Stage 9: Bordeaux - Dax

Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by -/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was a messy sprint finish with multiple sprinters trying to launch their lead outs. Eventually it was Zabel, Freire, and McEwen grabbing the wheel of Boonen, who could do little to fight them off as they each came around one by one. McEwen jumped way across to his left, which was perhaps too much ground, as it was Freire who came up between McEwen and Boonen and beat McEwen by just a tiny bit of wheel. (Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was a very, very flat stage, which didn't generate too much excitement. A three-man break -- Beneteau, Knees, and Aug� -- was away most of the stage. It's a bit odd how breaks are gong so easily and staying away until the final kilometers so frequently. The break was caught at about the 3.5km point. O'Grady tried an attack in the final kilometers, but QuickStep was prepared and pulled it back quite easily. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

There was some splitting of the peloton that caused some contenders to lose time. Zabriskie's report implies there was a crash; whatever it was caused Denis Menchov lost 13 seconds as did best young rider Marcus Fothen, who fell to ninth place -- Kloden/Karpets/Evans/Zabriskie moved up a spot. Levi should have followed Zabriskie's decision to move up near the front, and Levi ended up losing 0:26 on the day. He actually crossed about 1:40 back, but the refs gave him the time of the end of the peloton as he had an unspecified mechnical problem. Levi seems to be talking stage win as his strategy now, with yet-another-top-10-finish not meaning as much to him anymore if he can't reach that podium, so time doesn't matter as much as regaining his legs.

Prediction check: * My prediction: McEwen first, Boonen second. * Actual: McEwen second, Boonen fourth

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This is the uninteresting, dull, flat lead-in to the mountains.

Prediction: I'm doing it, I'm jumping ship, McEwen first, Boonen second. I kept thinking it was bad luck holding Boonen down, but after seeing him screw up another field sprint on stage 8, I think it's got into his head now. If QuickStep could, I would send a rider in a break because I don't think Lotto will waste that much energey prior to the mountains.

There's all these theories as to why Landis came out with his announcement now: did he do it, as he says, to get out the information before other information leaked out; did he do it to make some pre-excuse for failure; did he do it for attention? He didn't come out with this announcement last Tour, nor did he announce this earlier in the year. I think he's doing it to screw with his opponents' heads: look at what I'm doing with only one healthy leg, I can't even climb stairs!

There's a break of three 7:47 ahead: Beneteau (Bouyges), Knees (Milram), and Stephane Aug� (Cofidis). T-Mobile and Lampre are chasing back the break as Lotto most certainly won't be chasing.

Mario Cipolini is wavng the Italian flag to rub it in for the French.

QuickStep and CA are helping the chase. The lead is now only 6:19 with 84k to go.

One consequence of the break is all the intermediate sprint points are being sweeped up.

The peloton is really strung out with 60k to go, 5:58 lead

13.4k, 1:34

A minor crash with several riders on the back as things slowed down. Wegmann is waiting for a new bike. I think Lopez Garcia have been the first to go down.

Knees attacks at 6.3 km to go as the lead has fallen to 0:25. Knees' attack failed. Now Beneteau goes and is caught. 0:20 with 5k to go.

Beneteau goes again with 4.5k and the peloton right on their heels. That attack fails and with 4k to go the peloton is going to gobble them up. They're not giving up, but it's inevitable. And there, the catch.

A Liquigas rider whips up the pace too much and gets a gap on the peloton. CSC has several riders up front.

O'Grady attacks off the front but I don't think he had enough teammates screening that move. QuickStep is covering that move and it fails. I guess O'Grady is feeling much better.

Liquigas jumps over QuickStep's two man leadout. Now a Credit Agricole lead out Hushovd. This is messy. A QuickStep rider is leading out Boonen. McEwen has found Boonen's wheel. McEwen jumps to the left. Freire came up through the center and takes it by less than a wheel over McEwen. Zabel held off Boonen for third place, battling closer to the barriers.

related articles: Tour de France 2006
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Comments (2)

Jess:

What's going on with Levi? I saw him cross the finish line 1:40 behind the peleton. The announcers didn't even mention it - I guess they are done talking about him now.

kwc:

Levi had an 'unspecified mechanical' incident in the final kilometers. The refs agreed and placed him only 0:26 down instead of the 1:40-ish that he crossed the line at.

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