Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tour de France 2008

My last Tour update until Monday. Heading to the hills of WV for the weekend.

Stage 13 - Friday, July 18: Narbonne - Nîmes, 182km

With just three fourth category climbs in the way, this should once again be a stage for the sprinters. The route continues its way across the southern edge of France between the Pyrenees and the Alps. It's likely that a break will try to get away, but even more likely that the sprinters' domestiques will bring them back before they reach the finish.

The stage travels from one Roman settlement to another: leaving the oldest one in Narbonne, and arriving in probably the most famous one in Nîmes. The capital of the Gard department, Nîmes is home to probably the highest concentration of historic Roman sites outside Italy. These include the best preserved arena in France – which still gets used for concerts and bullfights, the Maison Carrée – a temple dedicated to the sons of Agrippa, and most famously: the Pont du Gard – a three level aqueduct which lies 20 kilometres to the north.

Nîmes' other big claim to fame is as the origin of Serge de Nîmes, an indigo blue fabric that has changed the world. Over the years its name has been shortened to one word that most people will recognise: Denim.

The city has hosted the Tour 15 times before, with Aitor Gonzales (Fassa Bortolo) taking the victory in 2004, the last time it finished here.
Stage description lifted from

158 riders started this morning…out of 180 who started the first day.

So as we head to the big show-down in the Alps where the Tour should be decided, we will probably have another bunch sprint to the finish.

A couple riders have broken away early and have a 10 minute advantage. The sprinters teams will take their time and slowly pull them back in before the finish.

The Peloton spent the day slowly reeling in the 2 (Niki Terpstra and Florent Brard) in the break. They were pretty much doomed from the start but hung on for a 100 km’s or so.

Terpstra broke away from Brard around the 30km to go mark. For some reason he has decided to have a go at it himself.

By the 10km to go banner, the leaders up front were swallowed up by the peloton.

So it’s going to be bunch sprint for the line.

Holy Moley. 4 times is the charm. 4 for Cavendish! Mark Cavendish took an exciting sprint to the line for his 4th stage win!!!

So do I get excited about him and hope he is a clean rider? Or wait and see what happens?

No changes in the Jersey's today

The Jersey statuses

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) – Sebastian Lang of Germany who rides for Gerolsteiner

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

Tour Tidbits -

A domestique is a road bicycle racer who works solely for the benefit of his or her team and leader. The French domestique literally translates as "servant", though the French term for such a team worker is porteur d'eau (literally: water carrier, like the German Wasserträger).

Some general important tasks carried out by the domestiques include retrieving water and nutrition from team cars and bringing it back up to the rest of the team and shielding teammates from aggressive opponents.

Domestiques are also important for racing in a way that is in the tactical interest of their own team, or against the tactical interest of the opposing teams. By putting themselves in a breakaway they force other teams to chase the given breakaway. In turn, they may have to get to the front of the peloton to chase a breakaway that threatens their team's goals.

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