Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008

It's past 3pm Pacific Time, and half of the world has already made it into 2008. Right now, the fireworks are underway in Europe.

Earlier (5am Pacific), from Sydney, Australia:


From HongKong, China (8am Pacific):


Happy New Year !

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back on the bike

Although it was rather chilly today, I finally decided to go out for a short bike ride. This was my first ride in 55 days, and I didn't feel as bad as I anticipated it. "Short ride" usually means just zooming down the hill to CSU East Bay, circling the campus 10 times, and then climbing the 12% average grade back to my house, for a total of 17.6 miles.

This picture was from when my finger tips and toes were still quite comfortably warm.

My total mileage for the year stands at 2683 miles (4293 km), which is 31% more than last year (yes, I'm one of those nerds who records every pedal stroke). Apart from my previously stated goal of riding the 2008 Mount Diablo Challenge on a new bike in 1:20h or less, I'm thinking of riding up Haleakala in November; 38 miles, from sea level to the summit at 10023 feet.

If anyone is interested in joining, drop me a note.

Happy Holidays to everyone, and always be safe out there !

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Egg Nog recipe

Here's my personal recipe for a Christmas Egg Nog. It probably has as many calories as you would spend riding a century, but it's delicious and a favorite drink during Apres-Ski in Europe; for this reason, measurements are in ml (milliliter) and g (gram):

8 egg yolks
500 g sugar
500 ml milk (2%, half-half or even cream is permissible)
250 ml Everclear (or 500 ml brandy)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

- Mix the vanilla extract and the egg yolks with 250 g sugar
- Heat the milk (don't cook) and mix with the other 250 g sugar,
then add to the above mix
- Add the liquor and mix/blend very well
- Pour into clean bottles (with this recipe you need about
two 750 ml bottles)
- Refrigerate

Before use, shake well. For a quicker delirium, heat the egg nog before drinking it.



Back home

It's been 8 days now since I returned from China. Since then I had three chances to ride my bike again, but I also had three excuses, mainly the cold temperature, Christmas shopping and yard work. I feel losing my fitness by the day; while I played table tennis and table foosball almost every day in China, it's not quite the same as climbing Mount Diablo on a 24-pound bike. Speaking of which ... the bike or Diablo ? Actually both: I still need to start shopping for a new bike, and there's a New Year ride up Mount Diablo. Nothing official, but it's nice to start the year off not only with a hangover and good resolutions, but also a decent bike ride. Sixteen days until New Year, so I better get back in shape.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Zhongguo zai jian

Today's my last day here in Shenzhen, China. In about three hours I will board the ferry from Shekou to the Hongkong Airport, and in about seven hours I'll be airborne, en route back to the States.

After having spent five weeks here and gotten accustomed to the different life here, it's a little sad to leave, but at the same I'm looking forward going home to my regular life. I know it will take a little bit of time to adjust back, and I sure will miss China and its hospitable people. If it weren't for a few not so pleasant circumstances (e.g. air pollution, not many possibilities to safely ride a bike, let alone no hills/mountains to climb), I would probably agree to my wife's wish to move to China with her, but the verdict is still pending; time will tell.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My first bike ride

Well, not my first bike ride EVER, but my first ride in WEEKS ...

After having worked in Shenzhen a little over three weeks, I took a break and a bus to Meizhou, about 450km north-east of Shenzhen, to visit my wife and her family for a few days. Thanks to Al Gore for inventing the Internet, otherwise it would've been quite boring since most of the time everyone was out for work, school or other activities. But back to the bike riding ... the ride was on my mother-in-law's shopping bike, going around the block in a breakaway group of one; note the revolutionary bike shoes ! After this long absence of riding a real bike, you take what you can get and don't ask questions.



The peloton, consisting of some of my nephews and nieces, just close behind:






My time in China is almost up, week 5 has begun. I'm back in Shenzhen again, and in six days from now I'll be on the airplane back to the Bay Area. My first tasks will likely be mowing the lawn and decorating the Christmas tree (China has also adopted Christmas, and decorations are seen in a few places here in Shenzhen). Not quite the time yet to say Farewell, but it's been fun here. I will certainly miss Shenzhen and the many very hospitable Chinese people I met. More later this week.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgiving

No turkey for me this year, a bowl of rice must do.
I'm towards the end of my third week in China, and have two more weeks to go. Life otherwise is quite exciting here, maybe just because it's different from the usual old life back in the States; therefore I'm losing a bit track of what's happening in cycling these days. From what I gather, WADA has a new president (zenmud, nice coverage) , so TheMouth is gone. Floyd Landis may have to wait for another month of May (this time 2008) to find out whether CAS finds him guilty or not. And fellow cyclist TBV is enjoying himself on Diablo, while I haven't seen a road bike in almost a month, and I might have just forgotten on how to ride one.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mon, Nov 12 (GMT+8)

Pommi has started his second week in China. Cycling is kind of out of the question here, and if you think that traffic is already a mess in the Bay Area, come to China for a visit, and you wish you were back on US101. Many people have found their way to the automobile but not to driving sanely. As in other countries, lanes are separated by painted lines, but most drivers here take them as a hint and not as a rule. Similarly, cross-walks are hunting ground, and not a place to cross the street. The few cyclists (better: people on bicycles) I see in Shenzhen, don't ride for fun but carry large water bottles or king-size mattresses.

So far I've been lazy (rode the bicycle trainer twice, and walked ~3500 steps up Wu Tong Mountain), but have enjoyed nice Chinese food every day, and once only a chicken burger made by KFC. Apart from American franchises here, you can eat really cheap (while still good) here: lunch at the company cafeteria: 6 RMB ($0.82), or dinner for nine people: 270 RMB ($36); in comparison, a Grande Latte at Starbucks is $3.80 here. This is only topped by the 60 RMB ($8.10) for a glass of orange juice at the hotel bar.

Time for an afternoon break and some ping-pong.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thu, Oct 25

The month is winding down. We just got back from a week's stay in Orlando, and while real estate prices and temperatures after 6pm are way more appealing there than here, a Florida cyclist really doesn't ever have to look at an elevation profile, simply because it's flat as a pancake there; it is so flat, that you can usually already see on Friday who's coming to visit on Sunday. NB: the highest elevation in Florida is a staggering 345 ft. So I'm happy to be back, and be able to climb Mount Diablo again on Sunday, also having much more bearable temperatures for cycling than in the Sunshine State. This weekends' ride(s) will be my last for the next four weeks / five weekends after this one, as I'll be spending a month in China. I guess that my blogging will also wind down until something note-/rant-/comment-worthy comes up. Until then, zai jian !

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sun, Oct 14

I didn't know until today that there's something called Diablo-Fatigue. Not only that I was a little bit tired from yesterday's ride, but when arriving at Athenian School today, it dawned on me "Diablo ? Again ??". Well, it was my choice, for the fifth Sunday in a row, so I literally crawled my way up to the summit. Compared to last weekend, I was about 13 minutes slower today; yes, it was that pathetic.

On top of that, riding through Danville always raises my blood pressure. In all that time I've passed through that town, I've seen THREE police cruisers. Today it was that third time, when a cop pulled over and cited a cyclist who rolled through a red light before it turned green two seconds later. I really wonder where the cops are when Escalades and Porsches speed and/or harass and honk at cyclists on narrow and windy Diablo Road. Don't get me started on CARS running red lights, including not stopping on a right turn. It's an anarchy out there.

Unless the last weekend in October won't be rained out, I won't have any opportunity for weekend bike rides until December 8, so it appears that Pommi's 2007 bike season is already winding down quickly. With 2624 miles so far for the year, I have surpassed my goal; I participated in one century, and won the 2007 Mount Diablo Challenge in the category "1:24:29 or worse". My goals for 2008 are not completely defined yet, but riding Mount Diablo in 1:20 or better on a bike lighter than my current 22-pound Trek is one of the goals. The quest for a new bike continues, Trek Madone or Specialized Tarmac ? Who has an opinion ?

Today also marks Floyd Landis' 32th birthday, Happy Birthday! I would've hoped that Floyd would not appeal his case to CAS, but rather move on and get his life and sanity back. What are the chances that CAS overturns the 2:1 decision of the arbitration panel ? Slim at best in my opinion. Therefore the story continues; CAS should have made a decision within four months of the appeal, so by end of February, we'll have almost the ending of the ongoing saga. 11 months later, in January 2009, Floyd is free to race again.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sun, Oct 7 - Diablo Challenge Debrief

7am: 44F in Danville, 50F at the summit, blue skies. The parking lot at Monte Vista High School in Danville began to fill up with riders, some already warming up on trainers, others assembling their bikes, and some deferring the inevitable cold by remaining in the car with a cup of coffee in their hands.

