Wednesday, July 18, 2007

STAGE 10 - FRENCHMAN FINALLY WINS IN FRANCE

VIVA LA FRANCE! Cedric Vasseur won one for his host nation, crossing the finish line of a 142.6-mile ride from the Alps into Marseilles just a nose ahead of fellow countryman Sandy Casar. This was Vasseur's second TdF win in 10 years of riding the Tour. It was the first stage win by a Frenchman in this year's Tour de France. Now, let's have Christophe Moreau on the podium in Paris! Viva la France!

LET THEM GO. Vasseur and Casar were part of an 11-man breakaway group that finished 10 minutes ahead of the main peloton containing all the contenders for the Yellow Jersey. Since none of the 11 escapees' placements were a threat to the overall standings, the peloton took it relatively easy. No changes in the Yellow, Green, and Polka-Dot Jersey contests. But I failed to note yesterday that the White Jersey for the best-placed young rider changed backs. Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador of Spain now sports white.

RELATIVE EASE IS STILL DIFFICULT. I say the peloton took it "relatively easy." I've ridden 154 miles in a day a few times, in the Ride Across INdiana. Even though the RAIN is strictly a tour and not a race, I can assure you that riding intently and briskly for that distance is tedious and draining. I was numb after 110 miles. My hat's off to these guys even on "relatively easy" days in the saddle.

MORE TOMORROW? Looks alike a similar day tomorrow in a long, flat stage. It holds an opportunity for breakaway glory for a handful of risk-takers with nothing to lose, followed by a bunch sprint finish, as well as a chance for the Tour favorites to conserve and renew energy for the Pyrenees mountains on the weekend. These transition stages are like putting the Tour on "auto-pilot." Except that, as sure as you turn away...surprise!

DOWNER OF THE DAY. The downer for the day was the German press pulling the plug--a boycott--on German coverage of the Tour de France after German rider Patrick Sinkewitz, who already crashed out of the Tour, was found to have high levels of testosterone in a June 8 drug test. Germany is fed up with doping, particularly after its much-heralded cyclist Jan Ullrich has been revealed as a doper. Not sure if they'll plug back in for the sake of all the riders who ride clean, or if they'll just rant, rave, and stew awhile. Too bad for the German fans and too bad for the impact of this on cycling in Germany. On the other hand, put yourself in their shoes: who wants to cover something that passes itself off as "pure sport" when it keeps turning up as "pure dope?" I should note: all riders thus far tested during the Tour de France have turned up clean.

3 comments:

steve said...

hey, I really like this blog. Its a nice overview of whats going on in the Tour. Just thought you deserve a thank you for making it.

steve said...

I also heard that Alexandre Vinkourov has finally succumbed to his injuries, and that he and team Astana are going to make Andreas Kloden team leader, do you think he has a chance?

bikehiker said...

Kloden certainly is a proven podium finisher, solid in the mountains and a good time trialer. But Vinokourov is the explosive one. Even if Astana designates Kloden as the leader, I wouldn't be surprised if Vino--if at all physically able--nonetheless tries a few mountain breakaways in the Pyrenees. That seems to be his pattern.

I recall that he did not patiently pull for Ullrich a few years ago when it seemed T-Mobile had all the guns to down Lance; instead, he launched rather pointless attacks--inspired and fun to watch, but not strategic and ultimately self-defeating.

I'm looking for major fireworks in the Pyrenees from lots of directions. And I'm wondering if the "mark your main rivals" Armstrong strategy that Levi Leipheimer is following is the right one this year? We'll see.

It's a fun Tour to be following.