Over the weekend, two conclusions to arguably two of the biggest stories in professional cycling doping scandals finally came to an end. Alberto Contador received a 2 year ban from cycling for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong’s two year long investigation into doping was closed with no files charged.
Alberto Contador is No Longer 2010 Tour Champ
CAS announced on today that it had upheld the UCI and WADA’s joint appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision not to suspend Contador. One, to try to blame the clenbuterol on meat with Contador was a joke at best. As much as the teams watch what these guys are taking into their bodies, I highly doubt they do not know the exact weight of every single scrap of food and where it came from. He got caught. He tried to weasel his way out of it and now it is over.
Contador will lose all results dating back to the 2010 Tour de France including his Giro d’Italia win. This means Andy Schleck is crowned winner of the 2010 Tour, but I highly doubt this is the way he wanted to grab that title.
Armstrong Federal Case Officially Closed
With Lance, the man behind the legend has been under investigation for 2 years pending fellow cyclists allegations of doping primarily started by everyone’s favorite cyclist, Floyd Landis. Although he was never positively tested, part of me looks back at those races and thinks that there is no possible way that he was dominating like he was without it. Everyone else was as we know now, so he was killing the pack free of any help? I would like to think that is true, but even if he was…he still beat everyone else that was too. The playing field was either level or extremely weighted to the competition and he won either way.
Lance might still not be out of the woods as this was the USADA might be looking to file doping charges of their own pending evidence found in the federal case. They are probably not going to find much there as the case was closed for a reason.
But…Why do I not care?
My thoughts? I don’t care. I am just glad it is over (although it could far from be actually over). The stain that these two cases have left on the sport of professional cycling is going to be difficult to recover from. In an age where the UCI is starting to look for outside funding for their complete lack of solid funding sources, big advertisers pulling support and the recent decrease of supported teams, the last thing the sport of professional cycling needs is more drama and bad press.
Some would argue that the recent issues outside of doping allegations is a direct effect of the scandals, but the reality is that cycling is getting more expensive and there is less money coming in. I also think people are sick and tired of hearing about it. While it may have caused a wave of increased viewers in the beginning, those same viewers are off to the next drama in some other professional arena.
It is time to get back to what the sport really is…bike racing around the world. The sport needs to get back to having hero’s and not “win at all cost” racers who cut corners and lie to get ahead. What happened to true spirit of bike racing? Was it never really there to begin with and the general public just didn’t know about it?
The big issue arises when these types of scandals make cyclists actually not want to watch…which is my feeling now. What good is it to watch the Grand Tours if the winner is just going to be stripped of the title years down the road because they cheated? Do you really think that doping is stopping just because they are watching it closer? It is just going further underground and they are finding new ways to get that artificial edge. The court cases didn’t change a thing. It just made them be even more careful.
As a viewer and cyclist, I just want exciting, competitive bike racing. I want riders that lead by example instead of ones that are looking to just not get caught. Is that too much to ask? It is looking that way lately, but I hold out hope. All the sport really needs is a clean rider with a successful track record to stand up and be the new face of professional cycling.
Who is that going to be? I am not sure…but it needs to happen soon.
With the 2010 Tour de France over, we once again crown Alberto Contador the overall GC winner in Paris as Mark Cavendish sprints to another top of the podium finish in Paris. Winning by the 4th smallest gap in Tour history, Contador edged out Andy Schleck by a small margin of 39 seconds.
The 2010 Tour de France was one of the more exciting races in recent memory. With the final showing my Lance Armstrong and the nail biting beginning stages that appeared to be riddled with wrecks, mechanicals and weather that brought much of the GC contention to its knees. As the competition unfolded, it was clear that we were going to have a shootout between two of the best climbers in cycling…Contador and Schleck. In the end, Contador proved that his consistency in the mountains is what wins the Tour.
