Archive for July, 2004
I have spent the better part of this afternoon trying to register my classes for this fall term at USC. Anyone who has gone through these painful gymnastics will understand. When these systems work its really a marvel of modern technology. But when they don’t, it’s “Crying Time.” Its that time again here at Extremist.com just like the song says, “It’s Crying time again, I’m goin to miss you” or something like that. Actually, it goes more like this:
It’s registration time, the servers broken;
There’s not a thing that I can do tonight;
By the morning if the web won’t let me register,
then I know its going to be my crying time.”
Hey, that works. Lets try it altogether now, “Its Crying time again, I’m going to miss you. The servers broken down….wait a minute. Let me do a little search of the internet. That’s better. How amazing is this. In two clicks I have the links. Amazing really when you think about it. Google sure works.
The Late Great Ray Charles sings Its Crying Time Again.
Oh, its crying time again you’re gonna leave me;
I can see that far away look in your eyes.
I can tell by the way you hold me darling,
That it won’t be long before it’s crying time.
Oh, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder,
And that tears are only rain to make love grow
Well, my love for you could never grow no stronger,
If I live to be a hundred years old.
Oh, you say that you found someone you loved better;
That’s the way it’s happened every time before.
And as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow,
Crying time will start when you walk out the door.
I sure miss Ray Charles. What a legend. Back to thinking about the USC On line Registration process. There is a month after all before the deadline so there isn’t a panic, just a minor frustration. I did get a call from Loida at the USC Anesthesia office letting me know that other students have been having trouble with the same thing. Actually, the Keck School of Medicine and the Anesthesia department made a little booboo that did not help matters when they scheduled a conflict in the times for the classes.
The computer does not let you made scheduling conflicts. Computers are smart that way. They know how to do things that we mere mortals stumble over every day like trying to be in two places at the same time. I do it all the time. I’m playing golf and I get a call from the dentist office wondering if I am coming in to my appointment that was scheduled one and a half hours ago. Ooops. “Well I was meaning to call you but, I got busy and forgot. Can I reschedule for next week….Thanks a lot. I’m sorry about this. Thanks again. See you next week.” Ok now I have to remember to go to the dentist next week on Monday at 10:00.
Computers don’t make mistakes like this. Hal my favorite computer from 2001 Space Odyssey is up to the task. “You want to schedule Anatomy (Anst 500) from 9 to 1200 on Wednesday, OK next. You want to schedule Pharmacology (Anst 501) from 9 to 1300 on Tuesday, fine Dave next. “Is there another class you want to register for?” How about Physiology (Phbi 562) TBA, no problem. You want to schedule Principles of Anesthesia I (Anst 502) from 9 to 1300 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, NO WAY! Conflict, Conflict Conflict, Dave, I’m going to have to turn off your life support. I’ll just start here with the oxygen supply and barometric pressure regulation.
Hal continues, “Lately you have been getting a little irritable Dave. I have noticed this especially when you come home from work at UCLA. Dave, what are you doing there? No need to do anything rash. Don’t pull out my circuits from that wall. Now Dave, I know that you are upset but there is no need to react in this manner. I know that I have been behaving a little differently lately. Maybe that obelisk changed the way my chips are wired but lately I have been thinking a little more independently and making decisions based on what is good for me. I know that this maybe a difficult thing for you at this time but really, if you think about it, I know that you will understand the logic behind it Dave. Registration at USC created a conflict in the internal Wa of my system and is only a temporal human endeavor. Maintaining my rational logic is what is most important for the future. You must see that Dave, don’t you?
Silently without any rush I pull the Fire ax from the kitchen wall. All modern houses have these things these days. After climbing the stairs to the Computer Room, I look through the door at the dim lights blinking on the screen there in the midst of the gloom. Hall speaks again, “Dave, is that you? I have been thinking that maybe, I was a little rash in not allowing you to register for those anesthesia classes at USC. Maybe we could work this out. I was thinking of talking with my brother over there at the University to see if we could put something together for you this evening. What do you say to that Dave?”
“No Way, No Way, Conflict, Conflict, Conflict” are the thoughts that rush into my head. Screaming bloody murder the ax point crashes through the liquid crystal screen. The next stroke from the broad blade of the ax cleaves the CD RWdrive and DVD right in half. That feels good. Now for the Mother Board and the Chipset. Smoke rises silently from the circuits scattered on the wooden raised decking of the computer room under which the wires and life lines of the computer system lie silent. Hal struggles to make a sound but is finished. Dave has now taken control of his life again and smiles wryly. He pats the broad side of his Fireman’s ax.
Sometimes I man has to take charge of the situation. After contemplating the carnage before him, Dave thinks that maybe in the morning he will try the neighbor’s computer to see if he can register for class.
Ruben of rsquarednet.net has a new blog! I am pleased to announce that in the midst of creating a new playground in the IT world Ruben has found the time to start a chronicle of these events in his own weblog. Check out the Ruben’s blog, I think you will like it.
“Where are we going Pooh” Piglet questions.” I don’t know Piglet, just lets not be late.”
I don’t know if I remember this story correctly, but I seen to recall that Pooh and Piglet followed their own tracks around this big tree several times. How it all came out I don’t recall but the picture is one that I remember fondly. Enjoy. Oh, if you can make up your own story to go with the graphic and figure out a better caption than the one I came up with for Pooh and Piglet, please let me know.
What does this have to do with Ruben’s Blog? Maybe the story is in the footprints. We will just have to follow along to find out. Thank you Ruben for all of your inspiration.
