MAXINE

"Aim at Heaven ... you get Earth thrown in - Aim at Earth and you get neither" - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The New Name For Stupid? - "MAHER", Bill Maher

Comedian Bill Maher told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the United States is stupid. How so, Bill? Because this country can elect someone like Sarah Palin, Maher replied. Blitzer gave Maher a few chances to backpedal, but the comedian stood his ground [ctrl-click to launch video]. Image Credit: faithcenter.wordpress.com

The New Name For Stupid? - "MAHER", Bill Maher

Humankind has a fun habit for naming things, traits and events in this world. They love to attribute a trait or quality of something by honoring it with the name of a person that holds this trait or quality so that they never forget their response. Then this person shares their story for this thing, trait or quality of something with everyone else for their approval. If the story fits ... the name sticks ... like a Brand Name.

A few common examples of this would be:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del., on left), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a candidate for his party's 1988 presidential nomination, said today that he had "made a mistake" by announcing his opposition to the nomination of appeals court Judge Robert H. Bork (pictured on right) to the Supreme Court before giving an in-depth explanation of his rationale. But in a speech here today to the Association of State Democratic Chairs, Biden reiterated that opposition and said the Senate has a constitutional responsibility to play an equal role with the president in choosing Supreme Court justices. Caption Credit: The Washington Post, July 19, 1987 - Image Credit: Terry Ashe/Time Life Pictures

"BORK", as in attempts to BORK Clarence Thomas were unsuccessful. - To totally mis-characterize someone, trash their record and character so that they would not be able to be taken seriously for anything. This naming came from a tactic employed by elected officials from the Democrat Political Party when they were in opposition to the nomination of appeals court Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court back in 1987. Under the Constitution, the President has the power to nominate people to various offices. The Senate's role is to give "advice and consent." But in the case of Robert Bork, the Senate did a whole lot more. It unleashed a public relations campaign viciously attacking Judge Bork.

The story of Thomas Crapper and his achievements has been somewhat confused by Wallace Reyburn's 1969 book Flushed With Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper, a heavily fictionalized satirical biography in the style of scholarship. Caption and Image Credit: Wikipedia

"CRAP", as in someone is full of CRAP ..., or, I feel like taking a CRAP! - This expression was derived from the last name of an enterprising person who decided to go into business. He founded the Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London and popularized the use of the flush toilet. Further, he developed some important related inventions, such as the ballcock. He was noted for the quality of his products and received several Royal Warrants. For this, he was honored with the slang term ... "CRAP"!



"MAHER", as in I'm so MAHER that I took a CRAP on the United States! - Actually, the term - MAHER - could qualify as a two-fer! After seeing the video of his statements made from his questioning by Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room, Bill Maher redefined both words of Stupid and Hateful, for claiming all Americans ... and America is a stupid country, and the example he cites is that he believed that this country would actually vote for Sara Palin as President and that made this country "Stupid" - that is hateful, not funny.

I have a question, if the United States is such a stupid country, why doesn't Bill Maher move to another country?

Answer - This country is so "MAHER", that it is willing to give stupid and hateful Bill Maher a television show ... when no other country would.

I guess this should sum it all up:


Basically, Maher "BORKS" the United States and Sarah Palin on CNN in one fell swoop ... and that makes his statements a load of CRAP! It's just Bill Maher being MAHER!


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Sunday, July 26, 2009

TDF Stage 21 - The Finale - Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, & The Rising Sun

From left: Astana teammates Lance Armstrong, Sergio Paulinho and Tour champion Alberto Contador drink champagne during the final ride into Paris. Caption and Image Credit: Getty via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 21 - The Finale - Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, & The Rising Sun

The Stage 21 template is set, Team Astana will have two riders, Team Saxo Bank with one rider in the Peloton that will be on the final Podium in Paris - Alberto Contador as winner of the Tour de France with Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank, 2nd, and Lance Armstrong placing 3rd.

One story that might be missed by most who were following the happenings of this epic athletic test over 21 days of competition in the month of july in France, Spain, Andorra, and Switzerland, is the fact that riders from the nation of Japan have competed and completed the Tour de France for the first time ever this year. There have been two other riders from Japan to start the Tour in its 96 year history, but this is the absolute first time that any rider (let alone two) has competed and completed this epic event and ride the final eight laps on the cobblestone pavement of the Champs Élysées in Paris.

Yukiya Arashiro riding for Team Bbox Bouygues Telecom (France) - In 2005 he was the Japanese U23 National Time Trial and Road Race Champion and in 2007 he was National Road Race Champion. Caption Credit: Wikipedia Image Credit: Universal Sports


Fumiyuki Beppu riding for Team Skil-Shimano (Netherlands) - In June 2006, Beppu was crowned the Japanese National Champion of both the Individual Time-Trial and the Road Race, he turned professional with Team Discovery Channel, with whom he stayed until 2007. Caption Credit: Wikipedia Image Credit: Universal Sports

Lance Armstrong can credit his podium finish over rider Bradley Wiggins of Team Garmin-Slipstream to the day he had in Stage 3 - http://my.nowpublic.com/sports/tdf-stage-3-lance-armstrong-makes-wind-aided-big-move - of the Tour de France.

The Peloton - On an unassuming Monday afternoon heading to the luxuriant coastal town of La Grande-Motte, the Columbia-HTC team decided to take the Tour de France on and hit it for six. /// Before the 96th Tour began, many commented on the apparent strength of Astana which boasts general classification contenders Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer in their midst. But combined and riding as one today was not Astana, but the American-owned team who last week picked up a new sponsor, HTC. Columbia-HTC proved most powerful team during stage 3. Caption Credit: CyclingNews Image Credit: Roberto Bettini (2009)

General Classification Standings After Stage 2:
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 04:49:34 (38.77km/h)
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana +:00:-18
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream +:00:-19
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana +:00:-22
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto +:00:-23
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana +:00:-30
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas +:00:-32
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - High Road +:00:-33
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas +:00:-37
10 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana +:00:-40

Team Columbia with George Hincapie decided that if the teams wih sprinters were not going to take the race to the smaller, original four rider breakaway, then this team was going to place their rider, Mark Cavendish, in a position to take the stage. Team Columbia took advantage of an echolon move, where the nine riders of the team block the wind by riding in an angle, in kind of a half-chevron, to shield from the wind which caused another breakaway which eventually caught up with the smaller breakaway and on to the end to have this lead group gain 39 seconds against the rest of the field. Lanch Armstrong saw what Team Columbia was attempting to do and along with two other Team Astana teammates Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia, rode with this wind aided break to move at the end of the day from a 10th overall position to 3rd in the overall classification.

Bradley Wiggins, however, did not recognize what was happening and got caught out and ended up finishing with the Peloton, finishing in the pack, losing 1min. 40 sec. to Lance Armstrong.

General Classification Standings After Stage 3:
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 09:50:58 (19.96km/h)
2 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - High Road +0:00:33
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana +0:00:40
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana +0:00:59
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream +0:01:00
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana +0:01:03
7 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram +0:01:03
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto +0:01:04
9 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - High Road +0:01:10
10 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana +0:01:11

Bradley Wiggings will finish 4th in the General Classification at a mere 37 seconds behind 3rd place Podium finisher after 21 days of racing through Spain, Andorra, Switzerland, and France!

This final 15km excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

1:14
CPelkey: As we said, today's stage will be a easy ride into Paris, with riders taking a somewhat relaxed approach to these final kilometers in what has been a long Tour de France.

Expand
Here's a quick shot of the peloton as they prepare to head to Paris.

5:21
CPelkey: With 15km remaining, the gap is down to 20 seconds.
5:21
[Comment From Doug from Wyoming ]
Do you think Columbia is holding off on catching the break-away to prevent the counter attacks?
5:22
CPelkey: Yeah, they have to know someone is going to counter as soon as the catch happens.
5:23
CPelkey: With 14km to go, the gap is down to 16 seconds. They have some serious horsepower on Columbia.
5:23
CPelkey: Two laps to go, 13km
5:23
CPelkey: The gap is now just 15 seconds.
5:25
CPelkey: With 12km to go, the gap is 11 seconds and the counter attacks are starting.
5:25
CPelkey: Garmin is moving up on the side of the peloton. Gonna try something?
5:26
CPelkey: With 10.5km to go, the gap is 13 seconds.
5:28
CPelkey: With 9.5km to go, the gap is 11 seconds.
5:28
CPelkey:

Michael Rogers has flatted. Bad news for Columbia
5:29
CPelkey: Our leaders are breaking apart... we have three up front, heading for the last lap.
5:29
CPelkey: One of them is Beppu.
5:30
CPelkey: Nice. Okay, we'll show our bias. Beppu! Beppu! Beppu!

It would be cool to see a Japanese winner.
5:30
CPelkey: Three leaders, Beppu, Veikkannen and Wegmann are now one lap from the end, and lead by 10 seconds. The others have been caught.
5:31
CPelkey: Ding Ding Ding.... one lap and it's nine seconds.
5:32
CPelkey: With 6km to go, the three leaders are 10 seconds ahead of the field.
5:32
CPelkey: Here comes Garmin....
5:32
CPelkey:

Caught...
5:33
CPelkey: Columbia is leading the charge with 5km to go.
5:33
CPelkey: Cavendish is the picture of concentration.
5:34
CPelkey: With 4km to go, the peloton is still together.
5:34
CPelkey:

Garmin sets up it's lead-out crew.
5:35
CPelkey:

Vande Velde is powering at the front.
5:35
CPelkey: 3km to go... Contador has won the Tour... we're in the safe zone.
5:35
CPelkey: Garmin up front. Columbia is fighting to organize.
5:36
CPelkey:

Vande Velde and Millar are doing hard work up front.
5:36
CPelkey: Into the tunnel
5:36
CPelkey: 1.8km to go
5:36
CPelkey: Garmin leads the way
5:37
CPelkey: Hincapie Counters with 1km to go.
5:37
CPelkey: It's a drag race
5:37
CPelkey:

Final turn....
5:37
CPelkey:

Renshaw gives the lead out...
5:38
CPelkey: Cav' gets it!
5:39
CPelkey: Number six.... wowie... he just flew off the front. Long, long sprint, but Cavendish and Renshaw had a huge gap on the rest of the field. Renshaw takes second.
5:40
CPelkey: Contador is celebrating his overall win. He crossed the line with his arms raised in victory.

As expected, there were no changes in GC.
5:41
[Comment From Breck ]
Safe zone?
5:43
CPelkey: Yeah, I knew that would elicit a question ... or 10.