After I finished putting on several layers of clothes, I was told that the Husky race has been canceled due to lack of snow and ice ... just kidding. The ride over to Athenian school was as brisk as the temperatures, to both get the blood circulation going and the old body warmed up.

I was in wave #4, and we started at 8:45am. All the chatter around me was suddenly replaced with heavy breathing, and I tried to make my way ahead of the bunch. From the start. I was going at a higher than usual speed, and hoped that I could sustain it. South Gate in 22 minutes, Junction in 42 minutes (both personal records). From hereon, I tried to pace myself so to not run out of steam before reaching the summit. TBV started in the wave before me (5 minutes earlier), so I was on the look for him since I wanted to catch him (and almost did), but he did a great ride himself, and he finished ahead of me by 38 seconds.

As for Floyd Landis, he preferred to be in Europe today (so I was told). No record was broken, the winning time was 45 minutes and change. Jenny Slawta from Medford, OR, was the fastest woman for the third year in a row. I think we should have two more categories next year: amateur racers and weekend warriors; then maybe we wouldn't feel like we were so slow, looking at sub-60-minute finishes.

Official results are now available, and my rank/time is 707/1:24:29 (personal record).

Some pictures:

@Devil's Elbow
@Finish

View from the summit:


View of the crowd:

Training Log - Mount Diablo Challenge Oct 7

Oct 7 - Debrief

Oct 6:
T minus 1 day until the race. There still hasn't been word whether Floyd Landis will participate, but we'll know for sure by 8:30am tomorrow; my guess is that he'll be a no-show.

I dread the anticipated cold temps tomorrow morning, but it seems we're in for a little warming trend: at least this morning at 7am, it was already 40F at the summit, and by 10am a whopping 43F. Good thing that I didn't experience it personally, because I had decided to rest today, therefore slept until 10am. Instead I ventured into the yard for some exercise this morning, but my wife insists that I should go for a ride. Ok then, I'll think about it.

GMR, thanks for the best wishes!

Oct 3-5:
Rest days.
The temperature outlook for Sunday morning: COLD; this morning at 7am at the summit: 34F.

Oct 2:
Lunch ride, 16.9 miles, 1956 ft of climbing. This brings my total mileage since Aug 26 to 401 miles.

Oct 1:
Rest day. 6 days left until the race. Since Aug 26, I rode 384 miles, and climbed Diablo three times. My goal for Sunday: 1:30h; this means not taking any breaks.

My blog is is getting several hits a day, referred by search engines, where visitors queried for combinations of "Floyd", "Landis", "Diablo" and "Challenge". All I know is that Floyd Landis is registered to start in Wave #1, with Bib# 60; whether or not he will actually participate, is still an open question, but the outlook is not good.

Sep 30:
Another day at Diablo, 1:44h for the climb including 15 minutes worth of stops, riding time 1:29h, total mileage today: 41.1 miles. Today I also reached my goal of 2500 miles for this year; last year's mileage I already reached on Aug 12.

Sep 29:
39.3 miles, negligible elevation gain/loss. I'm not sure yet whether or not to ride Diablo tomorrow, but if I do, I need to wait until later that morning for the temperature to be bearable; this morning at 10am, it was just 44F up at the summit. Next Sunday's Diablo challenge starts at 8:30am (8:45am for my wave), so I should expect similar temperatures then. Time to go looking for the full-finger gloves.

Sep 26-28:
Rest days.

Sep 25:
Lunch ride with TBV, 16 miles, 1956 ft of climbing.

Sep 24:
Rest day.

Sep 23:
Diablo uninteruptus. Today we attempted to climb Diablo without taking a break at the Junction, so we continued. Women and 70-year old men blew by us. I could maintain a higher speed so I dropped TBV, who later had to abort due to a broken chain; I arrived at the summit ~1:33h after leaving at Athenian School. Now that I'm home, I'll soon a enjoy a really nice nap.

Sep 22:
The day started with rain and 52 degrees. By the afternoon, the sun came out, and I went on a quick, 15.5 mile ride in the hills around my house, 1859 ft of climbing.

Sep 21:
Friday = Rest day.

Sep 20:
Today I planned to ride, and I should have, but... well... . I doubt that today's verdict increased the likelihood that Floyd Landis will show up on Oct 7.

Sep 17-19:
Rest days.

Sep 16:
After yesterday's dismal performance, I was anticipating similar suffering for today's planned ride up Diablo. But with cool weather and TBV as an accomplice, I managed to pace myself well, even riding about half the time in the middle chain ring; in the end we clocked 1:38h, including a couple short breaks amounting to 12 minutes, bringing the ride time to 1:26h. In last year's Mt. Diablo Challenge, this would have been the 804th place.

Sep 15:
Finally; the first ride in 12 days, and it was as bad as I expected it. 41.0 miles, from Pleasanton to Livorna Rd, and then a failed attempt to at least climb up Diablo to South Gate; my legs felt like Rubber Ducky's, and I turned around about half way there.

Sep 11:
Today I received my bib# and wave# in the mail: 878 / 4; I bet I'll finish 878th. On Sunday, Sep 16, I'll tackle Diablo along with TBV; let's see how much damage those 12 days will have done. TBV's record is 1:37h, and I should not be slower than him (you know, losing face and that sort of thing).

Sep 8-14:
Mandatory rest days ... don't laugh; my parents are in town from Germany, so I had to skip this weekend, and it doesn't look any better for the remaining week. Looking forward to Sat Sep 15 ...

Sep 4-7:
Rest days. The haze due to the Moonlight Fire in Plumas County makes for some real bad air quality here today, so this is Sep 6's excuse. Sep 7 is a Friday, what do you expect ?

Sep 3:
68.6 miles, 6066ft of climbing.

Sep 2:
I think I mentioned that today would be a rest day. Today's also a day where it's gotten so hot that it's best to finish a ride by 10am; normally a time when I'd start.

Sep 1:
40 miles, Pleasanton - Walnut Creek and back, mostly flat. By the time I finished around noon, the thermometer read 91 F.

Aug 31:
Seriously, who rides on Fridays anyway ? Right here, from the front lobby to the 2nd floor of the parking garage: 15 ft climbing. I plan to ride tomorrow, and a longer ride with the crowd is scheduled for Monday.

Aug 30:
(cough, cough) ... but I have two excuses today:
1. TBV didn't show up for the Thursday ride
2. I'm hungry, so I rather go for lunch

Aug 29:
Looks like another rest day today ...

Aug 28:
Rest day; at least I rode the bike from the 3rd floor of the parking garage to the front lobby: 0.2 miles, 0 ft climbing, 30 ft descent.

Aug 27:
Rest day; and No, I won't be holding a press conference today.

Aug 26:
Last night, body snatchers replaced my legs with some real crappy ones ... at least this is how they felt when I started the Old La Honda Rd climb as part of today's 40-mile ride (bikely.com insists on a little bit less, but on 3728 ft of climbing). Or maybe it was the wine last night ?

Aug 25:
First order of the day was to finally get rid of my aero-bar; 2 pounds and further back pain saved. But preparations don't go well otherwise: today's anticipated ride was replaced by yard work and house cleaning, and I'm looking to an evening with wine, women and song, instead of getting a rest for the usual Sunday ride on the Peninsula. Oh well, there are still 37 days left; training can start tomorrow: Old La Honda Rd, Pescadero, and if I feel like it, Tunitas Creek. I also plan to ride twice during the week, skipping lunch for a quick escape into the surrounding hills.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sun, Sep 30

2007 riding stats: #of rides: 66, annual mileage: 2502, pace: 3333.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Floyd Landis issues statement

This morning, the FFF website published a statement from Floyd Landis:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I’m of course disappointed and in fact angry about the split decision ruling against me last week.

If any good has come out of this, we have shown that the anti-doping system is corrupt, inefficient and unfair. The content of this decision unfortunately highlights this once again. The straightforward and clear dissent in support of my case contrasts sharply with the scientifically flawed and illogical majority decision against me – not to mention the nonsensical ruling regarding when my proposed two-year suspension should start. I still have hope that the system can, and will be, changed so that no other athlete has to suffer through this process only to be denied a clean chance at justice.

