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2012 Tour de France-Stage 17

19 Jul

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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

2012 Tour de France-Stage 15

16 Jul

Just when I thought the Tour couldn’t possibly get more boring Stage 15 happened.

The first part of the stage provided great racing as we saw break after break attempt to get away. The peloton refused to let anyone get away chasing them all back until the winning break got away after a very fast hour+ of racing. It was interesting to watch the riders try to get away. Uncharacteristically this year breaks have formed easily but not today. Boasson Hagan (Sky) tried to bring order to the breakaway train as did Eisel but until the peloton was spread across the road – white line to white line – the attacks didn’t stop and even then one rider attacked and got through – Sorensen. Until his race director threatened to send his other riders up front to bring the break back was Sorensen able to join the break. 

Once that happened it was nap time in the peloton and nap time for us viewers. Truly boring “racing”. A pace was set by Sky that was so slow it seemed they were practicing their processional for their presumably victorious march into Paris.

Seriously slow.

The fast pace in the beginning of the stage appeared to be too much for some because 7 riders abandoned the Tour today – one of them Sylvan Chavanel who is on my fantasy team. He’s the 4th rider I’ve lost (Gesink, Mollema, Hesjedal). I’m in slightly better shape than Rabobank who has only 4 riders left.

That’s a total of 42 riders so far in the 2012 Tour de France – way more than previous years. For 2011 – 31 abandoned, 27 in 2010, 24 in 2009 and 35 in 2008. Since they haven’t gone into the Pyrenees yet you would expect the number to go up. It’s especially unusual for riders to abandon on a relatively flat stage before a rest day.

Usually on a day like today the sprinters teams go hunting for a stage win and get it, but they seemed to have needed a pre-rest day before the actual rest day tomorrow.

Sagan was the only rider in the peloton to even race for the intermediate sprint points. Neither Greipel, Goss or Cavendish even sprinted for them – when is the last sprinters didn’t sprint for points? Probably the last time the green jersey race was sewn up this early.

stage 15 christophe ena-apSince the sprinters teams didn’t elect to race today the 6 riders in the break got to go for the win, with Fedrigo another French rider edging out Garmin’s Vande Velde to take his 4th Tour stage. If a Frenchman was to win, I, of course would have preferred Voeckler. It was Fedrigo who attacked though and got the jump on the others, only Vande Velde was able to bridge. Unfortunately he was no match for Fedrigo’s sprint to the line. It was still a good day for Vande Velde and Garmin to finish 2nd.

The peloton moseyed in about 12 minutes later.

We won’t see another stage like today for a while – Hallelujah! We are headed to the mountains!

There are just 2 stages left where Nibali and Evans can hope to crack Wiggins and Froome and gain time on them – Stages 16 and 17 – where we will surely see attacks by Nibali and Evans and aggressive racing by any and all trying to move up in the overall classification and contend for the polka-dot jersey.

I can’t wait!

Stage results

  • 1. Pierrick FEDRIGO, FDJ-BigMat, in 3:40:15
  • 2. Christian VANDEVELDE, Garmin-Sharp, at 0
  • 3. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, at :12
  • 4. Nicki SÖRENSEN, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at :12
  • 5. Dries DEVENYNS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :21
  • 6. Samuel DUMOULIN, Cofidis, at 1:08
  • 7. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at 11:50
  • 8. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 11:50
  • 9. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 11:50
  • 10. Kris BOECKMANS, Vacansoleil-DCM, at 11:50

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 68:33:21
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:23
  • 4. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 3:19
  • 5. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 4:48
  • 6. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 6:15
  • 7. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 6:57
  • 8. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 7:30
  • 9. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 8:31
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 8:51

No change in the yellow, green, polka-dot or white jersey competitions.


Stage 16 Profile:

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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