I was referring to the UCI rule that awards field time to anyone who crashes or suffers some sort of mishap in the final three kilometers of a stage ... but with things happening as fast as they were, it would have taken a bit to type all of that in, eh?
5:44
CPelkey: It looks like Hushovd finished close enough to protect his hold on the green jersey.
5:45
[Comment From Bikeman ]
I thought the safe zone was 1km, when did it become 3?
5:45
CPelkey: I think in '05 or '06. I am old and my memory is beginning to fade.

Help, I've fallen and I can't get up.
5:47
CPelkey: Preliminary Stage Results:

# 1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc
# 2. Mark Renshaw Team Columbia - Htc
# 3. Tyler Farrar Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00
# 4. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram at s.t.
# 5. Yauheni Hutarovich Francaise Des Jeux at s.t.
# 6. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team at s.t.
# 7. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne at s.t.
# 8. Marco Bandiera Lampre - N.g.c at s.t.
# 9. Daniele Bennati Liquigas at s.t.
# 10. William Bonnet Bbox Bouygues Telecom at s.t.
# 11. Lloyd Mondory Ag2r La Mondiale at s.t.
# 12. Geoffroy Lequatre Agritubel at s.t.
# 13. Nicolaï Trussov Team Katusha at s.t.
# 14. Cyril Lemoine Skil-Shimano at s.t.
# 15. Leonardo Duque Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at s.t.
# 16. Sebastian Lang Silence - Lotto at s.t.
# 17. Matteo Tosatto Quick Step at s.t.
# 18. Steven De Jongh Quick Step at s.t.
# 19. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at s.t.
# 20. Yukiya Arashiro Bbox Bouygues Telecom at s.t.
# 21. Saïd Haddou Bbox Bouygues Telecom at s.t.

5:48
[Comment From Daniel in PDX ]
Off to my ride. Thanks for the great coverage -- and humor!!
5:49
CPelkey: Oh man, we should all spend the next month riding our bikes during those times we spent here in July.
5:51
CPelkey:

The final top 10:
# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 85:48:35
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 4:11
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 05:24
# 4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 06:01
# 5. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 06:04
# 6. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 06:42
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 07:35
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 12:04
# 9. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 14:16
# 10. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 14:25

5:56
CPelkey: Nice to see that Yukiya Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues) not only finished today, but made top-20 in the stage. Two Japanese rider become the first from their country to finish the Tour de France. Terrific work and congratulations to both.
5:56
[Comment From Ken Stevens ]
KOM?
5:57
CPelkey: Pellizotti had a lock on it today. All he had to do was finish and he did.
5:59
CPelkey: Hushovd is on the podium now. He's getting the green jersey.
6:00
CPelkey: And Franco Pellizotti is on the stage with his son. How cool would that be, being able to share a moment like that with your kid?
6:01
CPelkey: Best young rider... Andy Schleck, the white jersey winner from last year. Good work.
6:02
[Comment From Dave ]
What is the age limit for the White jersey?
6:02
CPelkey:

Under 25.
6:03
[Comment From Wow ]
I want to kiss a podium girl
6:03
CPelkey: You can! Just win a stage at the Tour de France.
6:04
[Comment From guest ]
did cav's dq made a difference?
6:05
CPelkey: The relegation cost Cavendish 13 points. The final difference was 10 points, but who knows how it would have shaken out if the race would have been closer.

Hushovd's march through the mountains sure made a statement.

# 1. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team 280 points
# 2. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc 270 points
# 3. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram 172 points
# 4. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne 145 points
# 5. Tyler Farrar Garmin - Slipstream 136 points
# 6. Nicolas Roche Ag2r La Mondiale 122 points
# 7. Oscar Freire Rabobank 119 points
# 8. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas 104 points
# 9. Alberto Contador Astana 101 points
# 10. Andréas Kloden Astana 89 points

Team Astana teammates Alberto Contador (left) and Lance Armstrong greet each other on the final podium as they assume positions 1 and 3 respectively. Image Credit: Reuters via Universal Sports

This article excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

'Old Fart' Armstrong secures his spot on the podium

By Andrew Hood, VeloNews - Published: Jul. 25, 2009

Maybe Lance Armstrong will like Mont Ventoux a little more now.

Armstrong hung tough on the mountain that’s always given him trouble to fend off attacks from the Schleck brothers and secure a podium spot with third place going into Sunday’s finale at the 2009 Tour de France.

“I cannot complain for an old fart coming here,” Armstrong said after the stage. “Getting third on these young guys is not so bad.”

During his seven-year Tour reign, Mont Ventoux proved elusive. In 2000, he “gifted” the stage to Italian rival Marco Pantani in a gesture that backfired. In 2002, Richard Virenque won out of a breakaway ahead of the chasing Armstrong, who crossed the line third.

On Saturday, the stakes were dramatically different and Armstrong was riding to defend his hold on third-place.

Some 38 seconds separated Armstrong from sixth-place rival Frank Schleck, with Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) and Andreas Kloden (Astana) sandwiched in between for a four-way battle for third.

The Saxo Bank tandem needed to dislodge Armstrong, Wiggins and Kloden if they wanted to move Frank Schleck from sixth to third to join Andy Schleck on the final podium in Paris.
----
Astana sport director Alain Gallopin said the longer, steeper slopes of the unrelenting Mont Ventoux climb better-suited Armstrong’s style.

“We are very pleased with the confirmation of Armstrong to finish on the Tour. First and third is not bad for us! It was impressive what Armstrong could do today, but we were confident,” Gallopin said. “Arcalis and Verbier were shorter and faster than a climb like Ventoux, so we expected him to be able to fend off the attacks. He's better on the longer climbs like Alpe d'Huez.”
----
Armstrong settled into third place at 5:24 back, a remarkable achievement following his three-year retirement.

At 37, Armstrong is one of the oldest podium finishers ever. His experience and race savvy proved decisive throughout the race, most evident in key moments when he snuck into the front group when the pack split in stage 3 to Le Grande Motte.

With new sponsor RadioShack, Armstrong promises to be back next year even stronger.

“I will race next year with my team and I think I will be even stronger,” Armstrong said. “We will have a strong team. I am already looking forward to next year.”
Reference Here>>

Total ReCap of the 23 days of the 2009 Tour de France>>


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

TDF Stage 20 - The Final Test For Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, Wiggins, Kloden, and Schleck

Yup, this is a biggie, folks. Today’s stage features five climbs, ending with only the third mountain-top finish of this Tour. And to make things more interesting, organizers saved the hardest for the day before the finish in Paris. To quote Octave Lapize from the 1910 Tour de France, when the race first went up the Tourmalet: "Assassins!" Image and Caption Credit: steephill.tv

TDF Stage 20 - The Final Test For Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, Wiggins, Kloden, and Schleck

At 20km to the final summit in the final climb and the teams of the lead riders are at the front of the peloton, ripping it away from the rest of the field. We pick up the final mountain stage in the penultimate stage of the Tour de France at the bottom of Mont Ventoux with the Teams of Team Garmin-Slipstream for Bradley Wiggins (4), Team Astana for Alberto Contador (1), Lance Armstrong (3), and Andreas Kloden (5) and Team Saxo Bank for Andy Schleck (2), and Frank Schleck (6).

They are flying up Mont Ventoux with the jersey's unzipped and flapping in the wind. Pumping peddles and challenges from the Schleck brothers are taking it to Contador and Armstrong and both riders are covering every move!

The unrelenting gradient, the length, and the exposed terrain make Mont Ventoux one of the more difficult climbs in cycling. From Bédoin, the Mont Ventoux gains 1622 meters and requires 22.7 kilometers of uninterrupted climbing. The average gradient is 7.6%, but nearly half the climb ascends at gradients between 9% and 10%. Though lower slopes ascend under a pine forest canopy, the majority of the climb passes through exposed open terrain as the road snakes through white limestone scree to the summit. Wind is a frequent visitor to Mont Ventoux. The Mistral winds, a dry wind out of the north, blow through the Provence region and can hit speeds exceeding 100 km/hr. When they occur, the high winds exponentially increase the difficulty of this climb. Image and Caption Credit: steephill.tv

This excerpted and edited from steephill.tv-

Profile Details - Montélimar → Mont-Ventoux

This year's edition of the Ventoux stage takes a hilly route to the Géant. It sets out from Montélimar and begins a gradual ascent to the first climb of the day, the category 3 Côte de Citelle. The Côte climbs 5.2 kilometers at a relatively easy gradient and summits at kilometer 14. It offers a nice warm-up and may send the early breakaway on its merry way.

A brief descent follows this early climb and the stage crosses bumpy terrain as it passes through Salles-sous-Bois, Montbrison-sur-Lez, and Rousset-les-Vignes. The first intermediate sprint takes place in Les Pilles at kilometer 48. From Les Pilles, the course climbs gradually to the second categorized climb of the day. A picturesque climb on narrow roads, the Col d’Ey carries at category 3 rating. It lasts 6.7 kilometers and climbs at a steady gradient of 4.8%. The narrow road wraps around the hill and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside cultivated with Lavender and vineyards.

After descending the Col d’Ey, the stage climbs again almost immediately. After passing through Eygarliers, the riders will climb the Col de Fontaube, a category 4 col. The Col de Fontaube climbs 4.7 kilometers at an average gradient of 4.2%. This is not an especially difficult ascent and none of the favorites will have any difficulty here. The Col de Fontaube summits at kilometer 87.

The next 30 kilometers cover rolling terrain. The stage passes through Aurel at kilometer 105 before climbing the fourth climb of the day. The Col des Abeilles lasts 7.7 kilometers and has an average gradient of 4%. Though some riders may be feeling the effects of the repeated climbing, the Col des Abeilles is nothing to fear. The organizers have given the climb a category 3 rating as a consequence of its length more than its pitch, which is not especially difficult. From the summit of the Col des Abeilles, there remains 45.5 kilometers to race, including 21.1 kilometers of hors catégorie goodness.

The road descends for the next 17 kilometers to the second intermediate sprint at Mormoiron at kilometer 138.5. The road begins to climb just after the sprint, and 5.5 kilometers later, the riders will reach Bédoin. This town signals the start of the final climb of the day, Mont Ventoux.
Reference Here>>

This from VeloNews(VN), CyclingNews(CN), Versus(VS), and various resources -

(CN) 1.
13:32 GMT - 20km to go for the breakaway. Garmin are also riding hard behind, showing that they too can put the pressure on.
2.
13:34 GMT - The Roche group is now 1'05" back...that's a pity, he had a chance of getting into the top 20 in his first Tour.

