Jul 23 2011

Le Tour- Stage 20

Grenoble to Grenoble 27 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So what happened yesterday?  It became a 3 person race.

Contador attacked the moment they started going up hill and for the first two climbs seemed well on his way to duplicating Andy Schleck’s surprise performance on Thursday.  However on the long descent from the Col du Galabier all the prime contenders caught up and it was basically a sprint up the Alpe-d’Huez.

It’s not that Contador finished badly (in 3rd, only 23 Seconds off) it’s that he needed a spectacular one and didn’t get it with Evans and the Schlecks just 34 Seconds behind.  The person hurt worst was Voeckler, 3+ Minutes behind, losing the lead he had kept against all expectations for 10 days equaling his 2004 performance.

But there are only 2 Stages left, today’s Individual Time Trial and the Sprint and parade up the Champs Elysees

Rank Name Team ET delta
1 Andy Schleck Leopard Trek 82h 48′ 43″
2 Frank Schleck Leopard Trek 82h 49′ 36″ + 00′ 53″
3 Cadel Evans BMC 82h 49′ 40″ + 00′ 57″
4 Thomas Voekler Europcar 82h 50′ 53″ + 02′ 10″
5 Damiano Cunego Lampre 82h 52′ 14″ + 03′ 31″
6 Alberto Contador Saxo Bank 82h 52′ 38″ + 03′ 55″
7 Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel 82h 53′ 05″ + 04′ 22″
8 Ivan Basso Cannondale 82h 53′ 23″ + 04′ 40″
9 Tom Danielson Garmin 82h 55′ 54″ + 07′ 11″
10 Rolland Pierre Europcar 82h 57′ 40″ + 08′ 57″

Is it all over but the shouting?  Yes and no.  Being extremely generous as many as 6 riders still have a shot at the malliot jaune, but the farther down the list you go the more riders have to choke to put you at the top no matter how spectacular a Time Trialist you are.

On the outside fringe of realism is France’s hope Voeckler in fourth, but he has to make up over 2 Minutes.  This is actually a 3 person race now, Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers are under 60 Seconds apart.  The rap on the Schlecks is that they’re terrible trialers, but last year Andy went head to head against Contador who’s reputed to be one of the best.  Evans has his work cut out for him especially since he’ll be starting ahead and the Schlecks will know exactly what time they have to beat.

In the Individual Time Trials what happens is the riders go off individually at intervals in reverse order of standing so that the last placed of the 167 riders remaining starts first.  There is overtaking, but no help from your team.  As flat as this stage is the 2 bumps are thought to favor the Schlecks.

King of the Mountains (Polka Dot Jersey) is Samuel Sanchez.  There are no more Mountains.  Garmin is almost certain to be top Team with a 12 Minute advantage over Leopard Trek.  The White Jersey (Youth) could be won by Pierre Rolland (boosted by Friday’s Stage victory at the Alpe-d’Huez) or Rein Taaramae 1:33 behind.

Sprinting is complicated, I’ll let BruceMcF explain it

Nobody expects Mark (Cavendish) to lose the Green Jersey with 15 points ahead of JJ Rojas, who is not expected to be within three or four places of Mark on the line on Sunday.

However, the Champs Elysee is the last Flat Sprinty Sprint Sprint stage, with the famous bunch sprint still ahead to decide the most prestigious of the stage winners. Though Tyler Farrar and Andre Griepel long ago gave up hopes of the Green (Jersey), they will both be looking for the stage winner of the last day.

The Mad Manx once again finished behind the elimination time of 25 Minutes, but once again so did 83 others (this time including his closest rival JJ Rojas) and once again Tour organizers evoked the escape clause (Santity Clause?  You-a doan fool-a me.  There ain’t no Sanity Clause) and invoked a 20 point penalty rather than drop half the field.  An interesting intellectual exercise would be to figure out the Sprint winner had the rule been enforced (hint- Cadel Evans).

Anyway the penultimate coverage starts on Vs. at 8 am conflicting with Nurburgring Qualifying on Speed.  Tomorrow I’ll be able to pay exclusive attention to the Champs Elysee stroll also on Vs. at 8 am since the tape delayed Formula One will be on Fox at noon.

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