We were treated to another aggressive day of racing today , thanks to an undulating 196km route from Rodez to Revel.Â In the end, you might have been a bit confused though, as the finale seemed to be a repeat of yesterdayâ€™s action, albeit with a different result.
Hereâ€™s what we noticed:
1. At what point will Alexandre Vinokourovâ€™s aggressive and exciting style of racing overshadow his suspension?Â While I hesitate to call myself a Vino fanâ€”and likely never willâ€”I must admit that Iâ€™m less and less upset to see him spring from the peloton.Â After wins in Trentino, Liege, and now the Tour, it appears as if the Kazakh riderâ€™s redemption is now completeâ€”or is it?
Perhaps more importantly, order seems to have been restored chez Astana, as indicated by the warm embrace shared post-stage by Vino and Alberto Contador.Â Vino has his win, and now itâ€™s back to the task at hand: the Tour for Contador.
2. As for the title of the Tourâ€™s most aggressive rider, Vino rates a close second to Quick Stepâ€™s Sylvain Chavanel, who spent the majority of the day in a breakaway with Pierrick Fedrigo and Juan Antonio Flecha.Â Despite two stages and two separate days in yellow, “Chava” is not content to remain in the bunch for too long.Â Look for him to put himself in a break once again at some point in the Pyrenees, possibly on a day when the favorites might be more content to let a group get a big lead.
3. Another man looking for a Pyrenean opportunity, Lance Armstrong lost even more time today, obviously hoping to extend any potential breakaway leash he might receive in a few days time.Â I think Lanceâ€™s best shot at a stage win could come on Tuesday, when two prior hard days in the mountains should have the GC contenders thinking more about recovery than time gaps.Â Tuesdayâ€™s stage features some pretty nasty ascentsâ€”two Cat. 1â€™s and two HCâ€™sâ€”but the last summit comes over 60km from the finish in Pau.Â Itâ€™s the kind of day that could see a large break of men out of contention escape to take the glory, several minutes ahead of a disinterested group.
4. Alessandro Ballan tried to escape just before Vinoâ€™s moveâ€”a good attempt for a BMC team still hoping to add a stage to Cadel Evansâ€™ day in yellow.Â As for Thomas Voecklerâ€™s chase, he waited just a bit too long to catch Vino.Â And letâ€™s give Nicolas Roche credit for a bold move for a man high on GCâ€”I hope he saved something for tomorrow and Monday.Â Heâ€™s certainly proving my earlier criticism to be unfounded.
5. In the field sprint, Thor Hushovd again looked to be missing a gear.Â Mark Cavendish took the sprint for second, while Alessandro Petacchiâ€™s third place was enough for him to reclaim the green jersey (by two points).Â But look-out for Cavâ€”heâ€™s crept up into third place in the points competition, and with another win or two could take the green jersey by Paris.
6. As for tomorrow, the Pyrenees begin with the first of four days of murderous climbing (13 ascents over the next 4 stages).Â Stage 14 takes the riders from Revel to the summit finish of Ax 3 Domaines, a Cat. 1 climb immediately preceded by the HC Port de Pailheres.Â It looks to be a day perfectly suited to Alberto Contador.Â If he rides the way his form has indicated he will, look for the Spaniard to be in yellow by the end of the day.Â At least thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m expecting.
What about you?Â Share your predictions and comments below.
I think you’re right about Lance wanting to try something, but I think it might be Monday’s Stage 15 into BagnÃ¨res-de-Luchon. Lance is all about significant moments, and you can’t discount the significance of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet and the descent past the Casartelli monument.
That’s a good pick, Karl. But I wonder if he’ll be given as much leeway as he might need to actually win. While he might prefer Monday, I think Tuesday might be his chance.
I like Karl’s thoughts – I wonder, though, if someone chases LA down simply for politics. If Garmin were stronger, I think they would be a candidate, but I wonder if Astana does simply as Brunyeel is still criticizing Contador….
1. No his redemption will never be complete until he admitted his wrong doing. This way his riding can be as gutsy (and successful) as it wants to be if there is no halfway sincere admittance of his faults there is no way to believe there has been a change of mind ergo clean riding in his case. That said his do or die trying mentality is quite admirable, but unfortunately it looks like he himself has not as much class as his riding.
2. Yes, besides Vino Chava is one of the few riders with real panache left in the peloton.
3. True, for Armstrong there isn’t much left since he ultimately failed to grab the yellow jersey (at least temporary) to go for a stage win to not have to retire with a complete failure. The grande porte is already impossible.
5. Yes Hushovd is missing the top speed in the end, that is 5hy his cunning move from last year tends to become a habit this year. That said it was still a perfect chance to keep at least Cav at some distance but it looks like his team was to weak to drive the remaining field towards finish and keep Cav from rejoining. Since they are not the only team that hope to keep Cav out of a sprinting finish and definitely would have found supporters.
6. Well, I guess it was easier to distance Ã„ndy on that climb yesterday than on the stage tomorrow, but since it’s Ã„ndy who has to attack that could come into Contador’s favour. Too bad I won’t be able to watch that live.
We’ll miss you in the live blog, Cthulhu, but good luck at the race!
Vino is probably the most exciting racer in the peleton these days. Hopefully he’s clean.
I’m not so optimistic that the peleton/directors will allow LA to get free for a stage win. We’ll see. To watch him mail it in every day is absolutely brutal, so hopefully he’ll provide some redemption.
Cav won today without any teammates, against the other sprinters. That goes a long way towards discounting some of the criticism of the guy. I’m not a fan, but that’s the kind of thing that answers critics. Chapeau.
I’m thinking we need to give you a weekly column, BM. We could call it “Big Mikey’s Chapeau of the Week”. Whaddya think?
Lance will quit before they let him win a stage.
I doubt very much that the peloton will allow LA the necessary leash to pull off a stage. Nor do I think he deserves a golden handshake – he got that with win #7. Why would they reward someone for dogging it on the finish the last couple of days when it is so obvious.
Pas de cadeaux – no gifts.
As for Cav, he shut down his critics with his performance today. Thor is clearly missing that top end which he lost due to his injury or his transition to rouleur.
As for the weekend, I want to see some fireworks. If Liquigas and Rabo or going to do anything, they need to go all in as of tomorrow and hit hard – it will be there only chance.
Lastly, as I am a complete and total homer and want to see him do well I hope Ryder keeps the pace in the mountains and rocks out at least one more big breakaway – Tuesday looks like the day, though tomorrow could be another with the downhill finish.
He’s a big dude though, and has a lot of carcass to haul up those climbs.
Pingback: 2010 Tour de France – Stage 14 Wrap-Up « PavÃ©
Pingback: 2010 Tour de France – Stage 16 Wrap-Up « PavÃ©