in Popo and Contador and soon after the other contenders latched back on. Discovery played its last cards as Popovych accelerated to try and reel Soler back in for Contador. Soler was much too far up the road and it was Valverde who put in the last attack of the day to take second with a small time gap over the other contenders. Contador was rewarded with the white Best Young Rider jersey for his efforts.

The overall competition saw a little more sorting today. Valverde is earning is favorite status and Rasmussen defended his yellow well. Kloden is now the apparent leader of Astana as Vino was no longer protected. Evans is looking stronger than I expected while Sastre and Leipheimer are still racing conservatively in the Alps. Schleck wasn't able to hold on and may no longer have backup leader status and Menchov was dropped, hurting his leader status over Rasmussen. Kim Kirchen is a bright light for T-Mobile and Mayo could be a dark horse favorite if he continues to be strong. Moreau faltered but didn't break, but he's only shooting for top 3. The GC is looking more proper, but the top three in Paris really haven't shown themselves yet:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
2 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 2.35
3 Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 2.39
4 Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) 2.41
5 Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) 3.08
6 Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance) 3.18
7 Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) 3.39
8 Andreas Klöden (Astana) 3.50
9 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) 3.53
10 Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) 5.06

Today's stage finally finished well in advance of the planned Versus TV schedule, which is to say the Tour is on.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 9: Val-d’Isere - Briancon" »

July 16, 2007

Tour de France '07 Rest Day Link Roundup

Updates 7/16: Millar Diaries Rest Day: Licking Wounds, CyclingNews Roundup 1, CyclingNews Roundup 2, Leipheimer remains optimistic, Fabiann Wegmann, The Zabriskie Diaries Rest Day #1 "in the hurt locker", VeloNews: Rest Day Chat with Levi, VeloNews: Schleck Surprised by Moreau's Strength

Part of the Rest Day Notes::

the letters across the black plastic wristband underscore the team's philosophy in this year's Tour: "Harden the Fuck Up."

"Stuart (O'Grady) brought them for the team in London and asked everyone to wear them,"

AP photo of Sinkewitz's crash:

capt.1d16562f403a4019a731f59a69876061.cycling_tour_de_france_tdf140.jpg

Tour de France on iPhone

leaflets.jpg

I started playing with Leaflets today and they've already won me over with their top-level Tour de France app (the rest is pretty nice as well). Their TdF app pulls from TdFBlog, VeloNews, and Paceline.

If you're looking for live TdF coverage instead of articles, another good option is Twitter + Hahlo. Hahlo reformats Twitter for easier use on the iPhone. Here are some Twitter people you can add:

Disco fines: Saddle beats bottle

rocketbike.jpgLeipheimer was fined 50 CHF ($41.53) for the Saddle-Slingshot Maneuver that got him back in the pack after a dropped chain. The mechanic leaned out of the window of the team car and grabbed the back of Leipheimer's saddle while the team car accelerated back up to the peloton (I want to do that!). I'm sure the mechanic was just checking the saddle height on the replacement bike.

More expensive was the 50 CHF, 5 points, and 10 seconds he lost for a Water-Bottle-Slingshot Maneuver. From the TV coverage, the saddle maneuver seemed more effective and it didn't come with the ten-second time penalty. Clearly, saddle rocket wins.

The Disco sport director was fined 200 CHF ($166.15) for Leipheimer's fines and a similar watter-bottle offense with Gusev. I'm pretty sure he's willing to pay that fine.

July 15, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 8 Link Roundup

Rest day updates: Cyclelicio.us: Stage 8 Long Tail, Vande Velde's View: The mountains, the Chicken and losing Stuey, Casey Gibson Stage 8 Photos, Erik Breukink (Rabobank Team Manager) Stage 8, Sinkewitz's Tour over after freak accident, Lanterne Rouge: The medical report for Stage 8, Neil@ROAD: The Schamber Ramblings, TDF 07, First Real Mtn Stage, WorldCycling.tv: Cadel Evans Stage 8, WorldCycling.tv: Linus Gerdemann Stage 8, WorldCycling.tv: Michael Rasmussen Stage 8, CyclingNews Roundup, CyclingNews Roundup 2, CyclingNews Roundup 3, Vino Stage 8, Kloden Stage 8

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kwc.org performance predictions

With the rest day upon, might as well see how my predictions have scored. 4.5/9 isn't too bad, though when my predictions have been wrong, they've been really wrong.

  • Stage 8: Rasmussen
  • Stage 7: Hincapie (dropped from main pack)
  • Stage 6: Boonen
  • Stage 5: Voigt (Pozzato predicted his own win)
  • Stage 4: Boonen (Hushovd trounced him)
  • Stage 3: Boonen (did anyone pick Cancellara?)
  • Stage 2: Boonen (half-credit on this one, as Boonen gifted the win to Steegmans, taking second instead)
  • Stage 1: McEwen
  • Prologue: Cancellara

Tour de France '07 Stage 8: Le-Grand-Bornand - Tignes

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.

