2010 Tour de France – Stage 14 Wrap-Up

2010 Tour de France - Schleck and Contador in Stage 14

Fotoreporter Sirotti

I’m not usually one for histrionics, but I’m running out superlatives to describe the action we’ve seen thus far in the 2010 Tour de France—it truly might go down as one of the most exciting Tours in recent memory.  As someone said during today’s live blog, “2010 Giro d’Italia, meet the 2010 Tour de France.”

Here’s what we noticed:

1. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck seemed perfectly wiling to shut one another out of the race today, even going so far as to let Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez ride up the road.  While their time cushions remain relatively secure, one has to wonder if today’s display could hurt them later on.  Schleck has the most to lose—Menchov and Sanchez are both better time trialists than he is—but Contador must be careful as well.  Instead of eliminating two dangerous contenders for the overall title in Paris, they’ve allowed them to creep a little bit closer.  With several hard days left in the saddle, anything can happen.

2. As for Schleck, I wondered aloud in the live blog whether or not we might see him suffer today, as he spent most of the day on the back of the group.  But in the end, all this was merely an attempt to shadow Contador—everywhere he went.  Schleck’s confidence should be peaking right now, but will it be enough for Schleck to extend his lead over the Spaniard between now and Saturday’s time trial?

2010 Tour de France - Sanchez and Menchov in Stage 14

Fotoreporter Sirotti

3. Menchov and Sanchez are both beginning to look as if they might have the firepower to knock one of the top two favorites from the podium—if given more opportunities to do so.  Menchov’s Tour has gone perfectly to plan—having a top-10 contender in Robert Gesink as your lieutenant certainly helps.  And Sanchez now has two top-3 stage finishes in this year’s race along with a sixth-place result in Mende.  One of the peloton’s most respected descenders, the Euskaltel rider could come through with a win tomorrow.

4. Belgium’s Jurgen Van den Broeck had another fantastic day with an attentive and powerful ride to defend his fifth-place overall.  I’m still wondering if VDB2 might want to tone it down a bit, perhaps letting others set the pace while he waits to launch an attack or two.  That said, his strategy is certainly working—he’s on his way to the best finish for a Belgian in years.

5. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel sorry for Levi Leipheimer.  He’s receiving virtually no support in his bid for a high finish in Paris and today lost a place on GC.  Radio Shack’s implosion is quickly becoming an embarrassment.  Lance is sitting-up to save himself for a stage win, Kloden and Horner seem to be mailing it in, and Bruyneel seems more concerned with the tactics of Contador in last year’s race than those of his own riders in this one.

2010 Tour de France - Basso in Stage 14

Fotoreporter Sirotti

6. Liquigas was another victim of today’s action with both Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger losing time to the other GC contenders.  Basso now sits in tenth overall, while Kreuziger has slipped back to twelfth.  There’s plenty of race left for both men to improve their standing, but at this point, top-5 finishes appear out of the question.

7. And by the way, Bradley Wiggins confirmed (literally) what we already knew.

2010 Tour de France - Riblon Wins Stage 14

Fotoreporter Sirotti

8. And lest we forget it in all the GC hubbub, Christophe Riblon took a fantastic stage win today—the fourth French victory in this year’s Tour and the most in over a decade.  Add two days in yellow and a near eternity in the polka dot jersey, and you have the makings of a fine year for the home nation.  Bravo!

Looking ahead, the Pyrenees continue tomorrow with another long day in the saddle.  While there’s no summit finish on tap, the top of the hors categorie Porte des Bales comes only 20 downhill kilometers from the finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon.  After what we saw on the Madeleine earlier in the week, there’s no reason to think we won’t see more action from the men contending for the overall.  A break might indeed get away to take the stage, but I still see Contador trying to shake Schleck on tomorrow’s major climb.

But then again, I’ve been wrong before.

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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8 Responses to 2010 Tour de France – Stage 14 Wrap-Up

  1. Hank says:

    Andy can’t win riding Contador’s wheel. Contador was probably waiting for the attack when none came he tested to see if there was an opportunity. When he realized Schleck was content to shadow him, he upped the ante by letting 2 riders who can beat Schleck in the TT go up the road and then dared Andy not to take the lead.

    4 going at it will be more fun then 2, so it’s all good. Andy is probably girding himself for one big day.

  2. Matt says:

    LA will turn himself inside out to win tomorrow.

    As for GC, I have no idea. Before the TdF, I predicted Menchov would take 2nd overall, and Andy would end up fourth, but Andy is way stronger than I figured. He might even have a good 52 km TT in him, which I never would have predicted.

  3. michael says:

    I never quite understood why andy is so bad at tt’sm. He weighs about as much (or a little more) than contador, and he can clearly match him in the wattage department. He just needs to dial his mental game up and he and alberto will be massive rivals for the next 4-5 years or more. I’d love to see them take these mano y mano battles to all 3 gt’s and purposely ride similar programs in an all out battle event after event like in the old days when racing was a year round event. A nice old school rivalry!

    • Whit says:

      Good question, Michael. I just don’t think he takes the TT’s as seriously as Alberto. But this year, he’ll have to–especially if he’s in yellow.


  4. Stanley says:

    You know what? Andy said prior to the pavé that he wouldn’t lose much, if any, time on stage 3. And he insist that he will not lose much time in the TT. But Alberto is amongst the best stage race TT riders out there. I guess the two will mark each other for the rest of the week and that we unfortunately will have to look elsewhere for entertainment.

  5. Matt says:

    Well…I wasn’t even close.

    I thought this stage was going to otherwise be boring, and I was completely wrong. No more Nostradamusizing for me.

  6. Doug P says:

    @ Matt, I thought the same thing; LA would try today. I think he’s staying in the race for 2 reasons, to make a point, and to remain in the media spotlight he loves so much.

    • Whit says:

      Am I the only who thinks tomorrow’s a better day? The summit of the Aubisque comes 60km from the finish–I think they’ll let him go.

      Thanks for the comments everyone!


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