Jul 20, 2005

tdf - stage 17

Morning notes:
  • Kloden a possible dropout? Looks like he fractured his hand on that tumble yesterday early in the stage. At this point it doesn't make that much of an impact on his team, but I'm sure he would like to finish. It also looks like the teammates he crashed with might drop out also.
  • Ondrej Sosenka from the Czech republic broke the hour record. Ride as far as you can in 1 hour. In this case, 49.7 km. This is using low-tech equipment so it's comparable to the times of older record holders like Merckx. There is another hour record where you can use high performance gear.
  • When Kashechkin got hit in the face yesterday it wasn't clear if it was on purpose or accidental. It was accidental.
  • Lance reported that he had 'no chain' after the stage yesterday; a euphemism for when the bike seems to move effortlessly. As if you can turn the pedals and there's no chain attached. That might explain why he led the peloton for a while. Simply because it must be fun to push hard when you feel so good.
  • We're in sunflower territory. Check out some of the photos on Paceline, CBS photos, CyclingNews and flickr at the end of the day. Should be some nice shots.
  • 2 intermediate sprints on this stage. Remember McEwen, O'Grady, and Hushovd are vying for the green jersey still.
  • Vino reportedly will announce that he's leaving T-Mobile at the end of the Tour. He wants a shot at winning the Tour. Rumor says it's the Discovery team.
  • Ever notice how some riders don't have the same outfits on as their team? Turns out those riders are wearing their national championship uniforms. Many countries hold national championships and the winners can wear the country's jersey.
As you'd expect lots of attacks this morning. Lots of confusion though as something weird was going on with the coverage. No one seemed sure who was attacking. Eventually a group got out ahead with 17 riders. The best positioned was 38 minutes behind Armstrong. Disco had 2 riders in the pack - Salvodelli and Rubiera. They have a nice lead (~10 minutes with 130 km to go) but this is a LONG stage. Sebastian Hinault is in there too. I always thought he was Bernard Hinault's son but it turns out he isn't. And oddly they are from the same town as well.

As expected Kloden has abandoned. That's too bad. I like him a lot. 2nd place last year. That will move T-Mobile down in the team rankings and Discovery will be a little closer. Not that they probably care.

Davitamon isn't chasing down this escape group. I expected them to get McEwen into a position to gain some points. The one reason why they may not be chasing is because the first 25 riders on this stage gain points at the finish. 18th place would be awarded 8 points. It's something but won't make much of an impact on McEwen's deficit to O'Grady and Hushovd.

They're letting them run. 20 minutes up on the peloton with 80 km to go. This quote from one of the text feeds I watch will give you an idea of what's going on today:
    The peloton is now being led by Lance Armstrong who is sauntering along at an apathetic pace while he chats to Stuart O'Grady.
    They're clearly enjoying the sunflowers today. Maybe someone could set up a picnic truck to trail the riders so they can have brie and crackers while they ride.

    25 minutes with 60km to go before Credit Agricole decides enough is enough. They are now driving the peloton.

    43 km to go and something happens. The break splits. A few go off in front of that lead group. It's a little early to try something like this but perhaps it'll stick. Now back to my nap.

    Yep it's sticking. That lead group is about 1 minute ahead. Salvodelli is in there from Discovery.

    16 km to go. The 8 lead riders have about 2 minutes on the lagging lead group and 24 minutes on the peloton. There's a small cat 3 climb just before the end which is downhill. Expect some attacks to occur here. We're getting close.

    I'm now seeing reports that Vino indeed announced he will leave T-Mobile. But Johan, Discovery's manager, puts cold water on the idea that he'll join Discovery, "I don't think he'll ever be capable of winning the Tour de France." Ouch.

    Bram Tankink attacks the lead group (nope never heard of him either) and he's away. The action officially starts. Hinault counters. Then Salvodelli counters. It's Hinault and Salvodelli together. Two groups are trying to catch up. They're back 10 seconds and 18 seconds. They crest and now it's downhill.

    Two of them catch up - Arvesen and Gerrans. We've got 4 battling it out now. I really don't know who the best sprinter is in the bunch but I'll put money on Salvodelli. He came 3rd in an individual time trial in the Giro. He's a good rider.

    Salvodelli attacks again. Then Arvesen attacks. He's got a good lead. Not far to go. Salvodelli and Hinault both inching back. Salvodelli in the lead now. He's got it. Another stage win for a Disco boy. Very nicely done. He timed that very well. Arvesen went too early and Hinault just didn't have the legs. Good stuff.

    The peloton is a ways back. There are reports of a crash but I don't see anything regarding injuries or who was involved. I looks like all the big guns are okay. Reports are sketchy but it seems Vino (who else?) attacked at the bottom of the last climb. This split the peloton in two. Then Ullrich attacked. Most go with him. Evans (from yesterday) and Floyd Landis get dropped. Everyone else in at the same time. Evans and Landis in 20" later. This will move Vino up a couple of spots. The next rider above Vino is 2 minutes ahead so this might signal the end of Vino attacks.

    Stage 18
    This one might be fun. Lots of climbs and a really steep climb at the finish. Ullrich will try to get some more time on Rasmussen here.

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