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Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 8: Le-Grand-Bornand - Tignes" »

July 14, 2007

New bookends: T-Mobile's Gerdemann and Cavendish

T-Mobile is attempting to one-up CSC. Gerdemann took the stage win and the overall lead. Cavendish didn't get last place on the stage, but he does have the coveted Lanterne Rouge: last place in the overall standings.

CSC took first and last place in Stage 3 -- Cancellara had first in the overall standings as well, but Zabriskie could only manage second-to-last.

Maybe another team will come along by the time this Tour is done to ride a perfect first-last: first/last on the stage, first/last in the overall.

Tour de France '07 Stage 7 Link Roundup

Rest Day Update: Millar Diaries Stage 7

Updates 6:30PM-10PM: Vino Stage 7, CyclingNews Roundup 1, CyclingNews Roundup 2,

Updates 2PM: Graham Watson, Casey Gibson, Stage 7 Highlight Video, Linus Gerdemann Post-Race, Levi Post-Race, Fast Freddie Post-Race, T-Mobile's Bob Stapleton Post-Race, Lanterne Rouge, Cyclelicious: TdF Stage 7, Graham Watson Audio Report, WorldCycling.tv: Rolf Aldag, Cadel Evans, Linus Gerdemann; Carmichael Sez: GC Contenders Pass Test #1, Daily Peloton Stage 7

Updates 11:30AM: Can Gerdemann save German cycling?, VeloNews Stage 7 Notes, Bob Martin, Fabian Wegmann, Gerolsteiner T-Mobile, Discovery Channel, Team CSC Blog, Linus Gerdemann Post-Race, VeloNews Stage 7 Stats, T-Mobile bookends GC with high hopes for Rogers, Discovery bides its time with 4 in top 20

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Tour de France '07 Stage 7: Bourg-en-Bresse - Le-Grand-Bornand

Gerdemann - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Linus Gerdemann left it all on the road: he destroyed the rest of his break on the slopes of the Colombiere and then took every risk to descend to victory in Le-Grand-Bornand. Gerdemann, mouth caked in dried spit, could barely stand when it was all over -- he got to trade T-Mobile pink for yellow when it was all over. The young rider can also wear the white jersey under that if he likes.

The breakaway had four-and-a-half minutes advantage at the start of the final climb. Gutierrez, Fovonov, Gerdemann, and Landaluze were the only riders from the 15-man break that had the legs to attack on the slopes. Gerdemann put in his big attack with 5k to go and never had to look back. Despite the pace set by Rabobank and Caisse, Gerdemann still managed to finish with three-and-a-half minutes over the peloton. Landaluze had the best effort of the breakaway chasers, finishing half a minute back.

Today was the start of Rasmussen's KOM effort in earnest. He took the early Corlier points and then was able to jump to take some points on the final Colombiere climb as well. Rasmussen might have taken more points if his line wasn't blocked by the AG2R team car that stopped in the road just behind Elimiger (AG2R).

This wasn't the stage to sort out the overall favorites. Pretty much anyone who mattered made the selection. Even Vino and Kloden were able to hang on, and Vino had already shed the bandages from his arms, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see some shakeup.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 7: Bourg-en-Bresse - Le-Grand-Bornand" »

July 13, 2007

Blogger's Pledge

Frank Steele's blogger pledge is attracting quite a response from the blogging peloton. Fritz/cyclelicio.us won't sign, David/FredCast claims a podcasters excemption, and Nancy/Lantern Rouge worries that her supplements aren't covered by a TUE.

As for myself, I'm worried that all my blog entries will arrive an hour late.

Tour de France '07 Stage 6 Link Roundup

Updates 7/14 6:30AM: Bradley Wiggins Post-Race, Daily Peloton Stage 6 Jambon Report, Lanterne Rouge: Degano, Vino Stage 6 Diary, Millar Stage 6 Diary

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Tour de France '07 Stage 6: Semur-en-Auxois - Bourg-en-Bresse

Boonen - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Boonen outsprinted the pack to take the stage win, restoring the green jersey to his shoulders. Boonen battled all day for the sprint points, taking the first two intermediate sprints to move into the virtual green jersey while still on course. He then sent his teammates to nullify the final intermediate sprint to save his legs for the big mass sprint. Boonen came around Gerolsteiner's leadout in the final sprint and held off Freire and Zabel. He managed to do so despite wrecking his rear derailleur in Mark Cavendish's front wheel](http://www.t-mobile-team.com/tmo_team/servlet/pages/944728) -- "The bike's rear end was making noise. I was forced to do my sprint in my 11 [a very high tooth gear] and it was not possible to shift" (good ole' 53x11). There was no sign of McEwen.

It was perhaps the quietest day of the Tour so far as the peloton rode slow and the typical breakaway catch was easy. The peloton only let one rider go -- Bradley Wiggins -- and they left him off the front as long as they could, waiting until 7k to catch him.

