Sunday, July 17, 2005

Stage 15: The decisive mountains

David Herrero, the Spaniard riding for Euskaltel-Euskadi, has withdrawn en route today according to OLN at about 145 km into the stage, after having way too much fun in the first two Category 1 climbs. Likewise, Wilfried Cretskens, a Belgian rider for Quickstep, made it up another Category 1 but abandoned today's stage after 170 kilometers of suffer-fest.

158 riders remain in the Tour de France of the 189 starters (83%), and unless they crash out, most of them should make it to the finish in Paris next Friday after a rest day tomorrow and another hilly day on Tuesday, then three comparatively flat stages. To make it all the way to the Champs Elysees on the final day of the Tour is indeed a triumph for any cyclist.

The autobus brought in 54 slower riders today, leaving only two to come across the line 2 1/2 minutes later at the tail end of the day: Rafael Nurtidinov, an Uzbeki (is that the word?) rider for Domina Vacanze, who finished alongside the massive 198-pound sprinter Magnus Backstedt, the Swedish sprinter on the Leaky Gas team and favorite of Clydesdale athletes worldwide.

Former Lanterne Rouge Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) enjoyed another outstanding trip doing the mountain-climbing in which he excels, crossing the finish line in 21st place for the day and launching himself into 20th place overall for the Tour de France. Piepoli was in the final climb today with the elite group. His comeback in the standings is as impressive a ride as anyone's in the tour - I'm surprised he hasn't gotten more international press coverage. But we're watching him! Bravo, Leonardo!

Johan van Summeren (Davitamon-Lotto) also had a good day, crossing the line in 78th place for the day, which brings him up out of the bottom of the overall placings.

Iker Flores (Euskatel-Euskadi) holds the Lanterne Rouge position for yet another day, with a margin of 7:26 below Wim Vansevant (Davitamon-Lotto), and another 3:25 gap to the next rider back, Janeck Tombak (Cofidis), the Lanterne Rouge from stages 5 and 7.

You state above that Backstedt was wearing the green sprinter's jersey, but Hushovd, not Backstedt, was (and is) currently leading the points race.

All nitpicking aside, thanks for keeping us up to date on all the lesser known riders on the back of the pack who still deserve to be mentioned!
Oops, you're absolutely correct, I got confused. Sorry!! I'm going to change it now so it's correct.
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