Monday, July 14, 2008


EVANS IN YELLOW. Two highest category mountain climbs brought the first real fireworks of this year's Tour. Two Frenchmen crested the first mountain, Tourmalet, well ahead of the peloton--something of a French victory on Bastille Day. The second mountain, Hautecam, brought a first-time stage victory for Italian Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier-Duval). More importantly, it brought the Yellow Jersey to Australian Cadel Evans, and put distance between him and contenders like Alejandro Valverde, Damiano Cunego, and Kim Kirchen.

AMERICAN VANDE VELDE INTO THIRD. There was something for Americans to celebrate, too. Christian Vande Velde, leader of the Garmin-Chipotle team, finished the stage alongside Evans, moving him up to third place in the General Classification rankings. This was a breakthrough for Vande Velde, who can now be considered a dark horse for the Tour win or podium finish. Vande Velde has lots of experience and tends to ride more strongly in the last week of a 3-week tour.

RESTING, REVELING, PREPARING. Tomorrow is a much-needed rest day for the cyclists. Evans can revel in his good fortune, since he crashed badly on Saturday and raced with bandages today. He is the race leader, but he is just one second ahead of Frank Schleck of Luxemburg. Schleck is a bonafide contender. The riders will consider the mountains that are ahead of them. The heart of the Tour de France has yet to be raced.

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