Degano abandoned today after a crash in the feed zone while LeQuatre didn't start after his similar crash yesterday. Kloden and Vinokourov both rode on today, though Vino was making a sign across his throat at the end of today's stage, perhaps indicating that the mountains are not going to go well for him.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 6: Semur-en-Auxois - Bourg-en-Bresse" »

Noval

Noval - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

The bandages tell the tale of his run-in with the BT car yesterday.

July 12, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 5 Link Roundup

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The luggage has returned

What makes Cancellara happier: the fact that he has yellow jersey for another day or the fact that his luggage has returned? Cancellara's answer: "Now I have a way to get all these yellow jerseys back home."

Tour de France '07 Stage 5 Winners and Losers (aka Astana)

Winners

Pozzato: How's the for predictions, straight from Pozzato's mouth: "I will tell you how it goes tomorrow night. I think it will be a stage to control because everyone will want to go into an escape but we will try to control it so that it arrives in a sprint. A sprint from a small group." (source)

Zabel: Just yesterday he was saying, "normally I'm too old for this shit." He may not have a stage win but he's got the green jersey away from Boonen.

Cancellara: CSC pretended to not want the jersey, but the final climb approached they put it on the line. O'Grady did a great job reeling in the break and Cancellara refused to allow Popovych any room on the final decent, risking it through the corners to keep the jersey for a couple more days. Cancellara also owes a bit of thanks to Liquigas: the put a lot of riders up front to keep things together for Pozzato's ambitions.

Chavanel: Chavanel racked up a load of KOM goodies today on his was to putting on polka dots today: the Cote des Grandes-Chatelaines, Cote de Domecy-sur-Cure, Cote de Champignolles-le-Bas, Cote de Coulon, Cote de Saint-Maurice, Cote de Chateau-Chinon, and the big 10pt prize of the Haut-Folin. Only the Cote de la Croix de la Liberation was out of his grasp. All well-deserved for a rider who let his teammate keep the KOM jersey yesterday.

Losers

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Vinokourov: Hard to designate someone a loser after fighting back so hard, exhausting all of his teammates and then himself, covered in blood. But 1'20" plus some injuries (possibly broken bones) with the real mountains so close has really changed his fortunes.

Boonen: Plenty of sprinters made it in the front group, but not Boonen, who eventually found himself getting towed by Vino's crisis. No stage wins and now now green jersey. A poor finish in stage 4 coupled with the goose egg today are throwing a wrench into his plans.

Kloden: Phil reports that Kloden may have broken his coccyx, which would cap a hard day in which Kloden crashed twice but managed to remain in the peloton.

Astana: They get an entire mention as well as Kashechkin was the only rider unscathed today. They formed a nice Kazakhstan Railways train with a Predictor-Lotto hitchhiker, but they used up a lot of gas on this stage. Kloden and Kashechkin were safely in the peloton, but the stage results tell the story for the team that started off first in the overall team standings:

83 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 1.20
120 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana 4.57
121 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana
142 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Astana 7.04
143 Antonio Colom Mas (Spa) Astana
150 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Astana 9.36
158 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana 11.15

Tour de France '07 Stage 5: Chablis - Autun

Pozzato wins - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Filippo Pozzato called his own shot today and won the stage in a mass uphill sprint finish. Freire, Zabel, Bennati, and Hincapie were in the mix, but Pozzato had the best line to the finish line. Zabel lost the stage but he must still be very happy: he took the green jersey from Tom Boonen, who was dropped from the front group.

It's not exactly the finish that I expected as the breaks were relatively contained. Sylvain Chavanel used an early 4-man break to catapult into the KOM lead by taking all but the last climb. Various riders attempted to get a gap on the final ascent and descent, but things remained tight. Popovych had his chances ruined as he overshot a turn into the grass, quickly followed by Cancellara who was putting in another impressive defense of his yellow jersey.

thumbe.getty-tdf2007-cycling-vinokourov_11_53_25_am.jpg
JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
The biggest news on the day is that Vinokourov lost over a minute on the day after crashing and now sports a big welt on his right butt cheek. The peloton was busy chasing down the break, so Vino quickly found himself far behind. All of his teammates except for Kloden came back to help him chase and he ended up burning them all to try and catch back on, eventually using the Astana team car as his final teammate. Still, Vino could only catch onto one of the rear groups near the top of the final climb and didn't get much help in the finale.

I thought Cancellara would lose the yellow jersey today as CSC started the day claiming that they wouldn't defend. This tactic seemed to work -- the other teams contributed most of the pace-making early in the day. But CSC was nearly in full force in the final pullback of the breakaway and then it was Cancellara himself who was driving to bring back Popovych's break.

