Tour de France – Stage 20 Wrap-up

If I told you before the Tour started that a Rabobank rider would win on Ventoux, would you have thought it would be Juan Manuel Garate? Didn’t think so. But he did, and in doing so salvaged what has to be considered a disappointing Tour for the oranje.

Tactics and wind certainly took their toll today, effectively negating the chance to see one of the race’s elite taking the win. But we did see some great racing, racing that produced the true champions of the 2009 Tour de France.

When it was all said and done, the GC remained largely unchanged. The podium remains intact, despite the best efforts of Andy Schleck to have his brother Frank to join him. Lance Armstrong was smart and efficient; giving just what was necessary to follow the men who threatened his 3rd place. He’ll need to offer a pat on the back to Alberto Contador, who rode a perfect race for his teammates. Contador needed to follow Andy Schleck as he was 2nd place on GC; but he rode strictly in the Luxembourger’s wheel, only covering the move, looking back constantly to see where his teammates were.

Bradley Wiggins rode a consistent and courageous climb to retain his 4th place—as did Christian Vande Velde who held his 8th overall. Vincenzo Nibali rode a fabulous race, at one time bridging alone to Andy Schleck and Contador. Were it not for Schleck waiting for his brother’s chase group, Nibali might have climbed higher on GC. His Liquigas teammate, Roman Kreuziger, finally found his climbing legs. His ride pulled him into 9th place overall, two spots behind his teammate. It’s not as high as we predicted, but it’s a terrific result nonetheless.

Earlier in the week, we wondered whether or not it would be wise for Silence to move it’s eggs into Jurgen Van Den Broek’s basket; his ride today proves the switch was wise. His final week was nothing short of brilliant; he’ll finish the race 15th overall.

And finally, chapeau’s-off to Christophe Le Mevel, whose gutsy ride kept him in the Top-10. He’ll be the darling of the le presse for the next few days, and gives the French yet another reason to celebrate a terrific Tour.

Other surprises? We really thought Carlos Sastre would ride with the favorites today, ultimately taking the win. On the other hand, it was a pleasure to see Franco Pellizzotti do his polka dot jersey proud by hanging with the favorites and at one point looking like he would take the win.

And guess who finished next to Cadel Evans a bit more than 5 minutes back? George Hincapie! Not sure about which rider that says more at this point. But George will finish the race 19th overall–with a collarbone that’s rumored to be broken–11 spots ahead of Cadel.

And last, but not least—have you ever seen so many people on one mountain? I heard reports of anywhere from 500,000 to 700,000!

Le Géant de Provence has spoken; now it’s your turn! Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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