Alberto Contador, while extremely motivated and talented, will never be the people’s champion. In a sport that is riddled with strong personalities and egos, Contador seems to rise above the rest in his pursuit of the yellow jersey. With his attack on Schleck during stage 15 and last year’s attack against his own teammates, Contador solidifies that he is out there on his own and he will win at all costs.
However, nothing Alberto Contador is doing is illegal in the sport of cycling. He often breaks the “unwritten rules” of the Tour, but they are just that…unwritten. He is the purest of competitors and for that…he gains consistency through results. At the end of the day, there are many acts and performances that lead up to the yellow jersey in Paris and racing will always be racing.
Contador’s Thoughts on the 2010 Tour:
“I realized early on that this year’s race was going to be very close and I had to concentrate at each moment,” Contador said. “There were moments when I wasn’t at my best and I know that by showing nothing and by bluffing, I won this Tour.”
“The truth is there’s a lot of emotion. I think it’s the first Tour to give me this much emotion. You can’t imagine how much I’ve given. Yes, there were few days when I wasn’t in my best form, and that might be why I’m so emotional.”
“The last year has been difficult for all kinds of reasons,” he said. “This year I’ve not been at my best all the time and that was the case today. But of course in the end I’m very happy with how the year has now turned out. All the victories this year have been the result of a lot of hard work. It’s been said that I’ve not competed in a lot of races but I’ve spent a lot of time away from home preparing for this objective.”
Asked why he had struggled, Contador said: “You never really know why things don’t work out as you hope after the preparations you’ve done. There are so many aspects to the sport that you have to take into consideration. Cycling is not like math. You can’t plan things exactly.
“But this year I’ve not been in my best shape. Today I didn’t feel too well. I didn’t sleep well and woke up with stomach ache, but ultimately the day turned out pretty well for me, although I suffered more today than at any other time this year.”
“Andy is a great rider and he is getting closer to me. We spend a lot of time together and I know his mindset and the way he works. I think he is going to be a major rival for many years to come. He’s very young and I’m quite young too.”
As well as happiness, Contador admitted to a good degree of relief having put himself right on the verge of securing a third yellow jersey. “When I started riding a bike as a kid it was my dream to win the Tour de France because it is the most beautiful race in the world. I can see what it means to so many people and I’ve felt under so much pressure, which comes not only coming from outside but also from myself. So it’s such a huge relief to have won the title.”
As for his future plans, Contador said: “I’m going to go away, rest and relax, and think about what I’m going to do in the future. At the moment, I’m evaluating several different options for next year. I hope to have a quiet winter, after which I’ll set my objectives. The Giro and the Vuelta might be a possibility for next year. As for this year’s Vuelta, I will rest and relax for a bit and then see how it looks with the team. However, the most likely scenario is that I will not take part.”
Time will tell if Contador can rise to the challenge of carrying the demeanor expected out of rider that dominates the Tour de France. So far…he sure has made it an exciting race to watch in recent years.
Lance Armstrong set out on Stage 16 of the 2010 Tour de France with one goal in mind, a stage win. With seemingly the worst luck in Tour de France history, Lance Armstrong’s last stand at the Tour has been riddled with mechanicals and a series of wrecks that even baffled the 7 time winner who arguably has the most Tour experience in history. To try to regain composure and go out on a high note, Lance Armstrong wanted a stage win.
The 199.5km stage 16 from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau was going to be Armstong’s stage and he made this readily apparent by making the early breakaways. The Lance of old seemed to be in stage 16 as he joined an 8 man breakaway all competing for the win. It all came down to the last 500 meters, but the last push by Pierrick Fedrigo proved to be too much for the veteran and Armstrong will go this Tour without a stage win.
“It was a very, very beautiful day, one of the best,” said Fedrigo. “I can’t say much more. When the group of Contador almost came back to us I attacked because I knew it was my day.”
Photo: (James Startt)
Lance on his performance on Stage 16:
“It was a tough day. I paid for it at the end,” Armstrong admitted. “I warmed up a little bit before the race and it went right at kilometre zero. 200km at the front took it out of me. I had a no sprint at the end. But I tried.”
