Category Archives: Tour de France

And the 2011 Tour de France Winner is… Cadel Evans! :)

 

And the winner of the 2011 Tour de France is Australian Cadel Evans from Team BMC! In fact, he is the first Australian to ever win the Tour. In the past he has come awfully close, placing second twice by less than one minute (23 seconds behind Alberto Contador in 2007 and 58 seconds behind Carlos Sastre in 2008).  The BMC team leader was never worse than fourth place in the general classification and, with his second place in the time trial in Grenoble the previous day, he acquired the yellow jersey. This was Cadel’s seventh at the Tour de France.

Tour de France Top 3 (L to R: 2nd place, Andy Schleck, Winner Cadel Evans, and 3rd place Frank Schleck).
Top four category jersey winners for the 2011 Tour de France: (L to R: White Jersey Pierre Rolland, Polka-Dot Jersey Samuel Sanchez, Green Jersey Mark Cavendish, and Yellow Jersey Cadel Evans).

This final stage of the Tour de France started off slow, the riders took over half an hour to roll through the 7.7km neutral zone before arriving at the site of the official start of the 21st stage of the 98th Tour de France. The final day of racing in the 2011 edition began at 3.02pm with 167 riders in the peloton. There were no climbs in the stage and the intermediate sprint came on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées with 35.5km to go. After an hour and 26 minutes of riding the peloton reached the finishing circuit on the Champs-Elysées. It was on the second lap of the circuit, that the attackes started and there was the first successful escape. At the end, after the last of the escapees was caught, the traditional line-up for the sprint: Goss then Renshaw then Cavendish and… victory number 20 was achieved for Cavendish. It is the third time that Cavendish has finished the Tour and he’s won in Paris each time. It is the first time however, that he is the winner of the green jersey. Andy and Fränk Schleck finished second and third overall.

The winners of the four Tour de France Jerseys are:
* Final overall classification (Winner of the Tour de France – Yellow Jersey) – Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
* Final points classification (Top Sprinter of the Tour de France – Green Jersey) – Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad 
* Final mountains classification (Top Mountain Climber of the Tour de France – Polka-Dot Jersey) – Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
* Final youth classification (Best Young Rider Under the Age of 25 in the Tour de France – White Jersey) – Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar

Results
Tour de France 2011, stage 21: Créteil to Paris Champs-Élysées, 95km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek
6. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Astana
9. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
10. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun all same time

Final overall classification
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-34
3. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-30
4. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 3-20
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 3-57
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 4-55
7. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 6-05
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 7-23
9. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 8-15
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 10-11
British
31. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 1-00-48
76. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-14-56
130. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 3-15-05
137. Ben Swift (GB) Sky at 3-18-07

Final points classification (green jersey)
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad 334 points
2. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar 272 points
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 236 points

Final mountains classification (polka-dot jersey)
1. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 108 points

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek 98 points
3. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 74 points

Final youth classification (white jersey)
1. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar

2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 46 sec
3. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 7-53

Team classification
1. Garmin-Cervelo

Team Garmin Cervelo - Winner of Team Classification at 2011 Tour de France.

Individual Time Trial…

Stage 20 – Grenoble  – Grenoble – 42.5 km

Today was Stage 20 – Individual Time Trial, and deciding factor forthe 2011 Tour de France! Cadel Evans not only got the second fastest time in today’s Time Trial, he became the virtual leader of the Tour de France before the halfway mark of the 42.5 km time trial of stage 20. By the 27.5 km mark, he had more than double the time he needed to win the title. Tony Martin was the fastest in the race that started and finished in Grenoble.

The final true challenge for the riders vying for overall honours in the 2011 Tour de France was a 42.5 km time trial that started and finished in Grenoble. There were 166 riders still in the race. Riders departed at two-minute intervals until the final 21, when the racers were separated by three minutes. The roads were wet at the start, it was overcast but it had stopped raining by the time the action actually got underway.

The first to start the 20th stage began the penultimate stage of the 98th edition at 10.26am. The 121st rider to start the stage was Tony Martin (THR). He won the TT of the Criterium du Dauphiné on the same course as the one used for stage 20 of the Tour and he set the best time at every check and riding a perfect stage on dry roads. It appeared that the stage was decided early in the day, the battle for the victory of the Tour was on right to the end. Cadel Evans (BMC) became the virtual leader of the Tour with 20km to go in the time trial when he made up the 57 seconds he lagged behind Andy Schleck after 3,292.5km of race. Then, at the 27.5km mark, Evans was only seven seconds shy of Martin’s time.