I can sleep well at night knowing that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square. I hope that my campaign to clear my name still means something to all of you who have kindly donated to my legal defense fund. Every single contribution to the FFF made a real difference. For your constant support and generosity, I thank you.

At the end of the day, I am proud of what I accomplished in winning the Tour and I’ll always consider myself the rightful winner of the Tour. Whatever the way ahead, it will be good to be moving forward with my life, and at this point I will take some time to review my options.

Thank you for all of the support and encouragement,

Floyd

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The decision: Floyd Landis found guilty

The verdict is out, finally, after almost 14 months of drama:

"The US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) announced today that Floyd Landis' appeal to the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to overturn his sanction by the Anti-Doping Review Board (ADRB) for his alleged positive drug test on July 20, 2006 during the Tour de France was denied. The three member arbitration panel, led by president Patrice Brunet along with Christopher Campbell and Richard McLaren, was split 2-1 in the guilty verdict."
While the outcome was not completely unexpected, it still comes as a surprise, considering the multitude of issues surrounding the LNDD lab work. If facts can't persuade, what else can ?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Breaking News: Panel decision imminent

Monday, May 23, 2021

Murrieta, California (Reuters) - Today marks the 14th anniversary of the ending of the Floyd Landis / USADA hearing at the former site of Pepperdine University; Malibu has since been washed into the Pacific Ocean after the sea level rose more than 4 feet over the past decade. To date, the world and Floyd Landis, 45, are still waiting for the decision of the arbitration panel on Landis' fate and whether he can be finally declared or dethroned the Tour de France Champion of 2006. According to inside sources at the WADC (World Anti-Doping Conglomerate), founded in 2012 from the remnants of WADA and USADA, the decision is expected any day now since Richard McLaren will retire in a week from today. Travis Tygart, Dick Pound and Pat McQuaid, WADC's triumvirat, had no comment. Patrice Brunet and Christopher Campbell haven't been seen in public since 2017.

Greg Lemond, 60, recently stated in an ESPN3 interview, that he is still angry at Landis, and that Lemond himself should have won the 2006 TdF. And who doesn't remember Lemond's quote from Aug 26, 2007, as published in the Denver Post:

"I told him, 'Floyd, you may think you can get away and hide your lie, but it's always there and it works on you and it works on you,"' LeMond said. "'And in 15-20 years it manifests itself. It's proven throughout psychotherapy and (with) psychologists and psychiatrists that trauma or lying or not being true to yourself has a dramatic effect on self-destructiveness."'

And here are we now, 14 years later. Landis: "Lemond should finally shut up. I've won the Tour fair and square."

Asked about whether Landis will race the Leadville 100 again this year: "It depends; for the past 14 years, I've hoped that Lance would finally take up the challenge, but every time he bailed out". After Dave Wiens' retirement in 2013, Landis has been winning the Leadville MTB race every year.

Landis also expressed only little surprise about the decision of the 2021 Tour of Colorado (moved from California due to the receding CA coast line) organizers earlier this year, to yank 62 of the 142 riders from the race due to positive doping tests. "It's 2006 all over again, why is the LNDD still in business ?". WADC had declared LNDD the only officially accredited anti-doping lab on the planet. Landis: "The LNDD today yields 800% more positive doping tests than in 2007, and they only upgraded to Windows95 in 2011. This is ridiculous!". Landis could be the first winner in the Tour's 118-year history to be stripped of his title because of drugs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sat, Aug 25

37 days until the Mount Diablo Challenge. For the fun of it, I'll attempt to maintain a training log in a post dated 10/7/07 12:01am, although don't expect it to be too serious.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fri, Aug 24

The Mount Diablo Challenge is just 6 weeks and 2 days away. Today I signed up:


So officially I'm commited to give Floyd Landis a hard time, if he gives me a headstart of an hour. Judging by last year's result, I'll end up being in 836th place ... winning is not everything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sun, Aug 19

This week has been a bit disappointing in terms of miles cycled. After last Sunday's 82 miles, I had to skip the Thursday lunch ride, and today we've completed a 33 mile loop, but at least with 3711 feet of climbing.

There's word that Floyd Landis signed up for the 26th Annual Mount Diablo Challenge, an 10.8 mile bike ride that climbs up 3,249 feet to the summit of Mount Diablo. The race takes place on October 7th in Danville, CA. The registration fee is $50, and all proceeds benefit Save Mount Diablo’s land conservation efforts. Last year's race was won by 51-year old Robert Anderson from Mill Valley, CA, in 47:28.3. If you add one hour to it, this would be my finish time. I haven't made up my mind yet, but the race between Floyd and TBV should be exciting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mon, Aug 13

Time to clean the dust and the spider webs on this blog ...

Another great ride yesterday: from the Presidio to Point Reyes Station and back, ~5000 ft of climbing over a ~76 mile distance. While the day started out chilly and grey, with the usual fog across the span of the Golden Gate Bridge, and everyone wondering who's idea it was to ride in THAT weather, the sun came through quickly once we reached Sausalito, just north of the bridge. The arm warmers and vests came off another couple of miles later, before the first climb of the day. The route continued through the neighborhoods and downtowns of Larkspur, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo and Fairfax, with lots of ignored stop signs and a couple of cops watching closely over the compliance of a few. Two more climbs before Nicasio; from there another 10 miles to Point Reyes Station, a favorite destination of not only bikers with big calves and quiet 18-pound vehicles, but also bikers with big bellies and loud 600-pound vehicles. After a 20-minute break, we headed back the same way we came. Unexpectedly, Rich took a stop sign seriously, and TBV a little tumble. Two final climbs, facing some congestion due to "rental" cyclists on the bridge, we finished with about 4:45 total riding time, and about 16 mph average speed.

2007 riding stats: #of rides: 55, annual mileage: 2084, pace: 3381.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Doping sanctions: Baseball vs Cycling

Yesterday, Neifi Perez of the Detroit Tigers was suspended by his team for his third doping offense. Perez' very cruel sentence: an 80-game suspension, season-ending. Baseball has some real harsh sentencing; from the article:

"Under baseball's labor contract, a player who tests positive for the first time is sent for counseling. [...] Perez was suspended for 25 games on July 6 when he tested positive for a second time. [...] Perez was suspended for 80 games Friday after testing positive for a third time for a banned stimulant. [...] Another positive test would lead to a suspension to be determined at the discretion of commissioner Bud Selig, with Perez having the right to have an arbitrator review the penalty."

Let's have a moment of silence for Perez, or at least feel some pity for him. OK, that's enough!

Putting this into perspective to Cycling: cyclists like Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Cristian Moreni, Alexandre Vinokourov and Patrik Sinkewitz may or will face a bit tougher sentence:
"Under tough anti-doping rules, a first-time offense draws an two-year suspension. A second offense results in a ban for life."

Can someone explain this glaring difference and injustice ? And if suspicions of doping (isn't this what Rasmussen's case is really about?) can get you pulled from the Tour de France and fired from your team, why is Barry Bonds still at bat and cashing in millions ?
He should've been suspended from the Giants the moment he got connected to the Balco investigation.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tue, Jul 31: 2nd day after

Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) got the news today, that he's actually no longer with T-Mobile. According to CN, Sinkewitz declined the analysis of his B sample, and was fired from the team immediately. Sinkewitz' A sample from June 8 tested positive for testosterone. On his web site, Sinkewitz admits (alternate source in English) the use of Testogel, a gel offered by Jenapharm to compensate for testosterone deficits in the body. He applied the gel during the training camp in France, on the evening before the doping control.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mon, Jul 30 - The day after

Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval) tested positive for EPO from a doping test performed on the second rest day on July 24 ... and you thought the Tour was over. Mayo has been suspended until the result from the B sample is known.

Also, Vino has been fired by Astana after the B sample came back positive as well.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sun, Jul 29: TdF Stage 20

16:00 CEST, the last stage of this year's Tour de France is under way, from Marcoussis to Paris Champs-Élysées.

88.5 km remaining, the peloton is together, and is taking it VERY casually today. There has been speculation whether or not Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and/or Levi Leipheimer (Discovery) should attack, considering the top three riders are close together in the GC. So far, this hasn't happened, but I doubt that the gentleman agreement about not challenging today will be broken.

16:20 CEST, the peloton closes in on Chatenay-Malabry, the home of our favorite anti-doping lab, and location of the second of two sprints today. The speed is still relaxed.

In other news: David Millar (Saunier Duval), Christian Vandevelde (CSC) and Dave Zabriskie (CSC) will join Team Slipstream next year, as told by Jonathan Vaughters himself on Eurosport's live audio feed.

