Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tour de France Stage 16

Today was the last day in the Pyrennes Mountains. Compared to Sunday's stage today should be a ride in the park.

The stage starts in Mourenx and covers 180.5km to Pau. There are two big climbs in todays stage with the main climb being the final ’hors category’ summit of the Col d’Aubisque. The stage ends with a 72km downhill run to the finish.

Before the peloton reached the first climbs of the days eleven riders got out on a breakaway. They highest placed rider in the breakaway was Cadel Evans from the DVL team who started the day in 11th place almost 13 minutes ahead of Lance Armstrong.

This breakaway in several different incarnations stayed away for most of the day. Armstrong and the Discovery Boys had a fairly relaxed day. They didn't chase the breakaway. Lance had to mark a couple small attacks by Basso and Ullrich on the ’hors category’ climb of the Col d’Aubisque. But since he caught them easily, they didn't press too hard. Lance even took a short turn at the front of his group near the top of the climb.

Once they all started the long downhill race to the finish the teams of Ullrich, Rassmusen and the other racers in 4th through 10th place started really chasing the breakaway. At one point Cadel Evans had himself moved all the way up to 4th place in the GC on the road, and was threatening the third place spot.

Armstrong and the Discovery boys just sat back and let everyone else chase. Everyone from 4th through 10th place did all the work and Armstrong just cruised along with them.

Eventually four members of the breakaway stayed out all the way to the finish. The stage winners were Oscar Pereiro, Xabier, Eddy Mazzoleni, and Cadel Evans. Cadel Evan's final gap on the peloton was 3:24. This moved him up to 7th place in the overall classification. It was a great move and a great ride by Evans. The only thing he didn't get out of the day was the stage win. That honor went to Oscar Pereiro who finished second to George Hincapie on Sunday.

Todays win was a great coup of Pereiro and the Phonack team. The only dark spot on his win was his spoiled little childlike bitching that he and his team did 2 days ago when George Hincapie outsprinted him for the stage win. Oscar complained that Hincapie didn't work for that victory. He whinned that he did all the work and George stole his moment.

Oscar, that's called professional cycling. You didn't have to do all that work on sunday. You could have slowed down and let the peloton catch you. But you chose to do all the climbing work, George was lucky enough to be into a postion to take the win.

Well today the shoe was on the other foot. Cadel Evans broke away with several other riders early today. He worked hard all day to stay away. Oscar joined that break away on the last climb and stayed with Evans all the way to the finish. When they got to the lst 20 km, Evans did almost all the work. He had the most to gain so he worked to gain what he could even though he knew that that level of work would probably cost him the stage. Today Oscar sat in the back and let Evans do all the work. Then Oscar outsprinted the tired Evans at the finish for the win.

Oscar rode a good race, but I wonder if he will complain about himself sitting behind Evans and making him do all the work so he could grab the win at the end.

Probably Not.....

Congratulations to Paul Sherwin for asking (retorically} if Oscar would apoligise for sitting on Evan's wheel and not helping so he could win the stage. Thanks for asking Paul but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a comment from Pereiro or Phonack.

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