Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tour de France Stage 11

The tour had a long hard ride ahead of themselves today. A couple sprints and three big climbs: the hors categorie Col de la Madeleine, the 1st Category Col du Telegraphe, and the hors categorie Col du Galibier, the highest point of the 2005 Tour. The stage will end with a 40 kilometer descent to Briançon.

So the riders get to climb till their hearts are ready to burst and then race downhill to the finish.

The Running-on-pure-guts award today goes to Thor Hushovd the sprinter who when out early with slim hopes of staying away over the Col de la Madeleine and then picking up the 6 sprint points that were available 42 km after the first summit. It was a grand effort, if a futile one. The 6 points for that first sprint would have put Thor in the green jersey at the end of the day. Unfortunately for him, Alexandre Vinokourov, the Kazakhstan rider for T-mobile had other plans.

Vinokoutov, looking a lot different in the saddle today than yesterday, launched an attack with 7 other riders about 28 km into the stage. Throughout the day this attack squad led by Vinokourov gained and lost members. Finally ending in Briançon with Vinokourov out sprinting Santiago Botero for the stage win.

Lance Armstrong rolled the dice today and bet heavily on his Discovery Teammates. He won that gamble. the entire Discovery team sat back and let the attack with Vinokourov go. Then once Vinokourov's lead on Armstrong got out to around four minutes, Lance got the Discovery boys together and started to try and make up some of that time.

Unlike yesterday where he blew out his teammates one at a time, Lance didn't push the guys as hard on the climbs today. Discovery Team actually went over the summit of Galibier with five of them still together at the front of the peloton.

Overall Vinokourov picked up a minute and 15 seconds on Lance, but is still way back. Christophe Moreau moved from 4th to 3rd overall. Lance is still secure in first, 38 seconds a head of Rasmussen, the polka dot jersey holder.

Tomorrow's stage has two early sprints then a mix of catagory 2, 3 and 4 mountains.

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