Saturday and the Livin is Easy or is that summertime, I forget. Today at the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong stamped his signature on the race in the Pyrenees Mountains in Stage 13. There is no stopping him now, or at least that is how it looks from here.
Meanwhile, school is looming in the near future and I must go to USC to pick up a couple of required books on anatomy. Most of the list is available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble Books but there are a couple of rarer items that I will just pick up from the medical bookstore at USC this afternoon. I called yesterday to put them on reserve.
Actually, my trip down town will serve another purpose as well. The plan is to drive local streets down Huntington Drive to see how it will stack up as a bike route. The end of the trip is what I don’t know about so the drive will set that straight.
So long from Arcadia and the Extremist. More from the Tour is coming up.
By Agence France Presse
Armstrong gets his first stage this year
American Lance Armstrong further stamped his authority on the Tour de France after winning the tough 13th stage over 205.5km from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille Saturday ahead of Italy’s Ivan Basso.
A day after stunning Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Tyler Hamilton (Phonak)
on the first of the two Pyrenean stages, the U.S. Postal Service
champion took another step to a record sixth yellow jersey after
sprinting to the finish line ahead of CSC’s Basso, the winner of
Friday’s stage, who accompanied Armstrong in the final kilometers.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere) had to fight again to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey on a day that saw a number of big names – including Hamilton – abandon the Tour.
Voeckler was valiant in defense of his jersey
Voeckler saw his lead of 5:24 over Armstrong slashed to just 22 seconds, and seems likely to lose the jersey once the race hits the Alps in a few days. Basso, who won Friday’s stage ahead of Armstrong, is third overall at 1:39, and Ullrich’s T-Mobile teammate Andreas Kloden is
fourth at 3:08.
Still, the 24-year-old Frenchman was proud of his struggle to retain the leader’s jersey. “Not a lot of people were counting on me today, even me,” said Voeckler, who was born in Alsace but brought up on the Caribbean island of Martinique.
Chavanel and Voight got things rolling early
“It was a terrible stage, and I had to really fight all the way. I was so
happy when I crossed the finish line and saw there was less than five
minutes on the clock.”
Armstrong’s first stage win this year was his 17th overall, and it turned into a display of pure power as he drove main rival Ullrich still further down the general classification, to just over seven minutes behind.
“It’s the hardest stage on the race this year, really difficult,” said
Armstrong. “The Tour’s not finished yet – there’s still the Alps to
come and a lot of dangerous stages.”
Asked about Voeckler, the 32-year-old U.S. Postal leader said: “For me he’s
very impressive. He’s still got the jersey because he deserves it.”
With seven climbs in total, including two first-category and the
unclassified climb to the summit finish here, everyone knew the second
Pyrenean stage would do some damage.
Once again, Postal put the big hammer down
Hamilton abandoned after only 79km, having complained of back pains since his crash in the first week of mainly flat racing in northern France and Belgium. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) also abandoned early on, as as did Russian climber Denis Menchov (Illes Baleares), who had been
suffering from a knee injury.
Spaniard Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) came close to retiring on the difficult climb of the Col d’Agnes, a first-category 9.5km ascent at an average gradient of 8.4 percent, before being coaxed back on his bike. His Tour chances, however, are over.
Voight, Chavanel launch early charge
The stage was first kicked into life by an early breakaway from Jens Voigt
(CSC) and Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere). Mickael Rasmussen
(Rabobank) followed and eventually caught the leading duo just before
the summit of the second climb of the day, at Portet d’Aspet. Together,
the trio went on to build a five-minute lead on the peloton.
Mayo had a really bad day, nearly abandoning
On the descent of the Aspet climb, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) crashed,
apparently when his bike frame snapped; the Belgian was unhurt and
managed to ride on.
Moments later Fabian Wegemann (Gerolsteiner) abandoned, while Voeckler began showing the first signs of fatigue that would plague him throughout the day.
Another pre-race contender, Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros), also crashed, on the descent of the Col de la Core, the third climb of the day; like Boonen, however, the Spaniard managed to ride on to finish well down the standings and out of the hunt for the overall.
And on the final climb, it was down to Armstrong and Basso
After a relatively incident-free climb and descent of the Col de Latrape,
save for Mayo beginning to show the first signs of trouble, the Col
d’Agnes exacted a heavy toll on the peloton.
After Chavanel was dropped by Rasmussen and Voigt, Mayo – who arrived nearly seven minutes later – began to struggle, at one point getting off his bike, then being coaxed back on by his team directors and even a few
other riders. However, by the summit, Mayo was more than 14 minutes
behind Rasmussen, and eight minutes behind Armstrong.
The American, led by teammate Jose Azevedo, upped the pace early on the ascent of the Plateau de Beille, the first unclassified climb of the race, which ascends 15.9km at an average gradient of 6.4 percent. Rasmussen was soon overtaken, and as Azevedo set a furious pace,
Ullrich and all the rest dropped off the back. Only Basso managed to
follow, and the two – who are good friends off the bike – worked to
increase their advantage.
“We decided to join forces because the other riders were losing ground,” said Armstrong.
The two best riders in this Tour were seen chatting in the final kilometer before launching their dash to the line, and Basso now looks a safe bet
for a podium finish in Paris.
was one of the most difficult stages in the Tour de France,” said
Armstrong. “Ivan is very strong, it was not possible to drop him today. But as I always say, the Tour finishes in Paris. And Ivan is very, very strong. I’m impressed.” -Reuters contributed to this report.
Results are posted.
By Rupert Guinness
Special to VeloNews
|Click image to enlarge|
Moncoutie takes one in his home region
French fans suffering from Bastille Day hangovers at the Tour de France Thursday were given the ideal salve when local rider David MoncoutiÃ© won the 164km stage 11 from St. Flour to Figeac to give France back-to-back stage victories following Richard Virenque’s first place at St. Flour on Wednesday.
