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

Friday, July 13, 2007

TdF Stage 7 preview

From Bourg-en-Bresse to Le Grand-Bornand, this is Stage 7, or the first mountain stage in this year's Tour. The 197.5 km course features four climbs and two sprints. The one real mountain, Col de la Colombière, a Cat-1 climb, 16 km long with an average grade of 6.8%, comes at km 183, 14 km before the finish. This climb will likely decide tomorrow's winner. Cancellara will probably have to yield the maillot jaune to another rider tomorrow, but I have no idea who it could be.

Due to lack of live video, and with live audio not working either, following the coverage via other sites' live tickers is not a lot of fun, so I may drastically shorten my coverage from now on, and go riding myself.

After Stage 8 on Sunday, the riders will get a well-deserved rest day.

Fri, Jul 13: TdF Stage 6

No more Versus live feed, and Serbian TV is running something other than the Tour de France.

Both Klöden and Vinokourov have started Stage 6, but Klöden seems to be a frequent visitor at the team cars.

16:36 CEST, we have 63km to go, and Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) leads the peloton by 5:08 riding up the second of two climbs.

About 49 km to go, Wiggins' lead is 5:03. Time to crank it up, peloton.

So they heard me, and with 44 km to go, the lead is down to 3:50. The chase is now fully on, and with 36 km remaining, Wiggins' lead melted down to 2:51.

Quickstep at the front, and Steven De Jongh and Gert Steegmans take second and third in the final sprint today.

30 km to go, gap is 1:36. Again, it's just a matter of time (see #1 on this list) when Wiggins will be caught.
1:13 at 27 km remaining.
1:36 at 23 km remaining; the peloton feels they're in control and are easing.

Wiggins is looking over his shoulder - where's the peloton ? His lead is back to 1:45 with 20 km remaining. No, he won't pull it off.

Gerolsteiner at the front now, the peloton is stringing out, Wiggins' lead down to 1:31. With 16 km to go, Milram is at the front, gap is 1:01.

0:50, Wiggins is suffering, and the peloton lets the mouse go for a moment. But only for a moment: 13 km to go, gap is 0:30.

11.5 km remaining, gap 0:23.
10 km remaining, gap 0:20. Mouse Wiggins is probably nervous about Cat Peloton approaching.
Quickstep in front now. I wish McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) or Zabel (Milram) can pull it off today.

T-Mobile up from now, gap is a mere 10 seconds. Mouse is still resisting.

From CN:

"Vino is at the back looking unhappy. He gives a sign - a slice across the throat - perhaps indicating that he's done."

Mouse Wiggins is caught with 7 km to go. Predictor now pulling.
5 km remaining.
4 km remaining, still nobody in control. I wish I had live audio at the least.
3 km to go, Wegmann in front. Now Tosatto.
1.8 km, Milram in front with Zabel right there.
Rabobank goes with 1 km remaining.
Gerolsteiner leads, Zabel still there. Quickstep moves.

Tom Boonen (Quickstep) wins Stage 6. Robbie Hunter and Oscar Freire were again beaten so close to the finish.

Provisional results:

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
4 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
6 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
10 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas

No change in the top 10 GC classification, but today likely is Cancellara's last day in yellow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Versus TdF Live Feed

From steephill.tv:

"I've removed the link to the Versus live feed at the request of the Versus legal department. It's only a matter of time before they find the leak from within their operation and I'm not interested in ticking off Versus. They're probably taking some heat from the Tour de France because of the country broadcast restrictions A.S.O. impose on each live video provider. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted."

A few other sites also noted that they were contacted by Versus legal department to remove the link, so I'll also comply.

Alternatives:
Serbian TV (worked on Tuesday), or check steephill.tv.


Update 7/13 8am, from cyclingfans.com:
Versus live video streaming update

We have some information on what's up with the Versus live video streaming, direct from Versus lawyer, Carla. Carla says that Versus is not permitted to publicly stream the Tour de France. (Though she didn't elaborate, presumably that means they didn't purchase online broadcast rights; television and internet rights tend to be sold separately. Note that in some European markets, internet rights to the Tour de France have been sold and in other markets they remain unsold.) So the scenario whereby Amaury Sport Organization (A.S.O.), who appear in our site logs since Monday (hi Jean-François!), put pressure on Versus seems likely.