“I had this day kind of dog-eared in the book but it was harder than I expected,” he admitted. “I guess I felt better as the race went on. It was tough day for all the peloton. It was hard…It’s been a while since I sprinted. We knew that Fédrigo was the fastest and then Cunego. We tried to catch his wheel. There were some questions whether or not we’d catch Barredo but I was just not quick enough.”
Despite not winning the stage, Armstrong was proud to have made one final flourish, one last show of pride. The attack also meant RadioShack kept the lead in the team classification ahead of Caisse d’Epargne.
“We did what we wanted to do: we tried to win the stage. We maintained team GC and Chris Horner had an amazing race. Caisse d’Epargne had two guys there but that means we’re equal on the day.”
When asked about the Tour de France and his professional cycling career, Lance simply said, “Lance Armstrong is over in about four or five days.”
So what now for Lance Armstrong?
With Andreas Kloden far off in the distance, Lance needs to take a more supportive role for Levi Lepheimer as the remaining days of the Tour de France unfold. That 3rd spot on the podium is still up for grabs, but it is going to take the team effort of Radio Shack to get Levi on the podium in Paris. Up until this point, it has appeared that Armstrong has been saving himself for a chance at winning stage 16. Now that it is over, it is time to put on the supportive role and really crank out a great Tour for Levi and the rest of the Radio Shack team.
If Lance falls to the back of the pack and just hangs out for the remaining stages, this LA supporter will be pretty disappointed.
Attacking with the yellow jersey in the last 4 kilometers of the daunting Bales Pass, the Luxembourg rider, Andy Schleck, made a surprise effort to gain additional time on his key rival, two-time winner Alberto Contador.
But then suddenly he stalled. Moments later, Contador propelled around Schleck in a stunning counterattack. Soon, however, Schleck came to a complete halt, dismounted his bike to fix the chain that had been thrown from his chain ring while shifting.
Ahead Contador powered along with other rivals, Samuel Sanchez and Denis Menchov. But as he opened the gap on his key rival, Contador opened a huge debate. Instead of accelerating, should Contador have waited? Was he ignoring the time-honored tradition in the Tour that no one attacks the yellow jersey when he is down?
At the finish, Contador cruised in 39 seconds ahead of Schleck, enough to dispose the Luxembourg rider of the prized yellow shirt by a mere 8 seconds.
But as Contador pulled the yellow jersey over his shoulders on the victory podium, the debate simmered.
“We’d been marking each other and I was starting to think about attacking. I was told after I did attack that there had been an incident, but when I launched the attack I didn’t have any idea about what the incident was,” Contador said. “When I did find out what had happened we already had a big advantage and it was too late to do anything about it as we were all riding hard.”
“Some people understand what happened and others didn’t understand. Those are the circumstances of racing and I knew there would be some debate about this incident. I attacked before he had a problem with his chain and was a long way ahead when I heard what had happened,” Contador said.
“I realise that this is a delicate situation and that there is going to be a lot of debate about it. But as I said before, at the moment I attacked I didn’t know what had happened to him, and when I found out I was already a long way ahead. On the Spa stage I told my teammates to stop without knowing at that time whether the riders who were in the lead would do the same. Then we had the stage on the pavé and there was another situation with a crash and the race did not stop there. And anyway I don’t believe that 30 seconds at this point in the race is going to decide whether or not you win the Tour de France,” he said.
“I can understand him being disappointed with the way that the stage turned out for him. But when it happened I was on the attack and the most important thing for me is that I gained time today. For me it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still Paris. I will keep focused on the race and trying to extend my advantage on several riders who are close to me in the standings.”
When one reporter said that he must have seen that Schleck had a mechanical problem because he was behind the Luxembourger when it happened, Contador responded: “I wasn’t aware exactly what had happened. I had my focus fixed very much on what I was doing. The other riders with me didn’t know what was going on either. We were all focused on pushing as hard as we could, all taking turns to work.”
