Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stage Eighteen: Bourg-d'Oisans to Saint-Étienne

Concerning yesterday's valiant finish on Alpe d'Huez by two-time Lanterne Rouge Jimmy Casper, reports: "There was some discussion among the French about making Jimmy Casper the combative of the day yesterday. But the rules clearly state that a rider has to be classified to qualify. Casper crashed and bravely fought on by himself. It sure was an honourable performance. He reached the finish, but outside the time limit. "

It was sweet to see the teammates of the injured Damiano Cunego ride the only team time trial in this Tour and bring him home inside the time limits in a pink (magenta?) and blue Italian armada:

146. TIRALONGO Paolo 79 LAMPRE 4h 50' 33" + 20' 12"
147. MARZANO Marco 75 LAMPRE 4h 50' 33" + 20' 12"
148. RIGHI Daniele 77 LAMPRE 4h 50' 33" + 20' 12"
149. MORI Massimiliano 76 LAMPRE 4h 50' 33" + 20' 12"
150. CUNEGO Damiano 71 LAMPRE 4h 50' 33" + 20' 12"

Unfortunately that drops Cunego from 14th overall to 20th in the general classification, but he's still in the bike race. It seems he suffered a nasty chin injury that will require some patching up overnight. Update: According to VeloNews, Cunego will not start tomorrow. Sad to hear that after such a noble effort by him and his teammates in getting to the finish line on time.

Christophe Riblon of Ag2R-La Mondiale came in 19th for the stage, which moved him up one place in the final five.

In the TV coverage I was able to catch a very brief glimpse of Wim Vansevenant in his red and black kit, coming over the finish line protecting his Lanterne Rouge position in the last of the large group of 122 riders who came in between 6:50 and 7:07 after the stage winner.

The final five in the standings today, which will be shaken up somewhat in the final individual time trial on Saturday:

146. KRAUSS Sven 116 GEROLSTEINER 82h 47' 59" + 3h 31' 45"
147. RIBLON Christophe 108 AG2R-LA MONDIALE 82h 49' 52" + 3h 33' 38"
148. EISEL Bernhard 45 TEAM COLUMBIA 82h 49' 53" + 3h 33' 39"
149. SPRICK Matthieu 146 BOUYGUES TELECOM 82h 55' 54" + 3h 39' 40"
150. VANSEVENANT Wim 9 SILENCE - LOTTO 83h 02' 02" + 3h 45' 48"

Remember if you have local coverage of the start of the individual time trial on Saturday that Wim Vansevenant will probably have the honor (and challenge) of the first starting position. I'm sure Cadel Evans will be listening to, and benefitting from, every word he will relay about the course conditions afterwards.

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