Sunday, July 15, 2007


RASMUSSEN ASCENDS. "Chicken legs" Michael Rasmussen of Denmark overwhelmed all climbers and overall race contenders on the last of three Category 1 climbs today to take over the Polka-dot Jersey AND the Yellow Jersey. Rasmussen's won the "King of the Mountains" competition twice before and showed that he's ready to claim it again. He may well have hopes for the maillot juane, though he will have to build up a very substantial lead in the mountains to make up for his time trialing weakness. That's the main story, but there are other compelling stories from this incredible Alp mountain stage.
Stage 8 wrap-up and complete results

ROGERS OUT. Michael "Mic" Rogers of Australia was leading on the road when he crashed into a barrier, broke his collarbone and exited the race. Tough, tough break for Rogers, T-Mobile, and Australia. Aussie Stuart O'Grady crashed out, too. Now Australian cycling's hopes are pinned on Cadel Evans, who ascended well and made his way into the Top Ten.

SELECT GROUP, NO FAVORITES. Today's climbs confirmed the contenders for the Yellow Jersey. It's a select group, to be sure, but I am not sure any one of them will emerge as the Tour favorite until after the last mountain climb and individual time trial the day before the Tour rolls into Paris. Iban Mayo's back in the hunt after a few years of bad luck. Alejandro Valverde's there. Christophe Moreau's there. So is Levi Leipheimer. This thing is wide open.

TOO CONSERVATIVE OR PLAYING IT COOL? Today, American Levi Leipheimer stayed with the main group of Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden. I suppose that was a safe thing to do, to stay with the favorites and let a few escapees go. But those were no mere escapees; they were rival contenders. I am wondering if Levi is playing it too safe, too conservative. In a post-race interview he indicated he is still riding into peak form and will likely make a move in the Pyrenees next weekend. This Tour is quite a chess game, isn't it?

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