The sprint is taken by Lilian Jegou (Francaise des Jeux), followed by two Quickstep riders, Carlos Barredo and Steven de Jongh.

16:56 CEST, 51 km remaining. The pace has picked up a bit, Discovery at the front.

48 km remaining, Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) attacks and gets a 15 second lead. Chris Horner also tried his luck, but he's caught as well as Bichot. Cancellara has a flat, and makes it back to the peloton.

37 km remaining, there's a breakaway of about 10 riders, 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.
The gap is now 25 seconds, and Cadel Evans should be in the breakaway now, and the finish there right now ... wishful thinking.

31 km remaining, the gap is 0:30. Five laps left.
25 km to go, the gap is now 0:36.
19 km remaining, gap 0:43, three laps remaining.
17.5 km, the gap is coming down to 0:35.
2 laps (13 km) remaining, gap @ 0:24.
11 km, gap @ 0:16.
Rain seems to appear to think of planning to ponder to start falling.
Last lap, 6 km, gap @ 0:06.
And the breakaway is caught, with 5.5 km remaining. Lampre at the front.
4km to go, T-Mob moving up.
3 km to go.
2 km.
1 km.

Bennati wins Stage 20.

Provisional results:

1 Bennati (Lampre)
2 Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
3 Zabel (Milram)
4 Hunter (Barloworld)
5 Boonen (Quickstep)

Alberto Contador (Discovery) wins the Tour De France 2007.

General classification:

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 0.23
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 0.31

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sat, Jul 28: TdF Stage 19

Provisional standings at 15:54 CEST:

1 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor - Lotto 1.05.33 (50.801 km/h)
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.06
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.29
5 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic 0.58
6 Bert Grabsch (Ger) T-Mobile Team 1.19
7 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Milram 1.19
8 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Discovery Channel 1.24
9 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux 2.16
10 Rubén Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 2.18

Mauricio Soler starts right now; yesterday there were rumors that he had a positive doping test, but it was denied by the ASO.

Sastre starts. Hincapie still fastest at 50 km (time check 3), 12 seconds ahead of Hoste.
Showdown! Levi Leipheimer starts.
Hincapie comes to the finish, and he is in 1st place, 15.52 seconds is his lead.
Cadel Evans starts.
Alberto Contador starts.
Chris Horner is 13th. Gutiérrez beats Hincapie.
Leipheimer is the fastest at time check 1.
Evans is 14 seconds down on Leipheimer at time check 1.
Karpets is in 1st place now.
Contador lost 22 seconds on Evans so far, now 34 seconds.
Contador keeps on losing time on Evans, now at 44 seconds.
Levi 1:12 faster than Karpets at time check 2.
Contador lost 47 seconds on Evans so far.
Evans 2nd at time check 2, 35 seconds slower than Levi.
Contador 1:29 down on Levi at TC 2. He lost 55 on Evans.
Levi now 11 seconds behind Evans; Leipheimer catches Sastre.
Levi comes in 1st.
Contador now only 38 seconds ahead of Evans.
Cadel comes in 2nd, 51 seconds behind Levi, but 9 seconds ahead of Leipheimer in the GC.
Contador comes in 5th, 2:18 back on Levi.

Provisional results:

1 Leipheimer
2 Evans 0:51
5 Contador 2:18

GC:

1 Contador
2 Evans 0:23
3 Leipheimer 0:31

Friday, July 27, 2007

TdF Stage 19 preview

This year's Tour de France will be decided tomorrow. Stage 19 is a 55.5 km time trial from Cognac to Angoulême (the finish of Stage 18). Let's have a look at the current GC:

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel 86.04.16
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 1.50
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 2.49
4 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 6.02
5 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 6.29
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 10.18
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team 11.36
8 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 12.47
9 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 13.31
10 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 13.42

Provided none of these riders will crash, or the top three won't have a real bad day, the podium spots will go to Contador, Evans and Leipheimer. How did they fare in the previous two time trials ?

Prologue, London, 7.9 km:
15 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery +0.35
17 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto +0.36
26 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery +0.40

Stage 13, Albi, 54 km:
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto +1.14
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery +2.18
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery +2.39

My prediction is that there won't be a change in the GC after tomorrow's race, but with Contador losing a minute on Evans, although I really wish that Cadel Evans will take the lead, and keep it until Paris.

Start time of the first and last rider are 10:43am CEST and 16:20 CEST respectively, and the last rider is expected to finish at 17:27 CEST. So by 8:30am PDT, we'll know the results, and likely also who the new Tour champion will be.

From the rumor mill: Mauricio Soler tested positive

So far it is unconfirmed, but allegedly there's a new doping case: Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), current holder of the polka-dot jersey and winner of Stage 9 in Briançon, is said to have tested positive for an unknown substance after Stage 14. There is a ASO press conference scheduled for 11am CEST (2am PDT). The original claim seemed to have come from the Belgian newspaper "Het Laatste Neuws". Eurosport.com, Eurosport.de (translated) and radsportnews.net (translated) have already picked up the story.

Update 7/28, 16:00 CEST:

ASO has denied that Soler had tested positive; Soler was not even tested after Stage 14. So luckily it has only been a rumor.

Fri, Jul 27: TdF Stage 18

Stage 18, 211km long, Cahors to Angoulême, is under way.

16:30 CEST, 51 km remaining. Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom), Axel Merckx (T-Mobile), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux) are 17:27 ahead of the peloton. Casar had crashed earlier.

No live video feed is working for me this morning, and live audio now as well.

17:01 CEST: the main NOS live feed is now working, at least intermittently, along with the Eurosport audioplayer (which hasn't worked until two days before the end of the Tour).

31 km remaining, the gap is at 16:37. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) has something to prove today; if he finishes with that gap, he might show up in the top 10; he was 27:50 behind after Stage 17.

With 25 km remaining, the gap is down to 14:31. Boogerd with a flat, but the three other leaders take it easy to let Boogerd catch up.

24 km, 14:00. Boogerd back in front.
19 km, 12:13.
14 km, 11:12.
11.5 km remaining for the leaders, the peloton is 10:55 behind, and just passed the 20 km marker. No chance that the peloton will catch the breakaway.

Boogerd launched an attack with 9.5 km to go, testing a few legs.
7 km, 10:20; peloton has 15 km to go.

6.2 km, Lefèvre attacks, gets a 2-3 second lead. Boogerd chasing, then Merckx, and Casar trying to hang on. Now they're all back to ether at 4.6 km remaining.

4 km to go.
3.5 km, Boogerd in front. Now Merckx goes again.
3 km, Casar takes a short cut and attacks. Casar gets a good lead.
2 km to go, Boogerd trying to bridge the gap, Merckx last.
1 km, they almost caught Casar. Casar caught but still leading the bunch.

500 m. 300 m.

Sprint! Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux) wins Stage 18. Merckx, Lefèvre and Boogerd follow.

The peloton came in in the meantime, and Boonen gets in before Hunter. Cadel Evans gets 3 seconds on Contador.

Provisional results:

1 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 5.13.31 (40.38 km/h)
2 Axel Merckx (Bel) T-Mobile Team 0.01
3 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
4 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 8.34
6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
8 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
9 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile Team
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole

No change in the GC. Tomorrow is the moment of truth, when Stage 19 gets under way with the final and decisive time trial.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jan Ullrich on Doping

The last few days around the Tour de France haven't been that much fun. So while the following video is about doping, it's more on a lighter note.

In this video, Harald Schmidt (the German version of Jay Leno, David Letterman AND Conan O'Brian) announces that Reinhold Beckmann had Jan Ullrich as a guest on his show. Beckmann asks: "What is 'doping' for you ?". Ullrich: "Phhhh, what is doping for me ? Doping is umm when you umm ummm ...". After 31 seconds, Ullrich continues: "I think that umm that umm a viewer out there has understood what I wanted to say".

Thu, Jul 26: TdF Stage 17

16:55 CEST: 15 km remaining, 7:50 the gap between a breakaway group of eight riders and the peloton.

The eight riders are Martin Elmiger (Ag2r – Prévoyance), Daniele Bennati, Daniele Righi (Lampre Fondital), Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step Innergetic), Jens Voigt (CSC) and David Millar (Saunier Duval – Prodir).

No rider is in the yellow jersey today. Menchov (Rabobank) abandoned the race in the feed zone. Rasmussen denies having been in Italy while he was supposed to be in Mexico. What else: Predictor-Lotto plans to sue Vino and Astana. Michael Boogerd said that he "wants to go home immediately". The Rabobank team is riding at the end of the peloton.

