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Sandy Casar Wins Stage 18 July 27, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Axel Merckx, Barloworld, Bernhard Eisel, Bouygues Telecom, Cadel Evans, Claudio Corioni, Crédit Agricole, Discovery Channel, Erik Zabel, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Lampre-Fondital, Laurent Lefevre, Mauricio Soler, Michael Boogerd, Milram, Predictor-Lotto, Quickstep, Rabobank, Robbie Hunter, Robert Forster, Sandy Casar, Sebastien Chavanel, Sebastien Hinault, Stage 18, T-Mobile, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych.
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Sandy Casar Wins Stage 18

It was another long flat stage and another long breakaway. The only thing missing was Jens Voight who has been a fixture on the long breakaway this Tour.

A group of four broke away early, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Frederik Willems (Liquigas) and Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux). Willems was lost to another canine collision, but was quickly replaced by Axel Merckx (T-Mobile) who had been chasing. [Willems was later seen in the peloton, so no serious injuries to riders, no word on the dog]. No one in the peloton bothered to chase as Boogerd was the only GC threat at 16, and the remaining group of four finished in a nice sprint Casar followed by Merckz then Boogerd. Both Boogerd and Merckx have announced that they are retiring following this Tour, so many were rooting for one of them to take the stage.

Teh peloton came in 8:35 behind the breakaway, which had lead by as much as 17:30 at one point, and the finish was a near copy of Stage 17 with Boonen taking the second sprint, followed by Hunter, Zabel and Chavanel. The GC contenders were all in the pack, so no real change in the top of the GC standings, except for a jump for Michael Boogerd from 16th to 13th. The Euskaltel-Euskadi riders lead a late charge by the peloton that prevented Boogerd from jumping into the top 10, perhaps because their rider Mikel Astarloza is in the 10th spot….

Contador retains the Yellow Jersey, Boonen the Green and Soler the Polka Dot.

Today’s Top Finishers:

1. CASAR Sandy 161 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 5h 13′ 31″
2. MERCKX Axel 28 T-MOBILE TEAM 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
3. LEFEVRE Laurent 125 BOUYGUES TELECOM 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
4. BOOGERD Michael 52 RABOBANK 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
5. BOONEN Tom 171 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
6. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
7. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
8. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
9. EISEL Bernhard 24 T-MOBILE TEAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
10. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
11. CORIONI Claudio 85 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
12. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
13. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
14. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
15. HINAULT Sébastien 108 CREDIT AGRICOLE 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″

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The Tour in Torment July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Andreas Kloden, Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Christian Moreni, Dennis Menchov, Doping, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Patrik Sinkewitz, Rabobank, T-Mobile, Theo DeRooy, Tour de France.
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In an unbelievable and dizzying turn of events, 17 riders across three teams have been withdrawn from the Tour in the past 30 hours. 9 riders of Astana, (including 5th place Andreas Kloden and 8th place Andrey Kashechkin), 7 riders of Team Cofidis (all of whom had participated in a sit down protest against riders doping at the start of the stage today), and the Yellow Jersey wearing Rabobank rider, Michael Rasmussen, who had all but guaranteed himself a spot on the podium in Paris with a win in today’s stage.

It is not clear whether any or all of the remaining riders in Rabobank will continue with the Tour when it resumes tomorrow so 7 more riders may withdraw voluntarily by morning, including 17th place Michael Boogerd and 23rd place Dennis Menchov.

Only three riders have failed doping tests during the Tour, Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) who was already withdrawn by the time the results were announced, Alexander Vinokourouv, who had just won 2 out of the last 3 stages when his results were announced and Christian Moreni, who was dramatically arrested by French officials at the finish of today’s stage. However, the zero tolerance environment that is evolving within the sports’ official bodies (the UCI and national federations), within the event organizations and within the ranks of sponsors, has resulted in the decimation of the tour’s competitors and a PR bloodbath that may change the face of professional racing for decades to come.

It should be noted that Rasmussen has been tested repeatedly before and during this year’s Tour (he claims 14 tests) and has not failed any tests to date. However, in the face of the drastic and dramatic moves by organizers, teams and their sponsors in the Sinkewitz, Vinokourov and Moreni incidents, many were calling for Rabobank, or the Tour, to act and remove Rasmussen from the race before his behavior did any more damage to the reputation of the Tour or the heralded Maillot Jaune. Apparently the revelation that Rasmussen was training in Italy in June when he missed out of competition doping tests, not Mexico as he claimed, was all that Rabobank and its team manager Theo DeRooy could take. DeRooy has said that he will give the other Rabobank riders the option of continuing on with the race tomorrow when Stage 17 begins.

Regardless of what the Rabobank riders decide to do, this Tour de France has become one of the craziest sporting events in recent memory. Great riders who are clean have lost the chance to compete and win, good riders who are trying to win their way onto teams for next year are sitting at home, and sponsors who have honored and polished the sport for years are packing their bags. Hopefully, the damage that is done will set the stage for a rebirth of professional cycling, and a new era in the Grand Tours, but for the innocent riders who are hurt because of this there is no way to recover the time and opportunity lost.

