Monday, July 30, 2007

Make that 140 finishers in 2007

I guess they'll be scratching out Iban Mayo's name too.

189 starters, 140 finishers, and 19 departures due to doping allegations?

I wonder if they delayed the announcement of the positive result until after the finish so that Saunier Duval-Prodir wouldn't have to pull out of the Tour? It comes from a sample collected on the rest day, July 24th. I can't believe that anyone was working at the drug lab over the weekend and just finished up the analysis on Sunday. This must have been known by racing officials on Friday afternoon at the latest.

Saunier-Duval Prodir finished in 16th (Mayo) and 20th positions in the GC; 8th (Cobo Acebo), 12th (De La Fuente), and 13th place (Mayo) in the King of the Mountains competition; 21st place in the green jersey competition (Millar), and 6th place in the team competition.

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Faster = doping!?

Over at, it was noted that Lanterne Rouge Wim Vansevenant rode the Tour this year 9 minutes 7 seconds faster than in 2006 - but in the logic of some, that is irrefutable evidence that he, too, is a "dirty doper".

On the other hand, as a result of his finish position, Giles Smith hails Wim as "the rider who, demonstrably and beyond question, rode clean."

At Podium Cafe, Ursula waxes philosophical about life, death, suffering, doping, and why creating the Tour was a work of genius.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Maillot jaune v. lanterne rouge

Let's look at the record of two of the men who just finished the 2007 Tour de France. The course was a total of 3550 km in length (2206 miles), ridden over 20 days for a average of 177 km (110 miles) per day.

Alberto Contador won the 2007 Tour by riding the course in 91 hours, 0 minutes, and 26 seconds. That results in an average speed of 39.01 kph or 24.24 mph.

Wim Vansevenant rode the exact same distance on the course, and finished as Lanterne Rouge - the last-placed rider to finish the Tour. He just covered the same distance slightly slower - finishing in 94 hours, 53 minutes, and 20 seconds. That's an average speed of 37.41 kph, or 23.25 mph.

One freaking mile per hour. That's the entire difference between jaune and rouge, first and last.

Plus superstardom and a few million dollars worth of contracts. . . . or a red lantern to hang on your bike.

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Stage 20: Marcoussis to Paris Champs-Élysées

Things are winding down, and soon the 2007 Tour will be history.

In Lanterne Rouge news, ". . . Lilian Jegou, of Française des Jeux, states: 'You have more sporting credibility if you are at the back of the race.' To celebrate this new phenomenon, the paper Liberation announces that it is now supporting only the lanterne rouge, as the last rider in the race is nicknamed, after the red lantern that hangs on the back of a train. In the old days, cyclists in contention for this position would 'race' to lose time, without actually losing so much that they had to leave the race, because there was a certain notoriety - and lucrative appearance contracts - for the last man to finish the Tour. Acting no doubt on the biblical principle that the last shall be first and the first shall be last (in terms of credibility), Libe exhorts the current incumbent, the Belgian domestique Wim Vansevenant, to 'go slower!'"

After the Moreni incident, personally I'm not convinced that the unranked pro cyclists are any more or less likely to dope than the ones who have gained a few UCI points this year. The pressure to perform is there for every pro cyclist -- to move up in the rankings, ride faster, recover faster, hang with the peloton and not get dropped -- whether winning races or supporting their team leader. The leaders are just more likely to be drug-tested after they win races. For myself, I simply like to follow the back-of-the-packers because they all have interesting personal stories and the media is saturated with stories only of the leaders.

A bad translation of a brief piece on the Liberation site: "Wim fulfills its role: "Domestic." Man of the shade, it leaves the sun with the others. "My wife is a hairdresser. She says: There is much respect for you, always suffering when the others already arrived "After twenty years of career, the Belgian will hang up again the next year, at 37 years. "I am content with my career. Now, it is time for the young people.""

Elsewhere. . . . I just stumbled upon a fabulous French-language archive of Tour de France records. I've been filling out the past Lanternes Rouges in the right sidebar and will continue when time permits.

Rose Cantine reports on a TV interview with Lanterne Rouge Wim Vansevenant, which seems to imply his finish position this year was indeed deliberate. But don't worry, Wim, we will remember you!

Details of the (probably) anticlimactic final stage 20 to follow later. I haven't heard of any riders leaving the Tour in stages 18, 19, or 20.

And it was a traditional bunch sprint from the peloton to finish this crazy Tour! No changes in most of the lineup, and even though Thor Hushovd was 2nd in the stage he didn't change his placement. It was nice to see that Tom Boonen was able to finally withstand the onslaught of mountain fever that has taken him out of the Tour in previous years in order to collect his green jersey.

Seven riders gained more than a minute in the final stage:

135. HINAULT Sébastien 108 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 52' 09" + 01' 06"
136. CHEULA Gianpaolo 213 BARLOWORLD 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
137. FISCHER Murilo Antoniobil 155 LIQUIGAS 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
138. BALLAN Alessandro 81 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
139. EFIMKIN Alexander 211 BARLOWORLD 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
140. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 52' 37" + 01' 34"
141. VOECKLER Thomas 129 BOUYGUES TELECOM 3h 55' 11" + 04' 08"
the final rider over the finish line in the final stage of the Tour.

Which leaves the final five in the General Classification of the 2007 Tour de France unchanged from yesterday (apologies for messed-up spacing courtesy of Blogger). Our CONGRATULATIONS to each one of them for surviving a tough Tour de France!

137. KRAUSS Sven (Germany) 96 GEROLSTEINER 94h 41' 17" + 3h 40' 51"

138. STEEGMANS Gert (Belgium) 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 94h 42' 04" + 3h 41' 38"

139. HUSHOVD Thor (Norway) 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 94h 42' 23" + 3h 41' 57"

140. THOMAS Geraint (Wales) 215 BARLOWORLD 94h 47' 17" + 3h 46' 51"

"Everyone dreams of riding down the Champs-Elysee and finishing the Tour, I'm happy to get here but feeling it," the Cardiff rider told the BBC. "I was always going to go as far as I could. I couldn't see the point in going home after a few days, it was always in my mind to try to finish and it's awesome to be at the end."

and for the second consecutive time as the Lanterne Rouge of the Tour de France, we conclude with:

141. VANSEVENANT Wim (Belgium) 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 94h 53' 20" + 3h 52' 54"

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stage 19: Cognac to Angoulême ITT

No withdrawals prior to the stage, despite false rumors circulating last night.

There were 8 time trials more than 10 minutes slower than from the stage winner - if Levi Leipheimer had ridden behind them he would have passed three riders on the course! Forster had the slowest ITT of the day - at an average speed of 45.12 kph or 28.04 mph. Incredible!

134. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 1h 12' 45" + 10' 01"
135. BENNATI Daniele 82 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 1h 12' 55" + 10' 11"
136. SALMON Benoit 138 AGRITUBEL 1h 13' 02" + 10' 18"
137. CARDENAS Félix 212 BARLOWORLD 1h 13' 10" + 10' 26"
138. BURGHARDT Marcus 22 T-MOBILE TEAM 1h 13' 19" + 10' 35"
139. TSCHOPP Johann 128 BOUYGUES TELECOM 1h 13' 26" + 10' 42"
140. WROLICH Peter 99 GEROLSTEINER 1h 13' 44" + 11' 00"
141. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 1h 13' 48" + 11' 04"

The final five in the overall standings at the end of Stage 19 are as follows, which is unlikely to change tomorrow on the ride into Paris, unless some of the sprinters finish in a fast breakaway (such as Thor Hushovd, who won the final stage last year):

137. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 90h 50' 14" + 3h 40' 56"
138. STEEGMANS Gert 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 90h 51' 01" + 3h 41' 43"
139. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 90h 51' 32" + 3h 42' 14"
140. THOMAS Geraint 215 BARLOWORLD 90h 55' 23" + 3h 46' 05"
141. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 91h 02' 02" + 3h 52' 44"

Bram DeGroot moved out of the final five with an excellent 39th-place time trial. Sven Krauss (49th place ITT) moved up relative to Thor Hushovd (123rd place ITT), and 2007 stage winner Gert Steegmans (127th place ITT) dropped down into the final five. They encompass a span of 12 minutes in aggregate time over the 19 stages.

They've switched around young Welshman Geraint Thomas's name and gotten it correct on the official Tour website finally, just in time for the end of the Tour! He rode a very respectable ITT, finishing 107th for the stage.

The only former Lanterne Rouge of this Tour other than Vansevenant who is still riding, Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, finished 38th for this ITT stage which puts him 89th overall in the Tour General Classification.

Wim Vansevenant's second consecutive finish as the Lanterne Rouge in the 2007 Tour de France is virtually assured, while he has ably assisted his Predictor-Lotto team leader Cadel Evans into a 2nd place finish on the podium. Gert Steegmans finished 137th and 3rd from last in the 2006 Tour de France, and if there are no withdrawals overnight he will probably finish 138th and 4th from last in 2007.

Along the way in the 2007 Tour, 48 cyclists have left the Tour. The Belgian rider Vansevenant will finish ahead of every one of them.

And chapeau to Bob Mina for calling the finish! Yes, I'd guess that having both Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong shouting in your ear over an hour ride might be worth 20 seconds in the finish time. Well, count me as a new big fan of Alberto Contador. I'll enjoy watching him as his career progresses, hopefully for many years.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

So who is your pick?

To win, that is. Personally, I think Wim Vansevenant has the Lanterne Rouge slot pretty well sewn up. It would take some special kind of disaster for anyone to penetrate the 5:17 buffer he has in place.

Now at the opposite end of the peloton, we have 3 guys with half as much time between them:

Current standings - 27 July 2007
1. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 86h 04' 16"
2. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 86h 06' 06" + 01' 50"
3. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 86h 07' 05" + 02' 49"
4. SASTRE Carlos 31 TEAM CSC 86h 10' 18" + 06' 02"

Prologue in London
15. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 09' 25" + 00' 35"
17. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 09' 26" + 00' 36"
26. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 09' 30" + 00' 40"

Stage 13 ITT
2. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 58h 47' 39" + 01' 00"
3. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 58h 49' 10" + 02' 31"
5. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 58h 50' 16" + 03' 37"

Most people seem to think the flat ITT tomorrow will favor Evans. We'll see. . . . I think it's still anybody's stage, but whether anyone will gain enough time to change the placements is the question! It could be less than 8 seconds deciding the Tour this year, possibly.

I'm hoping Evans wins in the GC tomorrow, if only because it will make a nice Predictor-Lotto sandwich of the peloton, and also allow the Lanterne Rouge to ride with the maillot jaune in the honorary procession into Paris on Sunday.

But as my buddy Bob Mina points out, if anyone can talk the new kid through the world's most important time trial like it was a Wednesday workout, Johann Bruyneel can. I'm trying to figure out how Bruyneel will advise Contador to race against Levi, and vice versa. I suppose they'll just shake hands and go out fighting and let the best rider win, but. . . . it would certainly be interesting to be a fly on the wall for that final meeting in the Disco bus.

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Stage 18: Cahors to Angoulême

Podium Cafe notes that Predictor Lotto has the chance to pull off the rare maillot jaune-Lanterne Rouge double if Cadel Evans rides well in the final time trial tomorrow. That's in addition to the feat of Vansevenant possibly becoming Lanterne Rouge in two consecutive Tours de France. Tomorrow will tell the tale! Unless something else crazy happens, most of the riders including our Lanterne Rouge Wim Vansevenant will hold position until that day when their tired legs will give it one final hurrah.

So let's take a look at Lanterne Rouge Wim Vansevenant's record, while we have a breather:
He's been a professional cyclist for 13 years, and has been a solid supporting player on a number of teams.

2007. Predictor-Lotto
9e une étape du Tour Down Under
2006. Davitamon-Lotto
139e du Tour de France (dernier)
2005. Davitamon-Lotto
11e du Tour de Belgique
154e du Tour de France
2004. Lotto-Domo
141e du Tour de France
2003. Lotto-Domo
3e du Grand Prix Tistaert
5e du Championnat de Belgique CLM
13e de Paris-Bruxelles
2002. Collstrop-Palmans
3e de Cholet-Pays de Loire
8e du Championnat de Belgique CLM
2001. Mercury-Viatel
2e une étape du Circuit Franco-Belge
4e du Championnat de Belgique CLM
5e du Grand Prix de Wallonie
6e du Grand Prix Tistaert
10e du Grand Prix Van Steenbergen
2000. Farm Frites
3e du Grand Prix de Villers-Cotterets
4e de la Clasica Sabinanigo
7e du Grand Prix Tistaert
1999. Collstrop
3e une étape du Tour de la Somme
15e du Grand Prix Pino-Cerami
1998. Vlaanderen 2002
3e une étape du Tour d'Autriche
8e du Circuit des Ardennes Flamandes, une étape du Grand Prix Midi-Libre, de la Flèche Ardennaise, du Tour d'Autriche
1997. Vlaanderen 2002
6e du Circuit Franco-Belge
9e de A Travers la Belgique, du Grand Prix Fréquence-Nord
Taux d'hématocrites trop élevé en avril
1996. Vlaanderen 2002
1er une étape du Tour du Vaucluse (Cairanne)
2e de la Course du Raisin
3e une étape du Tour de l'Avenir
5e une étape de la Hofbrau Cup
8e du Tour du Vaucluse
1995. Débuts pros chez Vlaanderen 2002
2e une étape du Regio Tour
18e des Trois Jours de La Panne
1994 (Août).
Stagiaire chez Word Perfect

This is Vansevenant's fourth Tour de France, which is a proud record for any professional cyclist. In 2004, he finished 140th. In 2005, 154th. In 2006, he was the 139th and last rider in the General Classification.

Rose Cantine found this information: The only other two riders to consecutive titles as Lanterne Rouge are the Belgian Daniel Masson (1922 and 1923) and Austrian Gerhard Schönbacher (1979 and 1980). There is also an interview with Vansevenant online in Flemish, with French subtitles. Neither of which help the linguistically-challenged like me, unfortunately!

In former Lanterne Rouge news, 28-year-old Sebastian Joly will be taking time out from cycling to undergo chemotherapy and radiation for a cancerous tumor. Best wishes to him for a complete recovery. He can be contacted here.