In other words, the stream is not meant for public consumption and Versus was getting heat for it being out there. Carla says that they believe they have corrected the "problem" by blocking access to the stream. (Why didn't they do that in the first place?)

This raises the question of what that brief, announced live streaming on the Versus site last weekend was all about. Did someone in the Versus internet department simply screw up? Was it a deliberate publicity stunt early in the Tour to get more viewers for the TV broadcasts?

Carla has again asked the Versus internet department to contact us, though the main questions are all answered now: there is no stream for public consumption and there will be no stream for public consumption, free or otherwise. The news is not good but thanks for the responses, Carla.

So Versus had a contractual obligation to prevent public access to the stream. They failed to do that ahead of time. Carla added that "any diversion of viewers to the Internet or elsewhere that detracts from potential viewership of the television coverage affects advertising support and impairs our ability to cover events of this nature." But clearly Versus simply do not believe in streaming the race over the internet themselves either.

Many people have written to us saying that they watched the commercials during those few days when the live video streaming was out there. It would be interesting to hear directly from the sponsors on this...

Maybe we should block A.S.O. from accessing our site... ;-)

TdF Stage 6 preview

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th ... uhhhhhhh. There is/was rumor that tomorrow, Floyd Landis will learn about his fate, err verdict. Opinions on the outcome vary from 3-0 for Landis to 2:1 for USADA. But we've heard the rumor story before, so I certainly won't hold my breath.

Bad luck already happened for Team Astana today, with both Klöden and Vinokourov off to the hospital after today's finish. The outlook for Klöden is not good at the moment since he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his tailbone. Vinokourov had to get stitches for his knee, so in my mind this also doesn't look too good for tomorrow. Fred Rodriguez' stitches at the elbow after the crash in Stage 2 are one thing, but a knee is being stressed a bit more when cycling. Both riders though hope to start Stage 6. Another victim today was Benjamin Noval (Discovery) who crashed through a car window on the descent to the finish, and who required stitches; Johan Bruyneel is optimistic though that Noval will start tomorrow.

Stage 6 itself, between Semur-en-Auxois and Bourg-en-Bresse, 199.5 km this time, is another sprinter's stage since it only has two Cat-4 climbs at 55 and 138 km. Three sprint points are at 51.5 km, 127.5 km and 161 km. From Stage 7 on, sprinters will have to take a back seat, as this will be the first mountain stage in the Alps.

Thu, Jul 12: TdF Stage 5

Here's a new link for the Versus live feed ... (sorry I had to remove the link)

Meanwhile: Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), William Bonnet (Crédit Agricole), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) and Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld) are 2:37 upfront with 55km to go.

50 km to go, 1:28 is the gap. The road is getting steeper at Haut-Folin. Cheula and Bonnet fell behind as Chavanel went. There's concern why Pereiro and Valverde are at the back of the peloton; probably some mechanical failure. Hushovd having trouble with the hill.

The lead dropped back to over 2 minutes with 48 km to go. One more km to climb. Chavanel and Gilbert are through the KOM, and Chavanel picks up the maximum number of points. Chavanel got 37 points in the KOM classification today, 23 points for Gilbert. Cheula and Bonnet are 1:11 behind, the peloton 2:17.

The final climb of the day, a Cat-3 at Côte de la Croix de la Libération, a 3.4km climb @ 5.4% average grade, will be 10 km before the finish, or at km 174. But first is a sprint point coming up in about 3 km.

Cheula and Bonnet are now caught by the peloton. 28km to go, gap is 2:09. All riders zooming down the mountain/hill, beautiful landscape, wish I could go riding there.

Liquigas making the pace. Gilbert got the sprint points ahead of Chavanel. Sastre is still(?) back at the team cars, but has joined Erik Zabel (Milram), who had a flat.

As things go today, Cancellara might just keep his yellow jersey for another day. Zabel is back in the peloton. Sastre is also back at the back of the peloton.