Cancellara has blown now. Cavendish sits up from a group...probably the second group on the road, not certain. He smiles at the camera - no worries.
3.
13:35 GMT - Posthuma leads the break, 18.6km from the top of the climb. They have just 3'57" now, so it's very unlikely any of those will win today.

David Millar now hits the front of the Contador group, driving the speed up again. Wiggins sits on his wheel.

Up front, Arrieta jumps...Martin goes after him.
4.
13:37 GMT - Garate, Riblon and Martin are together now. They have a sidewind but it's just 14km/h at this point.

Will be interesting to see if this acceleration in pace behind will affect Contador. He's lighter than most of the other riders and might be more affected by the wind.
5.
13:38 GMT - Garate goes again....he gets a gap on Martin and Arrieta. They get him back.

Millar still leads behind, Wiggins and VDV on his wheel. They have to give their all on this climb - Wiggins has a chance to be the best-ever British finisher in the Tour if he can finish higher than fourth. Robert Millar has that distinction until now.
6.
13:40 GMT (15.9km remaining from 167km) - Millar is getting every last bit of energy out.

The leading riders have 15.9km to go...3'24 is the gap. That's not enough.
1.
13:44 GMT (14km remaining from 167km) - The crowds are really big here....huge.. Hincapie has been dropped from the Contador group. Saxo Bank are driving it now...
2.
13:45 GMT - Vande Velde, Karpets, Astarloza (Euskaltel), Jurgen Van Den Broucke (Silence Lotto) are with the Contador group...so too the Schlecks, Wiggins, and about 20 others..
3.
13:46 GMT - This is going to be absolute mayhem...the group will explode on the climb.
4.
13:49 GMT - Chris Anker Sorensen is dropped, so too Cyril Lemoine (Skil Shimano). Karpets is also gone now...
5.
13:50 GMT (12km remaining from 167km) - Martin and Garate have slightly distanced Riblon.
6.
13:50 GMT - Frank Schleck attacks! He's jumped...Armstrong goes with him...
(VN)3:51
CPelkey:

Frank Schleck is still taking digs... Contador is staying with him, too.
3:51
EuroHoody:

One Garmin got popped, looks like Vande Velde
3:51
EuroHoody: Wiggins still there
3:51
CPelkey: Andy goes!
3:51
EuroHoody: Vandenbroucke is there for Silence
3:51
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck takes over!
3:51
CPelkey:

Andy Schleck is at the front, setting tempo. He has Contador, Armstrong, Frank ....
3:51
EuroHoody: Astaloza, VdV off back
3:52
CPelkey: Wiggo is there, too.
3:52
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck ramps it up again, AC marks the move
3:52
EuroHoody: Danglers are 2:37 off the front with 12km to go
3:52
CPelkey: And again... Andy Schleck goes again. Contador is with him.
3:52
EuroHoody:

Armstrong fighting back
3:53
EuroHoody: ASchleck ramps it up again!
3:53
CPelkey: Armstrong chases... almost joins and Andy hits the gas again.
3:53
EuroHoody: Contador glued to his wheel
3:53
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is back with Armstrong who is losing seconds...
3:53
EuroHoody: Kloden OFF the back
3:54
CPelkey: Armstrong has regained contact. Frank Schleck and Wiggins are there, too.
3:54
EuroHoody: Andy S, Contador, Nibali, LA, Kreuziger, FSchleck and Wiggins
3:54
EuroHoody: ASchleck ramps again!
3:54
EuroHoody: Contador follows
3:54
CPelkey: Andy Schleck has only Contador with him.
3:55
EuroHoody: Watch for Frank Schleck to bridge up - if he can
3:55
CPelkey: Frank Schleck has Armstrong glomped on to his wheel.
3:55
EuroHoody: 5 at front: LA, AC, the two Schlecks and Wiggins
3:56
EuroHoody: Nibali is there, too
3:56
EuroHoody: 6 at front for GC group
3:57
CPelkey: Frank Schleck takes a dig... Armstrong goes with him, though, as does the rest of the group.
3:57
EuroHoody: Looks like orders are for Contador to mark ASchleck, and LA to mark FSchleck
3:57
EuroHoody: Garate and Martin are still dangling at 2:15
3:57
EuroHoody: Kloden 45sec off the AC-LA group
3:58
CPelkey: The two leaders are 10km from the finish.
3:58
EuroHoody: Contador group is picking up some leftovers from the breakaway
(CN) 1.
13:57 GMT - Frank Schleck goes, Armstrong marks him... Contador, Wiggins and Nibali are there....and Andy Schleck, of course...
2.
13:59 GMT (10km remaining from 167km) - The leaders are just 2'15 ahead.. Kloden is coming back, so too Van den Broeck..

10 km for the leaders...
3.
14:00 GMT - Wiggins looks good...he's just followed so far, saving his energy....
#
14:03 GMT (8.8km remaining from 167km) - Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, first and second overall, are clear and leaving the others behind... Van den Broeck attacks...

The Armstrong/Wiggins group are going quite slow now....they have been cracked by Schleck's acceleration.. But those fighting for third overall are all together.

----------
Situation:

Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and Tony Martin (Columbia HTC)

Joost Postuma (Rabobank), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Anthony Geslin (Française des Jeux), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Maxime Bouet (Agritubel), Cyril Lemoine (Skil Shimano), Mickael Delage (Silence Lotto) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) at 0.32

Alberto Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin), Lance Armstrong (Astana), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 2.00

Bradley Wiggins and Frank Schleck only need to gain from 16 to 18 seconds respectively in order to take a podium position from Lance Armstrong.

(VN)4:04
EuroHoody: LA is 20sec behind Contador, ASchleck, with Bouet hitching a wheel from the break
4:05
CPelkey: Man, Martin looks shelled up there. He is still hanging with Garate, but the boy looks tired.
4:05
EuroHoody: Nibali is reaching ASchleck and Contador, Bouet's "free ride" is over
4:06
CPelkey: Wiggins is stepping it up at the front of the Armstrong/FSchleck group
4:06
EuroHoody: Wiggo on the front, with FSchleck, LA, Kloden, Van Den Broeck, Kreuzisger about 20sec back
4:06
EuroHoody: Garate, Martin still dangling at 1:46
4:17
CPelkey: The wind is considerably lighter .... but it is a headwind.
4:18
EuroHoody: Pellizotti has trimmed leader's gap to 1:24
4:18
CPelkey: It's Kloden and Armstrong setting tempo at the front of the yellow jersey group.
4:18
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck attacks!
4:18
EuroHoody: Frank Schleck on his wheel!
4:18
CPelkey: Andy Schleck attacks!
Frank goes too!
4:19
EuroHoody: Kloden popped
4:19
EuroHoody: Wiggins pulls up, Contador and Armstrong
4:19
CPelkey: Contador and Armstrong fight back on.
4:19
EuroHoody: Nibali there, too
4:19
CPelkey: Nibali, too
4:20
EuroHoody: As many are commenting, those four seconds that Armstrong "won" yesterday could pay huge dividends
4:20
CPelkey: Garate and Martin are about 3.3km from the summit. They look like they are marching to an execution ... and here comes Pellizotti.
4:21
EuroHoody: The Schlecks cannot shake Armstrong ... not yet, at least
4:21
CPelkey: Wiggo pops
4:21
EuroHoody: Wiggins struggling!

4:21
EuroHoody: Nibali on Wiggins' wheel
----
4:27
EuroHoody: He has 45sec gap with 1km to go
4:28
EuroHoody: Schlecks have to drop Armstrong if they want to move FSchleck up on the podium
4:28
EuroHoody: Wiggins is clawwwwwwwwwwwwwing back
4:28
EuroHoody: Andy setting tempo, Contador grimacing
4:29
CPelkey: Oh man... the Schleck/Contador group is coming up on Pellizotti
4:29
EuroHoody: Now we have the two Schlecks, Armstrong and Contador
4:29
EuroHoody: Martin counters!
4:29
CPelkey: Wow...
4:29
EuroHoody: Catches Garate
4:29
EuroHoody: Of these two, my personal choice to win would be Martin
4:30
CPelkey: Martin at the front. A Strong cross wind.
4:30
EuroHoody:

Pellizotti about to be caught by chasing foursome
4:30
CPelkey: And they're not that far behind the two leaders, either.
4:30
EuroHoody: Martin and Garate have gap to win the stage

4:31
EuroHoody: Pellizotti caught by Schleck group
4:31
CPelkey: Pellizotti is in there.
4:31
EuroHoody: Garate attacks on last switchback
4:31
CPelkey: Garate goes again... He wins
4:31
EuroHoody: Wins!

4:31
EuroHoody: Looking good for Armstrong to conserve third!

4:31
EuroHoody: Andy Schleck sweeps into final switchback, sprinting for third
4:31
CPelkey: Andy Schleck comes across for third.
4:32
CPelkey: Contador, then Armstrong
4:32
EuroHoody: Contador fourth, Armstrong fifth, FSchleck 6th

4:32
CPelkey: Wiggo is fighting to hold his GC spot... good work
4:32
EuroHoody: Wiggins might have kept 5th

(CN)14:31 GMT

Pellizotti has been caught...Andy S. and Contador sige by side...

Garate goes for it! He gets the win...wow, that came up fast. Martin next.
5.
14:32 GMT

Andy Schleck leads them around the last bend.....he's going for second....
6.
14:33 GMT

He gets third, with Contador on his wheel...looking very comfortable. He waves at the crowd. Armstrong is gapped but is next across the line, securing third in Paris. Frank Schleck was also there, but Wiggins lost time... He was perhaps 30 second back...
--------
Situation:

Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and Tony Martin (Columbia HTC)

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 1.42

Alberto Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin), Lance Armstrong (Astana), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Andreas Kloden (Astana) and Maxime Bouet (Agritubel) at 1.59

(VN)4:34
CPelkey:

# 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
4:34
EuroHoody: Great ride by Armstrong - keeps podium spot - not bad for a guy pushing 38!
4:35
# CPelkey: 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
# 8. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:56
# 9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:58
# 10. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:03
4:35
EuroHoody: Garate's win saves a disastrous Tour for Rabobank
4:36
EuroHoody: Wiggins keeps 4th by 3sec
4:37
# CPelkey: 1. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank, 167km in 4:39:21
# 2. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc, at 0:03
# 3. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:38
# 4. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:38
# 5. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:41
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
# 7. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:46
# 8. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:56
# 9. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:58
# 10. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:03
# 11. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence - Lotto at 01:39
# 12. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 01:42
# 13. Christophe Riblon Ag2r La Mondiale at 01:47
# 14. Joost Posthuma Rabobank at 01:56
# 15. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 02:26
# 16. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 02:34
# 17. Maxime Bouet Agritubel at 02:42
# 18. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 02:44
4:39
CPelkey: Well here's a look at the GC picture after this tough, tough stage:

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 3295.5km in 81:46:17
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 4:11
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 05:24
# 4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 06:01
# 5. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 06:04
# 6. Andréas Kloden Astana at 06:42
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 07:35
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 12:04
# 9. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 14:16
# 10. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 14:25
# 11. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 14:44

4:41
CPelkey: Well, we usually reserve that one for the end of an escape attempt, but as far as the GC picture is concerned, this Tour is over. All that's left is the parade into Paris.
END OF UPDATES


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Friday, July 24, 2009

TDF Stage 19 - Transition To The Final Mountain Showdown

Fans wait for the riders behind a banner reading 'Long Life the Tour 2009' on July 24, 2009 in Bourgoin-Jallieu before the start of the 195 km and nineteenth stage of the 2009 Tour de France cycling race run between Bourgoin-Jallieu and Aubenas. Image Credit: Getty via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 19 - Transition To The Final Mountain Showdown

Stage 19 Profile - Image Credit: VeloNews

PROFILE Stage 19:
The road tips up within a few kilometers begining with a climb up the Category 4 Côte de Culin, a 2.6km climb that averages 5.6 percent and summits at 6.5km.

