Thursday, July 26, 2007
Stage 17: Pau to Castelsarrasin
"There will be no yellow jersey worn in today's stage, although there will be a jersey awarded on the podium in Castelsarrasin. Rasmussen's teammates - the guys who rode their hearts out for the guy - are staying in the Tour."
So Rabobank is still in, and there should have been 142 starters if there were no other DNSs in the morning. I feel badly for the teammates - I wish they could pull off something like a stage win today, but probably they haven't gotten a lot of sleep lately.
Velonews adds, about the mood in the peloton, "A lot of riders appear to be relieved... some are just pissed. Really, you can't blame them, especially those who have made a real commitment to riding this Tour clean."
And Rasmussen is pleading innocence: "I'm shattered. I'm on the verge of tears," said Rasmussen today, quoted in the Danish tabloid BT. "I was not in Italy. Not at all. That's the story of one man who believes he recognised me. There is no hint of evidence."
Um, if he was in Mexico in June, shouldn't it be pretty simple to prove? Passport stamps? Plane tickets? Luggage tags? Photos wearing a big stupid sombrero and swilling Dos Equis? There are records of these things, Michael. Let's see them.
Here's a list of the fallen of stage 17:
149 WIGGINS Bradley (GBR) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
148 VERBRUGGHE Rik (BEL) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
147 SCHEIRLINCKX Staf (BEL) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
145 NUYENS Nick (BEL) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
142 AUGE Stéphane (FRA) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
141 CHAVANEL Sylvain (FRA) COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE non partant
58 RASMUSSEN Michael (DEN) RABOBANK non partant
51 MENCHOV Denis (RUS) RABOBANK abandon
Many people are feeling very badly for Denis Menchov who worked hard for Rasmussen and now has been cheated by his teammate, and probably was exhausted already at the beginning the stage today, doubtlessly with little sleep last night.
Velonews tells the tale: "Menchov has pulled out of the Tour. He has climbed off of his bike in the feed zone. We don't see a physical reason... but an emotional reason? For sure. Do recall that Menchov won the Vuelta a Espana in 2005... but he was denied the chance to celebrate that victory, because Roberto Heras got to spend the day on the podium in Madrid. Folks thought that Heras had won... until the guy tripped the dopo-meter. Menchov, who began the Tour as Rabobank's team leader, deferred to Michael Rasmussen and then worked his arse off to help the skinny little cheat hold the lead. You have to feel for Menchov... sigh."
At the finish line today there were just three stragglers with familiar names, after a huge group of 124 riders came in at 9:39:
139. CANCELLARA Fabian 33 TEAM CSC 4h 24' 12" + 10' 08"
140. GUSEV Vladimir 113 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 4h 24' 12" + 10' 08"
141. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 4h 24' 26" + 10' 22"
Is Wim trying to conserve his position? That's just the way to do it! I don't see any mention of him during the stage -- perhaps he worked hard to protect Cadel Evans today in his probable podium spot. He's got over a 4 minute gap to the next rider now.
So here are our final five in the standings after the stage:
137. DE GROOT Bram 53 RABOBANK 84h 16' 06" + 3h 33' 58"
138. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 84h 17' 01" + 3h 34' 53"
139. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 84h 19' 27" + 3h 37' 19"
140. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 84h 21' 05" + 3h 38' 57"
141. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 84h 26' 48" + 3h 44' 40"
Sadly, the folks at VeloNews appear to have been too busy today to produce Stage Stats for Stage 17, so I don't have any medical reports or jury decisions from them to pass along here. If anyone else has another place that those are available online, please let me know!
We now have late-arriving brief Stage Stats:
Medical report: no report
Voigt (CSC) fined 50 CHF, penalized 5 points and 10 seconds for pull on team car during mechanical
Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) fined 50 CHF, penalized 5 points and 10 seconds for bidon pull
I feel like somebody told me Santa is a fake or something. I want to enoy this race, but it's getting hard. Even Bob doesn't seem as funny this year.
Did you read Tom Boonen's remarks? Little angry, maybe?