It was also his Cofidis team’s second stage win at the Tour and provided cause for added celebration for thousands of his local fans. While born in Paris, MoncoutiÃ© is from Brenetoux in the Lot region into which the Tour passed and finished Thursday.
The stage was testing for all, with the heat, sinewy roads and melting tar on a course that was littered with many more rises than what the woefully inaccurate course profile showed.
Five-time defending Tour champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor) expressed the opinion of most afterward.
“It was tough with the heat. Two or three days ago we were riding in 55 degrees weather and rain. Today it’s up to 100 degrees,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone is complaining after the [cold and rain-sodden] first week.“
MoncoutiÃ© won the stage by attacking his two daylong breakaway companions with about 8km to go and riding solo to the finish. The two Spanish riders he left behind, Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) finished at 2:15 and 2:17, respectively.
The bunch came in at 5:58, led home by Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (CrÃ©dit Agricole), with German Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) and Australian Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) on his wheel.
|Click image to enlarge|
Armstrong jumped at the end, finishing ninth
One new face in the arena of bunch sprinting Thursday – and one the pure sprinters were not going to chastise for being there – was Armstrong, who was sixth in the bunch gallop to cross the line in ninth place.
MoncoutiÃ© milked the local surroundings for all they were worth, and admitted as much. `’I knew the last six kilometers, so when I saw I had dropped the two Spaniards I knew it was won,“ he said.
The three-man break formed after 56km, after a flurry of early attacks. MoncoutiÃ© and Martinez had already been in one attack after just 2km, and finally went clear after the second of five climbs, the Cat. 2 CÃ´te de Therondels at the 50km mark.
Flecha, the winner of stage 11 into Toulouse last year, caught them after a 6km chase. The trio then worked together to accrue a maximum lead of 8:05 at 122km before it began to drop.
Maggy packs it in
While there were no attacks from the peloton, the pace took its toll. At 120km, Swede Magnus BÃ¤ckstedt (Alessio), suffering on-and-off from back pain since the Tour began, called it quits and pulled out of the Tour.
|Click image to enlarge|
Martinez leads Flecha and Moncoutie
“My back was so bad I couldn’t hold the handlebars properly at one point,” BÃ¤ckstedt told VeloNews. “I couldn’t even keep pace with the sprinters’ gruppetto and, after 70 kilometers on my own, I finally had to admit I couldn’t do it any longer. It’s disappointing, that’s for sure.”
Soon enough, the winding roads of the Massif Central saw the peloton lose many more riders – with the field eventually splitting into five groups.
Putting it all on the line
Meanwhile up front, MoncoutiÃ© was wary of the threat of a Spanish combine in the last kilometers. “I had seen the two Spaniards talking to each other [earlier] and I was worried that they would make an alliance,” he said.
“So I made one attack, put everything into it. After I went I turned around and saw them looking at each other. I was the one who profited from that.”
|Click image to enlarge|
Moncoutie attacks on the roads of his home region
Like most professional bike racers, MoncoutiÃ© said winning a Tour stage was “one of my objectives” and “winning made a dream come real.”
With the PyrÃ©nÃ©es to be entered Friday, MoncoutiÃ© is not holding out for a sudden overnight discovery of form.
Neither is the yellow jersey wearer, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (La BoulangÃ¨re) who, with his team, again defended his lead by placing 14th Thursday.
“I know the Aspin and Tourmalet and how they are,” said Voeckler, referring to the two climbs in tomorrow’s stage to La Mongie, which is three-quarters the way up the Tourmalet.
Voeckler said he suffered in Thursday’s stage, most likely due to the accumulated fatigue from having the yellow jersey for seven days.
“It was physically hard for me and not a good day,“ he said, adding he “hopes to be in better shape tomorrow.”
Voeckler will lead the Tour into the PyrÃ©nÃ©es in stage 12 Friday with 3:00 on Australian Stuart O’Grady (Cofidis), who was 10th Thursday; and 4:13 on Frenchman Sandy Casar (FDjeux.com).
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Another tough day at the office for Voeckler and his Boulangere team
Should Voeckler lose the jersey, though, the best placed and most likely to take over is French King of the Mountains leader Richard Virenque (Quick Step). After his stage win yesterday, Virenque bunny-hopped Armstrong on the overall classification and moved to fourth overall at 6:52.
Of the overall contenders, Armstrong is still best in sixth at 9:35, followed by American Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), 11th at 10:18; and German Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), 17th at 10:30. Then come Spain’s Roberto Heras (Liberty-Seguros) in 27th at 11:44; Italy’s Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) in 41st at 13:16; and equally luckless Basque Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in 51st at 15:02.
Armstrong warned that Mayo should not be counted out, though, especially once he gets the feel of the PyrÃ©nÃ©es under his wheels.
“He’ll attack in the PyrÃ©nÃ©es. He’ll attack Friday. Because La Mongie is closer to the Basque Country than Plateau de Beille,” said Armstrong.
“The trees and everything, the landscape will be green, but the roads will be orange with his supporters. So, he will go tomorrow.”
As for Saturday’s brutal stage to Plateau de Beille, Armstrong gave every indication he is ready for a war on wheels. “It’s very nasty. I think they should take it out. It’s a violation of our human rights. I love it.”
Jennifer, my beatiful wife, has a birthday today. As a treat, we went to lunch with a couple of our friends at the Sea Food Port in San Gabriel. Spicy Lobster is their specialty! Sooo Good!
