Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Stage Fifteen - Day Eighteen

I am not bitter, I promise. Just a little sad. I know, maybe I was disillusioned, but I really wanted, as Phil said, to see Thomas start last for the TT tomorrow. But it was not to be. Instead, he finished a full nine minutes and 30 seconds behind stage and new race leader, Lance Armstrong. Thomas somehow hung onto the white jersey, even though Sandy Casar crossed the line ahead of him. That boy never gives up. I hope we see him in white all the way to France. He is by far the best "rookie" on this year's tour.


Maybe next year, Thomas.

The stage itself. Well, I called it. Even if he didn't make up much time, he started to climb up the classifications. Who, you might ask? Why, Jan Ullrich. Yesterday in my rest day recap, I suggested that T-Mobile might be playing us. And I was right. Everything appeared to be set up for Andreas, but really? It was for Jan. And, get this, I actually feel bad he didn't do better. Although, he needs to learn how to descend a mountain better. I was worried, at least twice, that he was going to go off and down.

I really hoped Richard was going to get his second stage win. But Jan, man, once he got going, there wasn't much anyone could do. I think that's partly why Thomas lost the jersey. The pace was tremendous and most of the peloton was struggling to keep up, most were just barely hanging on. I am most impressed, though, by Levi, Jens, Carlos and Andreas. Andreas not as much, because we've seen what he can do. And Carlos did some great rides last year. But Jens and Levi? After all those breaks, I still can't believe how much energy Jens had to help out USPS chase Ullrich and his mini-break down. And Levi. I keep hoping he'll do better. He was the other person I wanted to win the stage.

But, alas, it was not meant to be. Lance played it safe, although he managed to scare Phil and Paul when he dropped to the back of the leading break near the end of the stage. I figured he was there for a reason, and he was. Just waiting until the right moment. And then he just shot by Basso. It even impressed my father, who doesn't like cycling. As much as I wanted Thomas to win, it was fun to watch Lance. The man is just amazing.

Tomorrow. Almost as bright and early as Saturday, but not quite. I'm excited, but I think the OLN staff is even more excited. They've already put their "Alpe d'Huez TT" commercials out in full force. It's kind of scary, really. It should be interesting, especially if the weather's bad. I hope that Thomas has the ride of his life and stays in white. And Lance? Now that he's in yellow, I want him to stay.

As for the green jersey? I'm not evil, really, but if Lotto's worried that Alpe d'Huez might take out Robbie, then who am I too complain about that? Stuey, Thor or Erik for green. And, of course, Baden for Paris - "Mission Paris" as the FDJers are calling it.

I think this picture sums up the day. I wish it was Thomas in yellow.


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