Next on the road comes the Category 4 Côte de la forêt de Chambaran, a 3.1km climb with an average grade of 6.4 percent that summits at the 40.5km mark.

After cresting an unranked climb at 52km, the peloton will cover some fairly moderate terrain until reaching the 148km mark. At that point, the road tips up for the Category 2 Col de l'Escrinet, a 14km climb that averages just 4.1 percent and summits at 162km. Given that the top of the climb is just 16km from the finish line, the climb may be a perfect spring board for a late attack, so riders hoping for a stage win – or even those hoping to preserve a spot on GC – will have to remain attentive.

Stage 19 Route Map - Image Credit: VeloNews

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

3:43
CPelkey: The five up front are 45km from the finish, with 1:28 on the main field.

The rest of the original break is back in the peloton.
3:44
BonnieFord: This looked like a slam-dunk breakaway stage on the profile and I think it still still be given the Cat 2 near the end.

Crowd gathered at the Team Astana bus just before Stage 19. Image Credit: Neal Rogers/VeloNews

3:44
[Comment From Scott from Amish-ville ]
For Bonnie or Charles... Any word on teammates for Lance on RadioShack?
3:45
CPelkey: I don't believe that aside from Armstrong, there have been formal announcements on that front... lots of speculation though.
3:46
CPelkey: Our leaders are 42.5km from the finish. The Rabobank team is still doing the work and the gap is down to 58 seconds.
3:46
BonnieFord: Watch closely for pens and paper exchanging hands in the peloton today. I'm sure TRS didn't go into this with a blank chalkboard.
3:50
CPelkey: With 41km remaining in today's stage, the five escapees are just 50 seconds ahead of the peloton. Rabobank is still chasing ... frustrated, no doubt, by the fact that this stage would certainly have suited a rider like Juan Antonio Flecha. Rabobank has not had a good Tour ... and poor Menchov has especially suffered.
3:51
CPelkey: Actually, the latest time check puts our escapees just 18 seconds ahead of the field, with 39km to go.

The Schleck brothers just before the beginning of Stage 19. Image Credit: Neal Rogers/VeloNews

3:51
CPelkey: The universal sign of surrender - the glance over the shoulder. It's almost over.
3:53
BonnieFord: Well, I said it would be a breakaway, maybe just not THIS group...
3:53
CPelkey: Duque nails the sprint ... which means there will not be another sprint out of the field for those six points.
3:54
CPelkey: Duque is trying to stay away, but I wouldn't bet my wine budget on his chances.
3:54
CPelkey: The other four are now back in the field, with 36km to go.
3:56
CPelkey: Rabobank and the Liquigas teams are massed at the front. Duque is 16 seconds up the road.
3:57
CPelkey: Brave soldier that he is, Duque is not giving up. He's 34km from the finish and still has a 12-second lead.

Tour de France merchandise at the start of Stage 19. Image Credit: Neal Rogers/VeloNews

3:58
BonnieFord: Rumors spreading in Aussie press that Cadel Evans might jump to TRS. My Belgian friends in the press peloton are skeptical.
4:00
CPelkey: Even if he holds off the peloton for a while, it's quite likely that Duque will be snagged on the climb. He's a good sprinter, but he's one Colombian who is not known for his climbing prowess.
4:02
CPelkey:

Time for your close-up Mr. Duque .... here comes the peloton.

4:02

4:04
CPelkey: Well, this could be interesting.
Columbia has riders moving up. It's the sort of climb that Milan-San Remo winner Mark Cavendish can easily handle. We'll see.
4:05
BonnieFord: Evans/TRS seems like an odd fit to me... but then again, it hasn't been all wine and roses at Silence-Lotto (where he is, technically, under contract for next year). Thoughts from the VN faithful?
4:05
CPelkey: Up ahead, the Category 2 Col de l'Escrinet, a 14km climb that averages just 4.1 percent and summits at 162km, just 16km from the finish line.
4:06
[Comment From Ray from Texas ]
Does TRS mean Team Radio Shack?
4:07
CPelkey: It's a workable acronymn, but it's also an allusion to the old TRS80 reporters of my generation knew many years ago ... but Bonnie is so much younger than I am, I am surprised she knows about that one.
4:09
CPelkey: Mmmm Pellizotti has been dropped.
4:10
BonnieFord: Two weeks younger, to be exact!
4:11
[Comment From Inspector Renault ]
Cuddles will join TRS right after David Walsh signs on as PR chief, with Greg LeMond as assistant DS.
4:11
CPelkey: Well, there's a thought. Thank you for that thought, inspector.
4:12
CPelkey: We're seeing action at the front. BBox's Lefevre is trying to scamper off the front.
4:12
CPelkey: With 25km to go in the race, Lefevre has 10 seconds and nine km of climbing left.
4:13
CPelkey: The slope isn't bad. It averages just 4.1 percent.
4:15
BonnieFord: Just got asked to predict top three for tomorrow. I waffled extensively.
4:16
CPelkey: Lefevre is holding on to a small lead. It's doubtful that he'll stay away.

Off the back of the field, there is a gruppetto forming up, but it looks like Cavendish and Hushovd are still in the peloton.
4:18
CPelkey: Lefevre is 22km from the finish. He is just seven seconds ahead of the peloton.
4:18
BonnieFord: It's been a Tour where "predictable" stages haven't played out predictably, that's for sure.
4:19
CPelkey: Well, Bonnie, let's see if our readers are willing to pick a winner for tomorrow.
4:19
4:20
[Comment From Fritz Belly ]
Gruppetto on a flat stage? I think it's just a lazy echelon
4:21
CPelkey: Ya know, Fritz, I've been sittin' on my ass for three weeks, so I am not gonna call anyone out there "lazy."
4:22
CPelkey: 20.5km to go and Lefevre is still seven seconds ahead of the peloton. Remember this climb summits with 16km to go. The finish is a tad on the dicey side, not one particularly designed for a field sprint, I'd say.
4:23
CPelkey:

Lefevre has company... With Ballan, the world champion, is up there with Lefevre, with 20km to go.
4:24
CPelkey: The move gave Lefevre a bit of a rainbow boost. The two are now 16 seconds ahead of the field.
4:24
CPelkey: With 19km to go, Ballan and Lefevre are 19 seconds ahead.
4:25
CPelkey: Rabobank is setting tempo in the field. Freire is in there, and he has to be a favorite for a win, if the get the two escapees, who are still 19 seconds up the road.
4:26
BonnieFord: The skies just opened here at the finish. We're glad about that, but I'm not sure the riders will be.
4:27
CPelkey: With 17km to go, the leaders are on the final kilometer of the climb. Big crowds.

The gap is now 13 seconds.
4:28
CPelkey: As a reminder, folks, the two green jersey contenders are in the mix in the peloton.

Cav' and Hushovd are in there. There are 35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points available to the first 25 finishers.
4:29
CPelkey: Ballan hits the top of the climb first, with Lefevre on his wheel. The peloton - led by Egoi Martinez - are over at 13 seconds.
4:29
CPelkey: Luis Leon Sanchez is trying to move out of the field.
4:31
CPelkey: Sanchez is driving hard on the descent, but not making a lot of progress.

Up front, our two leaders are just 10 seconds ahead of the field, with 14.5km to go.
4:33
CPelkey: The two leaders are not very far ahead of the main field. .... 13km to go.
4:34
CPelkey: With 12km to go, the gap is 10 seconds. Sanchez is back in the field.

Columbia is driving the chase.
4:35
CPelkey: Less than 10km to go, the gap is holding at 10 seconds.
4:36
CPelkey: Bumped up... 15 seconds with 8.5km to go, the slope is easing off a bit.
4:36
CPelkey: Hincapie is doing a lot of work in the field. Not bad for a guy who has buggered up his clavicle.

4:37
CPelkey: You can see some of the streets are on the narrow side.
4:37
CPelkey: With 6.5km, the gap is 11 seconds.
4:37
BonnieFord: Folks, thanks for letting me sit in -- think I'm going to focus on the action now...
4:38
CPelkey: Take care, Ms. Ford. You're always welcome here... we can always have Paris.
4:39
CPelkey: With 5km to go, the gap is still down to 9 seconds.
4:39
[Comment From patrick from az ]
how'd she figure out the radio shack thing?
4:39
CPelkey: She's smarter than the rest of us.
4:40
CPelkey: The roads are a bit damp with 4km to go. The gap is 8 seconds.
4:41
CPelkey: With 3km to go, the gap is five seconds.
4:41
CPelkey: On the twisty bits, the two leaders are now four seconds.
4:42
CPelkey: 2.3km to go, and it's five seconds.
4:42
CPelkey: 2km to go. It's close...
4:43
CPelkey: Hincapie driving hard....
4:43
CPelkey: Ballan is charging... but.... it's just one second.
4:43
CPelkey: Catch

4:43

4:43
CPelkey: 1.2km to go.
4:43
CPelkey: 1km to go
4:44
CPelkey: Columbia is at the front. We see Cav' and Hushovd, Friere and Farrar.
4:44
CPelkey:

A bit of a hill...
4:44
CPelkey: Cavendish goes

From left: Hushovd, Cavendish and Milram's Gerald Ciolek battle in the final sprint. Ciolek wound up third. Image Credit: Getty via Universal Sports

4:45
CPelkey: And he nails it.
4:45
CPelkey: Cavendish.... and a drag race against Hushovd. Cavendish gets it.

