Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tour de France Preview - Stage 15, July 19th

 Photo credit © Roberto Bettini
My post yesterday stated that I thought Carlos Sastre would give it a go on the climb up to Ax 3 Domaines and he surely tried. He just didn't have the staying power, eventhough 1&2 Schleck/Contador were playing a risky game, while simultaneously sending a message to the guys further down on GC. More on that in a minute. The day belonged to a Frenchman for the fourth time this tour, Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), with a gutsy solo effort, made more incredible by the post-stage revelation that he had almost abandoned the Tour the previous day. Riblon rode away from his breakaway mates to take the day and the glory.A terrific ride by someone who wanted to win.

Team Radioshack won't be wearing yellow numbers on their jerseys tomorrow, to signify the best in the team classification, as Caisse d'Epargne placed three riders in the top 15 on today's stage. 'The Shack" will try and get the top spot back in the coming days and are only down 8 seconds in the competition.
 Photo credit © Roberto Bettini

Schleck was perfectly willing to watch Contador all day and Alberto seemed frustrated that he couldn't pull away from his nearest rival, almost coming to a standstill on the mountain waiting for each other to lead. Denis Menchov saw this ridiculous cat and mouse game and took off with Olympic Gold Medalist Samuel Sanchez to finish 14 seconds ahead of Tom and Jerry. So the message was to the remaining GC contenders was, it's between Schleck and Contador. However, Mechov and Sanchez will attack if games like these continue to play out, unlike Leipheimer, and could gain some serious time on the podium in advance of the time trial on the penultimate day of this years tour. It would be nice if the guy wearing Yellow and the guy that's the defending champion would act like champions and ride to win.

Tomorrow's stage 15 include the Hor de catogorie climb of the Port de Bales, a 20km climb, with some nasty steep pitches that will put you on your back. It's got some bumps beforehand that might allow a breakaway to scoot from the peloton. Kiryienk, Auge seemed to be determined to win a stage in the Tour, so they will almost certainly try again tomorrow, but look for another strong ride from Hesjedal (Garmin/Transitions). Hea said  that eventhough he's only 7 minutes from the Yellow, he came to race. The Canadian "Weight of a Nation" rider is hardcore and riding really well.

(correction from yesterday)
Of special note, will be the time that many riders will most certainly take at the white marble memorial to Fabio Casartelli, who died during the tour on the Porte d’Aspet descent in 1995. He rode on the American Motorola team at the time.

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