Sunday, July 22, 2007

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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