Thursday, July 22, 2010
Pau to Col du Tourmalet – 174 km
6:35 AM EDT
At 6:18 AM EDT the riders began to roll through the 6.9 km neutral zone. The race began at 12:31 CET | 6:31 AM EDT.
Judging by the name of the mountain at the end of today’s stage, “Col du Tourmalet” – if my french is right, “malet” means mallet, or hammer, so “The Hammer of the Tour” – today’s race might spell, Pretenders Beware!
7 riders have attempted a breakaway heading up the first climb the little Category 4 hill, Côte de Renoir a surprisingly steep 7.5 average degree, but short 2.2 km climb.
The Seven breakaway are:
1. Juan Antonio Flecha
2. Edvald Bosson Hagen
3. Kristjan Koren
4. Alexandr Kolobnev
5. Marcus Burghardt
6. Rémi Pauriol
7. Rubin Perez Moreno
Coming to the first sprint section at the 30 km mark, Ignatas Konovalovas has broken away from the Peloton to give chase on the lead group. He’s 2:50 back, 15 seconds on front of the main group.
Carlos Sastre has joined Ignatas Konovalovas in the chase to the breakawayers.
The chase group is still 3:05 back but the Peloton is now nearly 6 minutes out.
The Peloton now back by 7:51!
The breakaways are half way up the Category 1, Col de Marie-Blanque, a 9.1 average degree, 9.3 km climb. They lead the Peloton by 8:49 now.
Versus announcer Paul Sherwen tells me the top 3 km of this mountain inclines at 11 degrees! Ouch!
Carlos Sastre has left Ignatas Konovalovas behind. Sastre has a 3:30 advantage on the other pretender to the breakaway; but Sastre himself isn’t catching them either. He’s now fallen 3:50 behind as the breakaway struggles through that tough top 3 km of the Category 1. The Peloton is 9:30 back.
The breakaway is over the top…
As the breakaway go down the Col de Marie-Blanque the conditions change completely: temperature in the valleys is 17, 10 near the tops of the climbs, as well, it’s raining and really foggy on lee side of the Col de Marie-Blanque.
Here comes the Peloton, the chase is on; can they close the gap on the downside?
Down the other side of the Col de Marie-Blanque the Peloton has already erased 1:30 of the breakaways lead.
The Peloton can’t seem to bring this breakaway back, the gap has remained what is was on the decent, now on the long, flat 30 km valley between the two Category 1 mountains.
The Col du Soulor, a 9.3 average degree, 11.9 km climb awaits.
The breakaway begins to climb the second last climb in the 2010 Tour de France. Their lead over the Peloton is still quite large at 8:21. Carlos Sastre is now 4:41 behind the leaders 3:00 ahead of the main group.
The teams are putting the GC candidates near the front of the Peloton, including Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Garmin-Transitions’ Ryder Hesjedal.
The lone chaser, Carlos Sastre hits the mountain; at the 117.5 km point of the 174 km stage.
Carlos Sastre is a mountain climber – and he’s showing that now. He’s picked up 40 seconds on the breakaway quite quickly, now on the mountain.
The Peloton is also pressing, they’re catching the leaders (now at 6:30) but not Sastre, who is maintaining the gap behind him – while closing the one in front.
Sastre can’t close the gap to the breakaway, he’s back down to 4:10. The Peloton, on the other hand, is catching both Sastre and the breakaway – Sastre is only 1:30 ahead and will probably soon be eaten by the main group. As I write Sastre elastics the other way with a surge.
1 km from the top of the Col du Soulor a heard of sheep pop up out of nowhere – up over the edge of a precipice at the side of the road, and right into the main group! The cameramen riding on motorbikes can’t get enough shots of the sheep who are running down the road, trying to get away from the noisy things.
Meanwhile the cyclists are swerving and bobbing out of way of the frightened, fluffy herbivores. Nobody goes down.
The breakaway is 10 km from the start of the terrible Category “H” which marks both the highest point and the last climb in this years Tour de France.
Carlos Sastre, the lone chaser of the lead 7, is only 1 minute ahead of the Peloton – but still 4:30 behind the breakaway seven. The Peloton is powering up to catch him before he gets to his favorite terrain – the mountain ahead.
Here we go, it’s every man for himself the “domestiques” of the valley will lay back with the sprinters in a ‘survive the mountain’ sub-peloton. The climber domestiques will try to stay with their leads to protect them at the summit finish line.
All hell is about to break loose…
Carlos Sastre has been dropped by the Peloton.
Here’s a screen shot from Team HTC Columbia’s widget, “VeloStream” that shows real time telemetry of each rider with a map of where they are – better than F1 racing! Brilliant!
Here’s a close up of the stats beside four riders picture the first number is watts being expended.
When you ride to work you create about 100 watts.
The lead group has split to pieces. Half way up the murderous climb, the Peloton is 1 minute behind the lone leader Alexandr Kolobnev.
They’re blasting up this mountain at an un-heard-of, magnificent, 30 kph!
As I publish Contador and Schleck have caught Alexandr Kolobnev. It’s a race of two now – the Podium in Paris will be decided right here on this climb with 7 km to go.
Ryder Hesjedal is right behind the lead two. Versus are predicting an 8th place “GC” after this stage for Hesjedal at this point.
Of all the races I’ve covered so far in this years race I’ve never heard cheering crowds like this. This is mayhem. The two cycle-gods Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck are delivering a show for the decades!
5 km to go
The games at the front begin Schleck is slowing and Contador will not pass – a little pay back from Contador from the ealier stand off.
Schleck is surprised, but he’s caught him!
Now the two are back in order; the Yellow Jersey-ed Contador on Schleck’s wheel. Pumping, up on their pedals, never taking their eyes off each other, Schleck turning to try and read Contador. Contador: pum-ad-ada-dum, pum-ad-ada-dum, pum-ad-ada-dum…
1.5 km to go.
Contador doesn’t contest at the line and lets Andy Schleck take the top of the stage podium today. Wow! what a race that was fanstastic!
Ryder Hesjedal comes in 1 minute later, likely 8th GC – picking up 2 places on one of the hardest stages in this years tour.
Stage 17 Finish Order – first 10 riders
General Classification after Stage 17
Ryder Hesjedal post race interview:
“I’m feeling great. I was riding with people I was close to [editor: in the standings]. I was happy. Couldn’t catch the lead two. I feel like I’m getting stronger”
With a good sprint this guy could end up on the third level podium in Paris.
Posted: July 22nd, 2010
Author: michael holloway
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tags: 2010 Tour de France | 2 Comments »