Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stage 17 - Wednesday, July 20: Pau - Revel, 239.5 km

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Well. Today's stage made up for yesterday's. It wasn't that much different, in that it started with a break. But it was the fact that the break was so far ahead, even at the end (the biggest time gap was near 30 minutes and at the end, it was about 22). And of course the fact that there were two Discovery boys were in the break.

Again, though, there isn't that much to talk about. The biggest move of the day was Oscar Sevilla, who was in the break. He moved up to 15th place. There were a few moves at the front of the peloton, long after the break had crossed the line.

Vinokourov, of course, attacked (after all, he has nothing to lose now) and there were a few more. But eventually Armstrong, Hincapie, Popyvoch, Ullrich, Basso, Rasmussen and several others had powered their way off the front. Among those left were Evans and Landis (which sparked a lot of discussion and it seems Armstrong did very few interviews, I guess he didn't want to answer questions about his history with Landis leaving the team -- but I don't really know). It was kind of fun to watch them ride against each other, fighting their way to the finish.

There was also a small crash involving one of my boys (of course), Francis Mourey. But he seemed to be okay (I do hope he is). T-Mobile lost a man, sadly Kloden retired because of his broken hand. Sad to see him go, but as my sister can attest to (she broke her little finger) there's sometimes not a lot one can do right away. I hope he, and everyone else (especially the Australian women's cycling team) recovers fast.

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Today was supposed to be a sprinter's stage. We were all expecting big things from Thor and Robbie and Stuey (among others). But the break, and the poor chasing of the peloton, ruined that. So there were no truly thrilled peloton sprints to the line. The most interesting thing involving Thor was watching him ride across the tracks as the barriers were coming down.

Of course, I was really happy with the reason the sprinter's day was spoiled.

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As much as I am not a fan of Lance or much of Discovery, I am unabashedly a huge fan of Paolo Savoldelli. I was rooting hard for him during the Giro and was completely thrilled that he won (not that I've rambled on about that before or anything). I find him to be darling and I really love to watch him ride the bike. So seeing him in the break was really exciting.

I'd gone to work by the time the stage was over, so I didn't know he won until I got home. And let me tell you, watching him win was pretty fun.

I know quite a few people have compared his win to that of Hincapie's, but I disagree. Hincapie sat on the back most of the way to the line, but Savoldelli did not. He did quite a lot of work, and not just in the main break. He and Hinault did a lot of fighting to catch up with Kurt-Asle Arvesen. And while Savoldelli did wait a bit on the back of Kurt, it was more that he finally caught him, then caught his breath, and finally sprinted for the win.

I know a lot of people think Kurt-Asle Arvesen should have won. Well, unlike with Hincapie, I think that the right guy won. And I'm really happy it was Savoldelli. Il Falco indeed.

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