Jul 8, 2005

tdf - stage 7

A few climbs in the early stages of this leg in the tour followed by a long flat section. There were a few attacks early on. One notably by McEwen. He promptly gave that up when he realized how far he had to go. One man not checking the map however was Fabian Wegmann of the Gerolsteiner team. The guy was on a mission today. Heading out early and building up a huge lead like the riders yesterday. Only one problem. This was a long stage and he was on his own. Why bother? Well for one he's German and they're riding into Germany today. Why not make an epic effort? Win some fans? Second he came out with the polka dot jersey because he was first over all the mountain checkpoints. Remember different riders have different goals.

Well sure enough he was caught quite a ways before the finish. This allowed the sprinter teams to set up. 5km out they were all jostling for position. McEwen eventually took the stage. He is desperate to make a comeback for the green jersey. The current leader, Boonen, came in 7th. Overall it's Boonen, McEwen, and Hushovd vying for that jersey. Boonen, who had a crash today, said his back wasn't quite right coming into the finish. Wonder if that will affect him going forward. No imporntant changes in the overall GC list.

Other notes:
  • Brad McGee (FDJeux) is pissed at CSC for charging the peloton up the last hill on yesterday's run. See here. He believes without that charge the peloton would not have caught Mengin and his man could have won that stage. He makes it clear that if CSC needs help down the road they will not be getting it from his team. In fact he seems mad enough to help another team competing against CSC if it comes to that. Alliances and vendettas like this seem to happen all the time on the Tour. Lots of politics.
  • Toward the end of this stage and the one prior there has been a fork to the peloton. One side has the sprinter teams jostling for position and setting up their riders for the final sprint to the finish. The other prong of the fork has Team Discovery getting the hell out of their way and protecting Lance so he can get in safely. Hincapie has done a lot of the grunt work since he's strong enough to keep up with the sprinter teams on his own.
  • Notable riders who lost time by not finishing in the peloton - Zabriskie (the guy who won the individual time trial but then crashed a few days ago) and Mengin (the guy who went out on the heroic attack yesterday and then crashed at the end). Two withdrawals as well.
While I'm here:

Tour Facts
  • 123,900 - calories burned in the course of the tour (6,000 per stage)
  • 3 - average number of chains worn out by a single rider (Armstrong goes through one chain per week)
  • 10 - fewest ever finishers (1919, out of 69 starters)
  • 28 min 27 sec - biggest winning margin (Fausto Coppi over Stan Ockers, 1952)
  • 8 sec - smallest winning margin (Greg LeMond over Laurent Fignon in 1989)
  • 253 km - longest solo breakaway (Albert Bourlon, 1947)
  • 22 min 50 sec - biggest winning margin on stage win (Jose Luis Viejo, 1976)
  • 40.3 kph - fastest average over entire Tour (Lance Armstrong, 1999)
  • 36 - age of oldest winner (Firmin Lambot, 1922)
  • 20 - age of youngest winner (Henri Cornet, 1904)
  • 16 - most times one rider finished the Tour in their career (Joop Zoetemelk, 1970-1986)
  • 1904 - the year of the first documented case of cheating in the Tour
  • 353,430 km - approximate distance of all previous 90 Tours de France
2005 Tour Facts
  • 5 hors categorie (unclassified) climbs - Col de la Madeleine, Col de Galibier, Port de Pailheres, Pla d'Adet, Col d'Aubisque
  • 22 teams
  • 198 riders at the start
  • 239.5 km - longest stage in the Tour (Stage 17 from Pau to Revel)
  • 381 euros prize money for riders finishing race after 120th position

Here's what's coming up tomorrow. Clearly some more significant mountain climbs here. The last one - a category 2 - should be a nice warm up for the riders. It's nothing daunting for the big boys though. It ends downhill so I don't expect Lance to attack here. It's too risky of a spot to keep a lead he might create going up. But I do expect the unexpected so maybe I'm wrong. Should be interesting to watch how the riders deal with this climb.

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