Andy Schleck’s Response:
After the finish, Schleck was visibly unhappy. “I told Alberto, ‘how can you do that?’” he said. “Okay that’s racing. But I would not want to win like that. The thing is that he waited for me when I crashed in Spa and I really appreciated that. But then why attack me here?”
“He better be nervous for the next days,” Schleck said. “Now I am not in first any more. I am the one that will be attacking.”
Yvon Sanquer’s (Astana) Response:
Yvon Sanquier, manager to Contador’s Astana team, was visibly shaken as he spoke by the team bus at the finish. “That certainly is not the way we hoped to take over the yellow jersey, but, what can you say?” Sanquier said. “I mean, Sanchez and Menchov were definitely going. What was Alberto supposed to do, stop and wait? You know it is not like we have referees at every corner to call a play.”
Should Alberto Contador Have Waited?
If you believe the response by Contador, he didn’t know…so it would make sense that he would not wait for Andy Schleck to get the chain up and running again before attacking the climb. However, knowing Alberto Contador’s previous track history of even attacking his own team when they are down, one has to wonder if he would have actually cared given all of the facts ahead of time.
The unwritten law in the Tour de France is to not attack the wearer of the yellow jersey when they are down. Previous winners of the Tour de France, including Lance Armstrong, have waited for their rivals as they dealt with mechanicals and crashes, but the law of the Tour is just that…an unwritten law.
At what point in the race do you wait and when is it just racing? For many of the riders, this decision is made on a personal level gauging public perception. For Alberto Contador, I think his goal is very defined as it was last year. He wants yellow in Paris and he will ride in a way that lets him achieve that goal.
With Schleck out of yellow and looking incredibly strong in the Pyrenees, Alberto Contador might find this was a bad move in the mental battle as we have seen some chinks in AB’s climbing armor in this year’s Tour. Of course, Schleck is also in the drivers seat as he need to gain some serious time to overcome Contador’s time trialing ability.
So…should Contador have waited…or is that just part of racing?
Stage 11 of the 2010 Tour de France came down to an exciting sprint finish. As legendary lead-out man Mark Renshaw made his move to position Mark Canvendish for the sprint win, he head butted Garmin Slipstreams lead-out man Julian Dean as he pulled out Tyler Farrar. What does it mean for the best sprint lead-out man in the Tour? He is now kicked off the Tour de France.
Mark Renshaw’s Statement Regarding Removal:
“I’m extremely disappointed and also surprised at this decision. I never imagined I would be removed from any race especially the Tour de France. I pride myself on being a very fair, safe and a straight up sprinter and never in my career have I received a fine or even a warning.”
“Julian came hard in on my position with his elbows. I needed to use my head to retain balance or there would have been a crash. If had used my elbows when Julian brought his elbow on top of mine we would also have crashed. The object was to hold my line and stay upright.
“I hadn’t started the sprint yet. We were still at 375m to go. After that Cavendish had to start his sprint early and I was also ready to finish off the sprint as I still had a lot left in my legs. It would have been good to try to take some more points. I only saw open space on my left. I had no idea Tyler Farrar was there. By no means would I ever put any of my fellow riders in danger.”
Video Coverage from VS on the Incident:
Mark Cavendish On The Sprint Finish:
“Julian came and he was fighting with Mark at the finish and it left me boxed in – if he’d have pushed him across, as soon as I saw a gap I had to go,” said Cavendish after the finish.
“Normally I go with 200 or 250 [metres] maximum and at 375 metres to go I saw a gap… it wasn’t so much a sprint but a little breakaway, well, by my standards anyway! It was hard, actually… It was a really, really long way to the finish – I thought somebody would be on my wheel and come around, but they didn’t,” he explained.
“I don’t know whether Tyler [Farrar] was with Julian, maybe he thought Tyler was with him… otherwise he was just trying to put Mark off,” continued Cavendish, who had a back seat view of the incident before jetting off for the stage win. “Like I said, if Julian was [coming across intentionally] it shut the door and I could’t go – maybe that’s what he was doing: trying to shut the door for me.”
