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2013 Stage 15-Unbelievable

15 Jul

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I could end my post about Stage 15 with the title: Unbelievable.

What Chris Froome of Sky did on Mont Ventoux, after the peloton had ridden 220k at a record-breaking pace (1 hour faster than predicted), was beyond belief.

Yet, after all that he was able to climb the Ventoux with the 2nd best time (for the last 15.6 km) ever. Blowing away past Tour winners and the newest climbing sensation Columbian, Nairo Quintana.

There are more than a few names listed below that have confessed they were doped when they recorded their times on Mont Ventoux.

Yet he beat them?

On the longest stage ever that included ascending the Mont Ventoux?

MONT VENTOUX

Top 50 List

-1. Lance Armstrong ______ USA | 48:33 | 2002
             –2. Chris Froome _________ GBR | 48:35 | 2013
3. Andy Schleck _________ LUX | 48.57 | 2009
-4. Alberto Contador _____ ESP | 48:57 | 2009
-5. Lance Armstrong ______ USA | 49:00 | 2009
-6. Marco Pantani ________ ITA | 49:01 | 2000
-7. Lance Armstrong ______ USA | 49:01 | 2000
-8. Frank Schleck ________ LUX | 49:02 | 2009-
         9. Nairo Quintana _______ COL | 49:04 | 2013
10. Roman Kreuziger ______ CZE | 49:05 | 2009
11. Franco Pellizotti ____ ITA | 49:15 | 2009
12. Vincenzo Nibali ______ ITA | 49:17 | 2009
13. Bradley Wiggins ______ GBR | 49:22 | 2009
14. Joseba Beloki ________ ESP | 49:26 | 2000
15. Jan Ullrich __________ GER | 49:30 | 2000


A person would have to ignore past history and logic and science to believe that what Froome did, he did without performance enhancing drugs. If we’ve learned anything from the past decades of doping in cycling – it is that if it seems unbelievable – it is.


Stage 16:

Stage profile

TDF Stage 8–Déjà Vu

6 Jul

Well my fellow Tour fans, we have another Tour outcome decided on the first day of real racing among the GC. Makes me long for another sprint stage.

The first of 3 weeks of the 100th Tour de France is behind us and the race for yellow is effectively over. I closed my post yesterday with the desperate plea, “please don’t let Sky get yellow”. So much for that hope.

People way smarter than me, through calculations, formulas – math and science – are highly suspicious of what Froome, and Sky in general did today, with some indicating they don’t think Froome/Sky did it clean.

Neither do I. If you feel differently more power to your ability to suspend logic.

I’ve never been able to be one of those people. You know how I figured out there was no Santa? When I was 6 I came to the conclusion it wasn’t possible so I quit believing and then later my older brother confirmed it.

My belief in Lance Armstrong went much the same way. Initially I was a believer than I came to the conclusion that with all the evidence it simply wasn’t possible he did what he did without doping. Confirmation didn’t come until much later.

Believers (myself included) explained Postal/Armstrong’s dominance away, much like Sky and Froome believers have done today.

We wanted to believe so we did. We thought it was unfair to accuse them without proof. Unfortunately the science of testing (and more importantly, the lack of true desire by the powers that could clean up cycling to do so) lags and therefore the proof isn’t available until well after the races are won, the money made and the records put into the record books.

Many still want to believe so they do, despite the déjà vu of it all.

The real question is how many times does the sport have to go through this before sincere and serious efforts are made to clean it up? Apparently, still more.

Personally, I believe Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome use(d) performance enhancing drugs and at some time in the future we will get confirmation. Too little too late.

Why is it that the sport of cycling, specifically the teams, owners, riders, cycling organizations, watchdogs, journalists, etc. don’t make serious efforts to cleanup the sport. That’s a rhetorical question for it always comes down to money.

Many in my Twitter feed questioned and made light of the struggles of TeJay van Garderen today. In my mind, the sport would be better served by talking about Froome’s and his team’s too good to be true performances.

Until/unless that discussion gets loud and occurs among journalists, not only fans, where the forces of the sport can no longer ignore it – and we refuse to accept “not normal” performances as normal – we’ll get more of the same.

Stage 9:

2013 tour9

As silly as it may sound, I expect Sky to turn it down a notch. They’re hearing all the chatter too and will want to minimize suspicion. Good luck with that.

TDF Stage 7-Teamwork

5 Jul

2013 6

When I bemoaned the opening week of sprint stages yesterday I didn’t expect someone would do something to make this last one exciting. Someone did. Actually a team of somebodies: the team of Peter Sagan, Cannondale.

There was no bluff to Cannondale’s plan for Stage 7 – get Sagan the win. How? By dropping all of his competitors before the finish.

They executed their plan to perfection.

Cannondale, with some help from Orica-GreenEdge the team of the yellow jersey holder Daryl Impey, set a blistering pace at the front. If the peloton thought they were going to be able to take it kind of easy before tomorrow’s tough stage in the Pyrenees, they were sorely mistaken – pun intended.

The first break of the day was old man Jens Voigt (Radio Shack) and Blel Kadri (AG2R) getting out in front, with Kadri picking up KOM points on the first two climbs and Kadri’s teammate outsprinting Pierre Rolland who had held the KOM jersey ensuring Kadri would capture the polka-dot jersey which he did.

Meanwhile OGE could sit behind Cannondale and let them do the work – good for them. No need to work when another team has an agenda. They managed to split the peloton dropping all the other main sprinters on the category 2 climb and continued to drill the pace until the intermediate sprint. I have to believe that was Cannondale’s plan – to get Sagan points to increase his hold on the green jersey – but when they saw they had dropped the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel, they decided why not go for the stage win.

So basically Cannondale gave Sagan a 190k lead-out. Their work at the front was nothing short of phenomenal.

Later in the stage Cannondale/OGE had to chase down a more threatening break with previous yellow jersey wearer Jan Bakelandts. Since Bakelandts was within striking distance of taking back the yellow jersey OGE shared in the work of chasing them down, although Cannondale still did the majority of the work. They caught them 3k from the finish and the race for the stage win was on.

Somehow Sagan and his teammates had enough left to take care of business. Sagan had to start his sprint from a long way out and in a less than optimum position. It didn’t matter. Argos-Shimano’s sprinter Degenkolb nearly caused him to go into the wall getting ahead of Sagan, but Sagan rocketed past him to take his much deserved first stage win of the 2013 Tour de France.

No choreographed victory salute for Sagan this time, just an acknowledgement to team sponsor Cannondale. He looked exhausted, I’m sure he was, along with his team no doubt. They gave us a great display of teamwork and perfect execution – it was a joy to watch.

I was equally happy that Impey kept the yellow jersey. For a new team, OGE have had a phenomenal week at the Tour, and just think, it was their bus that got things going.

In other news Christian Van de Velde had to abandon the Tour today after suffering another crash early in the stage. Hopefully he’ll be all healed up and ready to defend his US Pro Cycling Challenge championship in August.

Since I have Peter Sagan on my Fantasy Cycling Challenge team I picked up 125 points today, bringing the total thus far to a not-so-great 463.

Stage 8 is a doozy – the first day in the Pyrenees – and it’s a tough one. We should see a major shakeup in the GC  and jersey competitions. Just please don’t let Sky get yellow.

 

Stage profile

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
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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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