Cav' gets his fifth stage win of this Tour ... his ninth TdF stage win. Wow.
4:46
CPelkey: Hushovd did get second.
4:47
CPelkey: So, the points race looks like Hushovd has 260, to Cavendish's 235.
4:50
CPelkey: Provisional top 20:

# 1. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc, 3:50:35
# 2. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team, same time
# 3. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram at 00:00
# 4. Greg Van Avermaet Silence - Lotto at s.t.
# 5. Oscar Freire Rabobank at s.t.
# 6. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step at s.t.
# 7. Fumiyuki Beppu Skil-Shimano at s.t.
# 8. Nicolas Roche Ag2r La Mondiale at s.t.
# 9. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at s.t.
# 10. Martijn Maaskant Garmin - Slipstream at s.t.
# 11. Geoffroy Lequatre Agritubel at s.t.
# 12. Lance Armstrong Astana at s.t.
# 13. Serguei Ivanov Team Katusha at 00:04
# 14. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:04
# 15. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:04
# 16. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:04
# 17. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 00:04
# 18. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 00:04
# 19. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:04
# 20. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:04
4:52
CPelkey: Top 10 Overall, after stage 19

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 77:06:18
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 4:11
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 05:21
# 4. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 05:36
# 5. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 05:38
# 6. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 05:59
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 07:15
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 10:08
# 9. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 12:37
# 10. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 12:38

5:01
CPelkey: Well that was interesting. Cavendish now holds the record for most stage wins by a British rider. Nice work.

Many have noticed the little four-second gap in the final result. Indeed, that did result in some of the GC riders losing a bit of time at the finish. Of course, four seconds aren't going to make a lot of difference on that little climb at the finish of tomorrow's stage.

It's a five-climb stage tomorrow, but the one that will really matter is the Mont Ventoux, a 21.1 km climb that averages 7.6 percent. Ouch.
END OF UPDATES

So, the final challenge to settle the podium lies before us on Stage 20 tomorrow. Will Lance Armstrong and Team Astana be able to thwart attempts by the American team, Team Garmin-Slipstream to place their British rider, Bradley Wiggins ahead of Lance at third place? Will Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank falter from his second place overall at 1:10 seconds ahead of Lance, opening up a shuffle at the top? ... doubtful!

The drama continues tomorrow before the "parade lap" into Paris on Sunday.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

TDF Stage 18 - "ITT" Around Lake Annecy For A Podium

Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara, winner of the Stage 1 time trial, rides near the shore of Lake Annecy [ctrl-click to launch VeloNews stage wrap-up video]. Image Credit: Reuters via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 18 - "ITT" Around Lake Annecy For A Podium

This is the day that the podium for the Tour de France may just be decided. At the top of the General Classification after seventeen days of bicycle racing, several riders have a chance at securing their position for their ride into Paris and the loops around the Champs-Elysées.

Stage 18 Route Map [ctrl-click to launch "map my ride" map] - Image Credit: Universal Sports

Today’s stage covers a relatively flat route, with the sole exception being the Category 3 Côte de Bluffy, a 3.7 km climb with an average grade of 6 percent. The climb begins at the 24.8km mark and summits at 28.5km. The Côte de Bluffy climbs 211 meters over that 3.7km, with the summit of the climb reaching an altitude of 734m above sea level.

Stage 18 Profile - Image Credit: Universal Sports

After that, the closing 12km is mostly downhill back to Annecy and may prove to be quite fast.

Overall standings after stage 17:

1. Alberto Contador (Sp), Astana 2910km in 72:27:09
2. Andy Schleck (Lux), Saxo Bank, at 2:26
3. Frank Schleck (Lux), Saxo Bank at 03:25
4. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana at 03:55
5. Andréas Klöden (G), Astana at 04:44
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Garmin - Slipstream at 04:53
7. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas at 05:09
8. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin - Slipstream at 08:08
9. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Francaise Des Jeux at 09:19
10. Mikel Astarloza (Sp), Euskaltel - Euskadi at 10:50

Garmin-Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters today had some interesting picks for the top-three.

1. Cancellara
2. Contador :02
3. Wiggins :56

At the time of this posting, just before Lance Armstrong was to take the course, the situation is as follows:

# 1. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank in 00:48:34
# 2. Mikhail Ignatiev Team Katusha in 00:48:46
# 3. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank in 00:49:03
# 4. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream in 00:49:11
# 5. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne in 00:49:14
# 6. Christophe Moreau Agritubel in 00:49:16
# 7. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream in 00:49:32
# 8. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc in 00:49:35
# 9. Cadel Evans Silence - Lotto in 00:49:45
# 10. Stef Clement Rabobank in 00:50:08

Russian cycling team Team Katusha (KAT)'s Mikhail Ignatiev of Russia sprints on July 23, 2009 at the end of the 40,5 km individual time-trial and eighteenth stage of the 2009 Tour de France cycling race run around Annecy. Ignatiev clocked in 00:48:46. Image Credit: Getty via Universal Sports

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

4:36
CPelkey: Andréas Klöden is on the route.

Up next:
155. Lance Armstrong, starts at 4:38 p.m.
156. Frank Schleck, starts at 4:41 p.m.
157. Andy Schleck, starts at 4:44 p.m.
158. Alberto Contador, starts at 4:47 p.m.

4:36
CPelkey:
Rogers after the stage: "It wasn't too bad. I went out at 85 per cent and saw I wasn't
too bad at the first time check. I didn't go full gas but it wasn't a bad ride. I caught my two-minute man (Nicolai Trussov) on the climb."
4:37
CPelkey: Armstrong is in the start house. The two Schleck brothers are up next.
4:37
CPelkey: The wind isn't that strong out there, so every rider we've seen has opted for a disc wheel.
4:39
CPelkey: Cancellara after his race: "I went full gas on the entire course. The cllmb will be the key difference, so why not win another stage? We're happy about how this Tour has gone, and now the Schlecks have a chance for the podium. We started with nine and we will finish with nine in Paris. Kurt and Jens are in our thoughts."
4:41
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is in the start house.
4:41
CPelkey: On the road. Schleck said he doesn't expect to gain time today.

"I know we will lose some time in the time trial, but I think we can take it all back on Ventoux."
4:42
CPelkey: Man, Wiggins is flyin' out there. We'll see in about 10 minutes just how fast when he hits the time check.
4:43
CPelkey: Contador head-to-toe in yellow, but riding on a white Trek frame ... Armstrong is on a yellow bike, though.
4:43
CPelkey: Andrew Hood was at the finish, trying to get some interviews. Well, Cadel Evans didn't speak with reporters after the stage. He's not been happy with his Tour this year.
4:44
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is in the start house. He's a better time trialist than his brother.
4:45
CPelkey: Contador is in the start house. This could be interesting.
4:47
CPelkey: Contador is in the start house.
4:47
CPelkey: And he's off!
4:47
CPelkey: 61st for Brice Feillu - he had an outstanding Tour debut

Contador has withstood tremendous stress during this Tour - he just crossed himself to get the official blessing.
----
4:48
CPelkey: There is no rain at this point and the wind is calm.
4:50
CPelkey: Christian Vande Velde has ridden through time check No. 1 in 20:57, 10th fastest ... thus far.
4:52
CPelkey: By the way, word has it that the new Armstrong deal will be announced at 6pm. Lots of rumors, but nothing confirmed. We're gonna bet on Radio Shack ... but do recall that I am the same guy who said Hushovd might make top-ten today, so value that for what it's worth.
4:52
CPelkey: Defending champion Sastre is 2:17 off the pace at the second time check at 28.5km - he didn't have the defense that he was hoping for. Sastre now promises to win at Mont Ventoux, for a cancer charity (not Armstrong's).
4:52
CPelkey: Nibali is 50sec off the pace at first time check
4:52
CPelkey: Wiggins will hit the time check next.
4:53
CPelkey: Wiggins reaches time check number 1 with a time of 20:20... fastest time of the day.
4:53
CPelkey: Armstrong is narrowing in on Frank Schleck on GC virtuel - 4sec back
4:54
[Comment From Nico ]
If you get right your RadioShack prediction, i'll buy you a cup of McDonalds wine.
4:56
CPelkey: Armstrong is heading to the first time check. We should get a look in a bit.
4:57
CPelkey: Kloden, by the way, hit the time check with the third-best time so far, the same time as Cancellara, by the way.
4:59
CPelkey: Armstrong comes through the time check at 20:29, third best and nine seconds off of Wiggins time.
5:00
CPelkey: Relying on unofficial time checks, Armstrong has pulled even with FSchleck on GC virtuel.
5:01
[Comment From Joe ]
Do they change the time intervals from 2:00 to 3:00 at some point?
5:01
CPelkey: Yes, the gap that is extended to three minutes for the top 20 riders. Of course the thinking behind that is to minimize the possibility that a rider is caught and passed while on route. It is, of course, still a possibility in some cases.
5:02
CPelkey: Wiggins hit the second time check with the second best time trailing ignatiev's time by 10 seconds.
5:03
CPelkey: Le Mevel - best French rider - is 2:07 off the fastest time at 28.5km
5:03
CPelkey: That might cost him top 10 going into Ventoux
5:06
CPelkey: Frank Schleck has come through the time check with the 18th best time, at 44 seconds.

Andy has the 8th best.

Only Contador remains.
5:07
CPelkey: Contador has flown through the first time check with the fastest time so far.
5:08
CPelkey: Folks, Contador just hit that mark with a time of 20:02... 18 seconds faster than Wiggins' time.
5:09
CPelkey: Armstrong, meanwhile is coming up on the second time check.
5:09
CPelkey: Kloden has faded ... he's 11th at the second time check.
5:10
CPelkey: Armstrong hits the second time check with a time of 28:51, 11th best.
----
5:11
CPelkey: Final top-10 from Time Check No. 2:
# 1. Alberto Contador Astana 20:02
# 2. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream, at 0:18
# 3. Mikhail Ignatiev Team Katusha at 00:00:19
# 4. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:00:27
# 5. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:37
# 5. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:00:37
# 7. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:41
# 8. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:42
# 9. Bert Grabsch Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:44
# 9. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:44
# 9. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:44
# 9. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:44

5:13
CPelkey: Wiggins, by the way, has hit the third time check - the one at the top of the hill - with the best time of 37:20. Five seconds better than Ignatiev.
5:16
CPelkey: Armstrong hits the third time check in 38:02, 12th fastest, 42 seconds behind Wiggins' time.
5:17
CPelkey: Contador has hit the second time with the second best time. Did he start too fast?