Just for the sake of completeness, here are today's stage results:

We had a lot of riders come in at 9 and 10 minutes, and then our Final Four, saving everything for tomorrow:

138. CANCELLARA Fabian 33 TEAM CSC 5h 24' 33" + 11' 02"
139. MILLAR David 201 SAUNIER DUVAL - PRODIR 5h 24' 33" + 11' 02"
140. CARDENAS Félix 212 BARLOWORLD 5h 24' 33" + 11' 02"
141. WILLEMS Frederik 159 LIQUIGAS 5h 24' 33" + 11' 02"

Our standings at the back of the peloton before the final deciding time trial are:

137. DE GROOT Bram 53 RABOBANK 89h 39' 01" + 3h 34' 45"
138. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 89h 39' 06" + 3h 34' 50"
139. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 89h 41' 35" + 3h 37' 19"
140. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 89h 44' 00" + 3h 39' 44"
141. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 89h 49' 17" + 3h 45' 01"

So Vansevenant holds the Lanterne Rouge spot by 5:17, even though he finished the stage way up in 78th place today. I'm not sure what the cutoff will be for elimination during the time trial tomorrow, but I'd say Vansevenant has a pretty firm grip on the final slot in the General Classification of the 2007 Tour de France.

Wonderful article today by Samuel Abt about Wim Vansevenant here (first spotted by Podium Cafe, who also provide the first mention I've seen of a new doping result in Stage 14).

Stage reports are back in business at VeloNews:

Medical report:
Casar (FDJeux) and Willems (Liquigas), both crashed at 28km, minor cuts and scrapes. (Apparently another dog incident - I hope it wasn't a French Lab).
Hinault (Credit Agricole) breathing problems.
Burghardt (T-Mobile) breathing problems.
Gadret (Ag2r) headache.
Azanza (Euskaltel) digestive troubles.
Quinziato (Liquigas) digestive problems.
Boogerd (Rabobank) insect bite

Jury decisions: no report

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Al Trautwig blows

Why does Versus put someone on the air that clearly despises the sport of professional cycling, and takes every opportunity to insult it?

"Why watch!?" -- Al Trautwig, July 26, 2007

I'm just wondering. . . .

Stage 17: Pau to Castelsarrasin

Velonews has already answered the first question of the day, for those of us tuning in online:

"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:
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

Jury decisions:
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

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why would Moreni do it?

I'm wondering about the motivation for Cofidis rider Cristian Moreni (admittedly) using testosterone during the Tour de France. Particularly when he is a member of a team that is now outspoken about its anti-doping stance.

Why would he dope? Why would he use the readily detectable substance that Floyd Landis was famously accused of using in 2006 and will probably lose his Tour victory over?

As pro riders in the Tour go, Moreni is a solid middle-of-the-pack guy. Most people following the Tour have probably never heard of him. He turned pro in 1998. He's 35 years of age now, presumably in the latter part of his career as an active competitive cyclist. (Well, now he's at the end of it).

He stood 161st in the UCI pro rankings. It was his 3rd Tour, after 66th place in 2002 and a DNF in 2006.

He's been with Cofidis for two years, with modest success:

2007. Cofidis
2e une étape du Tour de Suisse
4e une étape du Tour de Suisse
5e une étape du Tour de Suisse 6e de Milan-Turin
7e du Championnat d'Italie, une étape du Tour de France (Autun)
13e une étape du Tour de France (Castres)
15e de Milan-San Remo
18e du Tour des Flandres

2006. Cofidis
2e une étape du Tour de France (Mâcon)
4e une étape du Tour de France (Pau), du Tour de Lombardie
5e une étape du Tour de France (Dax), de la Clasica San Sebastien
6e du Grand Prix Miguel Indurain, de Züri Metzgete
7e du Tour de Pologne
8e du Championnat d'Italie, une étape du Tour de France (Gap), du Tour du Piémont
10e une étape du Tour du Pays-Basque, une étape du Tour de Suisse
15e du Grand Prix de Plouay
18e de l'Amstel Gold Race
19e de Paris-Tours
44e du Tour de France
Abandon dans la septième étape du Tour d'Italie

The Daily Peleton wrote a glowing preview about him before the Tour: "In signing Cristian Moreni two years ago, Cofidis snapped up one of the most underrated riders in the sport. Endowed with a good sprint, the thirty-four year old Italian can also read races tactically like the best, able to choose the right breaks. Last year, he was outgunned by Matteo Tosatto in a three-up sprint to the line for Stage 18. If Wiggins fails, it is not unfair to say that the former Italian champ will be their best chance of a stage victory. His ability on the hills will also be a boon for the French team."

His positive test came after the 11th stage of the Tour - Marseille to Montpellier, 182.5km, one of the flattest stages of the Tour. He finished 102nd in that stage out of 168 riders. Dave Zabriskie, Igor Anton, and Sylvain Calzati didn't finish the stage.

Presumably he would have used the testosterone after stage 9 or 10. Right around the time the Sinkewitz positive test was announced. He is not mentioned in the medical report for Stage 10 or Stage 9, and the day before Stage 9 was a rest day. Neither is he mentioned in the medical reports for Stage 8, Stage 7, Stage 6, or Stage 5.

His finishes in this Tour before his positive doping test ranged from 7th place in Stage 5 to 157th place in Stage 2. At Stage 11 he stood in 54th place for the green jersey and 53rd overall. In the first week of the Tour, it was said "Chavanel and Moreni rode in the breaks again but without any remarkable results."

His team leader Sylvain Chavanel was named most aggressive rider in Stage 5, and was leading in the King of the Mountains competition (in 1st or 2nd place) through Stage 9, when he tumbled down the rankings. In the middle of the Alps. Well, if you can't hold onto the position then, you're not likely to in the Pyrenees, either.

I'm searching. I'm looking for some obvious logical reason for this guy to dope, to use testosterone for a speedy comeback from a tough stage. Maybe he wanted to help his team leader get back up there in the standings. I wanted to find a horrific crash, or an epic struggle against the broomwagon like we witnessed in Robbie McEwen or Dave Zabriskie this year. Disabling saddle sores, even.

But I'm just not seeing his rationale in the numbers. I didn't want to see some older guy with chronic aches and pains who just wanted the Tour de France to be just a little bit easier.

Did he simply use it routinely? For how long? Where did he get it? Who knew? Who else is using it?

Maybe answers will come out later, maybe not. One can almost understand how the big guns would dope, because so much is on the line. But for this guy, Moreni, all he could do was lose. And take his whole team down with him.

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I have a solution

The Tour is in a bit of a pickle right now, as we all know. Sometimes this type of situation is referred to as a "charlie foxtrot".

I have a proposal on how to sort it all out.

Tomorrow morning, pass out to each rider a couple of spare inner tubes, a patch kit, two water bottles, and 100 euros. Take away their radios.

First man to the Arc de Triomphe wins. No outside assistance, neutral assistance only. Winner take all. It's only 837 km, or 520 miles.

I reckon it would take some of the guys less than 21 hours to make it.

Do you think it would fly?

Rasmussen out

I just got word that the Danish Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen is out of the Tour as well. Removed by his own team, Rabobank.

". . . the team has learnt that Rasmussen lied to them over where and what he was up to during the month of June when he was in fact in Italy and not in Mexico as he had told them. . . . His departure leaves young Spaniard Alberto Contador in the lead with Australian Cadel Evans in second."

The significance of this is that such a deception would make Rasmussen unavailable for out-of-competition drug testing (as described by Bobby Julich).

This puts Contador in the yellow jersey tomorrow for Discovery, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez in the white youth jersey for Barloworld (and ninth overall), and no more than 142 riders starting the stage, with 47 DNFs (24.8%) to date. Here is a provisional active rider list, which still does not reflect changes in the Rabobank roster.

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Et tu, Cofidis?