Voigt, Bennati and Elmiger are now at the front. 5.7 km remaining, the gap has grown to 9:28. Fothen joined the three at the front.

2 km remaining, gap is 10:14.
1 km to go.

Daniele Bennati (Lampre) wins Stage 17.

Provisional results:

1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
2 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r Prévoyance
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC
5 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir 2.42
6 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic
7 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas 3.20
8 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic 9.37
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux
11 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
12 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
13 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram

No changes in the GC.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TdF Stage 17 preview

After Cofidis pulled out today, and after Rasmussen got pulled by Team Rabobank, there are 149 riders left to start Stage 17. The 188.5 km long stage goes from Pau to Castelsarrasin, and features two sprints and six climbs, all Cat-4 but one Cat-3.

I'll continue to watch and follow the Tour, but for me, the outcome has mostly become meaningless. It is not so much because of who quit or had to quit the Tour for whatever reason, but because the current standings are a result of the racing that included the expelled cyclists. The fact that riders like Contador and Leipheimer are moving up the ranks, and therefore potentially winning the Tour or getting a podium spot, doesn't make anyone happy. This "accomplishment" pleases neither the fans, nor the riders themselves; well, they will be happy about the price money, that is for sure. Plus, there will always be a doubt about whether or not the TdF 2007 champion is a doper; or the fear that we learn that he's one three days after he had been crowned in Paris on July 29. Not that this has never happened before.

Is Rabobank out too ?

According to Phil Liggett:

"So, the Tour de France is punishing into chaos tonight after both, the French Team and the Dutch Rabobank has packed their bags headed home. [...] The team then withdrew because of the Code of Ethics, which is now agreed within professional teams."

No other news outlet has (yet) confirmed that the whole Rabobank team also withdrew from the Tour. CN (still) says that
"The team itself is not leaving the Tour de France, with de Rooy allowing the riders to decide whether they wish to start Stage 17 on Thursday morning."

So currently I doubt that Phil Liggett is correct.

Rasmussen is out

L'Equipe reports that Rabobank has pulled Michael Rasmussen from the Tour for unspecified reasons:

"Le maillot jaune Michael Rasmussen ne sera pas au départ de la 17e étape du Tour de France, jeudi, à Pau. Son équipe, Rabobank, a décidé de ne pas l'aligner pour des raisons encore non précisées. Le coureur danois avait échappé à plusieurs contrôles inopinés avant le Tour."

From CN:
"Yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen will reportedly not be at the start of the Tour de France's 17th stage Thursday morning according to L'Equipe. He was withdrawn from the race by his Rabobank team for reasons which were not specified. Rasmussen won Wednesday's Stage 16 finishing at Col d’Aubisque."

CN update (2:40 PST):
"Yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) will not start Stage 17 of the Tour de France Thursday morning. Team manager Theo DeRooy has withdrawn the maillot jaune from the Tour de France, allegedly because Rasmussen lied to the Rabobank team as to his true whereabouts when he missed his out of competition tests in June. DeRooy will not withdraw the entire team, but will allow the riders to choose to start the stage tomorrow.

BBC reports that Rasmussen also has been fired from the Rabobank team.

The new, provisional GC standings (which for me, are now MEANINGLESS):

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery 76 hours 18 mins 25 secs
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto @ 1 min 53 secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (US) Discovery @ 2 mins 49 secs
4. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC @ 6 mins 2 secs
5. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel @ 6 mins 29 secs

Cristian Moreni tests positive for testosterone

According to, yes you guessed it right, L'Equipe, Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) tested positive for testosterone after Stage 11 between Marseille and Montpellier. Here's the story in English from turkishpress.com.

At the same time, Vinokourov told L'Equipe:

"It's a mistake. I never doped, that's not the way I see my profession," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "I think it's a mistake in part due to my crash. I have spoken to the team doctors who had a hypothesis that there was an enormous amount of blood in my thighs, which could have led to my positive test. [...] "I think it's a mistake in part due to my crash. I have spoken to the team doctors who had a hypothesis that there was an enormous amount of blood in my thighs, which could have led to my positive test. [...] It's been going on for months and today they're managing to demolish me," he said. "The setting up of our team made a lot of people jealous and now we're paying the price. It's a shame to leave the Tour this way, but I don't want to waste time in proving my innocence. [...] I heard that I made a transfusion with my father's blood," Vinokourov said. "That's absurd, I can tell you that with his blood, I would have tested positive for vodka."


Update: Team Cofidis has also announced its withdrawal from the Tour (as reported by L'Equipe).

Wed, Jul 25: TdF Stage 16

16:02 CEST: 40km to go, the current situation:

- Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
- José Vicente Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne) at 0.22
- Group maillot jaune at 2.50
- Peloton with Boonen at 16.00

In today's doping news, L'Equipe reported that another rider tested positive, this time for testosterone after Stage 11. The still unnamed rider's identity will be released at 15 CET, which is now ? 15:00 CET = 16:00 CEST = 7:00 PST ...

The riders are currently ascending Col de Marie-Blanque.

24 km remaining, the gap is 1:20. Right now, only Sastre would gain some time in the GC, but the yellow jersey group will certainly catch up with the leaders, and the final climb will break up the riders anyway. Sastre has to at least make sure to stay with the leaders once they catch up with him.

14.5 km remaining, Verdugo has been caught. Soler has blown too, and Sastre and Mayo are ahead. The yellow jersey group is about 50 second behind Soler.

Menchov is done, now it's up to Boogerd to help Ras. Mayo losing a bit ground on Sastre. Soler now has been caught. Popovych at the front, high pace.

10 km remaining. Sastre and Mayo have been caught. Four men left in the yellow jersey group. Leipheimer in the front now, with Rassmussen, Contador and Evans. Popovych has been dropped.

The top 4 GC contenders are leading at this moment. With just 9 km remaining, how much can any of the riders potentially gain on the others. Contador attacks, Ras not following, but they reel him back in. Sastre now 28 second back to the leaders, Mayo even further back.

8 km remaining, Leipheimer at the front.
7 km to go, Contador at front, Evans passing Leipheimer. Leipheimer is done. Rasmussen attacks. Contador follows. Evans hanging on.

6 km to go, all three still together. Evans has blown, now joined by Leipheimer. Ras back up to Contador. The bad news for Contador is that he won't gain much on Ras today. Leipheimer is slowly coming back to the two leaders, Evans trying limit his losses.

5 km remaining, Evans is now also making his way back to the leaders. 10 seconds back.
4 km to go, Evans has almost reached the three leaders. Leipheimer leading. Sastre has been caught by Soler.

3.3 km to go, Evans falling back again, 20 second gap. Soler has dropped Sastre, and he might as well catch up with Evans.

1 km to go. Rasmussen in front. He attacks. Rasmussen dropped Contador and Leipheimer.

0.7 km to go, Ras powering his way to the finish.

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) win Stage 16 ! He certainly rode a very smart race.

Leipheimer is second, Contador third. Evans comes in 4th, and Soler is 5th.

Provisional results:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel at 0.26
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel at 0:35
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto at 0:43
5 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld at 1:25

Rasmussen is now 3:10 ahead of Contador; he gained 47 seconds (35 + 12s time bonus difference) on him today. Evans at 5:03, Leipheimer at 5:59. In 5th place is Sastre with more than 9 minutes behind:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel at 3:10
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto at 5:03
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel at 5:59

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TdF Stage 16 preview

The Tour took a break from racing today, but instead of a quiet day in the Pyrenees, the day was filled with the doping news about Alexandre Vinokourov and Team Astana.

With not only Vinokourov gone from tomorrow's Stage 16 between Orthez and Gourette-Col D'Aubisque, his Astana team mates Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Savoldelli, Antonio Colom Mas, Maxim Iglinskiy, Serguei Ivanov, Daniel Navarro Garcia and Grégory Rast also had to pack up and leave.

Stage 16 is another long one, 218.5 km, with two sprints and five climbs:

Km 79: Port de Larrau: 14.7 km climb @ 8.1 % grade / hors catégorie (Spain)
Km 93: Alto Laza - 3.5km climb @ 6.8 % grade / 3rd Cat. (Spain)
Km 131: Col de la Pierre-Saint-Martin: 14.2 km climb @ 5.2 % grade / 1st Cat.
Km 180.5: Col de Marie-Blanque: 9.3 km climb @ 7.4 % grade / 1st Cat.
Km 218.5: Col d'Aubisque: 16.7 km climb @ 7 % grade / hors catégorie

Will we witness another duel of Rasmussen and Contador on the last climb ?

