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 -

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.
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

[Comment From Scott from Amish-ville ]
For Bonnie or Charles... Any word on teammates for Lance on RadioShack?
CPelkey: I don't believe that aside from Armstrong, there have been formal announcements on that front... lots of speculation though.
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.
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.
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.
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

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

BonnieFord: Rumors spreading in Aussie press that Cadel Evans might jump to TRS. My Belgian friends in the press peloton are skeptical.
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.

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


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.
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?
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.
[Comment From Ray from Texas ]
Does TRS mean Team Radio Shack?
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.
CPelkey: Mmmm Pellizotti has been dropped.
BonnieFord: Two weeks younger, to be exact!
[Comment From Inspector Renault ]
Cuddles will join TRS right after David Walsh signs on as PR chief, with Greg LeMond as assistant DS.
CPelkey: Well, there's a thought. Thank you for that thought, inspector.
CPelkey: We're seeing action at the front. BBox's Lefevre is trying to scamper off the front.
CPelkey: With 25km to go in the race, Lefevre has 10 seconds and nine km of climbing left.
CPelkey: The slope isn't bad. It averages just 4.1 percent.
BonnieFord: Just got asked to predict top three for tomorrow. I waffled extensively.
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.
CPelkey: Lefevre is 22km from the finish. He is just seven seconds ahead of the peloton.
BonnieFord: It's been a Tour where "predictable" stages haven't played out predictably, that's for sure.
CPelkey: Well, Bonnie, let's see if our readers are willing to pick a winner for tomorrow.
[Comment From Fritz Belly ]
Gruppetto on a flat stage? I think it's just a lazy echelon
CPelkey: Ya know, Fritz, I've been sittin' on my ass for three weeks, so I am not gonna call anyone out there "lazy."
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.

Lefevre has company... With Ballan, the world champion, is up there with Lefevre, with 20km to go.
CPelkey: The move gave Lefevre a bit of a rainbow boost. The two are now 16 seconds ahead of the field.
CPelkey: With 19km to go, Ballan and Lefevre are 19 seconds ahead.
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.
BonnieFord: The skies just opened here at the finish. We're glad about that, but I'm not sure the riders will be.
CPelkey: With 17km to go, the leaders are on the final kilometer of the climb. Big crowds.

The gap is now 13 seconds.
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.
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.
CPelkey: Luis Leon Sanchez is trying to move out of the field.
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.
CPelkey: The two leaders are not very far ahead of the main field. .... 13km to go.
CPelkey: With 12km to go, the gap is 10 seconds. Sanchez is back in the field.

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

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


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

A bit of a hill...
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

CPelkey: And he nails it.
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.
CPelkey: Hushovd did get second.
CPelkey: So, the points race looks like Hushovd has 260, to Cavendish's 235.
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
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

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.

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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