Tag Archives: TDF

2012 Tour de France-Stage 18

20 Jul

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The dominance of Team Sky continued today – this time with a different star – sprinter Mark Cavendish. Never has it been more clear why the world’s fastest man on a bike has the nickname “Manx Missile”. Cavendish looked like a short range missile when he shot from the peloton to take his 2nd stage win in this year’s Tour and 22nd overall. Cavendish rocketed past the two remaining riders in the front, Roche and Sanchez and made them appear like they were standing still – he was going so bloody fast – since the Brits are taking over the Tour I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.

Seriously though, it was amazing how fast Cavendish exploded from the pack and sprinted to the finish.

Stage 18 most believed, would be a stage that would be won by someone in a break and until fairly late it appeared that’s how it would be. The peloton didn’t even catch the remaining riders from the breaks until inside the last kilometer.

The break had 16 riders, many from the 13 teams without a stage win this Tour. The peloton was selective of who they let get away, there were numerous attacks at the gun, but a break wasn’t allowed to form until almost an hour into the stage. Their lead built up to as high as 3 minutes before different teams committed 1 or 2 riders to the front of the main group to chase them down. We saw Euskaltel-Euskadi, Quickstep, Ag2R, Rabobank, Sojasun and Liquigas all commit to chase the break down. As the gap was reduced to around 1 minute when the riders in the break started attacking each other. Vinokourov, Hansen, Paolini, Kloden, Roche and LL Sanchez tried to stay alive to battle for the win, but to no avail.

Nearing the finish with 3 kilometers to go, Sky made their plan known and went to the front to reel in the remaining 6 riders. Around the final kilometer yellow Jersey wearer Wiggins led out Cavendish with Boasson-Hagen between them. Once Wiggins peeled off Boasson-Hagen provided the final lead-out and at the 300 k mark Cavendish took matters into his own hands – make that legs. The charging peloton engulfed the remaining riders except for Roche and Sanchez, Cavendish ever so briefly hovered on their wheel before – BOOM he was gone and they wondered what the hell happened. Sagan and Goss managed to claim 2nd and 3rd, but no one was remotely close to Cavendish.

Truly amazing strength and speed!

cav passing sanchez roche stage 18 ap photo

stage 18 cav the telegraph

Cavendish has been bottled up this Tour as he and the team focused on getting and keeping the yellow jersey and 2nd place. How bottled up Cavendish has been was evident today in the way he rocketed to the finish. I’ve never seen anything like it. You must see the video shot from above to truly appreciate what he did – Manx (he’s from the Isle of Man) Missile (no explanation needed) – indeed.

There was no change in the overall classification, none was expected. It was obvious that all the jersey competitions are over – the green has been since Stage 1 really, yellow since Stage 7 and the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountain was cemented yesterday. Apparently giving Mr. Voeckler, his team, and sponsors time to complete his ensemble for today’s stage.

In the words of Phil Liggett (tweaked), Thomas looked resplendent in polka-dots.

Voeckler stage 18 Voeckler FB page

Stage results

  • 1. Mark CAVENDISH, Sky, in 4:54:12
  • 2. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 3. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
  • 4. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, Rabobank, at 0
  • 5. Nicolas ROCHE, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 6. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 0
  • 7. Borut BOZIC, Astana, at 0
  • 8. Sébastien HINAULT, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 9. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 10. Samuel DUMOULIN, Cofidis, at 0

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 83:22:18
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:41
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:53
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 8:30
  • 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 9:57
  • 7. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 10:11
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:17
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 11:00
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:46

2012 Tour de France-Stage 17

19 Jul

I’m not above repeating myself: What a long strange Tour it’s been.

I say it now because it is more true after today’s stage than when I first said it after Stage 14.

First I’ll give you the highlights of today’s stage:

  • Another win for a non-GC guy from the early break – Valverde today.

  • Voeckler making sure he beat his closest rival for the polka-dot jersey Kessiakoff in all 4 climbs wrapping up the jersey competition. Voeckler finishing 4th overall last year, narrowly missing the podium, will wear the red and white jersey as the best climber in this year’s Tour.

