Jul 21, 2005

tdf - stage 18

Morning notes:
  • I neglected to point out, mainly because I didn't realize they had gained that much time, that Team Discovery climbed into first place for the team rankings. A combination of Kloden withdrawing and the big lead Salvodelli and Rubiera had over the peloton made all the difference. If you are keeping tally, 3 stage wins, yellow jersey, white jersey, and team lead.
  • On July 21st Lance Armstrong has won a stage 5 times - 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004
Lots of failed attacks today. I mean lots. It's been a while since I've seen anything like it. I can't figure out if the peloton is just moving it today and the attacks just can't keep out in front. Lots of interesting riders trying too. Finally something sticks. 10 riders including Voeckler and Axel Merckx (unlike the Hinault thing yesterday he is Eddy's son) is off the front. The best placed is 40 minutes behind Armstrong. They'll let this go. And the peloton must have slowed down because the leaders time over the peloton shoots up quickly. With about 100 km to go they are about 9 minutes ahead.

The lead is increasing to about 15 minutes. Not much happening. The peloton is being lead by Discovery and everyone seems content about that. The lead group is at the base of the cat 3 climb. No one has attacked yet. Something should start to happen soon.

While the final climb is only cat 2, there are some extremely steeps sections (>10% grade) on it. Often the best rider doesn't win these types of stages. The best tactician does. The one who can time the attack perfectly.

da Cruz has attacked. No one is following him but then again he doesn't have much of a lead. He's not a good climber so maybe no one feels threatened.

Back in the peloton CSC is leading and apparently driving. They're probably going to try to tire everyone out before the last climb in the hopes that Basso can take some time on everyone. Something tells me Ullrich and Lance are on to him. :)

Lots of attacking now. Merckx and Voeckler in the lead. 4 others catch up. Now 5. Not sure where da Cruz is. Out of the picture for sure. Voeckler tries to attack but it's feeble. Merckx is a little weathered.

Merckx attacks. Drops Pellizotti (bonked). Drops Voeckler. Only Vasseur and Serrano now with him. Serrano attacks. Vasseur goes. Merckx kind of follows. He won't make it. Vasseur fading too. Serrano will take this. Too strong. The other two don't have the energy. Slowly extending his lead. Finish in sight. Done deal. First stage win for the Liberty team on this tour.

Now back to the peloton. Kashechkin attacks the peloton (the guy hit by the spectator). Too early. He'll be put in the meat grinder in a few minutes here. Basso attacks and the peloton is dust. It's Basso, Ullrich, Evans, and Lance. Vino just behind. Lance leads. Then Basso. Ullrich is fading a little. Nope he's back. Evans is doing well considering the company he's around. Seconds can make a difference for him in the top 10 standings.

Lance driving the pace now. Everyone hanging on. They all finish together. Cadel Evans leading them over the finish. Great ride for him.

Cadel moves up to 7th and Vino down to 8th.

Stage 19
This doesn't look half bad for one of the final stages. It's got a downhill finish so there will probably be a bunch sprint. But it's got some interesting climbs.


Chupathingy said...

One of the funny things for me about yesterday's stage was the end. I was rooting pretty hard for Salvodelli, I have to say, but just because he is a Disco boy.

At the end, OLN shows the finish from in front of the finish line, so it's hard to have a good perspective. Even so, when Salvo took the lead at the very end, he looked back at Hinault. I screamed, "What are you doing? He's right on your ass!" Of course, Salvo had a full length on him. I guess these guys know what they're doing. I just thought that was funny.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm glad to see that Team Disco isn't taking the Vino bait. That guy is a complete disaster. He has no concept of team in his head. Why on earth would a team that's all about team sign that guy? That would be horrible.

Finally, they say that Popo is the next leader of Team Disco. Is that right? How do they determine that? I think that I understand that at some point, the difference is just natural ability (Lance is just stronger and has more endurance than anyone in human history, for example), right? But does Popo have more natural ability than, say, Hincapie?

C. Fuzzbang said...

I generally hate the camera coverage at the end of each stage. You're right. It's hard to tell perspective. Given that they set up these finish lines you'd think they could have a 'ceiling' cam.

I have no idea how they pick the leads. It depends on how the director sportif wants to build his team. I know you basically need to be a great climber and a great time trialer. Vino, Popo, and Hincapie probably have those. Then it's probably a decision to build a franchise in which case you'd go with Popo since he's the youngest. Or you decide to go after a win next year in which case you'd chose someone with more experience.

I think Vino could be good. He's very much like Armstrong used to be before cancer - brash and stupid. Harness his ability and you'd have a good rider. Although I don't wish cancer on him :).