Rasmussen Wins Stage 16 July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Barloworld, Cadel Evans, Caisse d'Epargne, Carlos Sastre, CSC, David Arroyo, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Frank Schleck, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia, Iban Mayo, Juan Jose Cobo Acebo, Kim Kirchen, Levi Leipheimer, Mauricio Soler, Michael Boogerd, Predictor-Lotto, Stage 16, Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych.
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The day began with a protest by riders organized by French and German riders who wanted to make a statement against doping in the wake of the Vinokourov/Astana doping bombshell. The riders sat down at the start and allowed the rest of the peloton to leave before getting on their bikes and catching up.

The most interesting breakaway of the day occured at the 8km mark, with Mauricio Soler and Carlos Sastre attacking Michael Rasmussen on two fronts. Soler took the maximum points on the several climbs to vault past Rasmussen into first place on the KOM competition, and Sastre challenging the GC from the number 5 spot (following Kloden’s withdrawal). The Soler/Sastre led group included Iban Mayo and Gorka Verdugo of Euskaltel who was feted wildly by the Basque fans on both sides of the border as he came through with the lead group.

The second to last climb of the day at the Col de la Marie-Blanque (Cat 1) busted apart the peloton for once and all and 12 riders including Rasmussen, Contador, Leipheimer and Evans followed the breakaway over the top trailing by 2:21, all of which was a set up for the last big climb of the Tour, the Col d’Aubisque (HC).

The Col d’Aubisque quickly dropped Verdugo and Soler of the lead group. The steep grade of the climb starting 11 km from the top popped off the Rabobank escort for Michael Rasmussen, leaving only 8 riders including Popovych, Contador and Leipheimer who quickly challenged Rasmussen. A kilmoter later it was down to the 3 Discovery Channel riders, Rasmussen, and Evans, when Leipheimer launched off the front, dropping Popovytch, leaving the top four GC contenders to battle out the final 10km of serious climbing in this year’s Tour.

For the next 3km Leipheimer and Contador took turns attacking and attempting to wear down Rasmussen, while Cadel Evans tagged along. Leipheimer slipped off the group with 7km to go. Cadel Evans dropped off with 6km, and then Leipheimer surged back into the lead group, and lead the trio all the way to 1km, when Rasmussen made a break. Rasmussen had something left for the final run and neither of Discovery riders had anything left to chase him. Rasmussen 1st, Leipheimer 2nd 24 seconds later, and Contador came in third.

Rasmussen Wins Stage 16

Today’s Top Finishers:
1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 6hours 23minutes21 secs
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +26 sec
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +35 sec
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor – Lotto +43 sec
5 Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld +1min 25 sec
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi +1 min 52 sec
7 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval – Prodir +1 min 54 sec
8 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC +2 min 12 sec
9 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne +2 min 27 sec
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
11 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +3 min 11 sec
12 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne +3 min 37 sec
13 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC +4 min 42 sec
14 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank +5 min 32 sec
15 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team +6 min 02 sec

Overall Standings After Stage 16:

1. RASMUSSEN Michael 58 RABOBANK 76h 15′ 15″
2. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 76h 18′ 25″ + 03′ 10″
3. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 76h 20′ 18″ + 05′ 03″
4. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 76h 21′ 14″ + 05′ 59″
5. SASTRE Carlos 31 TEAM CSC 76h 24′ 27″ + 09′ 12″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar 71 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 76h 24′ 54″ + 09′ 39″
7. VALVERDE Alejandro 18 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 76h 28′ 43″ + 13′ 28″
8. KIRCHEN Kim 27 T-MOBILE TEAM 76h 30′ 01″ + 14′ 46″
9. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 76h 31′ 15″ + 16′ 00″
10. SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio 219 BARLOWORLD 76h 31′ 56″ + 16′ 41″
11. ASTARLOZA Mikel 73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 76h 32′ 07″ + 16′ 52″
12. PEREIRO SIO Oscar 11 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 76h 32′ 32″ + 17′ 17″
13. ARROYO David 12 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 76h 36′ 23″ + 21′ 08″
14. MAYO Iban 207 SAUNIER DUVAL – PRODIR 76h 40′ 39″ + 25′ 24″
15. HORNER Christopher 44 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 76h 41′ 37″ + 26′ 22″

Done But No Quit In Vinokourov – Vino Wins Stage 15 July 23, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Ag2r, Alberto Contador, Alexander Vinokourov, Astana, Bernhard Kohl, Cadel Evans, Caisse d'Epargne, Christian Van de Velde, CSC, David Arroyo, Discovery Channel, Euskaltel-Euskadi, George Hincapie, Gerolsteiner, Haimar Zubeldia, Juan Jose Cobo, Juan Manuel Garate, Kim Kirchen, Ludovic Turpin, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Mikel Astarloza, Quickstep, Rabobank, Saunier Duval, Stage 15, T-Mobile, Tour de France, Uncategorized.
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5 rated climbs, including 2 Cat 1’s and an HC (above rating) gave the Tour another chance to separate the field, and separate it did… A huge 25 man breakaway eventally broke up with a group of 6 pulling away and then 3 broke off the front of that group. Alexander Vinokourov jumping out to lead the 3 in the front over the Col de Peyresourde. The man who looked completely cooked yesterday simply overpowered the field and raced to the win…an incredible performance.