5:19
CPelkey: Final top 20 at time Check No. 2
# 1. Mikhail Ignatiev Team Katusha, 28:22
# 2. Alberto Contador Astana, at 0:03
# 3. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:10
# 4. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:17
# 5. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne at 00:00:18
# 5. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:18
# 7. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:20
# 7. Bert Grabsch Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:20
# 7. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:20
# 10. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:25
# 11. Christophe Moreau Agritubel at 00:00:26
# 12. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:00:29
# 13. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:00:31
# 14. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:41
# 15. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia - Htc at 00:00:43
# 15. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 00:00:43
# 17. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step at 00:00:47
# 18. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:57
# 19. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:00:59
# 20. Michael Rogers Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:00

5:19
CPelkey: Wiggins hit the fourth time check 27 seconds off of Cancellara's time.
5:21
CPelkey: Wiggins is heading to the finish
5:21
CPelkey: He finishes with a time of 49:13
5:22
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is through the time check with the 14th best time. He's five seconds off of Armstrong's time.
5:23
[Comment From Chuck D ]
LA will finish strong. He normally starts slow and builds. Like Levi.
5:24
CPelkey: At the top of the hill at the third time check, Contador nails the best time by 30 seconds.
5:24
CPelkey: Kloden comes in with the 8th best time of the day.

Armstrong needs to come in a 50:11 to beat Bradley Wiggins!

5:25
CPelkey: Armstrong is heading toward the finish. He's lost about a minute on Wiggins so far.
5:27
CPelkey: 1km to go for Armstrong.

5:28
CPelkey: Armstrong finishes with a time of 50:00, 15th best at 1:26

Armstrong beats 50:11 so he is able to pass Bradley Wiggins to hold 3ird overall in the General Classification and has a shot at getting a place for a podium finish in Paris on Sunday.

5:32
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is coming into the finish. He's lost a lot of time. He's 33rd at 2:30 back.
5:32
CPelkey: That should knock Frank Schleck off of the podium.
5:33
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is in the final kilometer

Contador hit time check 45:07, fastest time, 15 seconds better than Cancellara.

5:36
CPelkey: Contador is coming in ... best time... by three seconds.
5:36
CPelkey: 4.18 seconds.

Alberto Contador retains the Yellow Jersey and wins the ITT by three seconds over Fabian Cancellara!

5:37
CPelkey: Final Top 50, Stage 18.

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana 40.5km in 48:31
# 2. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank, at 0:03
# 3. Mikhail Ignatiev Team Katusha at 00:00:15
# 4. Gustav Larsson Team Saxo Bank at 00:00:33
# 5. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:41
# 6. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:00:43
# 7. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne at 00:00:44
# 8. Christophe Moreau Agritubel at 00:00:45
# 9. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:00:54
# 10. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream at 00:01:02
# 11. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:04
# 12. Cadel Evans Silence - Lotto at 00:01:14
# 13. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:19
# 14. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step at 00:01:20
# 15. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 00:01:28
# 16. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:01:30
# 17. Stef Clement Rabobank at 00:01:37
# 18. Bert Grabsch Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:38
# 19. Michael Rogers Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:38
# 20. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 00:01:42
# 21. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:01:45
# 22. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:01:48
# 23. Marzio Bruseghin Lampre - N.g.c at 00:02:00
# 24. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 00:02:00
# 25. Joost Posthuma Rabobank at 00:02:05
# 26. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:02:06
# 27. Linus Gerdemann Team Milram at 00:02:11
# 28. Peter Velits Team Milram at 00:02:13
# 29. Niki Terpstra Team Milram at 00:02:14
# 30. Sebastian Lang Silence - Lotto at 00:02:17
# 31. Brian Vandborg Liquigas at 00:02:18
# 32. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence - Lotto at 00:02:26
# 33. Markus Fothen Team Milram at 00:02:32
# 34. George Hincapie Team Columbia - Htc at 00:02:34
# 35. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:02:34
# 36. Luis Pasamontes Caisse D’epargne at 00:02:36
# 37. Christophe Riblon Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:02:36
# 38. Stijn Devolder Quick Step at 00:02:37
# 39. Yaroslav Popovych Astana at 00:02:40
# 40. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux at 00:02:45
# 41. Ivan Gutierrez José Caisse D’epargne at 00:02:46
# 42. Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team at 00:02:50
# 43. Ryder Hesjedal Garmin - Slipstream at 00:02:51
# 44. Manuel Garate Juan Rabobank at 00:02:52
# 45. Laurent Lefevre Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:02:57
# 46. Martijn Maaskant Garmin - Slipstream at 00:03:00
# 47. Stéphane Auge Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at 00:03:03
# 48. Grischa Niermann Rabobank at 00:03:07
# 49. Sébastien Rosseler Quick Step at 00:03:09
# 50. Nicolas Roche Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:03:11

5:41
CPelkey: We're still doing GC calculations, but it will obviously be Contador on top, followed by Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong.

Stand by for the numbers.
5:43
[Comment From steve ]
espn.com says its team radioshack for Lance in 2010
5:47
CPelkey: Indeed folks, the time for speculation regarding the new mystery sponsor is almost over. Word is that Armstrong and Co. are going to be holding a press conference at 6:00 to unveil the big news.

Updated General Classification Top 10 Standings From VERSUS:

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Time Gap
1 021 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP AST 73:15:39 00:00:00
2 031 SCHLECK, Andy LUX SAX 73:19:50 00:04:11
3 022 ARMSTRONG, Lance USA AST 73:21:04 00:05:25
4 058 WIGGINS, Bradley GBR GRM 73:21:15 00:05:36
5 023 KLÖDEN, Andréas GER AST 73:21:17 00:05:38
6 036 SCHLECK, Frank LUX SAX 73:21:38 00:05:59
7 095 NIBALI, Vincenzo ITA LIQ 73:22:54 00:07:15
8 051 VANDE VELDE, Christian USA GRM 73:25:47 00:10:08
9 061 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 73:28:17 00:12:38
10 106 LE MEVEL, Christophe FRA FDJ 73:28:20 00:12:41
END OF UPDATES

Tomorrow - Stage 19 - The Tour heads south into the Dauphiné region of France with this hilly stage. Watch for the iconic sunflower photos to show up after this stage, as the Tour heads into warm and sunlit Provence. The race begins in Bourgoin-Jaillieu, passes over three categorized climbs, and finishes in Aubenas. The final climb, the category 2 Col de l’Escrinet, summits 16 kilometers from the finish, and offers an opportunity for an escape to survive to the finish. This stage should end in a breakaway victory, though a determined, or desperate, general classification rider could have a go on the final climb.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TDF Stage 17 - A Time To Climb For Astana & Saxo Bank

Team Astana rider and leader's yellow jersey Alberto Contador (L) of Spain cycles with teammate Lance Armstrong of the U.S. after the start of the 16th stage of the 96th Tour de France cycling race between Martigny and Bourg Saint Maurice, July 21, 2009. Image Credit: Reuters via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 17 - A Time To Climb For Astana & Saxo Bank

Stage 16 featured only two major climbs where as today there will be five climbs that will total over 12,000 feet if they were attached bottom to top to each other.

Stage 17 starts with the day's first climb and all of the peaks to be conquered as follows:

* The Category 1 Cormet de Roselend, an 18.1 km climb, which averages 5.7 percent and summits at km 18.1
* The Category 1 Col des Saisies, a 15.1 km climb, which averages 6 percent and summits at km 56.0
* The Category 2 Côte d'Araches, a 6.3 km climb, which averages 7 percent and summits at km 111.5
* The Category 1 Col de Romme, an 8.8 km climb, which averages 8.9 percent and summits at 140.5
* The Category 1 Col de la Colombière, a 7.5 km climb, which averages 8.5 percent and summits at km 154.5

The last climb, a category 1 named the Col de la Colombiere, has never been used in any Tour de France and may be where the team strategies will come together to try and break up the core of the peloton and attempt to change the order of the General Classification.

Yesterday saw no major changes at the top of the General Classification but all of those people who were ardent fans of Team Astana and Lance Armstrong were not disappointed in events that have led up to today.

On the second of two climbs on the day, the leaders split the peloton and were able to seperate Lance from the main group, at one point by as much as 35 seconds.

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

Stage 16:
The road takes a serious turn upward with the hors catégorie Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, a 24.4km climb that averages 6.2 percent and summits at 40.5km.

The race spends about 87km in Italy, before returning to France for the remainder of the Tour. The route leaves Italy at the top of the Category 1 Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard, a 22.6km climb that averages 5.1 percent and summits at 128km.
----
4:11
CPelkey: Back in the peloton, the Saxo Bank team is putting two riders up front.
----
4:14
CPelkey: Our leaders are now 44km from the finish.
4:16
CPelkey: Astana is again at the front of the peloton. The pace has ramped up and riders are being spit off the back again. The most notable victim is Giro winner Denis Menchov.
4:17
CPelkey: We have a group of five riders who have eased off the front of the lead group.

They include Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Jurgen van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox) and .... awww never mind. They're back together.
4:18
CPelkey: Our leaders are now about 10.5km from the summit.

We may soon see things hot up back in the peloton.
4:22
CPelkey:

Saxo Bank has two riders at the front... the pace is such that the "peloton" is down to about 17 riders.
4:24
CPelkey:

One of the Saxos has blown. The remaining Saxo Bank rider at the front is trailed by three Astana riders and Contador. Andy Schleck is on his wheel.
----
4:32
CPelkey: Bang! Andy Schleck attacks
4:32
CPelkey: Frank Schleck, Nibali, Contador, Wiggins .... very small group there.
4:32
CPelkey: Armstrong is not in there.
4:33
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is setting tempo. Kloden is the only Astana in this group, other than Contador.
4:34
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is pouring it on. Contador is on his wheel. Wiggins is behind him.
4:35
CPelkey: The Armstrong group is about 35 seconds behind.
4:35
CPelkey: That Armstrong group includes Sastre, Vande Velde and Evans.
----
4:37
CPelkey: Back in the Schleck/Contador group, we have both Schlecks, Wiggins, Nibali, Contador and Kloden.
4:37
CPelkey: The final 5km of this climb are the hardest part of the col, so no surprise to see the Schlecks throw down here.
----
4:38
CPelkey: Now Armstrong has attacked out of the group he was in.
4:38
CPelkey: He only has Columbia's Kim Kirchen with him.
4:39
CPelkey: Armstrong is now joined by Vande Velde as Kirchen fades.
----
4:40
CPelkey: Armstrong is back on his own. He's caught and passed Frank Schleck who got dropped by the yellow jersey group.