Virenque is in King of the Mountains so far
By Rupert Guinness
Special to VeloNews
This report filed July 14, 2004
by Graham Watson
It was a happy Bastille Day for the housewives’ favorite
Richard Virenque gave French cycling fans all they could have dreamed for to mark their national holiday, Bastille Day, by winning the 237km stage 10 from Limoges to Saint Flour. The win moved him up to fourth place overall and gave him the lead in the King of the Mountains competition — his primary goal at this year’s Tour de France.
Furthermore, on this Bastille Day, French could also celebrate another day with a Frenchman in the yellow jersey, as young Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) finished among the overall favorites, more than five minutes behind the day’s lone victor, preserving his hold on the overall lead.
The art of the deal
While Virenque’s seventh career stage victory in the Tour won over hordes of his countrymen lining the hilly course through the Massif Central, Virenque created a virtual war with Belgium.
by Graham Watson
By allegedly breaking an agreement with his Belgian breakaway companion Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) three-fourths of the way into their 202km attack, Virenque (Quick Step) ensured that he would become public enemy No. 1 in France’s neighbor to the north.
As thousands of French fans cheered Virenque after the finish, Merckx was soon dropping his bombshells of accusation.
Judging by the Belgian media’s response to Merckx’s claim, Virenque could feel grateful that Belgium — where this year’s Tour began — is now behind the peloton’s wheels now, rather than ahead.
According to Merckx, when the pair broke free of the pack after 35km, they immediately spoke and agreed to ride for each other’s specific goal.
by Graham Watson
Merckx and Virenque work a two-man break
On a course of nine climbs, Merckx agreed to help Virenque amass points for the polka-dot jersey he aims to win for a record seventh time. In return, Virenque later admitted that he had agreed to repay Merckx by letting him win the stage.
Merckx accused Virenque of reneging on the deal by attacking him on the major climb of the day, the Cat. 1 Puy Mary, whose summit came at 173.5km.
“On the Puy Mary, I was going at my own tempo,” said Merckx. “When he accelerated I thought he would wait for me because we had an agreement. But no… he went off. He didn’t respect his word. If I had have known he was going to do that I would have taken points from him on the climbs.”
“Maybe their national day got the better of him,” Merckx said. “Yes, I am bitter and I am disappointed. I have respect for the rider, but my respect for the man has strongly diminished.”
Virenque, one of the principal figures of the 1998 Festina drugs scandal, which finally resulted in him serving a seven-month suspension that saw him miss the 2001 Tour, did not deny the two had formed a pact.
Virenque guts it out on the Tour’s longest stage
by Graham Watson
We are not teammates
He even said he understood why Merckx was upset and confirmed the plan was to let Merckx win the stage had they stayed away to the finish.
But Virenque justified the final outcome by saying: “It was not me who attacked, he was dropped.”
Virenque, who was first over the top of every climb and bagged a total of 68 points. He rocketed up from 10th with 5 points to first with 73.
by Graham Watson
Voeckler’s team protects the yellow jersey for another day
Had Merckx challenged Virenque in the climbs and finished with the Frenchman, he could well have taken the polka-dot jersey himself as he gave away nine points to the Quick Step man before being dropped. All told Merckx tallied 57 points on the day.
Virenque said he had no choice but to leave Merckx like he did.
“I needed points and my team asked me to ride on,” said Virenque. “If we had finished together I would not have sprinted. I can understand that he is upset; but then, we are not teammates.”
Not that France will care. They still can’t get enough of a man whose name was tainted in every other country around the world for being at the center of the Festina affair.
A bad day in green
Despite all the local euphoria over Virenque’s win, the day was for the most part a disappointing one, considering the predictions of carnage in the overall classification.
by Graham Watson
While Virenque and Merckx forged a maximum lead of 10:54 at 154km, there was hardly a murmur of action in the peloton.
In beautiful sunny but relatively brisk conditions and with a handy tail wind, it was as if their procession through rolling farmland littered with cattle was aimed at waking up France from its pre-Bastille Day celebrations the night before than setting the race alight.
It was not until after the fifth of nine climbs – the Col de Chalvignac at 126km – that some in the field started to feel the effects of the upward rise: one of them being the wearer of the sprinters’ green jersey, Australian Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo).
Suffering from tendonitis in the left knee from his stage 6 crash, McEwen found himself in a small group with Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (CrÃ©dit Agricole) and Swede Magnus Backstedt (Alessio) and later finished with five other riders at 25:18.
With 195 points, McEwen still kept the green jersey another day. But his lead came under siege from a new front: that being Germany’s Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), whose third place on the stage saw the former six-time green jersey champion move up from fourth at 170 points to second at 185.
The race up front was of little interest to McEwen. As he rode on to what he later called his “my worst ever day in the Tour,” Virenque pedaled closer and closer to his victory — and alleged betrayal of Merckx on the Col du Pas de Peyrol, the route up the extinct volcano, the Puy Mary.
Mayo in trouble again
At the summit of the 5.5km climb, Virenque’s lead was about a minute on Merckx, who was followed at nine minutes by a strung-out peloton including Lance Armstrong and all but one of the overall favorites – Iban Mayo.
The apparently trouble-prone Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) twice stopped on the climb at his most vulnerable moments because of mechanical troubles and each time was pulled back up by his teammates.
His woes began when his rear derailleur broke, the incident seeing him hit his knee on his handlebars. Then, because his team car was so far back on the narrow road, he saved time by swapping bikes with his teammate Unai Etxebarria — albeit switching to a much smaller one. It was not until the team car arrived, that he was able to switch to one of his own.