The entire Cofidis team is leaving the Tour too, because of the positive exogenous testosterone test on their rider Christian Moreni. They have chosen to forego a "B" test. "The 35-year-old former Italian champion admitted to administering himself with a synthetic version of the male sex hormone".

Two of their riders have previously abandoned, Ivan Ramiro Parra in Stage 8 and our former Lanterne Rouge Geoffroy LeQuatre did not start Stage 6.

Today's departure should decrease the peloton by another 7 riders to 143 cyclists.

These Cofidis riders leaving the Tour will include Nick Nuyens, who was in the penultimate position in the General Classification, and Rik Verbrugge, whom we had previously seen in our bottom five riders. Their highest-placed rider was Sylvain Chavanel, in 26th position, who had worn the polka-dot jersey after stages 6, 7, and 8.

Also departing the Tour: their British rider Bradley Wiggins who had finished 4th in the Prologue and 5th in the stage 13 Individual Time Trial. Wiggins has been outspoken against doping.

Unlike Astana, the Cofidis team was not well-placed in the standings upon their departure - 17th out of 20 remaining teams, below Barloworld and Gerolsteiner, but ahead of Agritubel, Milram, and Francaise de Jeux.

In terms of international relations, it may be a mitigating factor that a French team has now taken an enormous hit in the fight against doping, or otherwise France might have soon had to prepare to surrender to Kazakhstan.

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Stage 16: Orthez to Gourette to Col d’Aubisque

It seems that all 151 remaining riders are on their bikes today in the toughest stage of the '07 Tour. However, there was a small anti-doping protest at the start: says, "The French and German teams stayed at the start for a minute or so to protest at doping in the sport. Others such as Discovery Channel, Euskaltel, Lampre, Caisse d'Epargne and Preditor Lotto didn't feel the same way and left. Michael Rasmussen also left with these. Strangely, T-Mobile and CSC also moved off, even though they have strong anti-doping programmes. Hmm, what about solidarity, guys? . . . There was some booing from the crowd. We don't know if that was for those who left, or those who stayed."

According to Reuters, it was Rasmussen who was booed by the crowd. summarized it: "Today's stage began with a riders' protest, from teams expressing frustration at yesterday's news of a positive doping test from Alexander Vinokourov. The teams were also angry that the Tour is being led by a man many regard as suspicious."

While I'm on the topic (and I don't intend to dwell on it on this blog, because - call me naive - I honestly don't think most of the riders in the back of the pack are dopers), I particularly liked this viewpoint on the subject of unannounced tests by Bobby Julich, who is in a position to know.

And Rasmussen wins the stage and probably the Tour, but loses in the court of public opinion - he is booed at the finish line. That's the first time I've heard of that happening to a stage winner.

Ronan Pensec said, "People along the road today were whistling at him and telling him things I won’t translate here. It is really like no one wants to see him win anymore with all these drug-taking problems. The atmosphere is more than tense, it is really bad. Everybody is tired of all these problems and they all pretty much want to be at the end already."

Matthieu Sprick, a French rider for Bouygues Telecom, withdrew during the stage, bringing the peloton down to 150 riders. A note on the BT team website says, in a funny translation, "It should be noted that Matthieu SPRICK has to pose foot with ground after respiratory problems." I suppose that means "step down from the Tour" in English.

The autobus arrived at 41:49 today, and contained 72 riders, nearly half the active remaining cyclists in the Tour. No stragglers.

That leaves the bottom of the standings essentially unchanged:

146. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 79h 53' 18" + 3h 38' 03"
147. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 79h 55' 44" + 3h 40' 29"
148. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 79h 57' 22" + 3h 42' 07"
149. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 79h 59' 23" + 3h 44' 08"
150. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 80h 02' 22" + 3h 47' 07"

Barring any major crashes or climbs in the rankings from a breakaway, this may be what we see in the back of the rankings all the way to Paris. But we must never forget that these riders have already been able to accomplish what 39 others have failed to do: survive the Alps and the Pyrenees and remain in the Tour.

Probably the peloton will be down to no more than 149 tomorrow, since Christian Moreni of Cofidis tested positive for exogenous testosterone. He finished 41st in today's stage and was 54th overall. Unless the entire Cofidis team chooses to withdraw as well. . . . and TDFBlog note with some irony that the Cofidis squad was part of the anti-doping protest today. discusses the scoring issues that have arisen from the Astana team's departure - since their riders were all technically a DNS today, since Vinokourov was not disqualified. Yet.

Update: Um, I was joking. But yes indeed, the entire freaking Cofidis team is leaving the 2007 Tour too. I have to go look at the standings again. . . .

Here is part of the stage stats again, from Velonews. Maybe I'm the only one who finds these tidbits interesting, but I can't find them anywhere else, and there's a lot of stories in each item, I'm sure:

Medical report:
Horner (Predictor-Lotto), Quinziato (Liquigas), Tosatto (QuickStep-Innergetic) all digestive problems.
Barredo (QuickStep-Innergetic) contusion on left knee.
Sprick (Bouygues) abandon for abdominal pains.
Ballan (Lampre) crash at 134, superficial cuts and scrapes.
Voigt (CSC) crash at 137km, superficial cuts.

Jury decisions:
Arrieta (Ag2r) and Camano (Saunier Duval-Prodir), fined 50 CHF, penalized five points and 10 seconds in GC for pushing off vehicles.
Flecha (Rabobank), Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Tankink (QuickStep), fined 50 CHF, penalized five points and 10 seconds in GC for bidon pulls.
Niermann and Weening (both Rabobank), fined 100 CHF, penalized 20 seconds in GC (two infractions each) for following too long behind vehicles.
Rabobank sport director fined 400 CHF for above infractions.
Arrieta (Ag2r), Zubeldia (Euskaltel) and Fofonov (Credit Agricole), fined 50 CHF for irregular feeds.
Ag2r, Euskaltel and Credit Agricole directors each fined 200 CHF for above infractions.
Cofidis sport director fined 200 CHF for not respecting commissaire.
After receiving news about failed doping control taken after 11th stage into Montepellier, Moreni (Cofidis) accepts the results without request for "B" sample.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The autobus

This article in discusses how the groups of riders form towards the rear in the long mountain stages, and how a group of riders that arrives at the finish line after the official time cutoff can get away with it without being eliminated from the Tour.

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Mass exodus

The entire Astana team is out of the Tour, due to a positive blood doping test for Alexandre Vinokourov.

Antonio Colom Mas (Spain)
Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)
Serguei Ivanov (Russia)
Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan)
Andreas Klöden (Germany)
Daniel Navarro (Spain)
Grégory Rast (Switzerland)
Paolo Savoldelli (Italy)
Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)

That is the FIRST PLACE TEAM in the Tour standings. Leaving the Tour.

Their website at is apparently overloaded and not responding.

The 5th place rider Klöden.
The 8th place rider Kashechkin.
The double stage winner Vinokourov.
The lowest-placed Astana rider was Gregory Rast, a Swiss cyclist formerly on the Phonak team, who held 108th place overall out of 160.

Yes, this is Huge.

None of the team riders had yet withdrawn from the Tour, all 9 were still competing. This brings the number of riders down to 151, suddenly. And puts Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) into the top ten riders.