Cadel Evans will ride to Paris, wearing the yellow jersey, with a lead of 1 minute and 3seconds over the former race leader thanks to his second place in the stage! 🙂

Thor Hushovd Wins Another Mountain Stage? Huh?!

Stage 16 Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux –  Gap – 162.5 km

Today was a crazy stage! What should have been a slower, even predictably uneventful stage, turned into another surprising stage. Again, Thor Hushovd – a sprinter – wins a mountain stage (his tenth overall Tour de France stage); and a battle erupted amongst the GC riders. Where did that come from?! What can I say? It was exciting! 😛

The race was 162.5km with the intermediate sprint at Veynes (117.5km) and the only categorized climb of the day coming 11.5km from the finish, the col de Manse (category-two). There were 170 riders at the sign in.

It was a transitional stage of sorts – not flat lands or high mountain, but a medium mountain stage – and an escape was expected to succeed.  It took 100 kilometers before the peloton allowed the breakaway any room to move, but when they did that’s just what happened. They would reach a maximum gain of six minutes and it was this margin that allowed three men to race ahead of seven other escape companions and contest the sprint for the win in stage 16. Thor Hushovd proved that he was not just a sprinter but a powerhouse, and he claimed his 10th Tour stage win in Gap just ahead of his compatiot Edvald Boasson Hagen and team-mate Ryder Hesjedal. This was one story of the day, the other involved the GC riders.

Alberto Contador attacked the final climb and began to taunt his overall rivals who initially matched his acceleration but then they came again and again… the third time it was enough to shake Voeckler from his group as well as Andy and Frank Schleck. But the Australian who was in third overall moved up to second by the end of the day with Cadel Evans not only matching Contador but speeding ahead of him on the wet descent to Gap.

Ignatiev started to attack the escape group, and he made his first surge 25km from the finish but Hushovd chased him down. At the base of the 9.5km long climb, the Russian attacked again and led under the 20km to go sign by 15 seconds while the peloton was at 5 minutes and 55seconds.

While a battle between overall title contenders was going on behind, the race for stage honours became a three-man race with Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal aggressive on the climb and also the final descent. The leading trio included two compatriots but, more importantly, two team-mates. And it was the helping hand that Ryder Hesjedal could give Thor Hushovd that gave the world champion a winning advantage. Hushovd followed his two escape companions under the ‘Flamme Rouge’ and then timed his sprint to perfection to claim his 10th stage victory in the Tour de France and his second for the 2011 edition.

With 7km to climb there was an attack from Alberto Contador. He opened up a decent lead but Cancellara paced an elite group across to the Spaniard and there were six in the lead of the peloton. Voeckler (EUC), Evans (BMC), Frank and Andy Schleck (LEO) were all able to respond. But then the defending champion attacked again several times. Only Evans and Sanchez (EUS) could respond. Voeckler lost time in the stage because he couldn’t follow every move, although he did try. Meanwhile the Schleck brothers both suffered time losses to their main rivals in the race for GC honours. Voeckler retained the yellow jersey with an advantage of 1 minute and 45 seconds to Evans.

A Sprinter Wins a Mountain Stage?!! :)

Stage 13 Pau – Lourdes – 152.5 km

What can I say? What an exciting day! Who would have thought that a sprinter would win a big mountain stage?! Fantastic!! 😀

Thor Hushovd spent seven days in the lead of the 2011 Tour de France but vowed to win a stage of the race while wearing the world champion’s rainbow jersey and today he confirmed his versatility and sheer power. He paced himself to perfection, fighting hard to get into an escape group that took a long time to establish, then managing the mountains of the Pyrenees and then timing his finishing surge like the true professional he is. It is Hushovd’s ninth victory in the Tour de France that has included success in a time trial (the prologue in 2006), sprint wins, escapes victories, and triumphs on the pave of stage three last year.

A the start of the 152.5km 13th stage of the 2011 Tour de France, there were 174 riders at the sign in.  The itinerary took riders over three climbs: the cat-3 cote de Cuqueron (43.5km), the cat-4 cote de Belair (65km) and the 16.4km ascent of the col d’Aubisque (a hors categorie climb that peaked at 110km). It was a fast start with lots of attacks early, but nothing was allowed to gain any advantage until after the first hour of racing.

