Sunday, July 22, 2007

Canny Contador chases Chicken and conquers col - Mouth of the Mersey

With the 15 km climb to the Plateau de Beille rearing up before them, the main contenders were massed to attack the inevitable Spanish breakaways - all except Vinokourov who paid for yesterday's fine stage win.

Rabobank immediately went to the front to distance the pretenders to Rasmussen's jersey with Michael Boogerd showing real strength in his last Tour. Valverde was the first GC man to go and Kloden was looking troubled. Discovery's Popovych then worked very hard for Leipheimer and Contador, before the final selection was made.

The lead group contained a super-strong Contador, a nervous Rasmussen, an experienced Sastre, an unpredictable Soler, and two riders who were marking moves desperately, Evans and Leipheimer. Rasmussen and Contador soon realised that they were the strongest and rode together to distance Evans and Kloden who were intent on limiting their losses to the climbers and thinking about Saturday.

As the pair entered the cauldron of fans unique to a mountain-top Tour finish, the alliance split as Rasmussen bickered with Contador expecting the young Spaniard to come through and do a turn. No doubt under orders from the wily Bruyneel, Contador was having none of it, knowing that Rasmussen had to pull him to the finish to maximise his gains over Kloden and Evans. (In the old days, Rasmussen would simply have sold the stage to Contador in exchange for his work).

Sure enough, Contador came round the Maillot Jaune for the stage, a huge win for him so close to the Spanish border. They were chased home by the eccentric but gifted Columbian Soler, then two men not quite strong enough for the stage, Leipheimer and Sastre, then the two time-trial specialists, Evans and Kloden, both of whom were smart and brave.

After two tumultuous days, Rasmussen is still in yellow with Contador at 2.23, Evans at 3.04, Leipheimer at 4.29 and Kloden at 4.38. Tomorrow is another brutal day, with a brief respite on Tuesday before the last mountain stage on Wednesday and the crucial contre-le-montre lurking on Saturday. Rasmussen is now odds-on, which can't be right, with Contador good value at 9/4, Evans at 7/1 and Kloden available at 12/1, which must be too generous with two mountain stages and the time trial to come. Contador looks the coming man to me and may usher in a new era for the Tour after last year's disaster - let's hope so, whoever wears yellow in Paris. Join Mimi next week for her inimitable reportage.

26 comments:

DoctorShoot said...

Mouth
stirring stuff... you are vying with Mimi for the Phil-Liggett-of-the-page award...

Rasmussen has shown he deserves to be there but can he hang on?

Cadell has lost two minutes, and about twenty kilos, and has put on thirty years (and picked up a very nasty cough);... does not seem well at all... my $200 looking distinctly shaky though he has plenty of guts and determination.

If you think Contador is good value at 9/4 you must be punting with someone else's money... (or does he have a v good team around him and suitable stages from here to the end)?

loving your coverage... you and Mimi shld apply for a grant from the world cycling federation to cover cycling and bring some life into the reporting which in other places seems dull and lacking your passion...

bluedaddy said...

Great stuff Mouth. The competitive side of me is thinking you and mimi should go head to head on a stage. Be good to see the two takes on the same action. You have your bookie angle and mimi her lycra-lovin, but you are both aces on the race coverage.

And yes mouth, this year is like the pre-Mig good old (bad old?) days. Yer man Contador looks a superstar in the making, but there is all to play for. Would love Wiggins to nail the TT on Sat.

guitougoal said...

Mouth,
I stick with Contador, Soler, Rasmussen again today, expecting a lot of casualties between Port Bales and Peyresourde
If you get your Grant, you and Mimi should ride a tandem.

MotM said...

Cheers guys.

It should be fascinating today as Contador and Rasmussen face a choice of whether to mark each other or work together to distance the TT men. Unless Cadel and Kloden look like they're having a bad day, I think both men will be happy to take a minute or so at the finish.

There area couple of really interesting scenarios.

(i) Leipheimer and / or Popovych
goes early with a couple of Spaniards and still have a couple of minutes on the last climb. Contador gets to them with Rasmussen and then he attacks with a teammate. Discovery look strong enough for this.

(ii) Soler (whom I fancy for the stahe today) goes and one of the GC men catches his wheel. They then work together with the satge for Soler and the time gap to the GC guy. A shared language might be handy in this scenario!

It's already a great Tour and it might get better.

MotM said...

Well I'm disappointed. Contador and Rasmussen were content with a minute on Kloden and Evans, but I feel Contador could have taken at least a minute from Rasmussen had he attacked at the bottom of the Peyresourde and not the top. To have all that in the bank the stage before a rest day and not use it, seems criminally negligent.

Contador must go early on the Col d'Aubisque on Wednesday - a yeelow jersey for him there is as good as in Paris.

guitougoal said...

motm,
Finally Aubisque de homard will be the supreme court judge.

guitougoal said...

btw,Vino agonizing one day and winning the other has a -deja vu- written all over his jersey. Remember Landis?

MotM said...