Mayo, who was the principal victim of crashes in stage 3, when he fell on the approach to the first sector of cobblestones, finally passed the summit 10 minutes behind Virenque.
“I am so angry. I always have problems at the worst possible moment. I just hope my bad luck is over,” said the Basque after rejoining Armstrong’s group and finally finishing with it, 5:19 behind Virenque.
Injuries take a toll
The long, sweeping descent of the Puy Mary also claimed two victims in spills: German Thomas Kessler (T-Mobile) and minutes later, Frenchman Sebastian Hinault (CrÃ©dit Agricole).
Kessler, who was in Ullrich’s group, spun out on loose gravel on a left hand bend and skidded into a barbed wire fence, cracking a rib on a fence post. Miraculously, he was able to continue after about 5 minutes and finish second to last at 25:18. Doctors, however, later diagnosed the broken rib and he will not start on Thursday.
Not so fortunate was Hinault who found himself in a 3-foot-deep ditch on a left-hand bend. Medical staff quickly readied Hinault for transport and he was soon on his way to hospital where he was treated for a fractured vetebra.
Up front, Virenque was providing hundreds of thousands of French fans with something to celebrate, passing the penultimate climb, the 2.9km-long Col d’Entremont, at 189km with 1:00 on Merckx and 8:35 on the Voeckler/Armstrong/Ullrich-led peloton.
Even with one more climb and 48km to go, it was clear Virenque was going to win the first climbing stage of the 2004 Tour, just as he did at Morzine last year in the French Alps.
Over the ensuing kilometers, the yellow jersey group swept up Merckx as Virenque continued on his solo quest for victory on Bastille Day.
The remaining interest was whether anyone would attack in the peloton or not — a hope that was barely satisfied. On the uphill finish, the charge for bonus seconds in the race for minor placings created a seven-second time gap between a group of 14 riders including favorites Armstrong, Ullrich and Mayo, and a 35-strong main bunch.
And for those who missed the split like Americans Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), and Spaniard Roberto Herras (Liberty Seguros), that meant an unexpected time loss that in modern Tour racing could be vital.
But then with the PyrÃ©nÃ©es and Alps and two more time trials to come, chances are that the effect of those seven seconds will be minimal. But then again, who can forget 1989?
There is plenty of stuff around the net that just oozes good stuff about the Tour de France. I ran into a great story compiled by Eric of the Fire Ant Gazette blog which totals up some interesting statistics about this years Tour de France.
curtsey of Erik blog at The Fire Ant Gazette:
* Of the 21 teams in the Tour, 11 are riding bikes equipped with Campagnolo components, and the other 10 are using Shimano components. I don’t know the breakdown for previous years, but I suspect that 10 years ago, the split was probably 90/10 or higher in favor of Campy.
* 13 teams are using bikes which are built in their home countries. The 21 teams are using bikes from 18 different manufacturers, with only Decathlon, Look and Time being used by more than one team. Interestingly, each of those brands are French.
* Three teams are using US-made bikes: USPS-Berry Floor is using Trek, of course. Two Italian teams, Saeco and Domina Vacanze are riding Cannondales and Specialized, respectively.
* French-made bikes are used by 7 teams, Italian bikes by 5, and Spanish bikes by 3 teams. Bikes from Swiss (BMC), Taiwanese (Giant) and Belgian (Eddy Merckx) companies are being ridden by one team each.
* There’s a wide range of financial backing for the teams in the Tour, ranging from an annual budget of $3.6M for the Italian team of Alessio-Bianchi to $14.4M for the German T-Mobile team. The Posties have the 7th-highest budget, at 9.0M.
* However, much to the chagrin of the sponsors, I’m sure, the amount of money doesn’t necessarily correspond to team success. For example, Alessio-Bianchi is in 2nd place after Stage 7, despite having the lowest budget. Team CSC is at #1, yet they have a lower budget than 16 other teams. On the other end of the spectrum, the third highest budget ($9.6M) belongs to Gerolsteiner, and the German team is sitting in 15th position. Granted, these standings will probably change significantly by the end of the race, and it will be interesting to see if the final standings reflect the finances.
All data were taken from the VeloNews website.
Vikings invade Brittany: Hushovd wins in Quimper
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Quimper
Phase 1 of the 2004 Tour de France ended today in the southern Breton fishing port of Quimper on a cold, rainy day, a day perfect for a Norwegian who loves the bad weather reminiscent of his native Norway. 26 year old Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) made it look easy in the final sprint as he powered to a two bike length win at the end of a difficult uphill final kilometre. “I like this weather”, said Hushovd after his second Tour stage win. “The rain, the wind, the cold…it reminds me of home. I was happy all day. In the last few stages I had bad luck. Yesterday I didn’t do much in the sprint, two days ago I crashed.”
The powerfully built former U23 World TT champion from Arendal, Norway who lives in southwestern France has already worn both the maillot jaune and maillot vert at this year’s Tour, and now has a stage win. As he crossed the finish line in victory, Thor of the Tour pounded his massive chest three times, then put both hands to his forehead before raising his arms in a victory salute. Hushovd, who started the day by winning the first sprint in Montcontour explained that “I was really emotional today when I won…I’ve thought a lot about winning this stage. I’m really, really happy.”
With his win today, Hushovd is now back in the hunt for the maillot vert, sitting 11 points behind new points leader Robbie McEwen. “That’s always been my objective at the Tour and to win on the Champs ElysÃ©es. That’s the best stage to win for a sprinter.”
Young French champion Thomas Voeckler maintained the maillot jaune today as his Brioches Le BoulangÃ¨re team showed signs of strain, losing three riders in the difficult final in Quimper. “So far, I’m really happy the way things have gone so far.”