As the race neared the end, the riders had to ride over the col du Soulor before descending to the finish in Lourdes. Roy’s advantage over Hushovd and Moncoutie dwindled in the dying kilometers of the stage: 35 seconds with 15km to go, 16 seconds with 10km to go, 12seconds with 5km to go. It was when we saw the surge from Hushovd with 3km to go, it was clear that he was just biding his time. He attacked Moncoutie with such ferocity that it took only 800m to catch Roy. With 2.2km to go, the world champion was in the lead. Roy faded in the finale and was overtaken by Moncoutie who finished 10 seconds behind the first (road race) world champion to win a stage of the Tour since Oscar Freire claimed a sprint win early in the 2002 edition. Voeckler retained the yellow jersey.

Week Two of the Tour de France…

Stage 10 Aurillac – Carmaux – 158 km

After Monday’s rest day, Tuesday was a nice short stage – only 158km.

Stage 11 – Blaye-les-Mines – Lavaur – 167.5 km

Wednesday July 13, 2011 marked the eleventh stage ofthe Tour de France.

Stage 12 – Cugnaux  Luz-Ardiden – 211 km
In today’s stage, it was a day of big expectations and even bigger mountains, including the infamous Col du Tourmalet.

More Carnage in the Tour de France..

Stage 8 Aigurande   Super-Besse Sancy  – 189 km
Saturday July 9, 2011 was the eigth stage of the Tour de France.

Stage 9 Issoire   Saint-Flour – 208 km
Sunday July 10, 2001 was the ninth stage and in my opinion, one of the worst stages I have ever seen. Some of the biggest names in racing were eliminated with a nasty crash. Yet the worst part of all was when a car veered into one of the five leading break-away cyclists, which also resulted in the horrendous crash of a second cyclist in that five-man break-away group. Definitely one of the most dangerous and upsetting sights I have seen in all my years of watching the Tour de France!

Today, Monday July 11, 2011 was a rest day. And thank goodness for that! Hopefully they can try and recover a bit after such a horrifically dangerous first week of cycling. 🙂

Tour de France 2011 Begins! Yay!! :)

Saturday was the first day of the 2011 Tour de France! Yay! 🙂

This is a breakdown of this year’s race:
The Route:
Running from Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 24th 2011, the 98th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,471 kilometres (before approval).

These stages have the following profiles:

  • 10 flat stages,
  • 6 mountain stages and 4 summit finishes,
  • 3 medium mountain stages,
  • 1 individual time-trial stage (41 km).
  • 1 team time-trial stage (23 km).

Stage 1 – Passage du Gois – Mont des Alouettes – 191.5 km

In past years, Stage 1 was a Prologue. This year it was a road race. And an extremely exciting one at that!

Stage 2 – Les Essarts – Les Essarts – 23 km
Sunday was Stage 2, and the team time trial.

Stage 3 – Olonne-sur-Mer – Redon – 198 km

Today was Stage 3, and a road race.

A little bit of TDF drama!

2010 Tour de France: Team RadioShack in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Team members donned the special black Livestrong jerseys before the stage start but the UCI demanded that they remove them. Riders put them back on after the stage.

Lance Armstrong bids the Tour de France adieu, and unfortunately not the way he had wanted to.. Or was it? I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Okay.. In his final Tour de France, the seven-time champion popped a tire, crashed and struggled up the mountains. Still, he maintains he had no regrets despite the ignominious ending of No. 13 — nearly 40 minutes behind the leader, former teammate and rival Alberto Contador. Yet, if you ask any rider or team manager at the Tour, it’s clear Armstrong’s mark on the sport is indelible — the use of earpiece radios for riders, training regimens, diet and race strategy, among other things. His success helped convert what was mostly a summertime passion in Europe into a 21st Century business fanning interest from Canada to China.

Last year, returning from a four-year retirement from the Tour, he finished an impressive third, got within one second of the yellow jersey he knows so well, and warmed the hearts of French fans who once despised him for his methodical, “American” drive to victory above all. This year, he was but a mere 23rd, and his best single showing was arguably in the prologue in Rotterdam, where he placed fourth. He gradually downscaled his ambitions. At first he wanted to win. Then, he wanted a stage win, which he narrowly missed in an eight-man sprint finish to the 16th stage, the toughest day in the Pyrenees. When that opportunity vanished, he focused on his RadioShack squad — which did give him a sliver of glory and a podium appearance by winning the team classification.