Update: The Astana website is now responding, and a news item there says (in French, badly translated here): "As opposed to what certain media could claim, Astana Cycling TEAM continues its activities and will be thus present at the time of Sachsen Tour (July 25 - 29) and of Brixia Tour (26 - July 29). The direction of the team, still present in Pau (FRA), received the unconditional support of the President of the Kazakhe Federation of Cycling, Mr. Danial Akhmetov."

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Tour vacations

While I'm daydreaming about Tour de France vacations (which are off-limits to me for a few more years, at least until my twin girls learn to ride two-wheelers) it's come to my attention that there is a piece in on luxury trips for the Tour. That would be nice.

Or I might instead go to Ian and Julie Wright's place in the Pyrenees and watch some stages, and attempt to ride a flat stage - somewhere FAR from the Pyrenees.

I don't think my Tour trip would include an attempt at l’Étape du Tour for the Stage 15 route or the equivalent in another year. NosirreeBob.

Thank you Holly!!

Many, many thanks to my dear friend Holly for bringing me back a Tour de France visor on her recent trip to London to see the Tour depart! (She's the awesome graphic artist who did this great blog header you see above). I was terribly envious, since with twin 4-year-olds at home it will be many years before I can make that kind of trip again. It was very kind of you to share your Tour vacation with me!! Holly definitely knows how to LiveSTRONG!

I'll wear the visor every day until July 30th, definitely!

Stage 15: Foix to Loudenvielle

Here's a poetic tribute to the Lanterne Rouge.

I don't yet have confirmation of any DNSs for the day. Possibly Philippe Gilbert? Ah, yes, Velonews says: "We see that Francaise des Jeux's Philippe Gilbert and Liquigas's Filippo Pozzato opted not to start." Pozzato was the Lanterne Rouge of Stage 3 in 2006. There are 163 riders at the start of the day.

Here's a somewhat garbled note in the coverage about our Lanterne Rouge: "Philippe Gilbert had a fever yesterday and struggled to last place, some 40-odd minutes down. He made the time cut but Wim Vansevenant didn't (Predictor-Lotto) didn't think he'd be able to start and he didn't. Vansevenant for himself told Brecht Decaluwè that he is the master of managing the time cuts, but acknowledged it will be really hard today to make it. It's a very difficult stage. We'll keep you posted on the Belgian rider, who wants to save his Lanterne Rouge place all the way to Paris.""

They said on Versus that Cyril Dessel (Ag2r Prevoyance) abandoned today. Yes, at around 39 km into the stage. The head count is now 162, with 27 riders lost en route thus far in the Tour.

Alexandre Vinokourov should be nicknamed Rasputin. They can't kill him. Stabbing? Poison? Clubbing? Shooting? Drowning? Stupid spectators? Nothing can get that man down for long.

Oh no! The web updates reveal some more abandons that weren't covered on TV. Here's the full list for the day of riders who are finished with the 2007 Tour de France:

165 GILBERT Philippe (BEL) FRANCAISE DES JEUX non-starter
151 POZZATO Filippo (ITA) LIQUIGAS non-starter
109 LE MEVEL Christophe (FRA) CREDIT AGRICOLE withdrawls
64 DESSEL Cyril (FRA) AG2R PREVOYANCE withdrawls

Le Mevel was the C.A. rider who crashed going around a right-hand curve at about the 40 km mark and then a rider in orange flipped over him, Jorge Azanza from Euskaltel-Euskadi.

I haven't found word about exactly what happened to Fast Freddie Rodriguez today, but he abandoned before the fourth climb. He said on his blog before the stage, "I managed to survive yesterday’s race with a real bad stomach. Don't ask me how. I think I really went deep mentally, because physically I was empty. I woke up with the same bad stomach this morning. This will be my chance to fight again and hang on."

Rik Verbrugge, Cofidis rider who was in our final five yesterday, had a great ride today and finished in 56th place, moving him up from the penultimate rider in the GC to 144th overall. There was a huge autobus of 47 riders who arrived at the finish line at 35:45 after the stage winner, with no late stragglers. Wim Vansevenant, the Lanterne Rouge, arrived about 4 minutes ahead of it, so that modified his time gap slightly. There are 160 remaining in the Tour.

Our final five in the standings are now:

156. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 72h 48' 08" + 2h 55' 54"
157. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 72h 50' 34" + 2h 58' 20"
158. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 72h 52' 12" + 2h 59' 58"
159. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 72h 54' 13" + 3h 01' 59"
160. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 72h 57' 12" + 3h 04' 58"

(Um, their name in the official Tour standings is backwards, not me, the given name is Geraint, the family name is Thomas).

It seems that Thor Hushovd threw out his back while taking a leak off the bike earlier in the Tour. He indicated he might have been unable to continue if the rest day hadn't fortunately been next.

And here are the stage stats, courtesy of VeloNews:

Medical report:
Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) fall on the Col de Port, traumatism on right shoulder, transferred to hospital in Saint-Girons, X-rays revealed a fracture in the right clavicle
Efimkin (Barloworld) crash on Col de Port, superficial cuts and scrapes
Iglinskiy (Astana) crash at 100km, without apparent serious injuries
Rodriguez and Van Summeren (Predictor-Lotto), Moreau (Ag2r), Mercado (Agritubel), Nuyens (Cofidis), Sieberg (Milram) - all digestive problems

Jury decisions: No rulings

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Spectator woes

Vino was having problems already, but it went from bad to worse today:

"A fan waved a flag when he and (Serhiy) Ivanov were on the ascent of the Plateau-de-Beille," an Astana spokesman told Reuters by phone. "The flag got caught in Ivanov's wheel. He fell off his bike and so did 'Vino', who was following him. He just has small bruises and his knees have not been hurt." However, Vinokourov had already been dropped in the first climb of the day, a 16.8-km ascent to the Port de Pailheres, which he reached five minutes behind the main contenders. "

Andrew Hood from VeloNews said: "the driver of the medical car chased down the spectator, who was hiding among the crowd behind a car. The fan pleaded that the incident was a mistake." Um, I wonder what the driver would have done otherwise? Put him in the hospital?

I've looked for photographs of the incident but haven't found any. Readers, have you seen any? There's some sad post-crash finishing photos of Vino here and here.

Also from Stage 14, the other medical reports:

Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) stomach ache.
Fischer (Liquigas) stomach ache.
Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) digestive problems, insect bite.
Gilbert (FDJeux) digestive problems, fever.
Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) digestive problems.
Chavanel (FDJeux) stomach pain.
Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) crash at beginning of stage, minor cuts and scrapes.
Martinez (Discovery Channel) crash at beginning of stage, minor cuts and scrapes.
Vinokourov (Astana) crash on the Plateau de Beille climb, various scrapes.
Ivanov (Astana) crash on the Plateau de Beille climb, cuts to hand, scrapes.
Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) crash on the Plateau de Beille climb, various cuts.

Jury decisions: No rulings

I have to wonder if all those stomach problems were riders feeling like they wanted to throw up when they caught sight of the Plateau de Beille climb.

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Stage 14: Mazamet to Plateau-de-Beille

An exciting stage to watch! Waiting for the official stage results to pop up. . . .

There was one non-starter today:
209 VENTOSO Francisco (ESP) SAUNIER DUVAL - PRODIR non-starter

. . . which brings us down to 165 riders starting the stage today. Ventoso was not mentioned in the medical report from the ITT yesterday. From the Saunier-Duval Prodir Team website: "The rider of SAUNIER DUVAL-PRODIR had been suffering terribly with his left hand since he fell in Montpellier, and thus decided to quit. As the swelling didn´t go down, he left for Spain early in the morning, departing from Toulouse."