It was an odd day for team leaders: Sastre, Valverde, Zabel, Hushovd, Mayo and Vino all found themselves off the back for mechanical, crash, and other reasons. Also, second-in-command's Kloden and Pereiro were off the back. Perhaps it was a nervous day with the first day of climbing and Stage 7 mountains looming in the distance.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 5: Chablis - Autun" »

July 11, 2007

Slow peloton, less attacks = no doping?

I wrote my "no doping?" question as a tweet during the slow Stage 3. It seems that a common theme to the rider interviews I had been watching for the first several stages was that the Tour was being ridden differently this year, without the same barrage of early stage attacks. Graham Watson seems to have the same theory, adding that the riders may not have figured out what their thresholds are without their... supplements. If it's true, it hasn't made the Tour any less exciting -- minus some slow Stage 3 riding -- but the TV stations may have to revise their schedules for the new pace of the peloton.

Tour de France '07 Stage 4 Link Roundup

Videos:

Photos:

Stage Summaries/Reports:

Riders/Experts:

Teams:

Blogs:

Related:

Tour de France '07 Stage 4: Villers-Cotterets - Joigny

Hushovd - FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Thor Hushovd showed no ill affects of his stage 2 crash as he followed leadout-man Julian Dean's wheel to victory. Robbie Hunter followed Hushovd's wheel but couldn't come around. Quick Step and T-Mobile tried to control the leadout into the sprint, but in the end Boonen and Cavendish were nowhere to be seen. Hushovd ends the day 0:29 behind Cancellara, as Cancellara's stage 3 victory and breakaways have kept the jersey just out of reach of him this year.

It was a more typical sprint stage this time around: breakaway, well-timed catch. The sprint teams left it up to CSC to keep the five-man break of Flecha (Rabobank), Chavanel (Cofidis), Knees (Milram), Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), and Verdugo (Euskaltel) under control. Chavanel and Flecha made the most of the break: Flecha took the intermediate sprints, while Chavenel took all but one KOM -- making sure to not take the last and keep the KOM jersey with his teammate Auge. The CSC domestiques once again did a lot of work, but the sprint teams eventually sent a couple rides up to reel the break back in with 6k to go.

Zandio became the third abandon of the Tour after an early crash.

Zandio - AFP/File/Franck Fife AFP/File/Franck Fife

Tomorrow should shake things up a little -- the penultimate Cat 2 and final Cat 3 climbs are enough to create a gap and take away Cancellara's yellow jersey.

A special personal thanks to Steephill: my Comcast service went out, but I was able to find a live feed thanks to his live video roundup.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 4: Villers-Cotterets - Joigny" »

Tour de France '07 Podcasts

Brad Gibson was kind enough to send me a link to the Procycling Magazine/BikeRadar.com podcast:

I'll also pass along links to some other podcasts: * FredCast podcast -- they are also doing some Twitter-casting. * ITV Podcast (iTunes)

I'll be loading these up for my daily train commute.

July 10, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 3 Link Roundup

Video:

Photos:

Stage Summaries/Reports:

Teams:

Experts/Riders:

Blogs:

Related:

Bookends: Cancellara and Zabriskie

Fabian Cancellara starting Zabriskie Warming Up-1

CSC's Time Trial Titans are now Tour de France bookends: Cancellara took the stage win in amazing fashion and Zabriskie soft-pedaled into the last place. Apparently he gets DZ gets apples. Fabian's prize might be better. He'll need to lose a lot more time to take the Lanterne Rouge from Kuchynsky

Update: to quote Vande Velde:

Jens was laughing the other day, commenting on how the first three guys who had to work on the first stage would be team captains on any other team. Jens, Stuey and Dave Z had to work first and God bless anyone trying to get away with those guys pulling behind them.

Tour de France '07 Stage 3: Waregem - Compiegne

Cancellara Wins - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most boring stages became one of the most exciting as Fabian Cancellara blazed to victory in his yellow jersey. It nearly appeared that the breakaway would stay away as it still had a 0:20 advantage with 1.4k to go. As the peloton massed behind a breakaway on the final cobbled stretch, it was Cancellara in his bright yellow jersey jumped across the gap, past the breakaway, and solo'd to victory as the sprinter's nipped at his heels. That's a yellow jersey. Cancellara becomes the first rider to hit the two-win mark of this Tour.

The longest stage allowed for a really long break: Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Mathieu Ladagnous (FD Jeux) went at 5k and were joined by Stephane Auge (Cofidis) and Frederik Willems (Liquigas), who jumped with 58k to go. The peloton seemed to be riding in 'recovery' mode, doing little to reel in the break other than keep it at a containable distance: when the break slowed down, the peloton slowed down, and vice versa. It became a real stage with around 30k to go as the sprint teams started putting in an earnest effort to bring things back. The break last for about 231k as Cancellara caught them with half a kilometer to go.

