Friday, July 22, 2005

Tour de France - Stage 19

Today's stage is a 153 km run from Issoire - to Le Puy-en-Velay. The final few stages of the Tour de France are usually flat or rolling hills stages that put the sprinters and the long breakaway specialists back into the game. But this year these last few stages have had some pretty good climbs in them. Today is no exception. There are three catagory 4 climbs with the catagory 2 Col de Pradeaux at the 68 km mark.

Lance Armstrong and the Discovery boys had a pretty easy ride in the French Countryside today.

There was a breakaway of four riders: Giuseppe Guerini - T-Mobile, Sandy Casar - Fran├žaise des Jeux, Franco Pellizotti - Liquigas-Bianchiand Oscar Pereiro - Phonak.

These four at one point had a lead of almost 10 minutes. This put a lot of the higher placed GC riders into a bit of a snit. Oscar Pereiro started the day only 17 minutes back from Lance Armstrong. While he never worried Armstrong, the riders in 5th through 10th place were forced to chase the breakaway because Pereiro at one point had himself up as high as fifth place on the road at one point. Since none of the top 10 riders wanted to surrender their position they started chasing.

Today was a text book example of how to not ride the Tour as a team. In the four man breakaway was a T-mobile rider - Giuseppe Guerini. Guerini spent the whole day riding hard in the breakaway. His hard work was key to Oscar Pereiro's climb up the GC on the road.

This asks the question, with T-mobile having Jan Ullrich sitting in 4th overall, and Alexander Vinokourov sitting in 6th place overall. Why would a T-mobile rider in a breakaway work so hard helping a Phonack Rider - Oscar Pereiro gain enough time to possibly pass Vino and maybe even Ullrich in the standings.

In the end it was the T-mobile rider - Giuseppe Guerini who won the stage. So his hard work was rewarded with a stage win. But the big winner of the day was Oscar Pereiro. Who moved up to 10th place overall in the general catagory.

Tomorrow is the last individual time trail and Lance Armstrongs last real chance to win an individual stage in his last tour.

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