Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tour de France Preview - Stage 10, July 14th (recap stage 9)

Man! Today's stage 9 that finished with a sprint after climbing four big mountains including the Col de la Madeleine was memorable. It had everything you could ask for in a sporting event, including courage, collapse, brotherhood, and daring. Andy Schleck tried to figure out if Contador could follow another attack on a big climb and got his answer, a shadow. Contador matched him move for move and was seemingly bossing Schleck around to take his turn at the front, as if to say, do the work cause I'm not going anywhere. The duo was joined by Sanchez and caught the breakaway of four that set up an exciting finish where Sandy Casar's inside knowledge of the final turn got him the win.

The Tour is unforgiving and can be cruel. Today it brought Cadel Evans to tears as his time in yellow was all too brief. The rider who has learned to win by attacking, couldn't fight like he wanted today, as the bandaged rider discovered that he had broke his elbow after x-rays on the rest day. Losing eight minutes on the day, Cadel felt the weight of failing in his own expectations and tearfully collapsed into the arms of a teammate. He just couldn't give anymore. Crushed.

Stage 10 - Bastille Day! A frenchman always wants to win , on Bastille day! Some of the greats have won on this French National Holiday including, Jalabert, Virenque, with Jacques Anquetil winning on the day twice! Last year George Hicapie lit the fuse to ignite Mark Cavendish's third win of the 2009 tour.

Include in tomorrow's stage is the Cote' de Laffrey, one of the Tour’s oldest climbs, first featured way back in 1905. The Rochette descent that the riders follow to tomorrow's finish is where in 2003 (my favorite Tour in the Lance era) Joseba Beloki's tires melted and in crashing shattered his pelvis and his career. The crash forced Lance Armstrong to put on a moutain bike clinic as he had to navigate a mountain mountain meadow on skinny tires to escape harm as Beloki skidded to a stop.

Velonews offers some deeper history.
"While the profile looks somewhat benign for a stage in the Alps, history suggests otherwise. On a nearly identical course in 1971, Eddy Merckx experienced one of the most trying days of his Tour career. Unable to follow the accelerations of other top contenders on the Cote de Laffrey, he was forced to chase for 100km behind Spain’s Luis Ocaña. Merckx finished third, almost 9 minutes behind Ocaña. Only 38 riders finished within half an hour of the winner."

It will be a day for a breakaway. The overall  contenders will be content to save their energy and let a group get away to fight it out for glory. Bet on a Frenchman. Adieu

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