But his long-masterful control of his image — cancer survivor, Tour champion, public personality and pitchman — may finally be escaping his grasp. Or maybe not after the drama that occurred on the final stage into Paris. To say that on a day that is usually dedicated to the three riders who stand upon the podium in Paris, and even the “other” jersey winners, Lance Armstrong may have stolen some of the media hype and still managed to direct all eyes to his cause by “taking the stsage to Paris” despite never truly contending for the yellow jersey.

In the neutral zone, the controlled-pace parade that sees the peloton safely out of the start town, Armstrong and his team were reprimanded by UCI officials and race judges for being out of uniform. RadioShack had shown up Sunday morning with special jerseys, black instead of red, with the number 28 centered prominently on the back. According to RadioShack team staff, the number was an allusion to the 28 million people worldwide suffering from cancer. In past Tours riders have been fined for donning non-regulation uniforms. (Armstrong’s own U.S. Postal team did so for the final stage of the centenary Tour, and sprinter Mario Cipollini was well-known for outrageous custom skinsuits.) RadioShack was ordered to change back to their traditional red-and-black kits or face disqualification.

Lance Armstrong changes jerseys at Stage 20 of the Tour de France

At first, the RadioShack riders simply grabbed their old jerseys from the team cars and, on the roll, pulled the red ones over the black. But this, too, was not allowed: The numbers were covered. So the race was temporarily slowed, then halted, fans crowded around as RadioShack riders such as Yaroslav Popovych, stopped, took off their black jerseys and pinned their race numbers onto their red jerseys. The race was delayed for 15 minutes. There it was: A disruption of the race, a testing of the outer limits of the rules, a scandal, a marketing and promotional coup, and something no one could ever remember seeing: The world’s best racers sitting beside the road pinning their numbers like any amateur Cat 4 racer in America. Armstrong, however, did it with his customary remove—without dismounting like the rest of his team, he fidgeted while mechanic Craig Geator pinned him up then, impatient, rode off with his numbers flapping in the wind in a show of defiance. (Later, the team car drove alongside him and Geator finished the pin job.). It was another love-it or hate-it moment from Armstrong, a perfect symbol of his career and his personality, and his relationship with the race that shaped both.

Lance Armstrong of the US changes back into his regular Radioshack jersey after race organizers objected against against the team riders wearing a black jersey with the number 28 on it, referring to 28 million people suffering from cancer, during the 20th and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 102.5 kilometers (63.7 miles) with start in Longjumeau and finish in Paris, France, Sunday, July 25, 2010.

On the Champs-Elysees, as Armstrong and his team accepted their trophies and listened to the applause, they stood straight and proud and waving and smiling…… in the black jerseys.

 

2010 Tour de France: Lance Armstrong, his RadioShack teammates, and team manager Johan Bruyneel ride on the Champs-Elysees during the post-stage parade of teams. Notice the sides of the bike wheels say "28 million".

Tour de France 2010!

Well, its official, the Tour de France has officially ended for 2010 and crowned its new king – Alberto Contador!

I am a little sad… nay.. depressed, and that’s because well, let me let you in on a little secret of mine….. I’m obsessed with the Tour de France. You may have noticed that I “like” the Tour, but in fact I “LOVE” the Tour. I was just restraining myself by posting every few days instead of every day. 😉

It’s true! I am.. obsessed! I have watched the Tour since I was a child. It is a part of my history. I grew up watching it every year with my Father. And now as an adult, I watch it on my own. Even when I am not able to watch it LIVE, which is usually the way I prefer to watch it, I record it to my PVR so that I can watch every agonizing and stressful second (well, on the part of the riders anyway) of the three week race. And trust me when I say, I spend anywhere between 3-6 hours everyday for three weeks glued to the television watching the race.

I would also like to specify that I am not one of these “fake fans” that jumped on the racing bandwagon when seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was competing for his seventh win. Oh no, I was a fan long before that. I was an avid watcher of the Tour de France before Greg Lemond won his first race. And yes, I am aware that I am aging myself.