Vinokourov tests positive - Astana withdraws from Tour

As reported first by our favorite newspaper (L'Equipe) and our favorite leaker err reporter (Damien Ressiot), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) tested positive for homologous blood doping after Saturday's time trial in Albi; here's the story in English. As a consequence, Team Astana withdraw from the Tour. The doping test was conducted by our favorite anti-doping lab, LNDD, in Paris.

It said two distinctive types of red blood cells were found in the A sample and showed that Vinokourov received a blood transfusion from a compatible donor shortly before the time trial.

Considering LNDD's proven record of incompetence and screw-up's, it makes me wonder whether this doping result will be contested. But as in every other case, we need to await the B sample results, which though doesn't prevent any ADA or cycling union to go public immediately. L'Equipe, owned by ASO, might have gotten the story directly from the source.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A look back: July 20, 2006

Today one year ago, Floyd Landis celebrated his Tour de France victory on Champs Elysees in Paris. A few days earlier, he won Stage 17; who can ever forget it. Click the image.



Mon, Jul 23: TdF Stage 15

"The dead live longer." (Old saying)

15:56 CEST: Among several other riders, a couple of riders have decided to give it all today, despite having being written off as contenders: Vinokourow (Astana) and Menchov (Rabobank) are 7:53 ahead of the yellow jersey group, with 39.5 km remaining.

From CN:

* Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile)
* Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom)
* Iñigo Landaluze Euskaltel-Euskadi)
* Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Juan José Cobo (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Juan Manuel Gárate (Quickstep-Innergetic) at 0.41
* Yellow jersey group including Evans, Soler, Kloeden, Leipheimer, Boogerd, Sastre, Mayo at 7.04
* Peloton at ?

Kirchen was 13:16 back in the GC after Stage 14, Menchov was 18:57, and Vino .. well 34:12. Kirchen is now over the top of Port de Balès, which is shrouded in fog. There's one more Cat-1 climb left today.

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) is pulling the yellow jersey group over the top. 28 km left for the Boogerd group, the gap is 6:41.

The leaders had their fun with the downhill, and now face the 9 km climb up to Col de Peyresourde.

Breaking News: Over the last couple of hours, French police apparently searched the team buses of Astana, Rabobank, CSC and Discovery at the border to Spain.

Back to the race. Vino is attacking and bridging the gap to the leaders.

5 km left to the top. Arroyo leading, and Vino in 4th place.

Vino now in front with 2 km to go to the top, and just over 10 km left in the race. His lead is 6:12. Vino is flying up the mountain, 0.45 km to the top. Huge crowds up there. Vino made it over the top.

Attack by Contador (Discovery) in the peloton, but Rasmussen catches his wheel and they're by themselves. Déja vu. Contador tries again, Rasmussen is suffering. Looks like this time Contador was successful. Rasmussen trying to hang on.

Meanwhile Vino is flying to the mountain, with 2.5 km left, and a 5:33 gap. Rasmussen and Contador caught up with George Hincapie (Discovery).

Alexandre Vinokourow (Astana) wins Stage 15.

2 km left for Rasmussen and Contador, who got rid of Hincapie. Contador comes in, Rasmussen just behind him. Evans, Kashechkin, Sastre, Leipheimer and Klöden again lose time on those two today.

Provisional results:

1 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile 0.49
3 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
4 Juan José Cobo (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.51
5 Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Quickstep-Innergetic 2.16
6 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 3.24
7 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner 4.25
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team CSC
9 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance 5.16
10 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel 5.25
11 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto 6.27

In the General classification, Rasmussen remains 2:23 ahead of Contador; Evans falls back another 56 seconds to 4:00, and Leipheimer is at 5:25 now.

General classification

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.23
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 4.00
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 5.25
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 5.34
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 6.46
7 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7.27
8 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana 7.54
9 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile 8.40
10 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sun, Jul 22

While the Pro's have cycled 2554 km (1596 miles) so far this month during the Tour de France, I've managed to ride a mere 247 miles in July. This weekend I added 83 miles to the count; and finally I came clean, and confessed that I'm a doper as per Rant's "definition".

Today I also paid Chain Reaction Bicycles in Los Altos a visit. The 2008 Trek Madone has arrived and just looks gorgeous. The price for 2006/2007 Madone models 5.2 and 5.9 have been reduced drastically; currently the 5.2 is on sale for $1999, and the 5.9 for $3749 (same price as the 2008 Madone 5.5).

2007 riding stats: #of rides: 47, annual mileage: 1815, pace: 3264.

TdF Stage 15 preview

Day 2 in the Pyrenees. Tomorrow's Stage 15, 196 km long, is this year's toughest stage, the Queen Stage. Between Foix and Loudenvielle-Le Louron the riders have to master five climbs:

Km 27.5: Col de Port: 11.4 km climb @ 5.3 % grade / 2nd Cat.
Km 98.5: Col de Portet d'Aspet: 5.7 km climb @ 6.9 % grade / 2nd Cat.
Km 114: Col de Menté: 7.0 km climb @ 8.1 % grade / 1st Cat.
Km 159.5: Port de Balès: 19.2 km climb @ 6.2 % grade / hors catégorie
Km 184.5: Col de Peyresourde: 9.7 km climb @ 7.8 % grade / 1st Cat.

For better illustration:


If you think today's stage was exciting, it can only get better tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sun, Jul 22: TdF Stage 14

Today's Stage 14 is the first stage in the Pyrenees. The 197 km long course between Mazamet and Plateau-de-Beille immediately starts out with a Cat-2 climb, one of three climbs. The other two are both hors catégorie climbs at 146.5 and 181 km.

16:14 CEST: Rubén Pérez and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Antonio Colom (Astana) are 0:50 ahead of Carlos Barredo (Quickstep-Innergetic), who are 3:08 ahead of the peloton. 32 km to go.

23 km remaining, Barredo has been caught. Peloton at 3:00. We're getting close to the last climb. Expect some attacks.

The climb started, Perez has been dropped. Boogard leading the peloton. Rasmussen, Evans and Horner close behind. So is Klöden and Contador. Hincapie is gone. And where is Vino ?

Colom attacking in the breakaway group.

12 km to go, 1:49 the gap. Vino is way back, and Klöden looking to be in trouble, but he seems to be moving back up. And this is not Valverde's day either. Menchov has been dropped.

11 km remaining: 2:01 the gap. Evans also suffering.

10 km remaining for the leaders. Rasmussen, Contador and Evans in a clinch in the peloton. Accompanied by Popovych, Sastre and Leipheimer. Popovych is driving the group. Klöden again losing contact. Klöden coming back slowly.

Popo is done, Contador in front. Rasmussen attacks, Contador and Evans behind.

6.5 km remaining. Rasmussen trying to lose Contador and Evans again.

Evans is done. Contador and Rasmussen in front of the group. Only 29 seconds ahead is Colom. Klöden 1:26 behind Rasmussen.

4 km remaining. 11s is the gap.
3.4 km, Colom has been caught by Rasmussen and Contador. Evans 45 seconds back.

If nothing else changes, Rasmussen and Contador will be the winners in the GC today; everyone else loses more time. 2.5 km to go. Colom dropped as far back as Evans, and Klöden is back there too.

1 km remaining for Rasmussen and Contador. Both out of the saddle.

Alberto Contador (Discovery) wins Stage 14, Rasmussen second.

Soler is next, and Leipheimer and Sastre come in 40 and 53 seconds back, respectively. Evans and Klöden come in 1:52 back.

Big loss today for Valverde, and Vino is still out there. And where was Moreau ?

Provisional results:

1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
3 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 0.36
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 0.38
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.52
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 1.52
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
8 Antonio Colom (Spa) Astana 2.23
9 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 3.06

In the GC, Contador gains 8 seconds on Rasmussen due to the 20 second time bonus. Cadel Evans is now 3rd, losing 2:04 minutes (1:52 + 0:12 Rasmussen's time bonus) today, overall 3:04 back. Leipheimer moves up one rank, but lost 52 seconds today. Vinokourov is not among the top 20 GC riders, with José Gutierrez (Caisse d'Espargne) in 20th place, 19:33 back; Vino is definitely out of contention for the Tour win or even podium.

