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 - - 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 -

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Garmin sets up it's lead-out crew.

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

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

Final turn....

Renshaw gives the lead out...
CPelkey: Cav' gets it!
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.
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.
[Comment From Breck ]
Safe zone?
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?
CPelkey: It looks like Hushovd finished close enough to protect his hold on the green jersey.
[Comment From Bikeman ]
I thought the safe zone was 1km, when did it become 3?
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.
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.

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

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

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.
[Comment From Ken Stevens ]
CPelkey: Pellizotti had a lock on it today. All he had to do was finish and he did.
CPelkey: Hushovd is on the podium now. He's getting the green jersey.
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?
CPelkey: Best young rider... Andy Schleck, the white jersey winner from last year. Good work.
[Comment From Dave ]
What is the age limit for the White jersey?

Under 25.
[Comment From Wow ]
I want to kiss a podium girl
CPelkey: You can! Just win a stage at the Tour de France.
[Comment From guest ]
did cav's dq made a difference?
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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