The lowlights:

  • Nibali managing to sneak away from Wiggins and company in the fog on the descent of the first climb and join the breakaway. What a move! So what does he do? He sits up and waits for the leaders. Two questions I will forever have: what did Valverde say to get Nibali to leave and why did Nibali do it?

  • After Nibali rejoins the Friggins train, he sends his Liquigas teammates to the front to chase down the break – apparently so he can reel them in so he can then getaway to try and win the stage!?

  • Near the finish the Friggins duo manage to drop everyone and reduce the gap to Valverde to around :30 and enough road to catch him. What do they do? Nothing. They discuss, Froome jumps ahead obviously wanting to go for the win – and obviously able to do it – but doesn’t. Valverde goes on to win the stage by :19 over Wiggins and Froome. Wiggins being the nice guy he is let Froome finish ahead of him. Like one of the journalists said today – Wiggins should buy Froome a yacht he owes him so much.

 

We are used to seeing the strongest guy, particularly the strongest climber wearing the yellow jersey at this stage in the game and he isn’t.

We’re used to seeing him alone with no teammates because he’s the strongest guy on the team – at least the best climber – he isn’t.

Not this year. Froome is even close in the TT to Wiggins ability and given his climbing prowess it would seem he could have gapped Wiggins enough in the last 2 plus weeks to be wearing the yellow. I would think it would be weird for Wiggins – we all saw the bizarreness of Froome actually waving Wiggins to bridge and join him so he could catch and drop Valverde and win the stage but he didn’t. Froome either decided on his own to drop it or team management communicated it to him through his ear, we’ll probably never know.

Wiggins doesn’t care does he.

Cycling Tour de France
And then there’s Nibabli – he’s another strange one. In addition to the “I give up” move and returning to the peloton, he had his team stay on the front setting the pace – which I get if you can set it high enough to put the Friggins train in trouble, but the only person put in trouble by all the work done by Nibali’s team – especially Basso, yeoman’s effort today for his leader – was Nibali! He popped at the point on the last climb when he was meant to attack.

Today’s stage was another disappointing one in a Tour of disappointments.

There was a slight change in the GC: Nibali lost :18 more to Wiggins and Froome, but maintained 3rd place, Van Garderen moved up to 5th after Zubeldia slipped to 7th, and Evans moved up one spot to 6th although he lost more time to the leaders so there was some good news.

 

Stage results

  • 1. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, in 4:12:11
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at :19
  • 3. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, at :19
  • 4. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at :22
  • 5. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at :26
  • 6. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at :26
  • 7. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at :37
  • 8. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at :54
  • 9. Christopher HORNER, RadioShack-Nissan, at 1:02
  • 10. Daniel MARTIN, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:11

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 78:28:02
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:41
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:53
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 8:30
  • 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 9:57
  • 7. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 10:11
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:17
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 11:00
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:46

2012 Tour de France-Stage 16

18 Jul

Today was an exciting day of racing but not because of what transpired between those in the hunt for the final podium  – it was the breakaway that provided the exciting racing we are used to seeing in the Tour de France and which has been strangely absent this year – except for the riders in the breaks with no GC aspirations but determined to get a stage win.

The 2012 Tour de France will be remembered as the year of the breakaway as the star of the race. It certainly was today. You’re not surprised I see it that way, are you.

A huge break of 38 riders formed early on in the race, before the climb of the Col d’Aubisque started. They stayed together more or less until a selection took place on the climb of the big mountain – the Col du Tourmalet (French for big mountain). Full-throttle or nothing, Dan Martin (Garmin) went to the front and most of the 38 fell off the back. Voeckler, Kessiakoff in the polka-dot jersey, Feillu and Sorensen were together for a while, then the 3 – Martin, Voeckler and Feillu and then Martin popped. Jonathon Vaughters told him to ease off earlier on, but Martin is young and hasn’t learned to pace himself yet. I’m sure today’s stage was a great lesson in that.

So then there were two in the lead break – two Frenchman – Voeckler and Feillu – which meant we saw little of the main group with Wiggins, Nibali and Evans while the French TV cameras rejoiced in their luck.

