Tour de France, Stage 14 – In race for Yellow Jersey Schleck, Contador come to a complete stop – balancing on their wheels in the middle of the road
Sunday, July 18, 2010
1:00 PM EST
Today, a narrative – written while watching the replay of Stage 14 on OLN.
The Tour de France enters the Pyrenees for 4 terrible days.
Revel to Ax 3 Domaines – 184.5 km
At the 142 km mark the bottom of the Category H, Port de Pailhères a 9.4 degree, 15.5 km High Mountain, the first climb of today’s stage.
For the last 40 km the Peloton has been engaged in the process of closing the gap to the breakaway. At the foot of the Port de Pailhères climb they have erased 5.5 minutes of the gap – now at 3:30.
Team Astana has been setting the pace at the front of the Peloton all day. Astana’s three flat specialists, have been drafting for their team mate Alberto Contador. Now they have dropped off the Peloton and will simply concentrate on finishing in advance of the stage’s cut off time (a function of the stage winners finish time the team director will keep them informed how fast they need to pedal at regular intervals).
As the Peloton embark up the Port de Pailhères team Astana now has three mountain specialists around Contador. They will draft him over two summits – the second of which marks the finish line of today’s stage.
Whee!! Down the other side of the Port de Pailhères. But the Category 1, Ax-3-Domaines, a 9.7 degree, 7.8 km climb, looms.
Canadian Flags all over the place on the pretty, winding route.
Up the mountain now…
Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are battling it out for the 2010 Tour de France overall lead. The Peloton has broken apart, only 9 riders are in the group lead by the pacing of Vinokourov.
Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are playing a game with each other. The last time we saw this was in the Alps (see stage 9) – Schleck is trying to break Contador, it is his Raison d’être. Contador’s ego takes up the challenge, playing Schlecks game like he is a super human, master of the universe, better than human or god. He thinks can play his enemies game and win doing it – stupid boy.
Riders who are not in the General Classification (GC) race are passing them as they play their game. Schlecks is on Contador’ wheel and Schleck responds instantly to Contadors attacks – adrenaline surge for adrenaline surge. It’s like their bio-fields are connected. But they’re killing each other!
Now Contador decides he doesn’t want to draft for Schleck any more, he’s offering him the lead position – slowing, now slower, and then slower. Soon it’ a contest to see who can go the slowest up a mountain. Now Schleck is proving he can balance just as well as Contodor.
In a bizarre scene, the two rider’s bikes are positioned awkwardly in the middle of the road, both are standing on their pedals, balancing on two wheels at a complete stop – like scorpions; claws at the ready, tail stingers arched over their heads. Meanwhile the main group is circling around them – on their way up the mountain.
The Peloton includes riders in the GC race, including Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez, two riders who are likely to pose a threat to Schleck and Contador for final victory – so every second the game continues now means time is coming off the two pugilists overall lead.
Schleck, the one wearing the Yellow Jersey (the one with the most to lose), outlasts Contador in this strategic mind game. Contador guns it and, with Schleck still right on his wheel, they power back up to speed and catch the main group.
While losing 6 seconds to Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez in the overall, they both preserve their standing at the top of the GC.
The Game of Brinkmanship
Schleck 1 – Contador 0.
Finish order – Stage 14
1. RIBLON Christophe
2. MENCHOV Denis + 00′ 54″
3. SANCHEZ Samuel + 00′ 54″
4. SCHLECK Andy + 01′ 08″
5. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin + 01′ 08″
6. GESINK Robert + 01′ 08″
7. CONTADOR Alberto + 01′ 08″
8. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen + 01′ 08″
9. CUNEGO Damiano + 01′ 49″
General Classification – after 14 stages
1. SCHLECK Andy 68h 02′ 30″ 0:00
2. CONTADOR Alberto 68h 03′ 01″ + 00:31
GC and stage results after stage 14: @ lrtour.fr
Posted: July 18th, 2010
Author: michael holloway
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: 2010 Tour de France | 2 Comments »