Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tour de France Stages 8 - yesterday

OK, so I'm really late commenting on the tour, but I had to go pick up my oldest daughter today. She spent last week cabin camping with her Aunt and Uncle at Lake Trinity in Northern CA. Fortunately my sister-in-law was willing to meet me half way so I only had to drive 190 miles (each way) to the intersection of I5 and Hwy 41, instead of the 380 miles to San Ramon and then back again.

Well Chaos and I made it home OK, she had a blast at the lake and is already working on how she can get to go again next year.

I checked my E-mail quickly and found a letter from one of my few non-family blog readers wanting to know where my tour update was. I don't want to disappoint my small audiance so here's my update.

Stage 8 started with a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the London bombings. Then they were off to the mountains - sort of. OK it was a couple or four catagory 3 climbs followed by 120 km of sprints, then a catagory 2 climb, the first real climb of the tour, then a short downhill race to the finish.

Things went pretty smoothly until the final climb. Suddenly Lance Armstrong the American yellow jersey found himself half way up the final climb of the stage and he was surrounded by 30-40 opponents and one Discovery Channel team mate who was running out of gas.

Where was the rest of the Discovery Channel climbers? Good question. Unfortunately it is a question that we may never know the answer to. But there was Armstrong. In the same position that Miguel Indurain found himself in during his try for a 6th tour win. Indurain landed up isolated on a long climbing stage and when his opponents repeatedly attacked him he finally cracked and lost the stage, and his bid for a 6th tour.

Armstrong didn't want to repeat that event. Fortunately for Lance he had several things going in his favor. He only had to survive one climb. He was riding his first day in the mountains. Indurain had been several days into the mountains and still had a couple climbs to face that day.

Well just like Indurain's opponents, Lance's also started attacking. Lance did the smart thing. He decided who the 2 worst threats in the group were - Ullrich and Vinokouov. Then any move started by those two was immediately countered by Lance. Everyone else he just let go.

Last year's number 2 on the podium in Paris - German T-mobile rider Andréas Klöden took advantage of being ignored by Armstrong and attacked. Since Klöden hadn't ridden well the last few weeks Armstrong was willing to let him go.

Armstrong marked both Ullrich and Vinckourov and managed to keep most of his large group intact to the finish.

Klöden raced across the gap to a solo rider who was out in front of the main group. He closed the gap just in time to steal the mountain climber points at the top of the climb from rookie tour rider - Rabobank Rider - Pieter Weenin.

But revenge belonged to Weenin. He lost the mountain climber points but in an unbelievable finish that to me looked like a dead heat. Weenin grabbed the stage win away from Klöden by 3 mm. That's right millimeters.

Lance held onto the yellow jersey but the standings behind him was really shaken up. But he maintained his leads over Ullrich and Vinokouriv.

After the race, when asked where his teammates were, Lance replied "We have some talking to do tonight."

I sure wouldn't have wanted to be on the receiving end of that "talking" that night.

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