For those of you who don’t know who Greg Lemond is, here’s a quick piece of info about America’s first winner of the Yellow Jersey (otherwise known around the world as the “Maillot Jaune”). Greg Lemond won the Tour three times in 1986, 1989, and 1990. One of the most exciting moments in the history of the Tour de France was in 1989 when he was battling the Frenchman Laurent Fignon for the title. On the last day of the race, there was an individual time trial along the streets of Paris and along the Champs Elysees. It was the first and last individual time trial ever on the last day of the Tour de France. Greg Lemond was almost a full minute (50 seconds) behind Laurent Fignon going into the last stage, and he wasn’t expected to even put a dent in that time difference (which was considered alot).

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was sitting on a big comfy chair in front of the television in my parents’ livingroom. I felt the stress and anxiety that Lemond was feeling as I sat on the edge of my chair holding my breath. Greg Lemond had spent the previous years perfecting his time-trailing technique and regaining his physical conditioning after a serious shooting accident in April 1987*, on the latest in cycling breakthroughs (which are nowadays considered common place) such as: wind tunnel testing, aeroframes, heart rate monitors, human power output measuring devices, protective eye wear and helmets. And now I sat there watching as this road-racing-machine-of-a-man carefully pulled back second by second of that 50 second lead that Laurent Fignon had over him.

Almost as exciting was watching Laurent Fignon’s face as his Team Director would announce the time he was losing to Greg Lemond over the entire race. Panic set in, as Laurent realized that the dream of winning the Tour de France was slipping away and there was nothing he could do about it, and no one he could blame but himself. Laurent Fignon was following Tour tradition by riding last in the individual time trial because he was the race leader.

The final result. Greg Lemond won the Tour de France by eight seconds. The narrowest margin of victory ever in the Tour de France’s then 87-year history!

Now that was exciting! And I still remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember jumping up and down on my chair cheering, and hooting and hollering, but let’s remember that I was just a kid afterall. But, yes… that is just one reason why I watch the Tour de France. And one reason, of many, why I am a true fan of the sport.

So why am I choosing to discuss it now, you ask? That’s simple, yesterday was the last day of the 2010 Tour de France. And the winner was 27 year old Spaniard Alberto Contador of Team Astana.

 

The twenty second day of racing in the Tour de France (Sunday July 25th, 2010).  Stage 20 – Longjumeau Paris Champs-Élysées. This stage was 102.5 km. The start was delayed because the RadioShack team wanted to wear black jerseys with “28” on the back, representing the 28 million people around the world living with cancer. The UCI jury insisted that the jerseys be changed to their red ones, in accordance with the race regulations. Not only did the nine riders from the squad have to replace their jerseys, they also had to ensure their race numbers were properly pinned on. This requirement caused a long delay in proceedings on the day that Lance Armstrong says will be his last day of competition.

The first hours of the final stage were spent with riders coasting along at an idle pace, toasting the events of the past three weeks and posing for photo opportunities. There was even a mock “attack” by Alberto Contador, and mock breakaway between Contador and Andy Schleck. Once the peloton arrived on the streets of Paris, the Astana team came to the front for the first crossing of the line that would be used for the finish after eight laps of the circuit on the Champs-Elysees. As usual, there were breakaways, and one lasted until 11km to go. But it was a day the sprinters dream of – crossing the finish line in P aris. On the place de la Concorde Cervelo leading to the final straight, Hushovd was in a good position to go for the victory but Cavendish started his sprint 200m from the line and everyone else was, again, racing for second. It is the HTC-Columbia rider’s fifth stage victory this year and the 15th at the Tour from four starts.

Contador won his third Tour de France. He is the ninth rider to win three titles at the Tour. Andy Schleck of Luxembourg (Team Saxo Bank) finished 39 seconds behind Contador to win second place. He also won the White Jersey as Best Young Rider (under 25). For the second straight year Andy Schleck has lost the Tour to Alberto Contador of Spain. Third place was Denis Menchov of Russia of Team Rabobank. Anthony Charteau (Team BBox Bouygues Telecom) was the winner of the Polka Dotted Jersey for the Best Mountain Climber in the Tour de France. Team Radioshack won the Overall Team Award.  The Green Jersey for the Best Sprinter in the Tour de France went to Alessandro Petacchi from Italy (Team Lampre-Farnese). He is the first Italian to win the green jersey since Francesco Bitossi in 1968 and only the second from his country to win the sprinters’ prize at the Tour. And yes.. this year’s race was just as exciting as ever! 🙂

