Monday, July 14, 2008

Tour de France 2008

Stage 10

More high mountains in this stage which, despite being just 156 kilometers (99 miles) in length, should prove to be one of the toughest of this year's Tour. Despite a reasonably flat start, the stage finishes with the legendary ascents of the Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam. This stage should see some real gaps appear between the overall contenders as the favorites for victory in Paris start to show themselves.

Hautacam, a ski resort nestled above the pilgrimage centre of Lourdes, has been a stage finish three times before. The riders my want to make a brief stop in Lourdes, I’m sure they could use some of the healing waters and St Bernadette’s intercession. But they will get a bit of a rest since tomorrow is a rest day, no racing. They will still go for a short ride to loosen up the old legs.

I watched some of this stage before heading to work and then listened to the rest of it on the Internet. Will watch the replay tonight. The women in the household are sick of seeing men in spandex on bikes. But the boys have been having fun watching, although they seem to like the crashes the best.

Team CSC has been driving a hard pace all day.

Kirchen is hanging in on the last climb for now but hurting. Valverde and Cunego aren’t fairing as well.
Kirchen has been dropped, can he get back on? It’s not looking like it. Looks like we will have a new Yellow Jersey after today’s stage.
Evans and Sastre are hurting too.
Christian Vande Velde is having a good day, so far.

There’s a French rider in the lead group. Will it be a Bastille Day win for him?

Leonardo Piepoli and Juan José Cobo (Saunier Duval-Scott) are going to be the first to the line. They are on the same team, which one will be given the win? Looks like the team is going to let Cobo have the win for all his hard work helping Ricco. No it’s Leonardo Piepoli of Italy crossing first.

Major shakeout of some of the top 10 contenders. Let me try and sort this out.

Today’s biggest winners:
Cadel Evans moved up from 2nd to 1st and is in the lead my 1 second! 9 days of racing. Over 42 hours and he’s ahead by a second. Great job by the Aussie. One day after crashing and banging himself up nice and good.
Frank Schleck jumped all the way from 11th to 2nd overall.
Christian Vande Velde is still comfortably in 3rd.
Bernhard Kohl moved all the way from 13th to 4th.
Juan Jose Cobo and Riccardo Ricco both moved into the top ten. 8th and 9th place respectively.

The biggest losers for the day were:
Obviously Kim Kirchen losing the yellow jersey and dropping from 1st down to 7th.
Stefan Schumacher was 4th and he dropped out of the top ten.
Alejandro Valverde, Stijin Devolder, Oscar Pereiro and Samuel Sanchez all dropped out of the top ten also.

The Jersey status

Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey - overall leader) – Cadel Evans of Australia who rides for Silence - Lotto

Maillot Vert (green jersey - points leader for sprinting) – Oscar Freire of Spain who rides for Rabobank.

Maillot à pois (red and white polka-dot jersey - best in the mountains) - Riccardo Ricco of Italy who rides for Saunier Duval - Scott

Maillot Blanc (white jersey - best young rider - under 25) - NIBALI Vincenzo Nibali of Italy who rides for Liquigas

Piepoli of Italy crossing first
The new Yellow Jersey wearer

Tour Tidbits

How do riders go to the toilet?

Generally, they pull over to the side of the road, stop, and shed liquid ballast in the usual way. Sometime in the first couple of hours of the race, a senior rider (a team leader or team captain) will organize a comfort break and the whole peloton will slow down enough that riders can stop for a break and easily catch up afterwards.

The etiquette is that you don't attack while a large-scale comfort break is in progress, and you certainly don't attack the yellow jersey when he's taking a leak, as we saw in stage 6 2002 when Domo and Rabobank were berated by Armstrong and ONCE for attempting to go after a breakaway while race leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was answering nature's call.

On some days there will be no organized break. If the stage is short, fast or very hot it may simply not be necessary, but on a cold morning at the beginning of a long day's trek across Northern France a mass disposal of that last cup of coffee will almost certainly happen.


Mylhibug said...

I never knew that about comfort breaks, i just assumed that they held it, or sweated it out.

So do you think that Vande Velde can move up? Is Cadel Evans strong enough to hold on to the yellow? Who are you pulling for?

Rob said...

on really hot days there probably aren't many or any comfor breaks.
some guys can go on the fly...i've tried that on long bike rides...never could make myself go - 'stage fright'. It's a skill that can come in handy when racing triathlons.

I think Vande Velde (cool name - not as cool as Roger though) is for real and can hang around till the end. Evans was second last year and should be in contention until the end. But these things are really hard to predict (except when Lance was riding). One bad day or crash can put you too far back.

I like Vande Velde and Riccardo Ricco. I don't think Ricco can win this year (maybe in another year or two) but he's fun to watch ride.