Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 16 - Armstrong definitely human this year. Nice one Fedrigo, Moreau, Hushovd. Shame about crazy, antsy Barredo

OK, good to see Armstrong have a go - but all it really did was show us even more clearly that whatever advantage he had in the past he doesn't have right now. He looks and rides just like old, attacking and almost unbeatable Armstrong but everyone just follows him now - before attacking him.

Somehow a more sluggish Lance (it's all relative - he's a rocket compared to most of us) looks wrong, just as it looked like Barredo had drunk too much red cordial during the stage. He kept attacking and getting caught, like it was some sort of sure-fire plan to soften them all up. And yes, it definitely softened a few legs, including his own. It may have softened his brain, too, when he finally got away with a long, long way to go. "Oh sure, I can hold all of 'em off." Armstrong, Horner, Cunego, Casar, Fedrigo, Moreau - bunch of no-names really. He managed to fool the "expert" TV commentators, too, who proclaimed "they won't catch him now" just when his pursuers got serious and started, umm, catching him. Which they duly did. Gosh, caught at 1km to go, who would've thought?

Oh well, at least it was interesting viewing, unlike the laughing bunch of happy campers in the peleton behind. You know that when Hushovd is still there despite some big, big climbs - nothing much was happening in the GC bunch. Oh sure it was tough enough to hurt. But Hushovd was probably the most interesting to happen outside of the frantic first hour and the quality breakaway. Moreau clearly profited, too. Scenery's nice too.

And as for Schleck's "fury" at Alberto's "mistake", well that's all in the past. Gosh, can't remember the Badger being so forgiving in his day.

SBS: Tour de France 2010: Fedrigo makes it six for France
The Luxemburger, who rides for Saxo Bank, is still eight seconds behind Spain's two-time champion ahead of the race's second and final rest day and two days before the final day of climbing to the summit of the Tourmalet on stage 17.

A day after they fell out because Contador attacked as Schleck tried to fix his mechanical setback, the pair had shaken hands and made up.

But Schleck warned: "It's the last week of the Tour and I'm sure that we'll be battling a lot on the (Col du) Tourmalet," he said. "The Tour is not over."
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Fedrigo makes it six for France
FDJ rider Casar, who had shown his finishing skills on a similar profile to win Stage 9, had lost ground with the frontrunners on the race's fourth categorised climb, the Col de l'Aubisque.

But after he made up his gap of 1min 35sec on the descent, Barredo, perhaps sensing the danger, went off on his own only to be caught, agonisingly, with one kilometre to race.

Armstrong, who had been resting his legs for most of the last few kilometres, made a brief bid for the stage win in the final 500 metres.

However, Fedrigo dropped down a cog or two and maintained his power to surge up the inside of the barriers to beat Casar into second place at the finish line.

Casar said: "I spent a lot of energy just trying to catch the breakaway, but in the sprint I knew Pierrick would be very fast."

Armstrong's team manager at RadioShack, Johan Bruyneel, said Armstrong had told him he was tired with around 15km to race.
Contador And Schleck Make Up On French TV |
GH (referring to the video that Contador posted on Youtube in the evening after stage 15): Alberto, is it true that you apologised to Andy?

AC: Yes. I didn’t need to. But we’ve got a very strong friendship and it was for that reason that I wanted to apologise yesterday evening.

AS: I realise that after what happened at Spa the race could already have been over for me. That day the peloton waited for me. Yesterday the situation wasn’t the same, and I realised that I shouldn’t fret about it too much.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
It was flashes of the Lance of old, but one thing had changed, this time his attacks were answered – first by a very strong Carlos Barredo (QS) – this time using his legs and not his fists to do the talking, and then by Bbox’s Pierrick Fedrigo who also looked very strong. It was an exciting stage – but not because of the gc – this one played out much like a transition day with the breakaway providing all the action.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Days like Stage 16 are included because of how they fit into the big picture of a three-week Grand Tour. If you wanted to make every stage of the race decisive, you could easily create a course so brutal that it would be inhumane. As it is, in this third week of the 2010 Tour de France we have four mountain stages in the Pyrenees, two of which have summit finishes (14 and 17), one which had a descent straight to the finish (15), and today’s. Stage 16 included two Category 1 climbs and two Beyond Category climbs, so even though the race ended with 60 kilometers of gradual descending roads to the finish, it was bound to be a very hard day in the saddle. And that was its biggest contribution to the race.