I haven't heard of any abandons today, but it's possible some riders may not make the cutoff time at the finish.

Ahhhh. . . . all is revealed.

There was an enormous group of 77 riders who finished at 34:52 after the stage winner (not far behind Vinokourov, who finished at 28:50 - ouch! dropping him from 9th place to 30th place overall). Then there was one final rider over the line at 42:08 after the stage winner: Belgian Philippe Gilbert, riding for Francaise de Jeux.

Former Lanterne Rouge Alexandr Kuschynski (the rider from Belarus on the Liquigas team) had a fantastic finish today, 38th for the stage with a time gap of 11:10 from the stage winner, which blasts him out of the back of the General Classification into 113th place overall. Similarly, the Frenchman riding for Credit Agricole Anthony Charteau (who was next to last in the standings) had a strong day in the mountains and finished at 26:26 and 69th place for the stage, lifting him to 159th place overall. Here are the final five overall after Stage 14:

161. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 66h 40' 21" + 2h 28' 06"
162. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 66h 41' 59" + 2h 29' 44"
163. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 66h 44' 00" + 2h 31' 45"
164. VERBRUGGHE Rik 148 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 66h 44' 26" + 2h 32' 11"
165. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 66h 50' 53" + 2h 38' 38"

Geraint Thomas, the Welsh rider for Barloworld, is the youngest rider in the Tour at 21 years of age. To his credit, he "is finding the going tough - but he keeps going."

Wim Vansevenant, the Belgian on the Predictor-Lotto team, holds his position as Lanterne Rouge and now has a time gap of 6:27 to the next closest rider in the standings. He has held that position for seven consecutive stages now, and if he continues to finish in the main peloton each day it's entirely possible that he will earn the overall Lanterne Rouge title for two consecutive Tours de France. He's still got a lot of work to do to support his team leader, Aussie Cadel Evans!

This (perhaps prophetic?) photo of Vansevenant on the roadside with the peloton passing by was taken during the Stage 1 rollout from London by placid casual:

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The $87 whiz

Here's another side to the Tour: how to satisfy "nature's need" when you're in front of the public all day? Dave Zabriskie and a few other riders have been fined 100 Swiss Francs for letting it hang out in front of the fans.

I didn't think they were so fastidious about such things in France.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stage 13: Albi 54km individual time trial

The roads are wet and Cancellara crashed on the course.

Here are standings of the last five riders in the GC after Stage 12 and the current provisional Stage 13 ITT time gaps from the interim leader, Bradley Wiggins, after the ITT is partially complete:

Was 162. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 4:43
Was 164. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 7:01

At the end of the day: the slowest time trials of the day were:

162. AERTS Mario 42 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 1h 18' 33" + 11' 59"
163. HALGAND Patrice 107 CREDIT AGRICOLE 1h 18' 52" + 12' 18"
164. RODRIGUEZ Fred 47 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 1h 19' 16" + 12' 42"
165. VENTOSO Francisco 209 SAUNIER DUVAL - PRODIR 1h 19' 59" + 13' 25"
166. JALABERT Nicolas 137 AGRITUBEL 1h 20' 18" + 13' 44"

So the slowest of 166 cyclists in the Tour completed this ITT course at an average pace of 40.34 km/hr or 25.07 mph. That pace includes any slips, crashes, bobbles, flats, tire changes, new bikes, or whatever else can happen in 54 kilometers of wet, slippery roads.

AFTER completion of the time trial, the last five riders in the General Classification are only very slightly shuffled with Verbrugghe's ride lifting him up one notch:

162. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 60h 41' 48" + 1h 55' 09"
163. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 60h 43' 20" + 1h 56' 41"
164. VERBRUGGHE Rik 148 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 60h 43' 46" + 1h 57' 07"
165. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 60h 45' 12" + 1h 58' 33"
166. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 60h 50' 13" + 2h 03' 34"

Wim Vansevenant retains his position as Lanterne Rouge after this individual time trial with a 5-minute gap to the next rider in the overall standings.

Thanks again to VeloNews for providing us with Stage Stats, including:

Medical report:
Cancellara (CSC), Isasi (Euskaltel), Gusev (Discovery Channel), Jalabert (Agritubel), Kashechkin and Klöden (both Astana) all crashed but did not require medical attention

Jury decisions:
Saunier Duval-Prodir sport director fined 200 CHF and relegated to last position in Sunday's stage for driving dangerously and provoking an accident

Elsewhere: I just noticed this short video entitled "The lantern rouge, and the suffering" at, but it really only mentions the Lanterne Rouge in passing and focuses on how tough the Tour is on the riders, with lots of shots of sweaty grimacing pro cyclists.

Tomorrow's stage 14 entering the Pyrenees should be a classic to watch: 2 HC summits and a mountaintop finish on Plateau de Beille, where Armstrong and Pantani were victorious. Velonews says, "Given the climb's history, the stage winner could be standing on top of the podium in Paris."

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Stage 12: Montpellier to Castres

168 riders started today, with no overnight abandons noted. There are some smaller climbs today, a single category two about 3/4 of the way through the stage, and then a long downhill finish. It is unlikely that there will be many big changes in the general classification unless there are some strong winds splitting up the peloton (like yesterday) or some crashes that take riders out.
Speaking of crashes, Alberto Ongarato, an Italian rider for Milram, crashed at the 7 km mark and after checking with the race doctor, abandoned the Tour. He was in 159th place in the general classification. The peloton is now down to 167 riders, and Erik Zabel has one less leadout man.

Most riders finished within 7 minutes of the winner, but four riders came to the finish line in a grupetto, 9:27 after the stage winner:

163. MERCADO Juan Miguel 131 AGRITUBEL 4h 34' 59" + 09' 27"
164. BURGHARDT Marcus 22 T-MOBILE TEAM 4h 34' 59" + 09' 27"
165. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 4h 34' 59" + 09' 27"
166. VENTOSO Francisco 209 SAUNIER DUVAL - PRODIR 4h 34' 59" + 09' 27"

Stef Clement, a Dutch rider for Bouygues Telecom, was over the time limit at the finish line and will not be starting tomorrow. He crashed at about 117 km into the stage.

Geraint Thomas seems to be riding better in the temperatures of southern France (finishing 19th for the stage), so we have the following five at the end of the general classification now, with no change in the Lanterne Rouge:

162. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 59h 28' 18" + 1h 51' 08"
163. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 59h 28' 38" + 1h 51' 28"
164. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 59h 29' 24" + 1h 52' 14"
165. VERBRUGGHE Rik 148 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 59h 31' 20" + 1h 54' 10"
166. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 59h 34' 20" + 1h 57' 10"

Vansevenant has a 3:00 gap now until the next-placed rider. His placing earns him the right to roll down the ramp first at the individual time trial tomorrow. Anything can happen over 54 kilometers of roads!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

DiGregorio update

Samuel Abt wrote a nice piece about the Agritubel team, including an update on Stage 4 Lanterne Rouge Remy Di Gregorio.

At the TimesOnline, Jeremy Whittle calls Di Gregorio "the exciting young climber from Marseilles". We hope to see more of him on race leaderboards after a quick recovery.


Stage 11: Marseille - Montpellier

In progress.

It's a flat sprinter's stage with no abandons reported. Christophe Moreau of AG2R had a small crash but is back on the bike. None of the BOP (back-of-the-peloton) riders that we have been following are in the current breakaway.