The group of favorites ascended the Tourmalet all together with the pace of Sky not hard enough to really splinter the main field. There was no reason for Sky to do anything other than set tempo at the front, they had what they wanted – the lead.

On the climb of the Col d’Aspin Liquigas for their leader Nibali went to the front to toughen the pace. Evans was dropped but had a teammate (not Van Garedern, he was allowed to stay with the main group of Wiggins and Nibali) to help pace him back and reduce the gap. The Aspin was the “easiest” of the climbs but it was the cumulative effort of the Aubisque and Tourmalet that did him in. On the descent of the Col d’Aspin Evans was able to rejoin the main group with one climb left to tackle.

Voeckler and Feillu worked together to keep their lead all the way to the final climb, the Col de Peyresourde until Voeckler proceeded to attack and drop his compatriot.

You have to love the crafty Voeckler. As he made his way along the Peyresourde and descended toward the finish he pushed fans away and directed fans to get out of his way with hand gestures that looked like a priest performing mass – and of course all the usual facial expressions with maybe a few new ones.

 

voeckler face st 16

As much as I enjoyed watching Voeckler win Stage 16, his 2nd of this Tour, I hated what happened to Evans. On the climb of the Peyresourde he was dropped again, this time permanently, losing over 4 minutes to Wiggins, Froome and Nibali. Nibali did attack on the final climb as was expected  but was never able to shake Wiggins or Froome. The three finished the stage together 7 minutes after Voeckler’s winning time.

Voeckler’s win today was reminiscent of his Stage 15 win in 2010 and his fight last year to keep the yellow jersey in Stage 18 last year. His style of racing epitomizes what I love about the Tour – and him – Vive la Voeckler!

voeckler finish st 16

 

Stage results

  • 1. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, in 5:35:02
  • 2. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 1:40
  • 3. Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 3:22
  • 4. Alexandr VINOKUROV, Astana, at 3:23
  • 5. Brice FEILLU, Saur-Sojasun, at 3:57
  • 6. Jens VOIGT, RadioShack-Nissan, at 4:17
  • 7. Daniel MARTIN, Garmin-Sharp, at 6:08
  • 8. Simone STORTONI, Lampre-ISD, at 6:08
  • 9. Giampaolo CARUSO, Katusha, at 6:08
  • 10. Laurens TEN DAM, Rabobank, at 6:08

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 74:15:32
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:23
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:46
  • 5. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 7:13
  • 6. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 7:55
  • 7. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 8:06
  • 8. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 9:09
  • 9. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:10
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:43

Rest Day

17 Jul

Experiencing Tour blog post withdrawal so here I am.

I woke up this morning thinking about what could have been if Hesjedal, Sanchez, Andy Shleck (and without brother Frank starting tomorrow), Danielson – who am I forgetting – were still in the Tour. Such a shame that stupid crashes took them all out. Our loss and of course theirs for not getting to race the race they all look forward to each year.

Any of the 4 could have been in the hunt for the final podium, and all of them would have raced and provided excitement and drama that this Tour has been sorely lacking.

The drama of the positive test of a banned substance by Frank Schleck doesn’t count. I was somewhat surprised that he left the race; it wasn’t required since the B sample hasn’t been tested. Certainly RadioShack doesn’t need any more bad press and maybe that’s how they made the decision or maybe they know the B sample will be positive too. Damn doping.

I hate that once again professional cyclists are being put in an unfair and inaccurate light – the general public has the idea all Tour riders dope. If other professional athletes were tested half as much as cyclists they would fare far worse in testing for banned substances, in my opinion. No, I don’t want performance enhancing drugs used by any athlete, but we know they are and yet cycling is the only sport that makes a serious effort to detect athletes using banned substances. So instead of bashing the sport of cycling we should ask the professional football, basketball and baseball organizations why they don’t implement similar anti-doping measures.

In the meantime we have two pivotal stages to look forward to – here’s to tomorrow and a fiercely contested stage 16 in the Pyrenees – I hope.

 

stage 16 profile

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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