Jul 13, 2006

tdf - stage 11

This stage looks like fun. I mean that in a sadistic way. It's an upside down saw. Oh by the way, Honchar's been cleared. That's good news. As you can imagine breaks will head out on these types of stages consisting of those riders who want to win the polka dot jersey. The peloton will let them go initially and then reel them in before the end of the stage. In this stage's break we have Wegmann, Flecha, Camano, and Fuente breaking off.

As expected the weak riders yesterday are weak today. Mayo is out the back of the peloton. Garzelli's and then Lombardi are out. Moos and Rubiera off the back after that. All with over 100 km to go. Simoni now gone.

The break is still out front with only Flecha looking a bit tired.

Horner is gone now. Salvodelli (!) gone. That's early. It seems to be a fast pace. I don't think it was a fast pace. I think some riders are really weak and it was deadly hot today. Zabel, Zabriskie are gone. Now Ekimov, Noval, Martinez (all Discovery) gone. The team looks weak like last year. There are still 4 climbs to go. This is early in the race. Leipheimer is still there though. Second wind?

The French team AG2R looks good. They are leading the peloton for Dessel (maillot jaune). The breakaway is over the HC climb now. Fuente took the points. The breakaway's lead is diminishing though - 4 1/2 minutes. Things will regroup now on the descent and the easier climbs (they're still cat 1's though).

Voeckler makes a gutsy break from the peloton but he can't gap up to the breakaway group. He's going to be a dead rider soon if he doesn't do something. He's in no-man's land. He's slowly inching up but so is the peloton. He's going to get sandwiched I think. Actually he catches up but then Fuente and Wegmann shoot off again and he can't match them. He cools his heels and heads back to the peloton. The peloton wants to be caught up to the breakaway by the bottom of the 2nd to last climb is my guess. They're hitting the third to last climb now. Popovych is now coming off the back of the peloton. I'm not sure if Azevedo is still with Hincapie or not.

Well the peloton is going up the 2nd to last climb now and they still haven't caught the breakaway group. Shouldn't be a problem though. This is going to get very interesting, very quickly. Confirmed - Azevedo is in the peloton. It's unclear who the leader is here for Disco. They'll probably both be trying to show their best side here to get a nod from the director to be the leader. The usual suspects are in the peloton with them.

Still 60 km to go! Word now Mayo abandoned. Yea no shit. The breakaway is looking ragged. Wegmann is dropping back to the peloton. It's really only Fuente. Probably trying to score one more set of mountain points before he gives up for the day. Voeckler is off the back of the peloton. Too much energy wasted trying to catch the breakaway. Things are starting to break down.

T-Mobile now decides to take control of the peloton. They're hitting it hard. They've got a good team there - Sinkewitz, Kessler, Rogers, and Kloden. Karpets has been carpet bombed. He's gone. Hincapie is done. I guess I'm not terribly surprised. Rumors are he is sick.

So who have we got left. Kloden, Rogers, Landis, Leipheimer (Leipheimer!), Menchov, Moreau, Rasmussen, Evans, Azevedo (he was technically picked as the disco team leader), Totschnig, and Simoni. Hincapie hasn't totally faded but he looks weak.

Landis now leading the pack. I wonder how strong he is. The peloton is still back from Fuente as they start the climb on the last mountain. It's a meat grinder. Slowly increasing as you get farther up. The very top is basically an HC climb.

Well all the breakaway riders are now done. Everyone has been caught up to. Time for someone to assert themselves. T-Mobile are done. Rabobank are now setting the pace - Rasmussen doing most of the work. Menchov sitting nicely behind as is Landis. One of these guys could be the attacker. 20 km to go.

The other guy in this group is Fothen. He's a rookie and is clearly looking to make a statement as well as capture the maillot blanc.

So Rasmussen is tapped out and trails off. Now Boogerd takes over to lead his teammate Menchov. Azevedo, Rogers, Zubeldia, Totschnig, and Simoni get dropped. Fothen and Moreau struggling but there. Moreau's gone.

We really have Landis, Boogerd, Menchov, Leipheimer, Sastre, Kloden, and Evans left. Boogerd will be too tapped out to contend this stage, having pulled the group up the mountain. So who's it going to be? 10km to go.

Kloden starting to look weak. Sastre looking weak. Menchov finally attacks. Long way to go still. Landis, Leipheimer, and Evans follows. Sastre digs deep and follows. Kloden is done. Boogerd is done. 5 riders left.

Now Leipheimer attacks. Menchov brings the group back up. Levi attacks again. They all catch up. No one wants to lead. They're clearly all tired or it's just too early to attack yet. 5km to go.

Landis, Menchov, and Evans taking turns leading. Levi and Sastre drafting. They all look quite evenly matched. No one can quite shake anyone here. But Evans and Landis have not attacked yet. Who knows if they can. Sastre and Evans coming off the back.

It's one of these 3 riders - Levi, Lands, Menchov. None of them has ever won a stage before. Wow!

Landis leading and looking a mite bit unhappy about the lack of help. Leip attacks. Menchov counters. Landis follows. Leip doesn't. He's off the back now. Nope he claws back. But it's probably Menchov vs. Landis for the win. Menchov is more of a sprinter. Now Leipheimer claws back and starts his sprint. Menchov sprints and he takes the stage. Levi and then Landis. Landis played that cooly. Almost Lance-like.

Landis, fortunately, does not take the Maillot Jaune. He doesn't want that responsibility yet. takes yellow (oops, forgot the time bonus). Leip really came out of nowhere today. Rumor has it he was sick and now feels good. He's potentially a contender but he looks weaker than Landis and is much farther back in the standings. Landis has to feel good about today; decaying hip and all.

Now. Let's see who's strong the next few days after all this punishment.

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