Auge can celebrate his breakaway effort: he was able to take the KOM polka dots from David Millar. Boonen gained some points in the green jersey competition over McEwen.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 3: Waregem - Compiegne" »

Vande Velde's take on the crash

A humorous diary from Vande Velde:

Fabian went over the top like Walter Payton into the end zone, landing his big 86-kilo Swiss cheese ass on top of all of those tiny little men. The Swiss bear was down but not out, he came back to dinner, loud as ever, turning on Shakira full blast during dinner. And to make it worse, he tries to sing along.

Tour de France '07 Stage 2: Final Injury Roundup

Amazingly, Vaitkus is the only rider not to start (shattered thumb). Everyone else is "sore" (quotes from cyclingnews live report):

  • Thor: "Thor fell heavily on his right side and has damaged his sciatic nerve. He has pain but he's a tough rider who will still be our protected man again today." A thousand PMU green hands couldn't take Thor out.
  • Hincapie: Sore knee
  • Bennati: Sore hip but will start. "We have decided that it’s best for him to take it easy today and instead of working for Daniele - the team’s objective is to protect Danilo Napolitano instead."
  • Fast Freddie: Sore collarbone. See also: Fast Freddie saved by Ti?](http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12658.0.html)
  • Cancellara: Sore wrist, but still strong enough to grab the stuffed lion and hoist the flowers. Vande Velde diary: "The Swiss bear was down but not out, he came back to dinner, loud as ever, turning on Shakira full blast during dinner. And to make it worse, he tries to sing along."
  • Cavendish: Sore left knee
  • McEwen: Stiff knee and back from Stage 1
  • Quinziato: Multiple contusions
  • Forster: Cut to left elbow. "Tonight it starts to hurt," he wrote, "I am all taped up and bathed in ice." (source)
  • Schleck: Sore elbow -- he's been riding near the back of the peloton, chatting away

July 9, 2007

Tour de France '07 Stage 2 link roundup

Video/Photos:

Stage Results/Summaries:

Team Reports:

Experts/Riders:

Related:

Injury updates:

  • Discovery: "Caught in the peloton spill at 3K remaining in Monday's stage, George Hincapie sustained a slight right-knee contusion & will start Tuesday. Tomas Vaitkus suffered unstable fractures of the right thumb, which will require surgery including a plate. Vaitkus will undergo surgery this evening and will not start TDF Stage 3. All other DC riders OK. More news as available." Hincapie's brother adds, "George was right in the middle of it and could not avoid the pavement at first he thought he broke his kneecap having landed right on it but it turned out to be badly bruised with some abrasions. He is icing it tonight as there is still 3 weeks to go with very little rest. This will make for an uncomfortable few days but he should be ok."
  • T-Mobile: "[Cavendish] was in the middle of it alright. Luckily the crash was not as bad as it looked. Mark has suffered bruising to his left knee and heel which took the brunt of the crash. There is also bruising elsewhere but he should be OK... was a relief to finish the stage without any serious injuries."
  • CSC: Cancellara is okay, as evidenced by his post-race interview video. Schleck's elbow is sore from his separate crash.
  • Lampre: CyclingNews reports Bennati was in the crash, but no update on his injuries
  • Credit Agricole: Thor Hushovd got caught in the crash, but blood and bruises are par for the course for the Thunder rider.
  • Lotto: VeloNews: Fast Freddie's status still uncertain. Horner: "...two guys from my team too – Leif [Hoste] and Freddy Rodriguez both crashed. Luckily I was pretty far back so I wasn't involved." McEwen's knee is bothering him from the stage 1 crash.

Unlucky Yellow

unluckyellow.jpg

Prologue wins for CSC -- pain.

Tour de France '07 Stage 2: Dunkerque - Ghent (Gent/Gand)

Steegmans wins - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Cancellara - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
CRASH!

An ugly stage but good one for Quick Step as they went one-two in the sprint. Boonen didn't come around his own leadout man Gert Steegmans for the race finish, but he had no real reason to: they outsprinted the rest of the pack by several bike lengths.

The big story of this stage was a major pileup that occurred just before the finish. Only about 20 riders made it through as the crash covered the whole width of the road. Erik Zabel clipped out, which caused him to sweep hard right near the front of the peloton and take out a Liquigas rider. The riders pinballed left and right, crashing into barriers on both sides. Cancellara came in holding his arm as did Vaitkus (Discovery) and Fast Freddie (Lotto). Hincapie appears shaken from this photo as well. The injury reports won't be pretty after this one. Vino gave a little prayer as he crossed the finish line, probably to give thanks for making it uninjured.

Fast Freddie - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images Vaitkus - DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

The stage had been fairly sleepy up until that point. Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), and Cedric Herve (Agritubel) went in a break at 18k and lasted until 3k to go. There was a bit of infighting over the intermediate sprints as Sieberg was unhappy with Herve trying to take more than one prize, but, with the exception of a minor crash by Frank Schleck, there was little drama until the big pileup at the end.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 2: Dunkerque - Ghent (Gent/Gand)" »

July 8, 2007

What happened to Zabriskie?