Was Kicking Renshaw Off The Tour Excessive Punishment?
After watching the footage, I will let you make your own conclusions, but I think the reason he was kicked off the Tour was because it was so blatant. In high speed, confined sprint finishes in the Tour de France, full contact racing can have drastic and devastating results if gone wrong. Especially in this year’s Tour that has already been plagued with wrecks and incidents that have taken out much of the top GC contention, the Tour can not afford to have all of their top sprinters taken out of the race because of actions taken during the event by riders.
If Renshaw would have just done it once or twice, he would have gotten a slap on the wrist, but with the frequency and force he applied, the Tour organizers had to take drastic measures for the safety of the other riders on the Tour. Now…the big question remains…can Mark Cavendish win without Mark Renshaw?
In another flatter stage of the Tour, the overall standings remain unchanged and Andy Schleck gets to enjoy another stage in yellow just over 40 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador.
Next Stage: Stage 12 - 210.5km – Bourg-de-Peage to Mende
Photo: Paulinho executed the final kilometers of his breakaway win to perfection. (AFP/Getty Images).
The breakaway finally keeps off the chasers. In a fantastic effort by Sergio Paulinho (Team Radio Shack) and Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne), the two riders kept off the chasing packs and ended in a sprint that was won by Paulinho in less than have a wheel length to bring a stage win to team Radio Shack.
It was no surprise that Stage 10 had a breakaway winner. After three hard days in the Alps, temperatures in the mid-90s, and with 10 days of racing already in their legs, the peloton is tired. There’s still a lot of racing left to be done, and the riders know they still have some really hard days in the Pyrenees to come. So once a breakaway group of appropriate size and composition was established, the peloton backed off the throttle and let them ride away to a 14-minute lead by the finish.
But even knowing that they were not at risk of being caught didn’t make the day out in front of the peloton easy for the breakaway riders. They still had to deal with the heat and share the pacemaking, and there were four decent climbs on the course (only three were categorized, but there was a final climb that topped out at about 10 kilometers from the finish line). As a result, when it was time to start making potentially race-winning moves, fatigue played a big role.
At the end of a long road race, nobody has the same kick in their legs that they would have at the end of a shorter criterium. Likewise, you can’t launch stinging attacks the way you might have done to establish the break in the first place. More than likely, you only have one or two strong attacks left in your legs at all, so you have to be careful how you use them. Interestingly, if you look at power files from long road races, the power outputs for the attacks and sprints are not nearly as high as what the athletes are capable of in short training sessions. The speeds aren’t as high either, which makes sense because they are attacking after five hours in the saddle. To win you don’t need to generate huge numbers, you just have to have the energy to produce bigger numbers than the rest of the guys you’re with.
“I knew I had to attack to get away from the group, and I actually felt pretty good,” Paulinho said after the stage. “I was just a little bit stronger than Kiryienka, and waited until the last moment to make my move.”
“We did a lot of work for the team in the first week of the race. The last two stages were very important to the team, and we were quite strong. All we really wanted was to get a stage win,” Paulinho said.
“In the team meeting this morning, we were told we needed to have someone in the breakaway. We also had to look out for the team classification, so when I saw a rider from Caisse d’Epargne go, that’s when I decided I had to be there.”
This win brings a much needed boost to Team Radio Shack as they shift their focus from Lance Armstrong to Levi Leipheimer.
The Race For 9th
The second sprint race for the finish of the day came from the usual suspects. While none of them were in contention for a stage win, the sprinters made their moves up front to grap precious points for the green jersey. What resulted was a typical sprint setup for the finish and 9th place in the stage. Mark Cavendish came out on top and picked up the points.
With no real shake-up in the overall standings, Andy Schleck stays in yellow as we head into Stage 11.
