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

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

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.



CyclingNews Stage 8 Preview: "The second Alpine stage of the Tour de France is short, nervous and very difficult. Right from the start, stage eight commences with rollers that will be ideal for attackers, then it transitions to three first category ascents in the second half. After 75 kilometres, the long ascent of the Cormet de Roselend, then the Montee de Hauteville should give the favourites a chance to get into position for the 18-kilometre, 5.5% average gradient of the ascent to Tignes, where the real contenders for victory in this year's Tour will likely be revealed."

My prediction: Michael Rasmussen. With a rest day coming after, this might be the time for Rasmussen to start collecting some real KOM points. Who knows, though. We keep waiting for an overall contender to really show himself; maybe one will.

Other coverage

Versus Picks

  • Phil: Valverde
  • Al: Contador
  • Paul: Rasmussen
  • Bob: Leipheimer Stage Log

5:30AM: 4AM is too early for me, catching up on TiVo

Lilian Jegou, "Schumy" Schumacher, Stephane Auge, Marcel Sieberg, and Alexader Efimkin attacked. Schumacher took the first climb of the Col du Marais, but there was no fight. They're on the second climb of the Cote du Bouchet Mont-Chavin but only have 0:20. Jegou and Sieberg have been dropped... and now Schumacher appears to be riding off on his own.

Voigt is pulling back the break and has even splintered a group off the front of the peloton. Schumacher took the Mont-Chavin KOM but the others are right behind. Garate took second.

Voeckler (BT) has attacked on the descent and has 0:23.

The peloton is split on the sprint toward Faverges. Rabobank and Caisse are trying to bring the front split back in. Voeckler takes the sprint.

Voeckler is being caught by the front group with Hincapie, Rogers, Voigt, and Schumacher are in it. About 19 riders total. The peloton is about 0:30 behind the split and closing. Evans and Moreau were apparently in the group but dropped -- the group probably didn't want overall threats to be present, but Rogers still makes the group a threat. T-Mobile is blocking in the peloton while Rabobank tries to pull.

The riders are climbing the Cat 2 The Col de Tamie. The peloton has eased off and given the group 1:09.

Cavendish has abandoned -- not a big deal given that he always planned to abandon after the first week.

Voeckler takes the Tamie KOM in a sprint over a charging Schumacher. The breakaway has about 1:40 at the top of the Tamie.

T-Mobile continues to do blocking in the peloton. The lead group has formed two echelons as they zoom through Albertvillle.

Lead group: Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), David Millar (Saunier Duval), Thomas Voeckler (BT), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Mario Aerts (Predictor), Jose Luis Arrieta and Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r), Jorge Azanza Soto and Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Benoit Vaugrenard (FD Jeux), Antonio Colom (Astana) .

Millar took a front wheel change at the start of the Roselend and will have trouble catching on. It was a pretty long change and he'll be moving back towards the peloton most likely.

A group of seven breaks off the front of the peloton including Rasmussen. Some riders are trying to bridge across.

Kohl has attack the lead break and is all by himself.

Rasmussen and Arroyo appears to have dropped the rest of their group. Juan Miguel Mercado and Txurruka are chasing behind. Schumacher has blown up from the front group all the way to the peloton (update and spit off the back). Azanza Soto has also rejoined the peloton.

10 of the original break are riding together including Voigt, Hincapie, and Rogers. Colom is chasing Kohl up the road.

Valverde is being riding at the back of the peloton. He's either looking for a car or he's in difficulty.

Rasmussen and Arroyo have caught Rogers and Goubert. Le Mevel has zoomed past Colom, who catches back on. So it's probably Kohl, La Mevel/Colom, and then the Rasmussen group. Kohl has reached the 3km flat area around the lake/Col du Meraillet.

It's now a group of seven at the front as Rasmussen has swept up the lead riders.

Hincapie and Voigt are in the first chase group around 1 minute back. It looks like Paulinho bridged up to work with Hincapie. They are with Verdugo (Euskatel), Txurruka (Euskatel), Gutierrez (Caisse) and Moreni (Cofidis). Moreni clipped Gutierrez's wheel and had a bit of a fall.

Rasmussen leads the charge over the top of the Roselend.

The Hincapie group has swept up Le Mevel.

Rogers and Arroyo have crashed. Rogers hit the barrier and Arroyo went down into the woods and had to crawl out. Arroyo and Rogers are chasing back separately. Neither looks hurt... both have rejoined the lead.

