Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stage 8 - Sunday, July 15: Le Grand-Bornand - Tignes, 165km

It was supposed to be the stage that would decide separate the real "contenders" from everyone else. And, in some ways, that's exactly what happened. But at the same time, it was a disaster of a day for T-Mobile (and CSC, though not to the same extent). I want to write a bit about crashes in general and I will later, but now the stage.

I woke up bright and early and was interested to see how things had shaken out. I was hoping for another stage seven like stage, but it was not to be. I also had hoped, as slim as my hope was, that Sylvain would hold onto his KOM jersey. Of course, that was not to be either. What did happen, of course, was much more interesting.

The stage reminded of similar stages during the Armstrong era, but without a strong leader. Of course there's Rasmussen, but it's not the same. He doesn't have a team to control the peloton (and oh, they tried). In fact, no team is strong enough for whatever reason (and there are many). Instead we had the break, which fluctuated and then the smaller peloton and then everyone else at different points on the stage.

Eventually the "contenders" were separated, but never was it a clear separation. There were always riders going off the front (Moreau) or off the back (Vino) and while some were eventually dropped (Vino), others pushed on (Contador). It was also a little shocking to see Leipheimer fairing so poorly (though not as badly as I originally expected), but then again I don't actually care how well he does.

I would, though, have liked to see Gerdemann keep his jersey. And the kid, who was probably devastated to have lost his team leader, Mick Rogers, tried his best. But with no teammates to help him and a morale crushing day (losing Rogers and Cavendish and Burghardt crashing), he did what he could and it wasn't enough. He worked hard and it was almost Voeckler-like in the effort he gave (for those of you who remember the day Voeckler almost lost that yellow jersey but made it just under the time limit).

But it was Rabobank in yellow at the end of the day. Gerdemann did keep the young riders jersey, but Contador is nipping as ih heels, 2.27 back. Hopefully Gerdemann can keep that jersey, but unless he pulls out another ride like he did on Saturday, it's highly unlikely. Contador, on the other hand, has once again started to prove himself. He is in great form and will undoubtedly do well for Discovery. I just hope that he isn't forced to expend everything he has for riders who aren't in as good shape on his team.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and I'll do my usual recap. The day after is another mountain day and we'll see of Rasmussen can descend properly and keep that yellow jersey. Hopefully, though, it won't be a disastrous day for the riders, at least in the crashing sense.

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