General classification

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel 2.23
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto 3.04
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 4.25
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 4.38
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 5.50
7 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana 6.58
8 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel

Update: Vinokourov now ranks 30th in the GC, with 34:12 back. Moreau also lost 35 minutes on Rasmussen today, and is 48:13 back, ranked 42nd.

Sat, Jul 21: TdF Stage 13

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) rode the TT of this life and retained the yellow jersey with a 1:00 minute lead after today's 54 km Stage 13 in Albi. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) won the race with a lead of 1:14 on Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), who is now second in the GC. Vinokourov made it back into the top 10 GC riders. Alberto Contador (Discovery) gained 31 seconds for the day, and he is now 3rd in the GC with just 2:31 behind Rasmussen. Team mate Levi Leipheimer moved from 8th to 5th place in the GC, but only gained 16 seconds on the yellow jersey, with now 3:37 behind.

Provisional standings:

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 1.06.35 (48.661 km/h)
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 1.14
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 1.39
4 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana 1.44
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 2.13
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.15
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.18
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 2.37
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.38
10 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 2.41

General classification:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto 1.00
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel 2.31
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 2.34
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 3.37
6 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana 4.23
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 4.45
8 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 5.02
9 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 5.10
10 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile 5.29

Friday, July 20, 2007

TdF Stage 12 preview

The common opinion is that after tomorrow's 54 km time trial in Albi, there will be a new leader in the General Classification, i.e. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) will have to surrender the yellow jersey; Rasmussen is considered a weak time trialist. However, one would think, that after Rasmussen's dismal TT performance in Stage 20 of the 2005 TdF, that he has improved on his time-trialing by now. We'll see.

In addition, he is likely under certain pressure now, considering the revelations about alleged, missed doping tests and blood bags in show boxes. Meanwhile, Rasmussen admitted an "administrative error" in the drug-testing rules, and says that recent out-of-competition doping tests were negative:

“I do admit that I've committed an administrative error,” Rasmussen said before Friday's start of the 12th stage of the Tour. “I was informed of this at the Danish championship 2 1/2 weeks ago, so it's no news.” “It might be a surprise that it comes out right now,” he added. “I'm very calm and very relaxed ... It's a minor deal. I know that a lot of riders in the peloton receive warnings for not informing or not giving updated information to the UCI” – cycling's governing body. “I'm just one out of many, and I just happen to ride with the yellow jersey right now.” Rasmussen said he was tested out of competition in June, and the results were negative. “I have no positive doping tests, and that's it,” he said.

While missing three doping tests constitutes a doping offense, it is incomprehensible that the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) announced Rasmussen's missed TWO tests to the public, during the Tour and while Rasmussen is in the yellow jersey. Someone was out there to get maximum exposure for this "story".

Mayo Jaune

Too funny ... when looking at the visitors of my site, and the reason for getting there, I found this entry:

Search Engine: google.com
Search Words: mayo juane
Was the visitor looking for this or that ?

Fri, Jul 20: TdF Stage 12

There's an alternate NOS live feed, that works this morning. The main NOS stream is probably maxed out.

All talk here in the Bay Area this morning is about a 4.2 quake that occurred at 4:42 am. I slept happily through it, and nothing fell over in our house. Seems there's some damage in and around Oakland, but no reported injuries or worse. Berkeley and Montclair appeared to have gotten the worst of it.

But let's see what's happening today between Montpellier and Castres. The stage is 178.5 km long, and has two sprints and four climbs (3 Cat-4, 1 Cat-2).

We have 35 km to go to the finish, and there are two riders, Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom) and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), about 4:26 ahead of the peloton.

The gap has been decreased to 2:39 with 29 km remaining.
19 km to go, gap is 1:48.
16 km to go, gap is 1:25.

Let me go ahead and say: no changes in the GC today; I don't expect any surprises within the last 10 km. But who will win the sprint ? I bet that Boonen wants to sooth his hurt ego after his crash yesterday in Montpellier, just shortly before the finish.

8 km remaining, the gap is down to 0:53.
With 5 km to go, the lead is still 0:30. I give the breakaway another 3 km before they're caught.

2.4 km, 10 seconds. Yes, 500 m remaining and the two leaders are caught.

And Tom Boonen (Quickstep) wins Stage 12.

Provisional results:

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
3 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
4 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
6 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile
7 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux
8 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Agritubel
9 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thu, Jul 19: TdF Stage 11

Just 10 km remaining in today's stage, and the riders are already in Montpellier.

The group is split into two pelotons, at about 2:43 apart. But with 7.5 km to go, the gap is up to 3 minutes. This is not good for the GC contenders in that second group, e.g. Christophe Moreau (AG2r), who crashed early in the race today.

2.5 km to go, and here's a crash. Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto), Francisco Ventoso (Saunier-Duval), Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole), Frank Schleck (CSC) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep) went down.

Robbie Hunter (Barloworld) wins Stage 11, finally; he deserved it. Former yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara (CSC), gets the second place.

The second group with Moreau comes to the finish with more than three minutes back.

Provisional results:

1 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
3 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
5 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux
9 William Bonnet (Fra) Crédit Agricole
10 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile

In the GC, no changes apart from Moreau dropping out of the top 10. With 3 minutes on top of the 3:18 he was behind before today's stage, he should slip to the ~15th place.

Update: David Zabriskie (CSC) missed the time-cut today and is therefore out of the Tour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TdF Stage 11 preview

With one time trial and ten stages behind us, we're now past half-time in this year's Tour de France. Another ten stages remain, among them two more time trials at Stages 13 and 19, and then of course that casual Stage 20 into Paris.

But tomorrow, the remaining 171 riders have to master 182.5 km of Stage 11 between Marseille and Montpellier, with its one Cat-4 climb and its two sprints. So we have another flat stage ahead, which means it's sprinters' heaven again, and Rasmussen will likely remain in yellow.

Landis' NPR/KPCC interview

Amusing ... this is all I can say about the rage that evolved at DPF over Floyd Landis' comments on NPR about Greg Lemond the other day. Landis said:

"The unfortunate thing was that Lemond's presence was just a tactic by USADA to take away from the fact they don't have a positive test. He made accusations to impugn my character, and wouldn't answer questions on cross-examination. He should never have been there, he has a lot of problems, I hope he gets help for his problems. He's not well."
and
"I mean, here I am telling the whole world I didn't do it, and I call one guy who I've never spoken with before and tell him that I did it? The guy's clearly insane, and I hope he gets some help before he does something bad to himself."

The ongoing opinion at DPF is that these comments don't reflect positively on Landis and don't help his PR, and that aside from Geoghegan-gate, this puts another stain on Landis' character. For many, this negative character trait directly translates into his apparent guilt of doping at the TdF 2006, but a character issue has nothing to do with a science and procedure issue.

It is indeed amusing that folks get that excited and irritated, whining about political incorrectness and immorality, and shouting "Shame on you, Floyd", while the bar doesn't sit as high at home, i.e. check your mirror. Landis spoke his mind, and it's his right to do so. And as I said earlier, for me, Lemond lost most credibility the moment he walked into that court room at Pepperdine University on May 17. He then lost the remaining credibility when he brought up his personal experience, which had nothing to do with whether Landis doped or not. From another blog comment:
"I was molested, so you should admit you cheated," is just bad logic and there is no correlation.

You stick your head out, you get whacked. Welcome to the real world. So get over it. Ride your bike.

Wed, Jul 18: TdF Stage 10

This is where we are at about 16:45 CEST: ahead 10:56 of the peloton, with 47 km to go:

Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuchynski (Liquigas), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Andriy Grivko (Milram).

I believe Voigt is the leading rider in the GC of that bunch, with 24:39 behind Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank). So no threat to the maillot jaune from that breakaway group.

Luckily, the NOS live feed is working for me today, albeit with frequent hiccups and re-buffering, and in Dutch.

The brekaway is now over the second to last climb today, Côte des Bastides. Grivko is ahead, followed by Halgand, Albasini and Casar. Then, Voigt, Vasseur, Burghardt and Scheirlinckx.

With 24 km remaining, the gap is still 10:33. Voigt, Casar, Albasini, Vasseur and Halgand are now together. 10:23 with 21.5 km to go. 10:42 a km later. Will the peloton pick up the pace ? Maybe a bit, but they won't catch this bunch.

On a side note, an A sample of T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz has tested positive for testosterone; the T/E ratio allegedly is 24:1. Sinkewitz dropped out of the Tour after hitting a spectator after Stage 8 last Saturday.

16 km left, 11:33 the gap. 5 km left to the summit of this last climb, Col de la Gineste, a Cat-3 climb. The peloton still has 20 km to go, with Rabobank at the front. Again, this stage should be no sweat for Rasmussen.

6.5 km remaining, 12:14 the gap. 4.2 km to go, Vasseur attacks, but they all remain together.
3.4 km, they're playing with each other.
3 km, Vasseur goes again, and he and Albasini get away, but now all back together.
1 km to go. Vasseur tries again.

Vasseur wins Stage 10, Casar is second. Finally, a French double-strike. This is Vasseur's 2nd stage win, TEN years apart. Albasini, Halgand and Voigt take places 3-5. The chasers also arrive now.

Provisional results:

1 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Liquigas
4 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Crédit Agricole
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC
6 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis
7 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
8 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Aleksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Liquigas
10 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
11 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Milram

My live video is still stuck at 2.9 km remaining, but live audio continues. Fortunately, Dutch is close enough to German, so I could catch some commentary.

Now where's the rest ? Here they are ... Chavanel and Boonen, 12th and 13th.

So no change in the General Classification.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

TdF Stage 10 preview

Tomorrow's a long day, a 229.5 km stage between Tallard and Marseille. Now that the Alps are behind the riders, there are only Cat-3 and Cat-4 climbs to master (i.e. a rather flat stage), as well as two sprints. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) has a comfortable lead of 2:35, 2:39 and 2:41 to Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) , Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval) and Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) respectively, so baring any crashes or failed tactics, Rasmussen should be in yellow again tomorrow afternoon.

David Zabriskie (CSC) is risking to lose the competition for the lanterne rouge if he's not slowing down considerably. While he came in last today, he's still 2:34 faster than the currently last ranked rider, the Belgian Wim Vansevenant of Team Predictor-Lotto; Vansevenant trails Rasmussen by 1 hour 45 minutes 23 seconds, and he was the 2006 TdF winner of the lanterne rouge. And there's actually a blog out there, specifically about the TdF lanterne rouge.

Tue, Jul 17: TdF Stage 9

Today's stage finished early, at least too early for me to get some live coverage before the finish.

Provisional results:

1 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 4.14.24 (37.618 km/h)
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.38
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.40
5 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 0.42
6 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team 0.46
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
10 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) keeps the yellow jersey. Vinokourov (Astana) came in 3:23 back and will likely have to bury his hopes of winning the Tour this year; Astana needs to focus on Klöden now.

GC classification:

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 43.52.48
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 2.35
3 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 2.39
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 2.41
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 3.08
6 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 3.18
7 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 3.39
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 3.50
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 3.53

Monday, July 16, 2007

TdF Stage 9 preview

Hope everyone got a good rest today, because tomorrow's Stage 9, between Val-d’Isère and Briançon is one of the tougher stages this year. Among two sprints, the 159.5 km long stage features three climbs:

Km 15: Col de l'Iseran: 15.0 km @ 6 % grade / hors catégorie
Km 99: Col du Telegraphe: 12.0 km @ 6.7 % grade / 1st Cat.
Km 122: Col du Galibier: 17.5 km @ 6.9 % grade / hors catégorie

I'm doubtful about getting any live audio or video again.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

TdF Stage 8 review

What else happened, i.e. the not-so-good news:

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) out after a crash, in which he injured his shoulder.

Stuart O'Grady (CSC) out of the Tour after a crash; 5 broken ribs, a fractured shoulder, a punctured lung, a broken collarbone, and 3 cracked vertebrae.

After the stage finish, Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) hits a fan on the way to his hotel, who is in a coma now. Sinkewitz was also transported to a hospital.

Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) disqualified from the Tour after failing to meet the time limit.

Cycling Fans Anonymous has some pointed commentary.

Sun, Jul 15: TdF Stage 8

Found another live feed, yet very tiny picture, and NO audio.

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish and Michael Rogers (!) have dropped out of the Tour. Rogers had crashed earlier, and supposedly broke his clavicle.

Current situation (courtesy of cyclingnews.com):
- Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
- Antonio Colom (Astana) and David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne)
- Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at 5.09
- Christophe Moreau and Stéphane Goubert (AG2r Prévoyance), Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval), Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto), Andrey Kashechkin (Astana)
- Peloton at 5.34

Mayo has been caught too, so now it's Rasmussen, Colom and Arroyo, one big group, and the peloton. Rasmussen can pull this off, remember Rasmussen's Stage 16 win last year (the stage where Floyd Landis bonked) ? He is 4:42 behind in the GC, but only 27 seconds behind Moreau.

Rasmussen has 10 km to go. His lead is still 4:45 to the chase group, and more than five minutes to the peloton.

At 5 km to go, there's a 12.5% grade. The chase group is working together. Colom and Arroyo are 2:30 behind Rasmussen, who has now only 5 km to go. Popovych is gone from the Moreau group, and the maillot jaune, Gerdemann has been dropped by the peloton. Andreas Klöden (Astana), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) now ahead of the peloton. Arroyo has been caught. Vino falling back.

Rasmussen coming to the finish, he wins Stage 8. Iban Mayo comes in second.

Provisional results:
1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 4.49.40
2 Iban Mayo (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 2.48
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 3.11
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance
5 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
8 Denis Menchov (Spa) Rabobank
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
11 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel
12 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval

Michael Rasmussen is the new maillot jaune, Geerdemann is second, Mayo third.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

TdF Stage 8 preview

Stage 8 on Sunday is going to be the hardest stage thus far. While there are only 165 km between Le Grand-Bornand and Tignes, there are two sprints (at 36 and 105 km) and six climbs, the last three of them a Category 1:

Km 99.5: Cormet de Roselend: 19.9 km climb @ 6 % grade
Km 136.5: Montée d'Hauteville: 15.3 km climb @ 4.7 % grade
Km 163: Montée de Tignes: 18.0 km climb @ 5.4 % grade, maximum grade 12.5%

The finish of the stage is at 2068 m elevation and part of the last climb at Montée de Tignes. There will be a new rider in the yellow jersey tomorrow afternoon.

Monday will be a rest day, so Stage 9 will resume Tuesday, with a 159.5 km race from Val-d’Isère to Briançon.

Sat, Jul 14: TdF Stage 7

By the time I got to look at today's coverage, the stage was over.

The first real breakaway consisted of 15 riders:

Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne)
Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole)
Egoi Martinez (Discovery)
Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom)
Benoit Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
Bram Tankink (Quick Step-Innergetic)
Paolo Savoldelli (Astana)
David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Martin Elmiger (Ag2r)
Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom).

This group managed to get ahead almost 9 minutes at some point, but the peloton managed to reduce the gap to 5:30 by the second climb of the day, Côte de Cruseilles, with 82 km remaining. At the top of the climb, the gap had increased back to 6:40, with 75 km left. The gap started to come down to 5:10 at the begin of the climb up to Col de la Colombière.

Flecha, Pineau, Salvodelli and Perez are being dropped from the lead group. Cancellara is also being dropped from the main group. Fuente, Gutierrez and Gerdemann are ahead now by themselves, later joined by Fofonov, with 25 km to and 5 minute lead.

Fuente and Gutierrez drop off, and they are soon 25 seconds behind, joined by Landaluze. So it's just Gerdemann and Fofonov now. Gerdemann took off, and got a 30 second lead on the other two. Flecha meanwhile drifted back into the peloton. Salvodelli is also being caught, and it's still Gerdemann up front with Landaluze and Fuente chasing. 4:15 is the gap.

3:20 between Gerdemann and the field once the peloton reached the summit.
2:57 with 10 km to go.
3:22 with 7.5 km to go, with Landaluze approximately 30 seconds behind.

1 km to go ... and Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) wins Stage 7.

Provisional results:

1 Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) 4.53.13
2 Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0.40
3 David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 1.38
4 Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
5 Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom)
6 Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
7 Juan Manuel Gárate (Quickstep-Innergetic)
8 Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom)
9 Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance)
10 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

The main field finished 3:38 behind, with Leipheimer, Vino, Peeiror, Schleck, Evans, Gusev, Sastre, Klöden, Menchov, Horner and a few other top contenders. Hincapie came in 7:04 behind, Cancellara 22:47 behind. The sprinters mostly came in dead last, with Robbie McEwen last, 24:19 behind.

In the GC, the top 10 are

1 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 34.43.40
2 Inigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 1.24
3 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 2.45
4 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 2.55
5 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld 3.05
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 3.39
7 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 3.51
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 3.52
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 3.55
10 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 3.57