Friday, July 25, 2008

Tour de France 2008

Stage 19 - Friday, July 25: Roanne - Montluçon, 165.5km

The Tour heads back into the centre of the country almost to where it was two weeks ago as the peloton makes its weary way towards Paris. The profile is almost as rolling as yesterday's, beginning with a third and a fourth category climb inside the first 42 kilometres. The mid-section is fairly flat, but then the final 50 kilometres become much lumpier, although there are no classified climbs in this part.

Today is more suited to the sprinters than yesterday, but with a potentially decisive time trial tomorrow the overall contenders may not want a hard day and so a breakaway might succeed.

Roanne is yet another first time stage town, but Montluçon has been visited five times before. Last time was in 2001 when Belgian Serge Baguet (Lotto) beat Dane Jacob Piil (CSC) in a two-up sprint after the remains of the breakaway was swallowed by the peloton. A similar scenario may well play out this year.
Stage description lifted from

This will be one of those stages that only serious tour watchers will enjoy. I know I will. Not a lot will seem to be happening. Riders will try to break away but depending on which teams are represented, will decide if they are allowed to get away

As a side note, Damiano Cunego had a nasty crash yesterday. He did Man-Up and finish the stage but withdrew from the race this morning. It was his 4th crash of the tour. Bad luck for the lad.

A great day for the host country. 2 Frenchmen, Sylvain Chavanel and Jérémy Roy, broke away from the peloton and battled it out for the stage win with the Team Cofidis rider Sylvain taking his first ever stage win. It’s good to see Chavanel get the win. He’s been attacking off and on for 3 weeks and never could quite get the win. Well done young warrior.

The Jersey statuses

Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey - overall leader) – Carlos Sastre of Spain who rides for CSC

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) – Bernhard Kohl of Austria who rides for Gerolsteiner

Maillot Blanc (white jersey - best young rider - under 25) – Andy Schleck of luxumborg who rides for CSC

Tour tidbits
Individual time trials

In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. The first stage of the tour is often a short time trial known as a prologue. The prologue is to decide who wears yellow on the opening day, and provide a spectacle for the organizing city.
There are usually three or four time trials during the Tour. One may be a team time trial. Traditionally the final time trial has been the penultimate stage, and effectively determines the winner before the final ordinary stage which is not ridden competitively until the last hour.

On a few occasions, the race organizers made the final stage into Paris a time trial. The most recent occasion on which this was done, in 1989, yielded the closest ever finish in Tour history, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds overall. Fignon wore the yellow jersey for the final stage, with a lead of 50 seconds, and was beaten by LeMond's superior time trial performance. LeMond's unusual handlebars which placed his forearms close together and reduce wind resistance, and his streamlined helmet, were considered to be a large factor in his victory.

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