Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stage 11 - Wednesday, July 16: Lannemezan - Foix, 167.5km

I don't have much to say about today's stage. I mean, I'm writing this the next day, but I can barely remember who won. It was one of those stages.

A breakaway took hold of the race and pretty much never let go. The break was a good one, made up of a bunch of decent riders:

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Kurt Asle Arvesen (CSC - Saxo Bank), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Alexandre Botcharov and Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank), Marco Velo (Milram), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) and Amaël Moinard (Cofidis)
And the stage was basically raced like a post-rest day stage. Which was exactly what it was. I was rooting for Ballan, but only because he's on my fantasy team or Fabian Wegmann because I just like him. But once that little Frenchman went out ahead, I was rooting for him (Amaël Moinard). And by the time they caught him, I'd really wanted him to stay away and take the win. Unfortunately it was not to be, luckily he did get most aggressive rider.

It was the sprint to the finish that was really exciting. I did not expect Kurt Asle Arvesen to win, but I'm not disappointed that he did. And I love it when the winners are so close. And his muted celebration was hilarious, because he obviously thought he'd won, but wasn't 100% sure. Not that I blame him, really. Too many other cyclists have been burned by celebrating too soon. I did like that they basically said he won 'by the width of his bike' which is absolutely fantastic. It's good for CSC and for Norway, especially since Thor has been so-so this tour.

Then we had to wait for the peloton to come in and it was such a long. In fact, it was over fourteen minutes before the rest of the peloton arrived. And it was Thor who sprinted his way to the finish ahead of the rest of the riders. He only gained eight points, especially since Oscar Freire got five more and he has a pretty decent lead in that competition. But even that sprint, while not for the win, was pretty exciting.

The overall classifications didn't change. Ricco is still young rider and in the KOM jersey, Evans (sigh) is still in yellow and Freire is in green. Tomorrow's stage starts out kind of hard, but then sort of flattens out, but not enough to make it easy. It could be a good break stage, but it might end up being a decent sprint finish. A real one, not one of the weird types we've had so far. Hopefully it'll be more interesting than stage 11.

Before I go, here are the results of Sylvain and Philippe, neither of whom did anything of note yesterday (except finish).
86 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.08.12
138 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 1.42.20

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