Just noticed this in the Stage 1 results:

184 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 2.27

Also caught behind the peloton were Cavendish, Herve, Vansevenant, and Lancaster, as well as the breakaway riders Auge and Kuchynski.

update according to VeloNews, "Just a handful of seconds before Cavendish, US TT champ Dave Zabriskie (CSC) crossed the finish line in 184th, 2'27" back as the American dropped off the pace in the final kilometres after his hard tempo work on the front today for his teammate Cancellara."

update 2: "To set the record straight - I am not here for the GC," Zabriskie told VeloNews. "I don't know why people haven't realized that. If I soft pedal for the last few kilometers to save my legs to help Carlos Sastre later in the mountains, that's because I am here to work for the team...I am tranquilo. I wish everyone else would relax a little bit.

Tour de France '07 Stage 1 Link Roundup

Videos:

Photos:

Stage Summaries/Reports:

Riders/Experts:

Teams:

Related:

Fly to the Finish codes

Too impatient for the daily trickle of codes for the Fly to the Finish contest? Here's some more to get you started, mostly thanks to this happysunshine28/gotadeal.com thread (note: list is not complete).

Parliament (Bicycling.com)
Big Ben (Versus Prologue)
Fly Saab (Versus Stage 1)
Boonen (Bicyling.com Stage 2)
Belgium (Versus Stage 2)
Cadence (Versus Stage 3)
Turbocharged (Bicycling.com Stage 3)
Green Jersey (Stage 4)
Hushovd (Bicycling.com Stage 4)
Feed Zone (Stage 5)
Attack (Bicycling.com Stage 5)
Born From Jets (Stage 6)
First Class (Bicycling.com Stage 6)
Breakaway (Stage 7)
Musette (Bicycling.com Stage 7)
Air Crafted (Stage 8)
Aerodynamic (Bicycling.com Stage 8)
Domestique (Bicycling.com Rest Day 1)
Climb (Bicycling.com Stage 9)
Gradient (Stage 9)
Sport Combi (Bicycling.com Stage 10)
Sprint (Stage 10)
Peloton (Bicyling.com Stage 11)
Marseille (Stage 11)
Runway (Bicycling.com Stage 12)
Power (Stage 12)
Drafting (Bicycling.com Stage 13)
Echelon (Stage 13)
Wheel (Bicyling.com Stage 14)
Pyrenees (Stage 14)
Performance (Stage 15/commenter supplied)
Throttle (Bicyling.com Stage 15)
Chain Ring (Stage 16/commenter supplied)
Descent (Bicycling.com Stage 16/commenter supplied)
Paris
Saddle
Time trial (Stage 19)
Yellow jersey
Bonk (Bicycling.com Stage 19)
Chasers
Derailleur (Bicycling.com Stage 18)
Zabriskie (commenter supplied)
Vinokourov (commenter supplied)
Cervelo (commenter supplied)
Tour (commenter supplied)
Shift (commenter supplied)
Competition (commenter supplied)

Tour de France '07 Stage 1: London - Cantebury

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.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Stage 1: London - Cantebury" »

July 7, 2007

Tour de France '07 Prologue link roundup

Video:

Photos:

Summaries/results:

Experts/Riders:

Teams:

Tour de France '07 Post-Prologue overall standings

Here's a breakdown of the standings based on riders with hope of making the top ten. In terms of top favorites, Astana had the best fortune with their contenders at the top of the standings, whereas CSC seems hurt most as Sastre and Schleck finished 92nd and 95th on the day, respectively. With time trialing like that CSC is really going to have to do something special in the mountains.

2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0.13
6 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 0.26
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0.30
17 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 0.36
19 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone
20 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile Team 0.37
21 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
26 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.40
27 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
32 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.43
53 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team 0.48
56 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 0.49
63 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 0.51
92 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 0.56
95 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 0.57
96 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

Cancellara didn't blow me off

cancellara.autograph.400.jpgDuring the Tour of California I managed to track down Fabian Cancellara for an autograph. He loosely grabbed my pen and proceeded to wiggle it around in circles for awhile and then handed it back. I filed away the signed photo in deep storage because I thought he was just blowing me off and leaving scribbly marks on my photo. But after watching Cancellara sign autographs after the Prologue I realized that is his autograph. Go figure.

Tour de France '07 Prologue: London

cancellara.jpg

Cancellara did his world champion stripes proud. After Kloden set a shockingly fast time on the day that no one could beat, Cancellara came in a full 13 seconds faster -- the only rider to crack the nine-minute barrier. The is Cancellara's second Prologue win and turn in yellow -- TdF fans may remember Cancellara's tearful victory in the 2004 Tour Prologue when he raced for Fassa Bortolo.

The Great British Hopes Wiggins and Millar couldn't crack the podium. In post-race interviews, Millar seemed to be promising a stage win later on. Not all was good for CSC, either. American favorite Dave Zabriskie was all the way down in tenth place at 9:22 and O'Grady crashed on one of the final turns (redubbed "O'Grady Corner" by Liggett).

Discovery Channel will be happy as Gusev placed well enough to move into the young rider's jersey and Hincapie did America proud by finishing in third. Leipheimer had a respectable 9:30.

Astana should be even happier as Vino is the highest placed overall favorite in 7th (9:20) and Kloden showed amazing form that only Cancellara could trump.

  1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 8.50 (53.7 km/h)
  2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 9.03
  3. George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 9.13
  4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis 9.13
  5. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel 9.15

Links:

Live stage log after the jump.

Continue reading "Tour de France '07 Prologue: London" »

Prologue predictions

Fabian CancellaraGotta lock these in just in case I miss my alarm in the mornin':

  1. Fabian Cancellara
  2. David Millar
  3. Bradley Wiggins
  4. Dave Zabriskie

Honestly, this one is too hard to predict. Cancellara, Millar, and Wiggins all have this stage marked on their calendars; all have shown they have the skills to do it. On another site I predicted Millar, Wiggins, Cancellara, tipping the scales for the home-field advantage. The lack of technical terrain would normally make me favor Zabriskie, but DZ shed a lot of pounds to climb in the mountains and it seems to have cost him some TT power. Suffice to say, I want to see Zabriskie win it and won't be sad to see my predictions wrong. It would be great to see DZ in yellow again, if only for the interviews.

'07 Tour Predictions: Overall

My predictions are a bit late for my "predict early, predict often" philosophy and I got to get to bed so I can wake up for the 6:30am prologue tomorrow. Here's my quick picks:

  1. Alejandro Valverde: it's probably bad to pick someone who's never actually finished a Tour, but a ProTour champion and a 2006 2nd place Vuelta finisher deserves some respect. Of course, that 2nd place came to none other than Vinokourov. The Astana squad seems stronger, but Vino's aggressive style often costs him big time.

  2. Levi Leipheimer: The Tour of California currently has a perfect prediction rate for the Tour de France (1 for 1), so naturally Levi's victory this year is ensured. Joking aside, Levi's new Landis-like TT position has delivered Landis-like early season results. Leipheimer dialed it back a bit for the Dauphine this year, so it would seem that he won't have the trouble of peaking too early this year, but he simply doesn't have the palmares of Valvderde -- which is probably why Bruyneel signed Basso. This should be Levi's best ever Tour, but I still can't seem him taking the overall win, no matter how loaded the Discovery squad is this year. Discovery and Astana will duke it out big time -- Astana looks better based on more recent race results, but the Discovery train has always demonstrated better tactics than any team Vino is on.

  3. Alexander Vinokourov: I originally stuck Vino at #2 in my picks, but I think he's going to make a mistake that will cost him big. Vino took the Vuelta as his consolation prize last year, which came in spite of his overly aggressive style. I think his tactics are simply too risky in the Tour -- there are many more big riders that can take advantage of his mistakes in a Tour than a Vuelta.

  4. Frank Schleck: I have to do something odd to make these predictions interesting. Having two leaders can be distracting, but it does provide a nice tactical advantage. I can see a good overall result for Schleck if teams are too busy watching Sastre.

  5. Christophe Moreau: A Dauphine win deserves some respect.

  6. Cadel Evans: Evans got fifth last year, but there was no Vino and Valverde crashed out early. There's no Landis this year, but Moreau and Leipheimer seem to promise better results this year.

  7. Denis Menchov: He's a Vuelta winner, but he also faded in the Tour last year.

July 6, 2007

TdF Team Previews

I'm gearing up late for this year's Tour as I'm still unpacking from a move. Here's some quick rundowns of some of the top teams in this year's Tour.

Astana:

They may be pre-occupied dodging doping allegations, but their squad this year is frightening: Vinokourov, Kloden, Kashechkin, and Savoldelli. There have been a lot of Astana riders finishing a top time trial standings this year, and Vino is out for blood after settling for a Vuelta overall win when forced to sit out last year's Tour. It will be interesting to see what Vino can do in a Tour when he's not working against his team.

Caisse D'Epargne:

Pereiro wears #11 in lieu of a #1, but it's Valverde whom everyone will be watching. Of course, Valverde needs to actually finish a Tour de France to be a contender. And there are all those Puerto questions they are tired of answering. Vladimir Karpets is coming off a Tour de Suisse win and will give the other teams more to worry about.

Discovery:

-Basso. Levi thought Basso's situation may play out in his favor, and it did. Discovery seems to have its leader situationi sorted out this time and won't have any of the 2006 debacle. Leipheimer will have an excellent squad backing him up: Paris-Nice winner Alberto Contador, Russian TT champion/Tour de Suisse stage winner Vladimir Gusev, old stalwart Hincapie, TdF/TdG/Paris-Nice stage winner Popovych, Vuelta KOM Egoi Martinez, and so on.