4:42
CPelkey: Oohhh-la-la-la! screams the French announcer as Armstrong rejoins the Contador group
----
4:44
CPelkey: Armstrong is with the yellow jersey group. Other riders have joined.

Interestingly, that group is now being led by Jens Voigt.
4:44
CPelkey:

It's a tough descent. It's quite technical. Fortunately despite the clouds, it's not raining.
----
4:46
CPelkey: Voigt is still setting tempo in the Contador group. Hard as he's working, they are about to be joined by Sastre and a few others... including Vande Velde.
4:47
CPelkey:

Contador group is over the top, at 2:12.
----
4:50
CPelkey: Well, the hardest working man of the day has to be Jens Voigt. He busted his ... uhhh... tail ... in the break all day and then dropped back to set tempo for his teammates on the toughest part of the climb. He now has a chance to catch his breath and refuel a bit.
4:52
CPelkey: It's impressive. Wiggins is with that Contador group. Who'da thunk it two weeks ago.
4:53
CPelkey: Voigt has crashed.
4:54
CPelkey: Man, that looked like it hurt. He hit a bump.... a transition of pavement it looks like. He hit the deck hard.
----
4:57
CPelkey: Frank Schleck has regained contact with the Contador group.
====
5:00
CPelkey: The yellow jersey group is growing as the big GC men are showing a bit of restraint on the descent. That's understandable.
----
5:18
CPelkey: The yellow jersey group does include Sastre and they finish at about 1:00.
5:19
CPelkey: Evans, by the way, is still out on the road. He's probably lost 3:00 again today.
5:20
CPelkey: Word from the road is that Voigt may have broken his collarbone. We hope that's the extent of it. That crash was fugly.
5:21
CPelkey: Evans comes it with a group that finished at 3:55.
----
5:25
CPelkey: Preliminary stage results:
# 1. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskad, 159km in 4:14:20
# 2. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux, at 0:06
# 3. Pierrick Fedrigo Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:06
# 4. Nicolas Roche Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:06
# 5. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence - Lotto at 00:06
# 6. Amaël Moinard Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at 00:06
# 7. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:11
# 8. Stephane Goubert Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:11
# 9. Christophe Moreau Agritubel at 00:59
# 10. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:59
# 11. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:59
# 12. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:59
# 13. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:59
# 14. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:59
# 15. Rigoberto Uran Caisse D’epargne at 00:59
# 16. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 00:59
# 17. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 00:59
# 18. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:59
# 19. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:59
# 20. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:59
# 21. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 00:59
# 22. Laurent Lefevre Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:59
# 23. Yury Trofimov Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:59
# 24. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 00:59
# 25. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 00:59
# 26. Igor Anton Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:59
# 27. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream at 01:14

5:26
CPelkey: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 67:33:15
# 2. Lance Armstrong Astana, at 1:37
# 3. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:46
# 4. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 02:17
# 5. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 02:26
# 6. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 02:51
# 7. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 03:09
# 8. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 03:25
# 9. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 03:52
# 10. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 03:59
# 11. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 04:38
# 12. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 04:40
# 13. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 05:05
# 14. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r La Mondiale at 05:26
# 15. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux at 05:40
# 16. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 05:56
END OF STAGE 16 UPDATE

For those of you following yesterday's coverage, there was a frightening crash with Jens Voigt at the top of the day's final descent. The Saxo Bank rider lost control of his bike (most likely after hitting a bump) and was hurled to the ground, sliding along on his face. Fortunately it looked a little worse than it turned out; Jens fractured the bone below his eye and suffered cuts to his face and right side, but is expected to make a full recovery. We wish him the best.

Stage 17 Route Map - Image Credit: VeloNews

The 17th stage of the 96th edition of the Tour de France, is a 169.5-kilometer race from Bourg Saint Maurice to Le Grand Bornand.

The last day in the mountains in the Tour de France is always dubbed the Queen's Stage and the five peak run short in distance but savage in effort. There are four category one climbs and one cat two ascent creating a crocodile teeth parcours, and certain to cause shakeups in the general classification.

We pick up the action in the stage with a little less than 80km and three climbs to go. Up ahead are The Category 2 Côte d'Araches, the Category 1 Col de Romme, and the Category 1 Col de la Colombière which may prove to be the back breaker if team strategies pay off.

Today's weather may present a problem. The forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain throughout the day. It's partly cloudy, with temperatures around 22°C (72°F). The winds are gusting up to 38kph at points, but they're not that high at the start. It's a potentially rough day in that one may expect more crashes due to slick conditions.

Stage 17 Profile - Image Credit: Universal Sports

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews(VN), CyclingNews(CN), VERSUS(VS), and various resources -

(CN) 1.
14:45 CEST - Hushovd now takes maxiumum points at that intermediate sprint. He's 5'27 ahead of the bunch, and doesn't appear under any pressure. He'll push onwards, grab some scoff in the feed zone and then aim to get over the next climb and take the points in the valley.

Hushovd gestures to the TV cameras, holding the green jersey and appearing to say 'this is mine'. He may well be aiming to build a substantial points lead before Paris, so nobody can say Cavendish' disqualification won him the competition.
2.
14:49 CEST - Sandy Casar started today 5'40" back, so that's quite possibly one reason why Saxo Bank are riding. That, and putting Astana under pressure.

The group is 1'31" back from Hushovd, while the peloton is 5'42" behind.

Hushovd really is going well in this Tour; there's not many sprinters who would attack on a mountain stage, let alone one as tough as this...
3.
15:00 CEST (86.5km remaining from 169.5km) - Woah! Hushovd overcooked a bend and nearly did a Frank Schleck Tour de Suisse 2008 - one more second and he'd have been up and over the barricade. He locked it up, went into the grass and quickly got back onto the road without too much delay. Then, he made a gesture as if to say it was no big thing!
4.
15:04 CEST - The Tour de France is certainly far from over, and there is no guarantee that Contador will keep this yellow jersey today or even on Sunday in Paris. Saxo Bank appears to be intent on doing something today, and are controlling the front of the peloton with Cancellara and O'Grady.

Up front, Hushovd is hurtling down the descent like a madman hoping to stay clear for the second sprint bonus of the day. We will dare to say the chasers behind won't be too concerned to catch him.
5.
15:05 CEST - Crash! That same corner where Hushovd nearly went off road claimed a few riders from the chase group. Txurruka went down, but is getting a new bike. Looked as if Menchov hit the deck, too.
6.
15:06 CEST - The directors in the team cars will be aware of the wrecks ahead and will be telling their riders to be careful on that bend. Fortunately, the apex of the turn has an earthen berm which would stop any rider from plummeting down into the valley below.
---------
Situation:

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo Test Team)

Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Ruben Perez, Egoi Martinez, Amets Txurruka, Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi), Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Remi Pauriol and Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Maxime Monfort (Columbia HTC), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre NGC), Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r La Mondiale), George Hincapie (Columbia HTC), Linus Gerdeman (Milram) at 1.05

Peloton at 5.01.
----
(VN)3:04
CPelkey:

Txurruka and Menchov decked it on the same turn.
3:05
CPelkey: Part of the problem is that the road is wet.
3:06
CPelkey: Menchov is up. He's fine. Txurruka had to get a new bike. He's back on the road.
3:07
CPelkey: Menchov has crashed again.

Coming through town he hit a white line on the road and fell.
3:07
CPelkey: He's back up.

3:08

3:09
CPelkey: That's the feedzone, which is coming up in a few kilometers.
3:10
CPelkey: With all of the road problems in the break, Hushovd has extended his lead to 2:00 over the bulk of the break, which now includes 19 riders. Menchov and Txurruka are chasing back on.
3:11
CPelkey: The peloton is chasing at 5:35.

Hushovd is now 75km from the finish. As a reminder, now that we're past the halfway mark, we'll start listing distances in kilometers-to-go.
3:12
[Comment From John Puziss ]
Why is Pellizotti letting hushovd getting 1st in KOM points on these Cols?
3:12
CPelkey: Because it has no real impact on the KOM contest.
3:13
[Comment From tonym ]
What's up with this white line. Seems causing a lot of problems.
3:14
CPelkey: It's the reflective paint used on roads to mark crosswalks and lane dividers. The stuff is slicker than sn... errrr... it's rather slippery during and after rain storms.
3:15
CPelkey: The men in the break are going through the feed zone.
3:16
3:21
CPelkey: Time for a time check:
With 65km remaining, Hushovd is now 2:13 ahead of the rest of the break.

The peloton is at 6:01.
----
3:31
CPelkey: The peloton is on the Côte d'Araches. Hushovd is still 1:50 ahead of the rest of the break and 4:56 ahead of the peloton.

The rain has stopped and the sun is out.
3:32
CPelkey: The tempo in the peloton is such that Evans is still trailing.
3:33
CPelkey: The sky is blue. It's nice out there.
3:34
CPelkey: Astana is now setting tempo at the front. Paulinho and Zubeldia are doing the bulk of the work now.
3:37
CPelkey: Hushovd is 1km from the summit.
3:40
CPelkey: Up-and-over. Thor Hushovd crests the Côte d'Araches. Big crowds, too.
3:41
CPelkey: Pellizotti grabs the second points atop the climb. He crests at 1:09
----
(CN) 1.
16:02 CEST (40.7km remaining from 169.5km) - Hushovd doesn't seem interested at all in trying to tackle the final climbs at his previous pace. He's soft pedaling, letting the group come up to him. He's only 27 seconds ahead now.
2.
16:05 CEST (39km remaining from 169.5km) - The French president, Nikolas Sarkozy is in the race caravan today. He'll be surely treated to the best the Tour de France has to offer on the climbs up ahead. The Romme and Colombiere will be the site of a huge battle for the GC between Astana, Saxo Bank and the Garmin-Slipstream boys.

