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Jul 20 2012

2012 Le Tour – Stage 18

Blagnac / Brive-la-Gaillarde (138.25 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Yesterday BruceMcF analyzed the 2012, 99th Edition of Le Tour this way-

Hopes that Cadel was having a bad recovery from the rest day faded when I heard him refer to seeing how his “health” recovers. Word was he had a “parasite” he was diagnosed with two hours before the race on Wednesday’s stage. Oh, joy! No wonder he lost big time ~ the wonder is he didn’t drop out of the top ten altogether.

The problem with the Yellow Jersey competition is that the race was designed for a four way show-down between Evans, Wiggins, Andy Schleck, and Alberto Contador, and then Contador was found guilty of doping, Schleck was knocked out by injury, and it seems like Global Warming conspired to do Evans in ~ he’s not got a reputation for coping well with the very hot conditions, and this was one hot run through the Alps they had in week two. If he was fighting at his limit just to hang on, catching some bug on the rest day is no surprise.

What made today’s stage was the King of the Mountains competition ~ Voeckler vs Kessiakoff was a fine fight.

As far as the Mountain stages, its not how long they are, its how long the top contenders put each other under pressure. If you add one more HC to the front of yesterday’s stage ~ the Queen State ~ it wouldn’t add any more racing. Indeed, by wearing down teams other than Sky, it could easily have led to less. Without Schleck and Contador in the peleton, then the two remaining serious climbing contenders, Evans and Nibali, are more pace-climbing riders than attacking climbers.

Some commentators on PodiumCafe question the design of the course for some of the stages. But I can see places on each of the stage where earlier attacks could have been made ~ had someone had the GC contender and the supporting team to launch the attack and then back it up.

In the end, the riders make the race, and the two best GC riders in the race this year were riding on the same team. Move Froome to BMC or Liquigas, and run it again, and the same course would see fireworks, and we would have Froome going into the final time trial leading by a minute or more, but Wiggins making up time in the time trial, just as Evans did rising as second last in the time trial last year, except with an excellent time trialer riding last defending his yellow jersey, instead of Andy Schleck.

Riders that did not appear in Stage 17 were Vladimir Gusev and Grega Bole.  Frank Schleck withdrew after testing positive for the diuretic Xipamide.

Today’s stage is labeled ‘Plains’ and has a category 3 and three category 4 climbs.  Points will be awarded in Hill Climbing but probably not enough to make any difference.  The Award point is in the middle of a category 4 climb 2.5 km from the top, so that could be interesting.

Tomorrow is the 3rd Individual Time Trial, the final day anything much will change (by custom) except amongst the Sprinters.  Sunday we finish Le Tour on the Champs-Élysées.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
1 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 78h 28:02
2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:05
3 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE +02:41
4 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM +05:53
5 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM +08:30
6 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM +09:57
7 ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN +10:11
8 ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR +10:17
9 BRAJKOVIC Janez ASTANA PRO TEAM +11:00
10 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT +11:46

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 7:30 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

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