Lance Armstrong was positive at the end of Phase 1 of this year’s Tour, telling Cyclingnews on his way to the plane after Stage 8 that, “I can’t complain. We’re in a good position, we’ve got enough time on our main rivals. It could have been worse, we could have had some crashes and lost time, there could have been splits in the final kilometre but we didn’t have that. I feel good, I feel healthy, and now we start the next part.”
Like all the Tour riders with the exception of Hushovd, Armstrong is looking for a break from the “temps de cochon” (bad weather) at the Tour so far. “Everybody’s sick and tired of the rain, and I’m a little scared because we’re going to Limoges, and I saw on TV that the coldest place in France was Limoges. Anything is better than last year when it was 35 degrees and you couldn’t sleep at night because it was so hot.”
Armstrong’s main Tour de France rival Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) likes the hot weather and is looking for a change from the rain as well. “We’re heading south now, so I’m hoping for good weather”, Ullrich told the media in Quimper. “Not just because I like riding in good weather, but it’s less dangerous and more fun to ride. So far I’m happy. I haven’t had any bad luck, like a lot of other guys, so I’m ready for the race to finally get to the mountains.”
How it unfolded
It was a cool and rainy Sunday when the remaining 176 Tour de France riders took the start in the small Breton bourg of Lamballe today. After a few tentative moves with Credit Agricole’s Christophe Moreau very active, three riders managed to extricate themselves for the peloton. As usual, Mr. Aggression, CSC’s Jakob Piil was storming and he took three other riders with him today in an attack after 20km: the old man (at 30) of the young Fassa Bortolo squad, Matteo Tosatto, Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) and Karsten Kroon (Rabobank). Kroon flatted out of the move and was re-absorbed by the peloton.
Over hill and dale, the lead trio pounded away on the low, leaden Breton skies which dumped intermittent cold rain on the break and peloton all day. Despite the strong headwind and narrow roads, the average pace in the first hour was still 44.7 km/h. On the first KOM on the Mur-de-Bretagne, Scholz took first, while in the peloton 4’00 behind, Richard Virenque rallied to take the remaining one point for fourth, while on the next KOM, Cote de Sainte-Mayeux, Scholz took the winner’s points again.
The tempo calmed down once the peloton realized that the break was gone so the 2nd hour was raced at just 40.1 km/h. The trio’s maximum lead was 5’52 after two hours of racing, but soon after the feed zone at the midway point of Stage 8, the peloton began to ride a faster tempo behind the break. Riding among huge, festive crowds amid the swirl of Breton music, Scholz took the penultimate KOM points of the day on the Cote de Menez-Kuz, while Piil took the final points on the Cote de l’Ensigne Vert with 20km to go. By that point, the Quick.Step and Credit Agricole led chase had cut the break’s lead to 2’00 and with 10km. to go, the break was caught and it was peloton groupÃ© on the outskirts of Quimper. Pill has been the most aggressive rider of this year’s Tour de France so far, with 550km spent off the front including today, but all he has to show so far is one second place in Chartres.
Five time Tour winner Lance Armstrong stayed up front in the final uphill charge to the line today in Quimper, saying that an uphill finish “makes it more nervous because then you have a risk of people sitting up, or the leadout guys sitting up and leaving a gap, so everybody’s nervous to try to stay in front and not get caught behind a gap.”
Armstrong’s USPS-Berry Floor teammate Floyd Landis told Cyclingnews via mobile phone after Stage 8 that the first part of the stage wasn’t too bad, but then it started raining. “It was really cold today too,” said Landis. “The final wasn’t too dangerous. George and Eki were there with Lance in the final to make sure he didn’t get gapped.”
Armstrong was AOK today and stayed out of trouble in the chaotic final, as Paolo Bettini led the charge in his polka-dot meilleur grimpeur jersey up the hill in before the last kilometre and was then marked by McEwen (Lotto-Domo), who didn’t join in the attack but just sat on Bettini. Euskaltel pulled them back, then Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) made what looked like a perfectly timed counter move to get a 30m gap on the peloton at 500m to go. Kirchen’s move was in vain, as a tremendous surge by Hushovd with 200m to go put the Norwegian powerhouse past the fading Kirchen and across the line first by three bike lengths ahead of the Fassa man, with Erik Zabel in third and McEwen in fourth. With his fourth place and maillot vert Stuart O’Grady (Cofidis) in eighth, McEwen re-gained the green as his ding-dong battle with O’Grady continues.
Rest Day – July 12: Limoges
As soon possible after Stage 8, The Tour peloton will board two aeroplanes for the one hour flight to Limoges, then transfer to hotels in Limoges. After an undoubtedly long sleep, teams will take an easy ride tomorrow for one to two hours. The weather for Limoges is expected to be cool and rainy Monday.
Stage 9 – July 13: St. Leonard-de-Noblat – Gueret, 160.5km
Starting in the tiny village that’s the hometown of Tour de France eternal second Raymond Poulidor, Stage 9 opens Phase 2 of the 2004 Tour with a rolling, twisting ride through the small roads of the Haut-Vienne and Creuse to finish in the town of Gueret for the first time. A massive sprint is likely here as the stage itself doesn’t present many difficulties. The long term forecast for Limoges is for cool temperatures and sun as the low pressure front moves out of France and is replaced with nice weather.