CSC:

+Zabriskie, -Julich, -Riis. CSC is full interesting roster shakeups. Zabriskie squeezed in at the last minute thanks to his new-found climbing skills, though it seems to have cost him some watts in the time trials. Julich appears to have lost his spot in part to his withdrawal from the Dauphine due to stomach troubles. Riis won't be in the team car due to those, um, EPO and Jorg Jacksche things. If you've seen Overcoming, you can believe that it is all a bit too much for Riis. The spotlight on CSC will shift to Sastre once the Tour starts, with Frank Schleck waiting in the shadows ready to pounce if opportunity need be. Then there's Cancellara and Zabriskie for the time trials and Voigt for the breaks. O'Grady is riding high on his Paris-Roubaix win and could pull of a surprise or two if he's not too busy in a lieutenant role.

AG2R:

Moreau is the buzz of the town since his dominating Dauphine win. The Dauphine isn't necessarily a good predictor of Tour success -- Levi Leipheimer's 2006 win, followed by a 13th place finish in le Tour, was a lesson that you can peak too early. Moreau has relatively modest ambitions given how much his stock has climb: a podium spot, but not #1, or KOM as backup.

Rabobank:

Denis Menchov will have Tour de Romandie winner Thomas Dekker and KOM-favorite Michael Rasmussen backing him up as he shoots for the overall. Boogerd will be riding as their old salt and was invaluable last year with his support in the mountain stages. Rabobank will stay busy on the flat stages as they try to lineup Oscar Freire for sprint victories and Dekker may have his own chances to shoot for some stage wins and the Best Young Rider jersey. Juan Antonio Flecha will certainly want another stage win to go with his 2003 win and seems game after finishing 2nd in Paris-Roubaix.

Saunier Duval:

They were the team to watch during the Giro even if it was Liquigas/Di Luca that stole the show. They're top climbing guns are sitting this one out, though Giro-stage-winner Iban Mayo hopes to make a triumphant return to top Tour de France form and David Millar is eyeing a stage win (i.e. London prologue).

Quick-Step:

Despite wearing the yellow jersey, the 2006 Tour was viewed as a disappointment for Boonen to his his lack of stage wins. He seems determined to get stage wins this year as his training was shifted to peak closer to the Tour than last year. Boonen should be helped in his ambitions by the missing Petacchi.

Predictor-Lotto:

Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen are their big guns as Predictor-Lotto will try to manage the balance between placing a rider in the overall and making sure McEwen gets his sprint victories and green jersey. I'm looking forward to what Chris Horner may bring to this Tour, even if the '06 Tour was a bit of a disappointment.

Milram:

-Petacchi. How strange the role of doping in cycling is that admitted doper Erik Zabel gets will get the sprint leadouts but top-gun Petacchi will sit out for abusing the asthma medications. It will surely make things easier for McEwen to put some on the scoreboard.

T-Mobile:

~Rogers +Grabsch -Barry -Guerini. Michael Rogers pulled out of the Tour de Suisse 2 weeks ago due to knee problems, but now they say he'll be fine for the Tour. Kim Kirchen and Patrik Sinkewitz are their other overall standings cards to play, though T-Mobile has relatively modest goals of a top 10 finish and stage win. Eisel or Cavendish may squeak out a sprint victory for them. Michael Barry was ruled out in June due to pneumonia and Grabsch took Guerini's spot after Guerini came down with stomach problems.

Gerolsteiner:

Gerolsteiner is riding for the stage wins and perhaps a Best Young Rider jersey for Bernhard Kohl. Their main focus will be on the sprints with Förster and Krauss. Schumacher, with his Amstel win and otherwise excellent spring classics performance could get a stage win or two, as could Fabian Wegmann.

October 26, 2006

That's not very nice

I was browsing my cycling photos feed from Yahoo and this title came across my screen: Landis a broken man as Tour chiefs look to 2007 (AFP/Bertrand Guay)

That seems a rather mean title for an innocuous photo of the London's Mayer at the Tour 2007 unveiling:

Photo by AFP/Bertrand Guay

London's Mayor Ken Livingstone speaks during the presentation of the 20-stage 2007 Tour de France edition which will run in total around 3,600 Kms. The race, which starts in London, takes a clockwise route around the country and includes a summit finish at Aubisque, one of the mythical climbs in the mountains which straddle France and Spain.

Tour de France Route '07

*Update: See also CyclingNews' Map and Stage Descriptions

Tour riders will have some unrestful rest days this year. After two days of climbing in the Alps, they will earn their first rest day, but they will immediately get hit with Stage 9's lovely combo of l'Iseran, Telegraphe, and Galibier. The next rest day follows the same strategy: 2 days of Alps climbs, rest day, and then a mountain top finish on Col d'Aubisque.

Sadly, no team time trial or mountain time trial, but it should be an exciting route. A London start is a fun plus: it should be added incentive for Millar to show his Prologue legs.

'07 Tour route unveiled

tour.2007.map.jpg