Hushovd has been caught by a rider who took a flier from the groupu. It's Carlos Barredo of Quick Step. He comes by Hushovd and taps him on his mighty hip to tell him to get on the wheel. The size difference between these two riders is striking - and kind of funny, too.
3.
16:07 CEST - Hushovd doesn't want to have anything to do with Barredo's pace. He sits up, the Spaniard goes on and maintains his gap over the big chase group. The bunch behind is closing in quickly - just 1'34 now.
4.
16:07 CEST - Attack! Carlos Sastre has gone on the base of the Romme, he's marked by an Agritubel rider.
5.
16:08 CEST - Sastre is pedaling an angry pace, fueled by the snub of the press and the ASO which did not give the defending champion his proper due in the race programme. Saxo Bank is still at the front setting pace - no counters yet.
6.
16:10 CEST - The Saxo Bank chase is not letting Sastre get any distance. They're closing in, and catching remnants of the breakaway. Sastre isn't giving up yet though!
----
1.
16:11 CEST - Hushovd is gritting his teeth as he's passed by the very determined Carlos Sasttre. Hushovd goes backward quickly as the attacks begin to fly.
2.
16:13 CEST - Hmm...it looks like Andy Schleck has been dropped...let's confirm that... looked like the white jersey was back there..
3.
16:13 CEST - The riders' faces are raw emotion now - Sastre huffing and puffing with his face a smiling grimace, the faces behind him are determined, strained. All of these expressions will be captured in our wonderful photo galleries. You can see some examples here.
4.
16:14 CEST - Sastre goes again...he's with Voeckler now... Sastre is giving his all. He's not getting far, though..
5.
16:15 CEST - Correction - Frank and Andy Schleck are still here, along with Armstrong, Contador, Wiggins, Vande Velde and Kloden. They've caught Sastre.
6.
16:17 CEST - Sastre is being dropped and is wtih Pellizotti. Frank Schleck attacked and Armstrong went him; then Andy went, and was covered by Contador. Armstrong was dropped momentarily but got back on, as did Wiggins.
----
1.
16:17 CEST - Van den Broeck is ahead, alone, but the others are coming up to him. They are just 17" back.
2.
16:19 CEST - Most of the break has been caught. Frank Schleck leads behind, with Contador on his wheel. Andy was suffering, but had a break. Now he goes! Contador covers it, but the others have been dropped. Kloden gets up to them. Three together...
3.
16:19 CEST (34km remaining from 169.5km) - Andy Schleck attacks again. Contador jumps on his wheel as does Kloden.
4.
16:19 CEST - Armstrong is back with Wiggins, then Frank Schleck went. Wiggins couldn't respond...
5.
16:20 CEST - Frank Schleck goes now. Wiggins looks to be marking Armstrong.
6.
16:21 CEST - The yellow jersey group now numbers five riders: Contador, Kloden, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck and Van Den Broek
----
1.
16:21 CEST - Wiggins is now leading the chase, with Armstrong on his wheel. Up front, Andy Schleck stalled to get his brother back on. He's riding again now, with Frank, Contador, Kloden, Van Den Broeck also there.

Behind, Wiggins has been joined by Vande Velde, so that will help him.
2.
16:22 CEST - Van Den Broeck has been dropped...four up front... Wiggins, Vande Velde, Armstrong, Rigoberto Uran and Nibali are about ten seconds back.
3.
16:23 CEST - Wiggins and Armstrong have slipped back to a group with Nibali, Uran. Now Zabriskie and Vande Velde have joined to help Wiggins pull back the gap, it looks about 9 seconds at the moment.
4.
16:23 CEST - KOM Pellizotti has dropped off the Sastre, Barredo group
5.
16:24 CEST - Kloden is grimacing...Frank looks strong, Andy under pressure. They need to keep going...even if they haven't distanced Contador and Kloden, they are putting time into the others. The Armstrong/Wiggins group is 25" back.
6.
16:24 CEST - Uran has now dropped out of the Armstrong/Wiggins group
----
(VN)4:22
CPelkey: The gap back to the Wiggins/Armstrong group is about 16 seconds.

4:23
CPelkey: That's the last 1km of the climb.
4:25
CPelkey: Wiggins has Vande Velde setting temp for him.

The two Schleck brothers are now setting tempo in the group of four that includes Kloden and Contador.
4:27
CPelkey: The Wiggins group is now at 45 seconds.
4:28
CPelkey: Va den Broeck is back riding with the Armstrong/Wiggins group.
4:29
CPelkey: So the stage is being led by the Gang of Four: Schleck, Schleck, Contador and Kloden.
4:31
CPelkey: Armstrong has charged out of the group and he's towing Wiggins back up. Mmmmm... an unusual strategy.
4:32
CPelkey: There... he's settled back and Wiggns is now setting tempo.
4:33
CPelkey: The Schleck brothers lead the way over the top of the climb. Let's get some time check. We have 29 tough kilometers to go.
4:34
CPelkey: Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Contador and Kloden ... in that order.
4:34
CPelkey: Vande Velde and Nibali have rejoined Armstrong and Wiggins. Still climbing
4:35
CPelkey: They crest the climb at 1:00
4:36
CPelkey: Up next is the Col de la Colombière, a 7.5 km climb, which averages 8.5 percent and summits 15km from the finish.
----
(CN)1.
16:38 CEST - The four are descending now... Kloden nearly hits Frank Schleck's wheel... He stays upright.

Sastre stops with a puncture...
2.
16:39 CEST (26km remaining from 169.5km) - Frank Schleck led his brother, Contador and Kloden over the top of the climb, so the points went in that order.

Andy Schleck is pushing it on the descent. He wants to maintain the gap to those behind, so that they can continue to gain on the next climb.
--------
Situation:

Yellow and white jersey group: Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Andreas Kloden (Astana)

Lance Armstrong (Astana), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) at 1.07

Jurgen Van Den Broek (Silence-Lotto) at ?

Polka dot jersey group at 2.29
----
(VN)
4:38

4:40
CPelkey: The Gang of Four up front now has a lead of 1:18 over the Armstrong Wiggins group. Two Astanas and the Saxo Brothers will be hitting the final climb with a bit of a gap.
4:41
CPelkey: Nibali is trying his best to bridge up to the four leaders.
4:43
CPelkey: So the situation on the road as the four leaders are hitting the base of the climb, is that the Schlecks, Contador and Kloden are now 1:18 ahead of the Armstrong/Wiggins group.
4:43
CPelkey: Nibali has been pulled back by Vande Velde, Wiggins and Armstrong.
----
4:44
CPelkey: Sastre is now back in a group that is more than 3:00 back.
4:44
CPelkey: And we have no idea where Evans is.
4:45
CPelkey: It's still the Schleck brothers setting tempo in the leading foursome.
4:46
CPelkey: The leading four are now 1:20 ahead of the Wiggins group
4:47
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is at the front as they pass beneath the 20km to go banner.
4:48
CPelkey: That is just 5km of hill left before the 15km descent.
4:48
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is now setting tempo.
4:51

4:51
CPelkey: That's an earlier - and rainier - view of the summit ahead.
4:53
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is stetting tempo at the front. Contador and Kloden are on his wheel.
4:53
CPelkey: Vande Velde has been dropped by Nibali, Wiggins and Armstrong.
4:53
CPelkey: The gap back to the Wiggins group is now 1:40.
4:54
CPelkey: Vande Velde is slipping back.
4:55
CPelkey: Our four leaders are 2km from the summit. The gap back to the Wiggins group is 1:43 and Vande Velde is at 1:58.
4:56
CPelkey: Contador has accelerated.
4:56
CPelkey: No ... the Schlecks aren't hodling the tempo... but Kloden has been spit off the back.
4:57
CPelkey: The Schlecks have both fought back... but Kloden is gone.
4:59
CPelkey: The two Schleck brothers are setting tempo at the front. The gap back to Kloden is about 20 seconds. The Wiggins/Armstrong/Nibali group is at 2:01.
5:02
CPelkey: And our three leaders are now 1km from the summit. Again it's the two Schleck brothers setting tempo at the front. Contador is sitting at the back.
----
ARMSTRONG Drops Wiggins 1km from the summit - He is setting up a situation where Astana will have three members on the final podium - first time since 1914!
----
(CN)17:04 CEST - Contador hasn't tried since that jump. Hard to know if he's suffering or saving energy for tomorrow's TT.

They are getting close to the top, then have a high speed descent towards the finish. The two brothers will take turns attacking him on the way down, no doubt.

Kloden is now just over a minute back, while the Wiggins group is 2'32" down. They are reeling him in...

1.
17:06 CEST - Armstrong is chasing now and will try to join up with Kloden. The German is really suffering now as he goes over the summit. He's 1'14" back here...
2.
17:06 CEST - 2.17 back to Armstrong from Kloden
3.
17:07 CEST - The three leaders are on the descent now...

Armstrong goes over the top, 2'06" behind... He's still a minute behind Kloden, and not sure if he'll take that back on the descent.
4.
17:08 CEST - Contador is talking to the two Schlecks...no idea what was discussed. Anyone lip read?

Situation

Yellow and white jersey group: Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)

Andreas Kloden (Astana) at 1.16

Lance Armstrong (Astana) at 2.17

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream) at 2.32

Group including Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), Maxime Monfort (Columbia), Christophe Le Mevel (FDJ) at 5.21
----
(VN)5:14
CPelkey: With fivekm to go, the three leaders are holding an advantage of 1:56 over Kloden, 2:18 ahead of Armstrong and Nibali.
5:14

5:15
CPelkey: With 4km to go, Schlecks are still setting tempo.
5:15
Expand
5:16
Expand
5:17
CPelkey: There seems to be some sort of ad hoc alliance out here on the road.
5:17
CPelkey: Kloden is trailing by about 2:00.
5:17
CPelkey: Armstrong and Nibali are 12 seconds behind Kloden.
5:18
CPelkey: Contador pats Frank Schleck on the back.
5:18
CPelkey: It appears that Contador may be happy to have gapped the other Astanas as much as anyone. It's certainly settled that nagging leadership question.
5:19
CPelkey: In the final kilometer.
5:19
CPelkey: 300 meters to go.
5:19
CPelkey: Frank Schleck wins it!
5:19
CPelkey: Contador is second.
5:20
CPelkey: Kloden and Armstrong and Nibali are together.
5:20
CPelkey: The three chasers are 1km from the finish.
5:21
CPelkey: Armstrong is driving to the line. He's working to minimize the gap.
5:21
CPelkey: The trio is led in by Nibali
5:22
CPelkey: They cross the line at 2:17.
5:22
CPelkey: Kloden was gapped a bit at the end. Maybe another five or six seconds back.
5:23
CPelkey: This was quite the stage. Wiggins crosses at 3:10 or so.
5:27
CPelkey: Here's what this stage did to the GC picture:
# 1. Alberto Contador Astana
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 2:26
# 3. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 03:25
# 4. Lance Armstrong Astana at 03:55
# 5. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 04:44
# 6. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 04:53
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 05:09
----
(CN) 17:29 CEST - Andy Schleck is now second overall, 2'26" back, while his brother Frank is third overall. He's 3'25 down.

Armstrong (@3'55), Kloden (4'44) and Wiggins (4'53) are fourth, fifth and sixth overall prior to the time trial. All three are expected to beat the Schlecks, so there could well be another reshuffling..
END OF UPDATES


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