Re Vino, if we had ridden his way back into contention, I would see the parallel, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He is injured, had a bad day and rather than limit his losses, sat up and coasted in. That gave him the chance of a good day today which he took and I think he's a very good bet for the time trial on Saturday.

He is riding for a de facto Kazakh national team and stage wins count for him.

guitougoal said...

motm,
benefit of the doubt is fair.I'll be on a plane during tomorow's leg
hoping to find yours or mimi's exciting reporting upon my arrival.

mimi said...

Hello all, just back so rely on Mouth for today's update. These have been great reports Mouth, and if we win the Phil-Liggett-of-the-page award, I'll happily get on a tandem - as long as you do most of the work! I have missed too much of this Tour to be a happy bunny, but family duties ... Still, home now and nowhere to go til next Feb (my big adventure which makes a 600 mile trip look like peanuts).
See you all later.

MotM said...

Vino.

Merde.

bluedaddy said...

Bollocks. @£$^&((&$£ing bollocks.

levremance said...

But he just went into the pits for a change of blood...

mimi said...

Gutted, just gutted.

offside said...

"In Vino Veritas" says l'Equipe, although what they mean by that is not exactly clear. But it's hardly a surprise, is it? And Guitou getting it right probably shouldn't be a surprise either, the voice of experience...

How long 'til Rasmussen is unmasked?

mimi said...

Does anyone believe this (from the BBC website):

'Vinokourov has insisted he has done nothing wrong, telling French sports newspaper L'Equipe: "It's a mistake. I never doped, that's not the way I see my profession.

"I think it's a mistake in part due to my crash. I have spoken to the team doctors who had a hypothesis that there was an enormous amount of blood in my thighs, which could have led to my positive test."

Vinokourov also claimed he and his team have been victimised: "It's been going on for months and today they're managing to demolish me.

"The setting-up of our team made a lot of people jealous and now we're paying the price. It's a shame to leave the Tour this way, but I don't want to waste time in proving my innocence." '

No matter how much I want to believe, I just think it's smoke and mirrors.

DoctorShoot said...

Is the taking on of blood illegal in cycling?

I can imagine if it was being drunk a la wilds of New Guinea or Transylvania, but surely a simple infusion of an extra pint or two into the system of someone who has just lost a fair bit to the road ought not be a career-chopping crime...
or was it loaded up with other stuff??

speaking of which - I saw cadell evans being interviewed, and the look he gave Rassmussen!
Rassmussen seemed hardly dented by the ride which had put another ten years on poor evan's face.

I felt that the look said:
"damn you are good... whatever you are having for breakfast I want some..."

guitougoal said...

Doc,
I am still speechless about your 62 snail's story.......can't find anything on the records book.

bluedaddy said...

Hells bells, Rasmussen is out of the tour, sacked by his team. I think this is all turning out for the best now. The teams have got to keep going at this until it is done. It is a fantastic event, up there with the greatest sporting endeavours.

Wow!

DoctorShoot said...

Guito
unlike the more scientific and humane approach in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KZ6lygnTGc

the 1962 Adelaide trial was not formally documented and thus not entered into the record books... it's a take on trust one... like rasmussen's diet...

guitougoal said...

Doc,
"no snails were harmed during the contest except the one who were thrown"........beautiful, an harmed snail can be dangerous.
They stop Rasmu on time, the way he was loaded, he
was going to ride non stop all the way to Paris....
btw , In Paris they were setting up the champs elysees for the big final day when I drove by , yesteray.How many teamscould be left on Sunday?
Mimi, I still think you and Mouth should get a maillot jaune, the official one....would you care for one/

DoctorShoot said...

Guito
where will it all end? in tears I'm sure

but hopefully those who enter the Champs-Élysées will be entitled to the champers and cheeses and the leaves of the Lauris nobilis...

I still believe in cadell evans... he is my shining light and if he turns out to be a drug cheat I swear I will never let professional cycling turn my head again... at least until next year...

yes I think Mimi and Mouth on a tandem must be a big chance for gold right now...

DoctorShoot said...

Bluedad
am in full agreement; this is a monumental moment in professional sport;

a watershed of tears and broken hearts; a thunderstorm of bucketing sponsorship money and the lies and deceit it can bring to bloom; it is the great crescendo of hope upon hope upon hope against the odds; and eventually it is the clamouring of the masses for their true hero who can be trusted to believe in something we all can share...

sob...

offside said...

Doc,

"Mimi and Mouth on a tandem must be a big chance for gold right now"

An even bigger chance for the Pulitzer Prize in photography, or whatever the equivalent is...

MotM said...

Mimi and I have been tandeming towards the cliff's edge, and we couldn't see it!

mimi said...

I think I'm on Jimmy's scooter, heading for Beachy Head after a ride up on the early morning train from Brighton to Victoria. "Why should I care, why should I care" And really, why should I? It's all rubbish, life is rubbish, every time you invest, you get stuffed, so why bother now? I have given so much energy and belief and left with nothing. Over the cliff, leave it all behind - sounds pretty good to me.

Tweet it, digg it