I'm usually a good speller, but I can never remember how to spell peloton. Peleton. Whatever. I'm only a good speller in American-English.

Don't you love it when CSC lets Jens Voigt off his leash? He's always fun to watch.

Later. . . .

Sadly, we lost three more riders today:

72 ANTON Igor (ESP) EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI withdrawls
63 CALZATI Sylvain (FRA) AG2R PREVOYANCE withdrawls
39 ZABRISKIE David (USA) TEAM CSC outside time limit

This is what I just posted over at Bruce Hildebrand's blog concerning the Big Z:

"Dave Zabriskie was listed as last place finisher in 2 stages (once when he arrived in an autobus of ~70 riders), but was never last place in the General Classification. Calling him the Lanterne Rouge is like calling the stage winner the yellow jersey wearer. Wim Vansevenant is the Lanterne Rouge and has been for 4 stages, and was also Lanterne Rouge for the 2006 Tour."

Although Zabriskie might have been the Lanterne Rouge now, if he had finished inside the time limits today. What a shame he didn't make it to the long individual time trial on Saturday! Seems that spare cycles agreed.

Today a grupetto of 14 riders finished at 10:13 after the stage winner, then Frenchman Benoit Vaugrenard from FdJ was the final official finisher of the stage at 12:26.

That leaves our final five in the General Classification (with Zabriskie gone, Steegmans finishing 57th for the stage, and Hoste finishing 140th) as:

164. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 54h 57' 14" + 1h 45' 36"
165. VERBRUGGHE Rik 148 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 54h 59' 14" + 1h 47' 36"
166. NUYENS Nick 145 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 55h 00' 12" + 1h 48' 34"
167. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 55h 02' 25" + 1h 50' 47"
168. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 55h 08' 48" + 1h 57' 10"

So Wim Vansevenant remains Lanterne Rouge of the Tour de France for the fourth consecutive stage.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stage stats

Velonews seems to be a good source for the medical reports and jury decisions of each stage that I can't find routinely posted elsewhere. I wish they would post them officially on the Tour website, but they don't seem to make them available online (unless I'm just looking in the wrong place). Here's part of the report for stage 10:

The peloton: No abandons. The peloton is now 171 riders.

Medical report:
Cobo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) crash in first kilometer, pain in hip and coccyx
Cancellara (CSC) insect bite
Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) insect bite
Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) crash at 37km, cuts and scrapes on both hands, right elbow
Calzati (Ag2r) pain in both knees and Achilles tendon
Anton (Euskaltel) crash at 69km without complications
Verbrugghe (Cofidis) pain in right knee
Vinokourov (Astana) persistent pain in both knees

Jury decisions:
Moreau (Ag2r) fined 100 CHF for not signing in

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Stage 10: Tallard to Marseille

All 171 finishers and survivors of the Alps from yesterday appear to be riding today's flatter stage, in progress.

Former Lanterne Rouge Aleksandr Kuschynski (stages 1-3) of Liquigas is a member of the breakaway, which will significantly boost him in the standings if it survives. Fly!

Later. . . .

Yes! Aleksandr Kuschynski finished 9th in the stage, which moves him well up in the GC to 150th overall.

Here are all the riders that came to the finish line today after the arrival of the 10:36 autobus:
165. CORTINOVIS Alessandro 182 TEAM MILRAM 5h 31' 49" + 11' 25"
166. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 5h 32' 34" + 12' 10"
167. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 5h 34' 03" + 13' 39"
168. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 5h 34' 03" + 13' 39"
169. WROLICH Peter 99 GEROLSTEINER 5h 34' 03" + 13' 39"
170. GERAINT Thomas 215 BARLOWORLD 5h 34' 03" + 13' 39"
171. STEEGMANS Gert 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 5h 35' 34" + 15' 10"

Apparently the Welshman Geraint Thomas suffered from the heat today. "It's not like this back in Cardiff." Uh, no, Geraint, welcome to the French-freakin'-Riviera.

So clearly Vansevenant will retain his position as Lanterne Rouge for another day. These hard-working riders are not strangers to the tail end of the peleton. We've seen Forster before on this blog, with a 5th from last finish overall in the 2005 Tour. Wrolich finished 5th from last overall in the 2006 Tour, the year that Steegmans was 3rd from last (and Charteau spent a lot of time toward the end of the standings that year too). By his late finish today, stage 3 winner Gert Steegmans was pulled down right into Kuschinski's spot from yesterday, with no other significant changes:

167. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 51h 05' 34" + 1h 41' 46"
168. HOSTE Leif 45 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 51h 05' 43" + 1h 41' 55"
169. STEEGMANS Gert 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 51h 05' 48" + 1h 42' 00"
170. ZABRISKIE David 39 TEAM CSC 51h 06' 37" + 1h 42' 49"
171. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 51h 10' 45" + 1h 46' 57"

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dog meets bike

Here's the photo sequence of a very nice yellow Lab having an unfortunate encounter with t-Mobile rider Marcus Burghardt's front wheel. Notice what the front wheel looks like in the third photo. Hope the dog was okay!! (According to Reuters he was okay, but there are rumors spreading that T-Mobile is jinxed.)

Bad owners!! Bad owners!

*Insert obligatory drug-testing Lab joke here*
*make that a FRENCH Lab*

Thanks to Andrew for the link!
Update: It's true. T-Mobile is jinxed. How else to account for a positive drug test from a month ago on Sinkewitz right after he crashed out of the Tour? Must have been another one of those French Labs involved. (And yes, in case you're wondering, Sinkewitz signed The Pledge).

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Stage 9: Val-d’Isère - Briançon

No reports yet of any unexpected withdrawals in the starting lineup, so I believe we should have 171 riders on the road. And hooray, everyone finished the stage today!

And Zabriskie does it again!! He's listed as the final rider in the stage today!!!!! That's fine - there is no need for him to expend a single extra calorie of effort in this stage doing anything that's not directly related to support of the team leader or making it over the line in front of the cutoff. Final five listed in the stage standings are:

167. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 4h 43' 15" + 28' 51"
168. STEEGMANS Gert 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 4h 43' 15" + 28' 51"
169. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 4h 43' 15" + 28' 51"
170. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 4h 43' 15" + 28' 51"
171. ZABRISKIE David 39 TEAM CSC 4h 43' 15" + 28' 51"

But that belies the fact that 72 riders arrived in the enormous autobus at the end of the stage and were assigned the same time. Wim Vansevenant arrived at the finish line as one of those riders in the autobus and so he does not move up in the overall standings, remaining in the Lanterne Rouge position for another day.

The final five riders in the General Classification are now:

167. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 45h 34' 34" + 1h 41' 46"
168. HOSTE Leif 45 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 45h 34' 43" + 1h 41' 55"
169. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 45h 35' 11" + 1h 42' 23"
170. ZABRISKIE David 39 TEAM CSC 45h 35' 37" + 1h 42' 49"
171. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 45h 38' 11" + 1h 45' 23"

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Summary of who's gone from the 2007 Tour

Here on Podium Cafe.

I love this part: "Even for a guy like McEwen, who falls into the category of rider not always expected to survive the mountains, missing the time cutoff is a bitter pill. As Robbie said, he wasn't stepping off the bike. They were going to have to eliminate him to make him stop."


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The medical report for Stage 8

Whew! Is anyone left to start on Tuesday?