Next Stage: Stage 11 -Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence (184.5km)
The 204.5km 9th stage of the 2010 Tour de France from Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint Jean de Maurienne marked one of the most exciting stage finishes outside of all out sprints. A breakaway containing Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Luis León Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) was almost assured a breakaway success with a run at the finish. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, however, had other plans. Closing a several minute gap coming out of the long Cat 1 climb and fast descent, the rival pair closed the gap through the flat finish and caught the lead pack with only a kilometer left to race.
Accomplished sprinter Sandy Casar came out with the stage win and Andy Schleck picked up the yellow jersey in a hair standing finish that had everyone on their toes. You could almost see the “holy s!#t!” look on the breakaway riders faces as Andy Schleck dove to the inside corner in that remaining kilometer.
The exciting end to Stage 9 was proceeded with a brutal climb up Col de la Madeleine where we got to watch the famous pair of climbers (Schleck and Contador) duke it out for this year’s Tour supremacy. The constant attacking back and forth lead to a break up of the overall pack and several chase groups all trying to not lose too much time on the two top contenders of the GC classification.
When the dust settled, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador showed what it really looks like to have two climbing powerhouses but the hammer down.
“We’re both at about the same level, although now I have a lead of 41secs,” said Schleck, who won the stage to Morzine-Avoriaz on Sunday to close to within 20sec of Evans. “It’s now up to him (Contador) to attack in the Pyrenees.”
“I know what my aim is now, and which wheel I have to follow—Andy Schleck’s. I think he’s the most dangerous,” said Contador, who up until now has been largely unchallenged on the race’s tough climbs. “It was a really epic stage, and the very hard climb to the Madeleine left a lot of people struggling.”
With Schleck and Contador attacking and then working together to catch the lead group, yellow jersey wearer Cadel Evans lost big. With a fracture elbow, the fast, attacking pace proved to be too much for the veteran and he lost 7:47 in the GC classification putting him out of contention for a win at this year’s Tour. Noticeably shaken and upset at the end of stage 9, Evans still did a great job of carrying the yellow jersey while blue tape held together a battered left arm.
“I’m not at my normal level, but when you’re in the yellow jersey at the Tour whether you’re good or not you have to be there,” said Evans. “I haven’t seen the results yet but I’m pretty sure it’s over for this year.”
Radio Shack Looking Good For High Placement
Levi Leipheimer had a great day in the mountains and was able to gain positioning in the GC standings to cement himself as a possible for the podium in Paris. Team partner, Lance Armstrong, also looked comfortable in stage 9 which begs the question, “Will Lance win a stage in his last Tour de France?”. With a strong showing and not having to worry about overall standings, it looks like Lance Armstrong has a serious ability to get on the top of the podium during a stage at this year’s Tour.
Stage 8 of this year’s Tour de France promised to be an exciting event. With the GC contenders taking it easy in Stage 7, the steeper slopes of Stage 8 and a rest day on Monday guaranteed that the riders looking for yellow in Paris were going to bring out their climbing legs and start attacking. With everyone betting on an Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong shootout, the day took a very different turn that resulted in a very confident Andy Schleck pulling out the stage win with a very different turn of events in the field.
The 189km stage from Station des Rousses to Marzine Avoriaz marks the first of the tough climbing stages. With climbing powerhouses like Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, this was the first time we are able to see who really has the legs to win this years Tour. With Frank Schleck out of the running for team Saxo Bank with a broken collar bone as he fell victim to the cobblestones, his brother Andy is now picking up the responsibility for Saxo Bank to deliver yellow in Paris and slow down the climbing genius of Alberto Contador. After is strong win in stage 8, Andy Schleck is looking to be the front runner for this years Tour.
“I’m very happy to have won the stage, but we have a strategy and I wanted to stick with it. It’s not the time for experimenting,” said the Saxo Bank climbing specialist. “Maybe I would have taken the yellow jersey, but my aim is to have it when the race finishes in Paris. And to do that, we have to go step by step. It will come.”
