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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It looks like Good ole' Wim (Love that name by the way--Wim) has yet another lock on the Lanterne Rouge. Perhaps it's time to start looking back at Lanterne Rouges past. My personal favorite has always been Durand. The way he'd go out on his trademark epic solo breaks and when the field would catch him he'd give his little wave of resignation as he was going right out the back of the peloton without even trying to sit in. The stuff Lanterne Rouge Legends are made of.
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