Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Individual Time Trial

It's in progress. There were no overnight abandonments prior to the ITT.

So far Jens Voigt, the German rider on CSC, has (surprisingly) turned in the slowest time of 1:11:44. (Still, keep in mind that that 'sluggish' time is a brisk 27.0 mph average over 32.3 miles). Alain Gallopin, a directeur sportif at CSC, claims nothing is wrong. "No, he’s okay but he wants to save energy today. We didn’t want every rider on our team to give one hundred per cent in the time trial. That’s all."

Former Lanterne Rouge Aitor Hernandez, one of the Spaniards on Euskaltel-Euskadi, is 6 spots up at 1:10:28. I'm guessing he may go further in the direction of the LR spot tonight, but we'll have to wait on the tabulation of results. Perennial Lanterne Rouge Jimmy Casper is just two spots above that.

Sébastien Joly, French Française des Jeux rider and Lanterne Rouge of the last two days, turned in a great ride, up in the mid-pack at 1:09:07, but a minute or two may not be enough to dig him out of his time-hole of nearly five minutes. The times are close enough together that it won't help making up very many minutes of accumulated gaps.

Bobby Julich, American on the CSC team, crashes out of the Tour, bringing the field down to 170.

Yes, Sébastien Joly, French Française des Jeux rider is still our Lanterne Rouge. At 43:25 accumulated time gap behind the leader, he's 170th in the overall standings. He's about 5 minutes behind the next-closest rider Anthony Charteau, Frenchman on Credit Agricole.

The last 8 riders in the overall standings are all names familiar to us. These standings will not change much until we enter the mountains on Wednesday, unless we have some crashes or major mechanical problems late in a stage.

163 133 CASPER Jimmy COF FRA 32' 30"
164 143 DE LA FUENTE David SDV ESP 33' 37"
165 105 POZZATO Filippo QSI ITA 35' 32"
166 068 VANSEVENANT Wim DVL BEL 35' 42"
167 163 BACKSTEDT Magnus LIQ SWE 35' 58"
168 124 HERNANDEZ Aitor EUS ESP 36' 23"
169 113 CHARTEAU Anthony C.A FRA 38' 23"
170 155 JOLY Sébastien FDJ FRA 43' 25"

Here are the slowest five performers in today's time trial, with their time gaps. Team Gerolsteiner seems like it was at the very top (3rd place Sebastian Lang) and bottom of the standings:

166 108 TOSATTO Matteo QSI ITA 08' 50"
167 068 VANSEVENANT Wim DVL BEL 08' 55"
168 049 ZBERG Beat GST SUI 09' 02"
169 048 WROLICH Peter GST AUT 09' 47"
170 017 VOIGT Jens CSC GER 10' 01"

It's worth noting that our first Lanterne Rouge from the Prologue time trial,
Rubén Lobato of Saunier Duval, rode into a respectable 108th place for the stage, just ahead of triple stage-winner Robbie McEwen. Lobato now holds a solid mid-pack overall placement of 128th place in the general classification. He may have had a mechanical problem in the Prologue that simply went unreported by the mainstream media, since he's clearly a solid time trial rider.

Side note: I don't usually talk about the leaders on this blog, since they get media saturation everywhere else, but - it was wonderful to see the ITT winner, Serhiy Gonchar (or Honchar in the results or Gontchar as they're spelling it on OLN-TV), Ukranian rider on T-Mobile, make a decisive victory of the ITT and then he was obviously touched (blinking back tears on the podium) and elated to be the first Ukranian wearing the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. They will be partying in the streets of Kiev tonight! He says: "I’m not so young anymore but I feel young inside and that’s the most important thing. I want to thank the T-Mobile team because they really trust me and also because they gave me the option to prepare how I wanted to for the Giro and the Tour. That’s really important to me. If the sponsors and the team are happy, then so am I. My real name is Gonchar, with a ‘G’ but there was a problem with translation or a computer error when I got my passport which states Honchar, with an ‘H’. As a consequence, to avoid problems when I traveled, I had to change it on all my documentation so it’s now written with an ‘H’ but please call me Gonchar because this is my real name."

On the other hand, there will be much hand-wringing over the dinner table for the CSC and Discovery teams in the next few days. Out of all of their big guns, Dave Zabriskie is the only one who placed in the individual time trial higher than 17th place, and he was forecast as a possible ITT winner. I'm sure Lance is shaking his head right now at former (emphasis former, and former friend) teammate Floyd Landis doing so well (in spite of a mid-TT bike swap) and his protege George Hincapie doing so poorly.

TV gripe: I'm getting so freakin' sick of the ageist cheerleader "stay in school" commercial (how about instead 'pursue your education at any age'?) and the Ad Council one with the sullen taciturn kid at the dinner table. They've been playing at least 3 years. Couldn't OLN sell all their commercial time this year? Apparently their Tour viewership has tanked now that Lance is out of the picture, which is a shame.

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