Jul 17, 2007

tdf - stage 9

Nice ride today. More fireworks than I expected. At one point I thought Discovery were on to something. They had two men in the initial 5 man break (Astarloza, Popo, Gutierrez, Gusev, Clement)

"Solo" Soler was split between the peloton and the break for much of the day. He then bridged up and started attacking. Popo held for a while but eventually Soler dropped everyone and headed out alone.

Then Valverde, Rasmussen and Evans attacked the peloton. Some riders were able to catch up (Contador (Disco), Schleck, Pereiro, Menchov, Leip, Sastre, Mayo, Kloden etc.). Vino however doesn't and flies out the back.

Valverde is the most aggressive. Attacking quite a bit. He somewhat teams with Evans. Rasmussen plays it smart and just holds on. All 3 riders look good today.

Then Contador attacks and gaps ahead. With Popo ahead of him there were some hopes they could team up. Both are Disco boys.

So to sum up, with 20km to go it was Soler out front, Popo & Contador second, Evans, Valverde, Rasmussen (and varying others) third, and then the peloton.

Popo and Contador are then caught. But Valverde and Rasmussen shred this main chase group into two groups. All the while slowly catching up with Soler.

But they don't make it. Soler wins.

Valverde, who has great sprinting abilities, takes second. Then Evans (woo hoo), Contador (great ride), Mayo (I personally thought his career was over), Rasmussen (holding strong), and Leip (boring) come in behind.

Overall we don't really know much. Rasmussen holds GC and he looked good today. He will eventually get blown out on the long time trial. Valverde is my bet as his sprinting and climbing abilities looked very tight. Evans maybe for a podium finish?

The big loser obviously was Vino. It's tough to be hard on the guy as he's got stitches all over his body. And he does weather the tour well, getting stronger as the tour goes on. But he's lost a lot of time. Kloden is really more of the team leader for Astana now.

I thought the other loser was Leip. He just doesn't have much aggression in him. And his team doesn't seem to be well integrated in helping him out. I expect him to finish in his usual 7-9th spot.

Mayo? I just don't think this guy has what it takes but he is sitting in 3rd right now. And Contador in 5th could be a podium finisher as well.

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