Jul 24 2011

Le Tour- Stage 21

Créteil to Paris Champs-Élysées 59 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Le sigh.

When an event like this finishes I’m immediately overcome with nostalgia because while it requires a certain amount of energy and discipline to persist, by the end of it your efficiency at the task is improved and you are inured and habituated to the inconvenience.

The absence persists as a phantom limb and the possibility of a next time seems unimaginably distant.

I’m not a particularly good prognosticator but I take solace in the fact most others aren’t either.  Before the race I didn’t even know who Cadel Evans was and like Armando and Jada Yuan thought this would be a duel between the Schlecks and Contador.  Hushovd and Voeckler were surprisingly strong performers and I knew it was over for Contador when he passed attacking on the Pyrenees where his advantages were strongest.  In the Pyrenees the crowds were rooting for the Spaniard, in the Alps they were chanting “Doper.  Doper.”

I’d call yesterday’s Time Trial by the Schlecks disappointing except that it wasn’t really.  Cadel Evans had an extraordinary performance, finishing 55:40 only 7 Seconds in 2nd to Tony Martin who set a blistering pace.  Contador finished 3rd but nowhere near the time he needed to erode the Schlecks’ lead.

This last Stage is a parade so these standings won’t change-

Rank Name Team ET delta
1 Cadel Evans BMC 83h 45′ 20″
2 Andy Schleck Leopard Trek 83h 46′ 54″ + 01′ 34″
3 Frank Schleck Leopard Trek 83h 47′ 50″ + 02′ 30″
4 Thomas Voeckler Europcar 83h 48′ 40″ + 03′ 20″
5 Alberto Contador Saxo Bank 83h 49′ 17″ + 03′ 57″
6 Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel 83h 50′ 15″ + 04′ 55″
7 Damiano Cunego Lampre 83h 51′ 25″ + 06′ 05″
8 Ivan Basso Cannondale 83h 52′ 43″ + 07′ 23″
9 Tom Danielson Garmin 83h 53′ 35″ + 08′ 15″
10 Jean-Christophe Peraud AG2R 83h 55′ 31″ + 10′ 11″
11 Pierre Rolland Europecar 83h 56′ 03″ + 10′ 43″
12 Rein Taaramae Cofidis 83h 56′ 49″ + 11′ 29″

I’m including 11th and 12th places because those are the positions of Pierre Rolland who clinched the White Jersey of the Young Riders champion and Rein Taaramae the runner up.

Remaining to be contested is the Green Jersey of the Sprint champion.  It seems highly likely that it will be Cavendish, Rojas, and Gilbert in that order.  Fourth will be Cadel Evans and it’s interesting to contemplate that if he were behind in the General Classification and a little closer to the lead in the points whether the customs of Le Tour would allow him to put on a move and ‘steal’ the maillot jaune.

Sportsmanship isn’t what it used to be and as Jada reports

Both the public and Tour organizers have been very vocal about wanting the Tour to get more exciting.

Last year’s Tour featured giant pileups seemingly each of the first ten days, and the bruised and bloodied riders slowed down the pace of the peloton several times to allow fallen riders to catch up. That’s wonderful and sportsmanlike, but doesn’t really make for a good race. With considerable market pressure on the Tour from the fast-gaining-in-reputation Giro d’Italia, officials hope the riders are a little more selfish this year. Race director Christian Prudhomme has also said that he wished Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador had attacked each other more last year, which one assumes he hopes they take as a challenge.

Of course that was the year of the 39 Second Chain which may be avenged in the Court of Arbitration for Sports on August 2nd.

So your final 2011 Vs. coverage starts at 8 am.  In the commentators prediction competition only Paul improved his position yesterday and he’s mathematically out so unless they pick again today (and they might, there is that final sprint) Phil is the wire to wire winner.

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