After the faltered French breakaway in Stage 3, today the two French leaders have a new chance to finally get a win. Just for fun: go to google.com, enter "french military victories" in the search box, and click "I'm feeling lucky". Hopefully those two will be lucky today.

1:46 is the gap, with 25 km still to ride.

Antonio Colom Mas and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) crashed. This is going to be tough getting back to the peloton. Astana dropped back to bring Vino back. Vino rides with the right bottom of his pants torn open, showing some blood.

13 miles (21 km) to go, gap is 1:33. CSC at the front.
15 km to go, 44 seconds is the lead, but Vino is losing time.

We're at the incline of the last climb. CSC still/again at the front. Vino just passed the riders that are being dropped at the climb, but is still one minute behind the peloton.

Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) jumps the bunch. 14s for the leaders. 4km to climb.
Rabobank is at the front now, Cancellara is there too. Gilbert has cracked. There go the French hopes, at least partially.

Chavanel is on his own now, Wegmann is also back in the peloton. Vino is slowly catching up, and he has lost all his team mates. David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) tries to get away.

10 km to go. Rabobank still in front. 0.5 km to the top of the climb. Laurent Lefevre (Bouyges Telecom) attacks. Vino is passing Tom Boonen (Quickstep) and jumps Vino's wheel.

Dangerous descent. Boonen now is helping Vino. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) got away.

5 km to go. Cancellara at the front of the peloton.
4 km to go. Lampre at the front.
3 km to go. Hincapie (Discovery) is second.
2 km to go. Vino is 1 km behind. David Millar at the front.

Sprint! Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) wins Stage 5. Cancellara keeps the yellow jersey for yet another day.

Vino comes to the finish with 1:18 back.

Provisional results:

1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
6 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
7 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic
10 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom

In the GC, Klöden is back in second place after Thor Hushovd came a little while later, about 14 minutes to be exact, so Hushovd ends up #170 in the GC. Pozzato is now third, Millar remains fourth. Vinokourov ranks #81 with 2:10 back.

Update: Both Klöden and Vinokourov were checked at a hospital, and it is unclear whether Klöden will be able to start tomorrow due to a hairline fracture of the coccyx (more commonly known as "tailbone") he suffered. Vinokourov's knee required stitches. I guess we have to wait until tomorrow morning to see who of the two is able to continue in the Tour.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

TdF Stage 5 preview

After five race days on rather flat terrain, the 182.5 kilometers of Stage 5 tomorrow between Chablis and Autun will feature eight categorized climbs and three sprints.

Wed, Jul 11: TdF Stage 4

Better than the live feed from Serbian TV is the Versus live feed featuring Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Sorry I had to remove the link.

16:21 CEST, Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), and Christian Knees (Milram) are about 2:21 ahead of the peloton, with 55km to go.

Versus' live feed intermittently ceases to work.

The last of four climbs at Côte de Bel-Air has just been passed, and Chavenel takes three points.

45km to go, peloton at 1:40. Scheirlincxx (Cofidis) and Tosatto (Quickstep) crashed but are back on their bikes.

Lead is 1:15 with 35 km to go. CSC is pulling on the front of the peloton as ever. Flecha attacks and gets 6 points for the final sprint today.

26 km to go, gap is now just 1:02. The breakaway will be caught a lot earlier than yesterday.

Knees took off and now has 4-5 seconds on the remaining four riders in the breakaway group, but they started chasing Knees, and now they're all back together. This slowed them down a bit, but the gap is still just under 1 minute.

Versus' live feed seems stable now, let's keep the fingers crossed.

18 km to go, the gap again above 1 minute. Crash in the back of the peloton: Geslin (Bouyges Telecom) has to play catch-up now.

Now is the time to start cranking ... lead is down to 0:50.
11 km to go, 0:29 is the gap. This is going to be a sprinters' finish.
10 km to go, gap is 0:24 but melting fast ... 0:17 ... Flecha goes, followed by Knees and Sprick. The peloton catches the two other, now former breakaway riders.

Flecha and Knees go, and lose Sprick. They're just delaying the inevitable. Gap is at 6s now. Flecha and Knees shake hands, they're done and swallowed.

