Sunday, 13 July 2008

Peyresourde and Aspin

Peyresourde and Aspin – 13 July

I am not very well, and am gong to bed early again, so this will be really short. As predicted by me, and nearly everyone else, the leaders neutralised each other all day. No one attacked, so no one had to follow. There were some efforts to up the speed on the last climb, so a few riders got dropped. I was wondering whether Lovkvist was any good in the high mountains, as I knew he was exceptional everywhere else. First, but not final, evidence is that he can’t climb very well, at least not today. He lost the white youth jersey and dropped out of the top ten. Millar too dropped out of the top ten, but it was well known that he would.

Sebastian Lang, who is an excellent time trialist made an attack from afar, for some reason I have not yet guessed. He was caught.

Cadel Evans crashed, but is said to have no ill effects. I hope he is totally well, but we will know tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in this Tour. It also appears that Caisse will be a strong team in the mountains, and that Valverde seems to be all right. But in the end, the big guns just sat in the bunch and motored up the hills.

The one sparkling event was the attack of Ricco partway up the last climb. I am sure most of you can find a replay somewhere, or saw it live. Probably the most exciting attack in some time. As he was several minutes back and as there was not much left of the climb and the stage, no one seemed to be able to willing to catch him. We shall see what happens when he next attacks, probably tomorrow. One of, if not the most exciting event in cycling is to witness an attack, especially a sudden attack, in the mountains. Not many riders can stand up, accelerate for a few hundred meters and then continue to draw away from everyone else. That is what Ricco did. Lovely to see. Next time they won’t all be able to let him go. If he can accumulate four or five minutes on everyone else like this, before the final time trial he could win it. This is highly unlikely, but possible. He won’t stop. It might be added that the bunch containing the leaders and what was left of their teams could not organise anything resembling a chase, so Ricco on his own did not lose any significant time from the top of the climb for the next 30k, which is really bizarre. This cannot go on or they will all lose.

It was a great pleasure to see the second young lad, win his second stage, for the second time. These older guys are going to have to do something or else the wins will be rather concentrated this year.

A rather well-written and detailed account of one race day, by David Millar, here.

The white jersey went onto the shoulders of the guy I picked to win it, Andy Schleck. I reckon it will stay there till Paris. BUT I noticed that Romain Kreuziger made several moves that looked like attacks today. He might still have something in him, and I hope he makes some moves. And of course if Ricco gains time like this, he will get back in that white jersey himself. Maxime Monfort is still there. Hmmm.

Yellow stayed the same. Green stayed the same. Although now four of the top ten are NOT sprinters. Polka dot stayed the same, although de la Funete MUST lost it tomorrow. More later.

Actually I cannot remember a race that had the top 23 guys within three minutes of the yellow jersey after such along time. It is close for loads of riders, so far. Which reminds me that I saw Maxime Monfort and Vicente Nibali quite q bit today, young guys.

None of the guys who I predicted made a big attack. Oh well.

I have less to say today as L’Equipe never got to Bédarieux. No explanation, but I hope it arrives tomorrow.

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