(Astana team rider and leader’s yellow jersey Alberto Contador of Spain (C) celebrates his overall victory surrounded by Saxo Bank team rider Andy Schleck of Luxembourg (L) and Rabobank team rider Denis Menchov of Russia (R) on the podium after the final 20th stage of the 97th Tour de France cycling race between Longjumeau and Paris July 25, 2010. Contador won the Tour de France for the third time on Sunday, Schleck took second place and Menchov the third place.)
The four jersey classification winners: Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Alberto Contador (Astana), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox)
RadioShack won the teams competition and took to the rostrum in their outlawed Livestrong jerseys.

*On April 20, 1987, Greg Lemond’s brother-in-law accidentally shot him while hunting in California. Over forty shotgun pellets ripped through Greg’s body, lodging not only in his back and legs, but more critically in his small intestine, liver, diaphragm, and heart lining. While waiting for rescue, his right lung collapsed and he lost three quarters of his blood supply. A cell phone, a police helicopter and nearby hospital that specialized in gun shot wounds saved his life. Because of the dangerous locations, surgeons were forced to leave over thirty of the pellets imbedded in his body.

It’s almost over??? :(

The twentieth day of racing in the Tour de France (Friday July 23rd, 2010).  Stage 18 – Salies-de-Béarn Bordeaux. This stage was 198 km. The journey north on this very flat stage included two intermediate sprints – in Castelnau-Chalosse (at 29.5km) and Hostens (150.5km). There were no climbs on a day when the conditions were mild with temperatures in the mid-20s at the start. It was a stage designed for the sprinters, and they did not let it go to waste. Although there was an early breakway, it did not last. Mark Cavendish won his fourth stage this year – and a 14th at the Tour de France over the last few years. Petacchi replaces Hushovd as the leader of the points classification for the green jersey. Cavendish’s fourth victory this year puts him just 16 points away from the green jersey. Alberto Contador will wear the yellow jersey and be the last rider to start the time trial of stage 19.

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) during the Time Trial.

The twenty first day of racing in the Tour de France (Saturday July 24th, 2010).  Stage 19 – Bordeaux Pauillac. This stage was 52 km and the INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL! This time trial has been looked upon for most of the tour this year as potentially (and now absolutely) the deciding factor between the 1st and 2nd place riders (Contador and Shleck) and who takes the yellow jersey in Paris. It also has become the deciding factor in the race for 3rd place between Menchov and S. Sanchez. The consensus was that Alberto Contador would be able to hold on to his yellow jersey with ease after the 19th stage time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac. This was the appraisal based on the history of Andy Schleck’s performances in races against the clock. Yet, Andy Schleck would ride better than expected andContsador much worse. Contador looked like he was struggling for the entire race – gritting his teeth, weaving back and forth (instead of riding a hard straight line), and constantly readjusting his seating position (constantly pushing back on his seat). This was definitely a bad day in the saddle for Alberto Contador.

 Andy Schleck was able to pull two seconds out of Contador’s overall advantage after 18.2km – Schleck was 23rd and Contador 27th at the first time check. He then picked up the pace and with 30km to go, Schleck was ahead of Contador by five seconds. That was the maximum gain he made before the Spaniard clawed his way back to equal terms – and then into the lead. It wasn’t until the 7km to go mark that it seemed certain that Schleck would not take over the lead of the general classification. He got to within three seconds of the yellow jersey but then ‘El Pistolero’ confirmed that he is the finest cyclist of his generation. He may not have won a stage in the 2010 Tour but he has finished 39” ahead of Schleck, making it the fifth closest Tour in history.

Neither Contador nor Schleck were ever in contention for the stage win – that would be the domain of the TT dominator – World and Olympic champion, Fabian Cancellara. Also, third place S. Sanchez lost almost two minutes to D. Menchov in the time trial, confirming the battle for the third podium spot in Paris to Menchov. Contador rides to Paris as the 2010 Tour champion, and Andy Schleck will become the second rider to win the youth classification (White jersey) three times as he is poised to finish second overall for the second successive season. The battle is still on for the Green jersey.