Boonen at the head of the peloton. 6k to go. Predictor-Lotto at the front to help McEwen. 5 km to go.

4km to go, 3km to go, Liquigas at the front now. Nobody in control, everyone waiting. Milram moving up. Wegmann at the front, 2km to go. Cavendish at the front. Lampre moving.

1 km to go, Quickstep in control. 550m to go.

Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) WINS Stage 4.

Provisional results:

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
2 Robbie Hunter (Rsa) Barloworld
3 Oscar Freire (Esp) Rabobank
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
6 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
7 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis
10 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile

McEwen came in 16th, Cancellara remains in yellow for another day. In the GC, Hushovd moved from #9 and 0:49 behind, to #2 with 0:29 behind. Klöden now ranks third with 0:33 behind.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

TdF Stage 4 preview

Tomorrow's stage 4 is a a 193 km (120 mile) race from Villers-Cotterêts to Joigny, and features four Cat-4 climbs and three sprints (CN says "two" but the map on the same page shows three) ; the map on the TdF website also suggests that there's a third sprint at km 158.5. With his win today, Fabian Cancellara extended his lead on Andreas Klöden from 13 to 33 seconds, so provided he stays on the bike, he'll be in yellow again tomorrow afternoon.

Driver not at fault in bicycle fatality

The CHP reports that the driver was not at fault in a bicycle accident, that killed the former Altera Corp CEO Rodney Smith on May 25 on Sand Hill Rd in Menlo Park. Read more.

Tue, Jul 10: TdF Stage 3

It's about 16:47 CEST and we're about 157 km into the race. Today's breakaway group consists of Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux), currently about 5:45 minutes ahead of the Peloton. The third and final sprint is coming up soon at 167km into the race.

David Zabriskie's quote of the day (from cyclingnews.com):

Danish journalists grilled Dave Zabriskie about his future with Team CSC. The Z-Man’s contract ends in 2007, but he was being coy about his future. “I’d prefer to retire to a beach in the Bahamas,” he joked. “If I can’t be a racer anymore, maybe I will be a forest ranger.”
Word is that Dave Z won't be sitting in a fire watch tower any time soon. Keep an eye open for an announcement soon, perhaps on a rest day during the Tour.

The gap is coming down slowly, currently at 3:56 with about 68km to go. So this breakaway won't last; by the time they get to the climb, they'll be caught.

Vogondy takes the final sprint, followed by Ladagnous, and once the peloton arrived, by Astarloza (Euskaltel).

With 60km to go, Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Frederik Willems (Liquigas) started an attack and are at 3.11 behind the breakaway, but only 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.

52km to go, all four "escapees" are together now, peloton at 3:15. The climb is coming up in about 18km; can the peloton catch the breakaway before the climb ?

Peloton is chasing now, gap is down to 2:20.

40km to go, 6km to the climb, the lead is back up to 3 minutes. Millar will not be able to defend his KOM.

If you don't have Versus, you can get LIVE VIDEO from Serbian TV ! How cool is that !

The peloton is on the climb, and Augé on his way to his KOM.

2:48 with just over 20 km to go.
2:07 with just 16.5 km to go.
1:40 with 13 km to go. Attack in the peloton.
1:30 with 10 km to go. Vogondy would be in yellow today, he has 54 seconds on Cancellara.

Serbian TV is now running a report about Historic Route 66 ... ?!?!?

1:15 with 7.5 km to go. It will be close.
1:05 with 7 km to go. Peloton is chasing hard.
0:44 now, the breakaway is faltering quickly.
0:40 at 5 km.
0:33 under 5 km.
0:27 at 3km, Willems attacks, but caught again.
0:24 at 2 km to go, this is going to be VERY close.
One kilometer to go, Cancellara chasing the break.

Cancellara WINS Stage 3 ! What an incredible finish !

Provisional results:

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
3 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
5 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
6 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
8 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile
10 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner

Monday, July 9, 2007

TdF Stage 3 preview

As it stands now, all riders but one that were involved in today's crash just before the finish in Ghent, are cleared to start tomorrow's Stage 3 between Waregem (Belgium) and Compiègne (France). Tomas Vaitkus (Discovery Channel) suffered multiple fractures in his right thumb and is out of the tournament. Cyclingnews has a more comprehensive report.