Vinokourov Wins Stage 15

The GC contenders finished 6 minutes behind, with Alberto Contador dueled Michael Rasmussen for the top position, pulling away from the rest of the yellow jersey group just before the top of the last climb. At the end of the descent, Contador and Rasmussen finished a minute ahead of Leipheimer, Evans and the other contenders.

[Complete Results Here]

Today’s Top Finishers:
1. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 191 ASTANA 5h 34′ 28″
2. KIRCHEN Kim 27 T-MOBILE TEAM 5h 35′ 19″ + 00′ 51″
3. ZUBELDIA Haimar 71 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 5h 35′ 19″ + 00′ 51″
4. COBO ACEBO Juan Jose 204 SAUNIER DUVAL – PRODIR 5h 35′ 26″ + 00′ 58″
5. GARATE Juan Manuel 174 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 5h 36′ 42″ + 02′ 14″
6. ARROYO David 12 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 5h 37′ 51″ + 03′ 23″
7. KOHL Bernhard 95 GEROLSTEINER 5h 38′ 53″ + 04′ 25″
8. VANDEVELDE Christian 37 TEAM CSC 5h 38′ 53″ + 04′ 25″
9. TURPIN Ludovic 69 AG2R PREVOYANCE 5h 39′ 44″ + 05′ 16″
10. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 39′ 59″ + 05′ 31″
11. RASMUSSEN Michael 58 RABOBANK 5h 39′ 59″ + 05′ 31″
12. HINCAPIE George 114 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 40′ 15″ + 05′ 47″
13. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 5h 40′ 55″ + 06′ 27″
14. ASTARLOZA Mikel 73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 5h 40′ 55″ + 06′ 27″
15. BOOGERD Michael 52 RABOBANK 5h 40′ 55″ + 06′ 27″

Contador Wins Stage 14 July 22, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Kloden, Andrey Kashechkin, Antonio Colom, Astana, Cadel Evans, Caisse d'Epargne, Carlos Sastre, Discovery Channel, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Haimar Zubeldia, Hernandez Soler, Levi Lepheimer, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Mikel Astarloza, Oscar Pereiro, Predictor-Lotto, Rabobank, Stage 14, Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych.
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Beating out Michael Rasmussen in the final sprint, Alberto Contador won Stage 14 today after two tough climbs that broke up the GC contenders and spread them across the the finishing clock. Alexander Vinokorouv’s impressive TT yesterday appeared to have taken a lot out of him today as he was one of the first GC contenders to drop off. But Contador, Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer stayed with Rasmussen until the very end, with Contador and Rasmussen attacking in the final kilometers and finishing in a sprint.

The spread of the finishers, should help to clarify the GC a bit, with only 9 GC contenders now within 10 minutes of Rasmussen overall. Discovery Channel appears to be positioned well with 3 riders in the top 10, with Contador, Leipheimer and Popovytch all performing well in the climbs today. Astana’s picture is also clearing up as Kloden appears to be the rider who can sustain in both time trials and the mountains.

This has been a great year for the Tour with drama and suspense in nearly every stage.

[Complete Results Here]
Today’s Top Finishers:

1. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 25′ 48″
2. RASMUSSEN Michael 58 RABOBANK 5h 25′ 48″
3. SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio 219 BARLOWORLD 5h 26′ 25″ + 00′ 37″
4. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 26′ 28″ + 00′ 40″
5. SASTRE Carlos 31 TEAM CSC 5h 26′ 41″ + 00′ 53″
6. KLÖDEN Andréas 196 ASTANA 5h 27′ 40″ + 01′ 52″
7. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 5h 27′ 40″ + 01′ 52″
8. COLOM Antonio 192 ASTANA 5h 28′ 11″ + 02′ 23″
9. KASHECHKIN Andrey 195 ASTANA 5h 28′ 11″ + 02′ 23″
10. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 28′ 54″ + 03′ 06″
11. BOOGERD Michael 52 RABOBANK 5h 28′ 54″ + 03′ 06″
12. ASTARLOZA Mikel 73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 5h 28′ 54″ + 03′ 06″
13. PEREIRO SIO Oscar 11 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 5h 29′ 33″ + 03′ 45″
14. VALVERDE Alejandro 18 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 5h 29′ 33″ + 03′ 45″
15. ZUBELDIA Haimar 71 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 5h 29′ 33″ + 03′ 45″

Rabobank Announces Lineup July 3, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Bram de Groot, Denis Menchov, Grischa Niermann, Juan Antonio Flecha, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Freire, Peter Weening, Rabobank, Team Rabobank, Thomas Dekker.
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Rabobank will be lead by veteran Michael Boogerd in what he has announced will be his last Tour. Supporting Boogerd will be Bram de Groot, Thomas Dekker, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Denis Menchov, Grischa Niermann, Michael Rasmussen, and Peter Weening.

Dekker is a promising upcomer and should challenge for leadership in the future as Boogerd steps aside.