Levi has got his chain jammed. He passes Wegelius crashed on the road. Levi is sitting up for the team car. Levi is on a new bike.

The leaders have started the Hauteville climb (Cat 1). 15k to the top. Levi has no teammates to help him chase so the mechanic gives Levi a huge push back into the field. Discovery Car Slingshot Manuever.

Rogers (sporting a chin welt) is being dropped from the lead. Goubert and Kohl are falling off as well. It's just Rasmussen, Colom, and Arroyo.

O'Grady crashed on the descent but is okay (correction: O'Grady is another abandon as he's off to the hospital).

Rogers is in difficulty and his face is a mask of pain. He's called for the team car. He's being swallowed up by the Hincapie group. He can't hold on.

Hincapie's group is catching Goubert.

Parra has abandoned.

Rogers is being passed by the main field and letting his teammates go ahead.

Rogers and O'Grady: double bad for Aussies today.

Rasmussen is utting the hurt to the front group.

Rogers has abandoned as he stops and collapses over his handlebars. They take a look at his right shoulder/collarbone area.

Rasmussen is now KOM leader as he takes the Hauteville climb.

The Hincapie group keeps losing time on Rasmussen. My guess is that they are being hurt by Disco and CSC: they are probably just positioning themselves up the road for their leaders. They cross the KOM far behind Ras.

Astana is getting organized at the front as they cross the Hauteville top. Predictor-Lotto is just behind. Disco is there but light with 2 riders up the road

CSC's Cuesta(?) has crashed. He's up and moving to his bike. The CSC team car gives up a bottle pull and a saddle push.

Rasmussen has cracked Arroyo and Colom despite the other two doing no work.

Moreau has bridged to the Hincapie group and is going past. Now Valvderde, Mayo, Kloden and Evans are coming across. Vino is still with the Asana team. Levi is marking Vino's wheel.

Contador instead makes the move for Disco. Correction: it's Kashechkin for Astana, not Kloden

Popo has bridged and is passing Contador. Levi is content to stick to the Vino/Astana train as his teammates go up the road. Menchov is on Levi's wheel.

Mayo is making the most of the attack and is way up the road.

Popo is setting the pace for the Moreau/Contador/Evans/Valvderde/Kashechkin. Looks like a lone rider is trying to bridge -- Schleck has caught on. Looks like Popo is reeling in Mayo.

Voigt is back in the pack with Astana/Levi/Menchov/Sastre.

Mayo is caught. Popo burned a lot up on that one. Schleck and Moreau are setting the pace.

Boogerd is helping Astana set the pace.

Burghardt did not abandon.

Moreau has attacked and Valverde has caught on his wheel

Popo is used up, it's up to Contador now.

Rasmussen is of course stil up the road and going under the 10k to go banner.

Contador bridges and everyone jumps on his wheel. Evans jumps on his wheel and then Contador pulls off to make the others pull.

Boogerd and Menchov have taken over for Astana.

Moreau goes and Contador moves onto his wheel. Evans and the rest catch on.

So many attacks: Mayo's attack is pulled back. They're soft-pedalling now as they jockey for position.

Pictures of Stuart O'Grady look pretty serious. He's got the neck brace on and is grimacing as they load the stretcher o.

The Moreau group reaches 10k to go.

The peloton is not far behind.

Rasmussen crosses the dam wall.

Moreau goes again and Valverde follows. Kashechkin leads them back.

Popo is being dropped by the Astana/Rabobank/Levi group. The yellow jersey is still holding on to the back. Kloden is leading Vino with Menchov on his wheel. Gerdemann is just coming unhitched. Sastre and Levi are following Menchov.

Moreau is at the front with Evans then Valverde and Schleck. Moreau can't find any help.

Kloden has pulled the gap down to 0:20. The riders in the Moreau group screwed around too much by not giving Moreau help.

Rasmussen at 1.4k to top

Contador is back with Levi, but then he attacks back across. He may have had a wheel change.

4k to go for the Moreau group. Sastre and Menchov attack.

Sastre and Menchov are catching Contador.

Contador has dropped Sastre and Menchov

Mayo is trying to drop the Moreau group

Rasmussen takes the stage (I get my pick)

Mayo crosses the Tignes KOM and has quite a gap

Moreau is gesturing at Evans, who won't do any work but follow.

Mayo gets second, 2:47 behind

Valverde easily takes the third place sprint

related articles: Tour de France 2007
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