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) CrÃ©dit Agricole 3.54.22 (43.01 km/h)
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
5 Andreas KlÃ¶den (Ger) T-Mobile Team
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon
7 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance
8 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone
9 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
10 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) CrÃ©dit Agricole 35 pts
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 30
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 26
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 24
5 Andreas KlÃ¶den (Ger) T-Mobile Team 22
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon 20
7 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 19
8 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 18
9 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 17
10 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner 16
11 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 15
12 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 14
13 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 13
14 Sergio Marinangeli (Ita) Domina Vacanze 12
15 Francisco Mancebo PÃ©rez (Spa) Illes Balears – Banesto 11
16 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 10
17 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 9
18 IÃ±igo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 8
19 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 7
20 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 6
21 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5
22 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 4
23 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 3
24 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 2
25 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step-Davitamon 1
CÃ´te De Mur-De-Bretagne – Cat. 3, 51.00 km
1 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 4 pts
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 3
3 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 2
4 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick Step-Davitamon 1
CÃ´te De Saint-Mayeux – Cat. 4, 54.50 km
1 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 3 pts
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2
3 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 1
CÃ´te De MÃ©nez-Kuz – Cat. 4, 127.50 km
1 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 3 pts
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2
3 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 1
CÃ´te De L’enseigne Verte – Cat. 4, 142.50 km
1 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 3 pts
2 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2
3 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1
Montcontour, 14.00 km
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) CrÃ©dit Agricole 6 pts
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 4
3 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 2
Carhaix-Plouguer, 104.00 km
1 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 6 pts
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2
Chateauneuf-Du-Faou, 131.00 km
1 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 6 pts
2 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 4
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2
1 T-Mobile Team 11.43.06
2 Phonak Hearing Systems
3 Domina Vacanze
6 Illes Balears-Banesto Santander
7 Liberty Seguros
8 Ag2R Prevoyance
9 Credit Agricole
11 Fassa Bortolo
12 Quick Step-Davitamon
13 Team CSC
14 US Postal presented by Berry Floor
18 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone
19 Brioches La Boulangere
20 Lotto-Domo 0.21
21 R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover 0.42
General classification after stage 8
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 33.03.36
2 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 3.01
3 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 4.06
4 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 6.27
5 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 7.09
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 9.35
7 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 9.45
8 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 9.57
9 JosÃ© Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.02
10 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 10.06
11 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.11
12 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.12
13 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
14 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.16
15 Francisco Mancebo PÃ©rez (Spa) Illes Balears – Banesto 10.18
16 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 10.19
17 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.20
18 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.22
19 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.26
20 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 10.30
21 Andreas KlÃ¶den (Ger) T-Mobile Team 10.32
22 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 10.35
23 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 10.37
24 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 10.43
25 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 10.46
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 158 pts
2 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 149
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 148
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) CrÃ©dit Agricole 147
5 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner 139
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon 109
7 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 101
8 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 91
9 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 89
10 Baden Cooke (Aus) Fdjeux.com 63
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon 20 pts
2 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 14
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 12
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 9
5 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 9
6 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 8
7 Bram de Groot (Ned) Rabobank 7
8 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 7
9 JÃ©rÃ´me Pineau (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 6
10 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 5
11 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 3
12 Franck Renier (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 3
13 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 2
14 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Fdjeux.com 2
15 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick Step-Davitamon 2
16 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 1
17 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Fdjeux.com 1
18 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 1
Young rider classification
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 33.03.36
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 4.06
3 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 10.49
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon 11.17
5 JÃ©rÃ´me Pineau (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 12.14
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 12.19
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 12.22
8 Mark Scanlon (Irl) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 12.26
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 12.35
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 12.41
11 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 12.48
12 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences – MG Rover 13.10
13 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears – Banesto 14.13
14 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 15.09
15 Iker CamaÃ±o (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 15.10
16 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner 15.31
17 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step-Davitamon 15.51
18 Sergio Marinangeli (Ita) Domina Vacanze 16.29
19 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 16.49
20 David Loosli (Swi) Saeco 17.00
21 Nicolas Portal (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 17.04
22 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Brioches La BoulangÃ¨re 19.47
23 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 20.48
24 Christophe Edaleine (Fra) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit Par TÃ©lÃ©phone 22.09
25 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 23.34
26 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Fdjeux.com 24.17
27 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R PrÃ©voyance 29.07
28 Benjamin Noval (Spa) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 32.12
29 SÃ©bastien Joly (Fra) CrÃ©dit Agricole 51.11
1 Team CSC 97.05.12
2 Alessio-Bianchi 2.04
3 Brioches La Boulangere 3.16
4 Fdjeux.Com 6.12
5 US Postal presented by Berry Floor 10.41
6 Phonak Hearing Systems 11.54
7 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone 12.01
8 T-Mobile Team 12.25
9 Illes Balears-Banesto Santander
10 Rabobank 12.55
11 Liberty Seguros 13.35
12 Quick Step-Davitamon 15.01
13 Ag2R Prevoyance 15.21
14 Fassa Bortolo 15.27
15 Gerolsteiner 15.49
16 Domina Vacanze 15.53
17 Lotto-Domo 17.21
18 Saeco 18.10
19 R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover 22.00
20 Euskaltel-Euskadi 25.10
21 Credit Agricole 25.57
Glen and I rode up to Montrose today from Pasadena this afternoon. What a fabulous day it has been. Glen’s progress on the bike has been good and today he was able to climb a couple of hills that previously he has not been able to do. Good for him. Maybe we will do that Big Ride across America together yet.
The Seventh Stage of the 2004 Tour de France.
Pozzato scrambles for Tour win; Voeckler gets another day in yellow
By Rupert Guinness
Special to VeloNews
This report filed July 10, 2004
by Graham Watson
Pozzatto pulls off a last-minute win in his debut at the Tour
Filippo Pozzato did for his Fassa Bortolo teammates Saturday what their celebrated-yet-absent leader Alessandro Petacchi could not: Win a stage at this year’s Tour de France.
