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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