Stage 3 is this year's longest stage at 236.5 km, with three sprints and one Cat-4 climb 34 km before the finish.

Mon, Jul 9: TdF Stage 2

After two days of racing in Britain, the riders are in France and Belgium today, riding Stage 2 between Dunkirk (France) and Ghent (Belgium). The breakaway group , consisting of Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel), Cédric Hervé (Agritubel) and Marcel Sieberg (Milram), is being chased by the peloton, currently less than 2 minutes behind, after the lead was already 6 minutes at some point. Rain is falling hard.

17.5km to go, the gap is down to 1:35.

5:03pm TdF time, the gap is less than 44 seconds now, with 10km to go. The rain eased off.

Astana at the front, 8.5km to go. 29s gap at 8km to go. Peloton strung out single-line.

Large crowds next to the road, under 5k to go. The gap is 12s now. The breakaway is done pulling.

Liquigas pushing at the front, 3km to go. The breakaway is being swallowed by the peloton.

Big Crash! Cancellara, the yellow jersey is down, within 3km to go.

Who wins? Boonen? Where is McEwen ? Quickstep wins: Steegmans first, Boonen is second.

Cancellara doesn't look good, his left arm is hurt.

Provisional results:

1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
4 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
8 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux

Update: Cancellara is ok. The TdF Blog lists a bunch of riders that were injured in the crash. After yesterday's quarrel with a commissaire, Mark Cavendish had his second bad day in a row. There were reports that a Milram rider caused the crash, and there was only one rider in the top 20 that avoided the pileup: Erik Zabel. CN meanwhile confirmed my suspicion:

The crash in the final two kilometres held up an estimated thirty riders and most were left watching the sprint on the big monitor mounted just behind. Reviewing the crash, it was in fact Zabel who touched his front wheel with Boonen's rear wheel. Both riders stayed up right but a chain-reaction followed when a Liquigas rider fell to his right, taking down a T-Mobile rider and two Lampres.

Friday, July 6, 2007

July 6: 2007 TdF about to begin

In little more than 11 hours from now, at 3pm London local time (7am Pacific), Enrico Degano from Team Barloworld will start off this year's Tour De France, with the 7.9km Time Trial / Prologue. What is missing this year, is the rider with the #1 bib, Floyd Landis, last year's Tour still unofficial champion. Yes, it's been almost one year now that Landis' A sample returned positive for an elevated T/E ratio, and until right now, we have not heard the verdict of the arbitration panel. There have been rumors that a verdict would be announced today or tomorrow, just before the Tour starts, but I think that by the time Degano goes on the course, we still don't know who the official winner of the 2006 TdF is.
Having neither a satellite dish nor Comcrash Digital Cable, I have to rely on live audio and live ticker for the TdF coverage, but remembering last year's coverage of Stages 16 and 17, I have no doubt that it will be as exciting as live video.
Good places for live TdF coverage other than Versus:
Tour de France web site
VeloNews
Eurosport
Bicycling.com

Cyclingnews.com

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sun, Jul 1

Half of the year 2007 is over and by end of yesterday I had reached 1568 miles for this year.

The ride yesterday brought me through Walnut Creek, where at the intersection of Olympic and Newell, a memorial was held for Corinne Crawford, a 26-year old doctoral student at UC Berkeley and member of the Cal Cycling Team. On June 24, Corinne and her friend Jan Christian Claussen had finished a ride up Mt. Diablo, and were returning to Berkeley. They stopped at the red light on Newell facing northbound, when a 74-year old driver, heading east-bound on Olympic, swerved and hit the cyclists. Corinne passed away two days later, without having regained consciousness; Claussen suffered a concussion and could leave the hospital on Sunday. The memorial was attended by about 40 cyclists from Cal, as well as cyclists that happened to ride by the intersection. A few people spoke and remembered Corinne as the exceptional person she was. Earlier on Saturday morning, the Corinne Crawford Memorial - Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer Low Key Hill Climb Series was held.

Other links:
CaringBridge - Corinne Crawford

Be safe out there !