Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, Stage 17: Gap - Pinerolo 179 km

I did not get to see most of the this stage for various reasons, but I eventually watched my tape of the end of the stage. I thought, maybe because I couldn't watch, that because Sylvain was in the stage, this was going to be his day. Unfortunately it was not to be. Before I started watching my tape, I already knew the result (I looked/cheated/whatever) and so I knew that Edvald and not Sylvain had won. What I didn't know, until I saw some quotes and then the stage, was that Sylvain gave it a really good go. It seems he really wanted to win the stage and maybe thought that he could, but damn you, Team Sky.

This is from the QS website:

Chavanel came in 5th at 50 seconds of the Norwegian winner. "Today I really thought I could give the team the first victory in the Tour. In the break we collaborated really well. When De Weert attacked behind me I stopped collaborating as actively, hoping he could get back in. During the break I saw that Boasson Hagen was checking me out; I knew he was the strongest rider. Personally I gave it all I had. It was nice to spend a stage in the lead. This was probably my last chance in this Tour. After a few really hard days in the last stages I’ve really improved. I’m going to try to be useful to De Weert in the next stages."
Sylvain saying that this was probably his "last chance in this Tour" makes me super sad. I mean, this is right, the rest of the mountains are not the kind he likes (yikes, really). But a girl can dream, right? It's like he's finally feeling well enough to attack more and it's too late. I mean, if he hadn't crashed, he'd probably have one a stage or two, but the RR champion jersey seemed to be more of a curse than anything else, at least for Sylvain. But there's still a whole half a season left for him to race, so you never know what'll happen. His Tour might be over, but there will be other races, just not the TDF.

As for the stage winner? It's totally impossible to hate him. I mean, this was clearly a revenge sort of thing after what happened with Thor on yesterday's stage. And even though I'm totally annoyed that it wasn't Sylvain winning, it's hard to be too pissed when you see how happy Edvald was to win and how much it clearly meant to him. You can't compare a French win with a Norwegian, but it doesn't matter because they're both wins no matter what. Maybe next year, Sylvain. And hopefully we'll see loads more of Edvald.

The GC was kind of hilarious amusing. There were a few crashes by a non-GC rider and Voeckler also ended up the car pack, but he didn't let that stop him. He just kept on riding. There were a few attacks and for a bit it seemed like Contador had gotten away. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), the attacks failed to accomplish anything on the "big boys" as P&P call them. The group, as a whole, gained 25 seconds on Voeckler, but it wasn't nearly enough to take the yellow jersey. At this point, I can see one of two things happening -- the first that Voeckler manages to hold onto the jersey through the mountains because the attacks fail or GC riders can't hack the mountains and then loses it on the ITT on Saturday. The second is that Voeckler loses the jersey early in either tomorrow or Friday's stage -- either one is as likely as the other. I think the latter is the more likely scenario, but you never know with Voeckler -- or this Tour.

Tomorrow is the scary as hell Galibier stage and means that there are only four (!) stages left. Where has this Tour gone, seriously. I can't believe it's almost over. During that first week it felt like we'd been following the Tour for months. At least the crashes seemed to have stopped -- the worst ones, that is. Anyway, hopefully we'll see a proper battle on our hands and someone, not Voeckler, will end the day in yellow. But as I've seen before, in this and previous posts, with this Tour one never knows. If we're lucky, though, tomorrow will give us a chance to see what these guys are really made of -- if they have anything left.

1 comment:

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Nice post, that is indeed a very difficult stage.