(Note: this information isn't easy to find online, though it is probably available to members of the press on site - does anyone know of a place online where they are posted routinely?)

O'Grady (CSC), crash on descent off Cormet de Roseland: punctured lung that immediately required draining, hairline fractures in three dorsal vertebra, five fractured ribs, fractured shoulderblade, sprained shoulder, transferred to hospital in Chambéry for observation
Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), crash with fan after stage descending to team hotel - facial traumatism, fractured nose, transported by helicopter to hospital in Chambéry, fan suffered facial injuries, also airlifted to Chambéry
Rogers (T-Mobile), crash on Roselend descent, traumatism to right shoulder, other superficial cuts, abandon
Scholz (Gerolsteiner), cut to right hand
Parra (Cofidis), abandoned due to digestive problems
Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), crash on descent off Cormet de Roselend, cuts to left hand
Niermann (Rabobank), crash on descent off Cormet de Roseland, multiple cuts and scrapes, requiring three stitches to the left elbow
Weglius (Liquigas), crash on descent off Cormet de Roseland, minor cuts and scrapes, headache
Righi (Lampre), digestive troubles
Bruseghin (Lampre), digestive troubles
Nuyens (Cofidis), abdominal pains
Cuesta (CSC), crash at 140km, multiple cuts to right elbow
Turpin (Ag2r) and Napolitano (Lampre), nosebleeds at finish line
Millar (Saunier Duval), allergy to sun


A T-Mobile rider and spectator down

There are reports out now that rider Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile went down after the stage while riding to his hotel from hitting a 78-year-old spectator who is now in a coma. Sinkewitz incurred facial injuries.

I fervently hope the rider's injuries are not another idiotic situation like Paolo Salvoldelli's last year that might have been prevented quite simply by keeping a helmet on after the stage was over. And that Sinkewitz and the spectator both recover quickly (along with the other riders injured today).

This is a severe blow to a team that just lost Cavendish and Rogers in today's stage, although Cavendish's departure was pre-planned.

Update: There is a short article on this now at the T-Mobile team website which says Sinkewitz "will definitely not be able to continue at the Tour de France" due to "a facial fracture (broken nose), head trauma, and a shoulder injury". It does sound like some of those rider injuries may have been prevented or reduced with a helmet, but there is no mention of whether he was wearing one or not at the time. On TV I see many of the riders removing their helmets immediately after the finish line of each stage, but as described here, they often ride their bikes through the extremely crowded streets a fair distance back to their team bus or lodgings. His withdrawal was confirmed by Reuters, which brings the peleton down to no more than 171 riders on Tuesday (from 189 Prologue finishers) and 6 of 9 riders remaining on T-Mobile.

Update: It seems that I was wrong about Sinkewitz not wearing a helmet. There is an AP photo of the crash posted at Spare Cycles where a magenta helmet can be seen. My apologies for making an incorrect assumption and my best wishes to everyone concerned.

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Carnage in the Alps

I haven't been able to watch the stage yet, so I actually gasped when I saw the list of today's 8 withdrawals:

136 HERVE Cédric (FRA) AGRITUBEL outside time limit
134 FEILLU Romain (FRA) AGRITUBEL withdrawls
86 NAPOLITANO Danilo (ITA) LAMPRE-FONDITAL outside time limit
46 MC EWEN Robbie (AUS) PREDICTOR - LOTTO outside time limit
35 O’GRADY Stuart (AUS) TEAM CSC withdrawls
23 CAVENDISH Mark (GBR) T-MOBILE TEAM withdrawls
21 ROGERS Michael (AUS) T-MOBILE TEAM withdrawls

O'Grady crashed and his injuries sound serious: "punctured one lung, broke his collarbone, shoulder blade, five ribs as well as some bones in his spine".

Personally, I hope this day - with O'Grady and McEwen out - improves old Erik Zabel's chances of wearing the green jersey a few more times, particularly on the last day in Paris. I think the decision to strip his green jersey win from 11 years ago is nasty, particularly when other living Tour winners have admitted to taking anabolic steroids while competing. Like, for example, Floyd Landis is accused of doing. But they're French. (Right now Zabel is in 2nd place with 134 points to Tom Boonen's 147 points, and Boonen couldn't finish the Tour in 2005 and 2006).

Our old friend Wim Vansevenant (Lanterne Rouge for the 2006 Tour, Belgian rider for Predictor-Lotto) is our new Lanterne Rouge from this stage. This is his 4th Tour de France. He's already shown that he's capable of surviving the entire 3 weeks of the Tour, and he's made it to the rest day now - maybe he'll make it to the bitter end.

Vansevenant is the seventh man to hold the Lanterne Rouge title in this up-for-grabs Tour, and we're only at the end of Stage 8. However, he's far ahead of five of the previous holders of the title - he's still in the Tour, and they're not. Vansevenant has been earning his paycheck riding in support of his teammate, sprinter Robbie McEwen, although obviously now that tactic will change since McEwen is out of the Tour.

66 riders arrived at the finish line and their well-earned rest day in the huge autobus, all assigned a time of 39:07 after the stage winner. That results in our final five riders in the General Classification as:

168. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 16:51:19 + 01:13:37
169. HOSTE Leif 45 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 16:51:28 + 01:13:46
170. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 16:51:56 + 01:14:14
171. ZABRISKIE David 39 TEAM CSC 16:52:22 + 01:14:40
172. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 16:54:56 + 01:17:14

Well, if the Big Z loses a couple more minutes to Vansevenant, we may be able to talk about him as Lanterne Rouge after all. I have a feeling he would just laugh and bide his time until the 54-km individual time trial next Saturday, July 21st. Right now he's doing the job he is paid to do out there.

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Stage 8: Le Grand-Bornand to Tignes

In progress.

Mark Cavendish, our current Lanterne Rouge, abandoned at about the 35 km mark. Tough education in this Tour for a young rider, though his exit after this stage had been planned by the team.

We will have a new Lanterne Rouge at the end of the stage.

Elsewhere on the interwebs - there's a slightly snarky discussion thread concerning the Lanterne Rouge at


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stage 7: Bourg-en-Bresse to Le Grand-Bornand

Six riders finished today's stage in a small grupetto, over 24 minutes after the stage winner:

175. VAN SUMMEREN Johan 48 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 05:17:29 + 00:24:16
176. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 05:17:29 + 00:24:16
177. RODRIGUEZ Fred 47 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 05:17:29 + 00:24:16
178. HOSTE Leif 45 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 05:17:29 + 00:24:16
179. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 05:17:29 + 00:24:16
180. MC EWEN Robbie 46 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 05:17:29 + 00:24:16

The final five riders in the general classification after this stage include some familiar names:

176. KUSCHYNSKI Aleksandr 156 LIQUIGAS 11:23:09 + 00:39:29
177. ZABRISKIE David 39 TEAM CSC 11:23:35 + 00:39:55
178. VANSEVENANT Wim 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 11:26:09 + 00:42:29
179. NAPOLITANO Danilo 86 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 11:26:28 + 00:42:48
180. CAVENDISH Mark 23 T-MOBILE TEAM 11:28:24 + 00:44:44

Kuschynski (previous Lanterne Rouge of stages 1-3), Napolitano, and Cavendish are all riding in their first Tour de France. Vansevenant was the overall Lanterne Rouge of the 2006 Tour.

The photo of Cavendish "off the back" above is from Stage 1, by Simon Clayson, when he finished 3rd from last.

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