Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stage 16 - Wednesday, July 25: Orthez - Gourette - Col d’Aubisque, 218.5km

Again, I am talking about this stage without everything that happened when it ended. I will state that throughout the stage, I reloaded the L'Equipe site for two hours until they finally told us who the alleged doper was (as soon as the race ended). But onto the stage.

It was one of those once in a lifetime stages. It was similar to one of those Landis stages at last year's tour (little did we know, though). But what I wanted to talk about was how Discovery's tactics were a failure. What they did was wait for Rabobank to drop their protection of Rasmussen so that they could isolate him. But by the time that happened, there wasn't quite enough time for attacking. But Contador and Leipheimer waited and waiting some more, and when they attack it was too late.

Perhaps what they should have done was attack earlier. There were enough Discovery riders to ride hard, but no one did. Contador should have attacked earlier and harder and more often. Same with Leipheimer. But for whatever reason, that's not what happened and Discovery got screwed over by Rasmussen who, once again, proved to be stronger than everyone else.

In the end, he made Discovery work for him. With two Discovery riders, it was still more than enough to take Rasmussen, but it was like they had nothing else left to give. Which, I guess, made them a bit more human than Rasmussen. We knew he was a good climber, but to hang onto every move when he'd been so close to cracking two days before? He took all that adversity and tossed it back in the faces of his detractors to prove he could win the stage and stretch his lead.

Evans, Leipheimer, and Contador all battled against falling further back on GC, but it was a losing effort. They all lost time. In spite of all of that, prior to the 'top contenders' attacking, there were a couple of breakaways that ended up being caught. There was a brief moment when I thought maybe Mayo would be able to take the win, but sadly that was not to be.

The best part of the day, of course, was the young rider, Soler of Barloworld, taking back his KOM jersey. Hopefully he can keep it for the rest of the tour.

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