“I was hoping it would be decisive, though I was quite nervous this morning,” he added. “I knew it would be a stage where whoever had the legs would be up front. It is in these types of stages that we see the real favorites, the contenders and the others who are struggling. I was right up there 100 percent, both physically and mentally. It’s a great victory for me, but now I’m taking aim at the yellow.”
The 2010 Tour de France continues to unload back luck on Lance Armstrong’s last Tour appearance. What started off with a flat at a critical time in the cobblestones has turned into a time gap that can not be recovered after a crash in stage 8. Armstrong suffered from 3 crashes in stage 8 that spelled the end of his yellow jersey contention.
“I had a bad day,” Armstrong told French TV within seconds of crossing the line. “I came around one roundabout and my pedal touched [the curb], then my front tyre rolled off.
“It’s hard to recover from something like that,” he said. “They started the Ramaz pretty hard and I was already suffering. Then it went from bad to worse. It was a bad day. Now I’m going to hang in there and enjoy my last Tour.”
Schleck offered his sympathy to Armstrong. “Lance had a pretty bad crash – he crashed in front of me, and he could do nothing.
“I almost went down with him,” Schleck said. “He came back but he was pretty beaten up. On the [Ramaz], he lost contact with our group. I expected him to be up there in the front.
“To be really honest, I’m a little sorry for him because he really wanted to be good in this last Tour. I think his morale is a little down now.”
A dissappointing end to a fantastic career, Armstrong now has to sit back and give support to his teammate, Levi Leipheimer who sits 8th in the overall GC standings.
After Stage 8, Cadel Evans (BMC) is in yellow.
Next Stage: 204.5km – Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Sylvain Chavanel won Stage 7 of the 2010 Tour de France (AFP Getty)
Stage 7 of the 2010 Tour de France marked the first of the climbing stages as the peloton headed into the Alps. What was supposed to be a calmer day of climbing was rocketed forward by team Bbox as they took control of the stage and brought up the average speed.
Things began to get interesting on the day’s penultimate climb, the 15.7km long category 2 Col de la Croix de la Serra, when a group split from the main peloton containing Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Rafael Valls (Footon Servetto), Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Daniel Moreno (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and Mathieu Perget (Caisse d’Epargne).
With one final attack, Sylvain Chavanel took control of the stage and put 57 seconds on second place Rafael Valls Ferri (Footon-Servetto) to take the stage victory (his 2nd of this years Tour) and retake the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara who lost the main peloton and a lot of time off the field.
“It’s a nice revenge for me,” said Chavanel. “When I won (on Monday) the peloton sat up. People were telling me this morning that I had a good chance of being in the yellow jersey again today, but I didn’t really believe them.”
“In the final my legs were on fire, but I just told myself to keep going,” added Chavanel.
“These kinds of small climbs suit me perfectly, and when I caught up with Jerome he encouraged me to keep going.”
Most of the main contenders for the General Classification held tight in the peloton in preparation for tomorrow’s steep climbs followed by a rest day. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador held in at the front of the pack and both look rested and ready for tomorrows peak finish.
Tomorrow’s stage (Stage 8) is where we are going to see where the GC contenders really stand. I would expect to see Contador attack and attack hard as the Alps start to get steep. He is going to want to take control of this year’s Tour early and the steep climbs of the Alps is where is climbing ability really shines. Can Armstrong and the rest of the GC contenders match? We’ll have to wait and see…
Next Stage: Stage 8 - Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoria – 189km
Hammering to the finish, Mark Cavendish (HTC/Columbia)…the Manx Missile…tears up the asphalt to claim his second, consecutive stage victory. Followed by Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) who appeared to not even have a chance to challenge the talented sprinter from Britain. If the critics were wondering if Cavendish could get the job done for Columbia/HTC in the 2010 Tour de France, they are now silenced as Cav seems to be on a roll that will continue into the rest of the race.
Today’s stage from Montargis to Gueugnon (227.5km) started off with stormy skies and ended in humid sun. With a typical early breakaway by Mathieu Perget (Caisse d’Epargne), Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was joined by Dimitri Champion (AG2R) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox) with around 20km to the finish as they attacked the last climb. The peloton eventually swallowed up the lead runners at about 10km to go with a windy finish ahead.
Stage 6 marks the last sprint finish before the Tour hits the mountains this weekend. During the stages on Saturday and Sunday in the Alps, we will get to see the GC contenders really start to ramp it up to put time on their competitors. Does Lance Armstrong have the legs to challenge Alberto Contador? We will find out tomorrow as the elevation starts to move skyward and the real climbers of this years Tour start to emerge.
Going into Stage 7, Fabian Cancellara stays in yellow as we hit the mountains.
Next Stage: Stage 7 – Tournus – Station des Rousses – 165.5km
Stage 6 Final Results
Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia
Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Transitions
Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin – Transitions
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
General Classification After Stage 6
Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
This is a quick checkin to let you know what is going on around the Bike198.com camp lately as we continue to expand the other disciplines of the site.
DT Swiss Wheelset – Electric Red and White
Chris over at Built To Last Wheels hooked up the Road.Bike198.com site with an electric red and white road wheelset for review. This 1580g DT Swiss wheelset is hand built around the new 36 point DT Swiss 240s hubs and the new RR465 rims. You can check out more pictures over here: DT Swiss Wheelset First Look
If you need a quality, hand built wheelset for your mountain, road or cyclocross bike, I highly recommend you check out Built To Last Wheels. When it comes to wheelsets, the builder is more important than the components so check them out when you get a second.
How To Install Cranks and Bottom Brackets
Headstrong356 has been hard at work creating tutorials and how-to’s over at Community.Bike198.com. His latest takes you step by step through the crank and bottom bracket install process with troubleshooting information to get rid of those annoying on trail issues. You can check out his tutorial here: Cranksets and Bottom Brackets or you can request a tutorial here: Requests Are Being Taken.
2010 Tour de France Coverage
The 2010 Tour de France has gotten off to an exciting start. With multiple wrecks, treacherous conditions and unexpected sprint wins (Cavendish picked up his first yesterday), this years Tour is shaking out to be one of the most exciting races to date. You can find all of Bike198.com’s tour coverage here: 2010 Tour de France
Alessandro Petacchi celebrates his Stage 4 win at the Tour de France (James Startt)
The Cambria to Reims stage 4 segment of the 2010 Tour de France finally saw some resemblance organization and calmness amongst the peloton as they were given a chance to ride the 153.5 km stage without too much headache. The beginning 3 stages of this year’s Tour de France has be plagued with extreme conditions, wrecks and even a random dog making its way into the peloton that has put on time for some riders and shattered 2010 victory hopes of others (Frank Schlek). With a chance to regain composure and recover from a brutal series of stages, the Tour riders capitalized and enjoyed what would seem to be a normal day of Tour racing with team Columbia/HTC doing much of the work.
At the end of the day, Fabian Cancellara gets to keep the yellow jersey through to stage 5 and Alessandro Petacchi sprinted his way to another 2010 Tour victory ahead of the typical sprinting hopefuls. At 36 years of age, Petacchi is the old man in the sprinting crowd. With a second Tour victory under his belt for 2010, Petacchi is destroying the younger crowd in the early stages.
“Today’s victory proved that I didn’t just get lucky at Stage 1,” Petacchi said. “And it also proved that I’m not the ‘old man’ some of you call me.”
My career has spanned three generations of sprinters,” he said. “I started with Cipollini, then raced when Robbie McEwen was at the top and now with the Cavendish generation. Although I could be beat by any of these riders, I could also hold my own…I may not be the fastest sprinter. But I am at this moment.”
Next: Stage 5 - Epernay – Montargis - 187.5 km
Stage 4 Results
Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin – Transitions
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin – Transitions
Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
GC Contention Results After Stage 4
Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team