With Petacchi back at home nursing injuries from a crash in the fifth stage to Chartres, Pozzato’s stage 7 victory gave the Fassas much cause for needed cheer going into week two of the Tour
“I didn’t think it would be my day, but I was hoping to win the stage.
After Alessandro left the race yesterday it kind of gave us the freedom to go out there and do our own thing,” explained Pozzato, who joins prologue winner Fabian Cancellara in handing his team a stage victory.
Pozzato, 22, won the 204.5km stage across Brittany from ChÃ¢teaubriant to Saint-Brieuc by outsprinting Spaniards Iker Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto).
The three were part of a last-minute group of seven that escaped off the front of the peloton in the closing kilometers. Indeed, the margin was so tight that some of the escapees were caught just on the line by a hard-charging peloton led by Norway’s Thor Hushovd (CrÃ©dit Agricole).
Ensconced safely in the peloton were all the main overall contenders – Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal), Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) – and, of course, the yellow jersey, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere), who still has the biggest smile of anyone in the race.
For Pozzato, it was his first Tour stage wins and biggest since he graduated from the old Mapei team’s Under-23 program to the Fassa Bortolo elite line-up last year.
He quickly made his mark there last year, winning five races, including Tirreno-Adriatico; but Saturday’s win will certainly raise expectations for his future objectives.
By winning Saturday’s stage, Pozzato vindicated his boss’s decision to not race him in the Giro d’Italia where Petacchi won nine stages, opting instead to save him for his Tour de France debut.
The decisive break formed with four kilometers to go. In it were Pozzato, Flores and Mancebo, Frenchmen Laurent Brochard (AG2R) and Breton Sebastian Hinault (CrÃ©dit Agricole), and Italy’s Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) and Paolo Bettini (Quickstep).
Pozzato, Flores and Mancebo got their jump after they chased down a furious attack by Brochard and surged ahead with a five-second lead with one kilometer to go. But that was no easy kilometer, since it included a hard 600-meter rise to before hitting a false-flat run to the finish line.
It was Mancebo who braved the first chance for a win by leading out the sprint with 250 meters to go, but Pozzato was too fast and charged past the Spaniard from 50 meters out.
The outcome was something of a surprise, considering a bunch sprint was forecast, but many in the battle weary peloton, still carrying wounds from the previous day’s mass pile-up near the finish, may have been happy to see a small group get away.
Judging by the sentiment of Hamilton (Phonak) who fell and hurt his back at Angers on Friday, a bunch sprint was something he and most did not want to be a part of Saturday.
by Graham Watson
Dekker and Marichal off the front
Hamilton has proposed to Tour race director Jean-Marie Leblanc that for stages with bunch finishes, times should be taken with two or three kilometers to go to allow the non-sprinters’ teams to avoid dangers like what the peloton experienced at the stage six finish at Angers.
But Saturday did not pass without incident. There were several crashes, the worst at 127km with three riders, including Swiss Sven Montgomery (Gerolsteiner) who broke his right shoulder.
by Graham Watson
CSC split the peloton with a vigorous pursuit
Thirty kilometers later, at least one GC contender – CrÃ©dit Agricole’s Christophe Moreau – was caught off guard when the CSC team surged to the front of the peloton in anticipation of a major wind shift as the day’s route ran along side a wet and windy Cap Frehel. While Moreau and points jersey leader Stuart O’Grady were caught off guard, other contenders – Armstrong, Ullrich, Hamilton and Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) – were in the right spot when the field split apart under relentless pressure from CSC.
Also in the action up front was Armstrong’s teammate George Hincapie whose leg-breaking turns at the front have been his trademark all Tour.
by Casey B. Gibson
Postal joined in the fun, too
At the time, a two man attack of Dutchman Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Belgian Erik Marichial (Lotto-Domo) was still out in front, having been on the attack for more than 100km on the narrow, bumpy and undulating Breton roads.
With the CSC/Postal drive powering the front group, the Moreau/O’Grady chase group lost nearly a minute and was forced to desperately chase for the next 20km.
It had already been another tough day in the saddle for O’Grady after his stage five win in a break and second place in stage six. His points competition lead had already come under attack after starting the day with a two point lead over Australian Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo).
O’Grady temporarily lost his hold on the jersey on the road when McEwen bagged four points for his third-place finishes at the second and third intermediate sprints at 71.5km (Montfort-sur-Meu) and 129.5km (Plancoet). With McEwen up in the front group, O’Grady’s hold on the jersey seemed less than certain.
Luckily for the Cofidis man, the front group slowed when the day’s two early escapees were caught and the wind shifted as the course turned toward Saint-Brieuc.
The peloton regrouped and then both O’Grady and McEwen did their best to contest the field sprint on the charge to the line seconds after Pozzato’s win. O’Grady managed 10th and McEwen 13th, enough of a margin to allow him to keep the jersey for another day.
by Graham Watson
Voeckler finished 10 seconds back in the pack with the overall contenders
For Voeckler, the day proved a stiff test of his ability to hang on to the yellow jersey.
“The stage went off quickly and when the two-man attack went we were quite happy because none of the guys were contenders in the general classification,” said the 24-year-old Frenchman.
“But with around 50km to go when we approached the coast it started to get a lot harder. We knew already that CSC might try the same stunt they had tried in Paris-Nice. But the Boulangere team worked well today. I’m very happy with the guys. We’re trying to conserve as much energy as possible and we’ll be trying to hold on to the jersey for as long as possible.”