Thursday, July 21, 2005

Stage 18 - Thursday, July 21: Albi - Mende, 189 km

Image hosted by

For some people (aka Armstrong fans) this was not a stressful stage. Not even when Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich, and Evans were pushing toward the end of the stage. But for me, it was exceedingly stressful.

Why? Ullrich was in that break of four and he's fourth, not far behind Rasmussen. And we all know that I want Rasmussen on that podium in Paris. He ended up losing 36 seconds when Basso started the attack. I know Rasmussen worked hard, trying to get Vinokourov and Leipheimer to work. Eventually they also gathered up Mancebo, from where I don't know. But still, 36 seconds is a lot in the tour. Especially since Rasmussen isn't a time trialist. I mean, sure, he's got the KOM jersey, but I wanted him to be third. I'll just have to cross my fingers.

Back to the rest of the stage.

Image hosted by

It started like yesterday's, with a bunch of little attacks. And then Carlos Da Cruz finally made one stick and was eventually joined by 10 other cyclists (including Axel Merckx and Xabier Zandio).

At one point, Zandio was up to 20th place, but the breaking of the peloton bought back a bit of time and so he ended up 21st instead. But, good news for T-Mobile. Kessler was in the break, so T-Mobile is, oddly enough, leading the team competition. Or maybe it's ironic that they are, considering they've lost Kloden and Vino is off on his own. But I guess it's all about things adding up and not if you're actually functioning as a team. But I'm not actually bitter about that, just observing. Discovery (wow, I almost typed Postal and then USPS, huh) had it last night because of their two men in the break, but it's nice for T-Mobile to get something (since I'm hoping Ullrich doesn't make the podium) and I hope they keep it to Paris.

Image hosted by

The break was fun to watch. A lot of boys in it that I hoped would win. Sadly, none of them did. But that was okay, because this was Marcos Serrano's eight tour and his first stage win. And his team, Liberty Seguros could always use the win. And it's always nice to see how happy some of the cyclists get when they win stages. Serrano was no exception.

So, over all, I wasn't disappointed in the break. And they didn't really have much of an effect on the overall GC, except for Zandio moving to 21st over all. But the GC did shift a bit on the last third category climb. Those attacks messed with things a bit and along with Rasmussen losing points, Vino did too, I believe. The top ten ended up looking like this:

General classification after stage 18

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 77.44.44 (41.664 km/h)
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.46
3 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 3.46
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5.58
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 7.08
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 8.12
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 9.49
8 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 10.11
9 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.42
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 13.15

During the stage Vino went from 8th to 7th and back to 8th again. Evans moved a few places and Landis slide back. We'll see if tomorrow's stage has any impact, though I doubt it will. Perhaps a sprinter's day, finally. Or maybe we'll have another breakaway. I won't know until the evening, though, as I'll be out of town.

The real damage, I imagine, will be done during the time trial on Saturday. I hope it's exciting. I doubt Lance will lose the jersey, but you never know. It is the tour, after all.

And, of course, I hope this boy is on the podium in Paris. Not to be biased or anything.

Image hosted by

No comments: