First up, rest days rock. After two weeks of racing, a day to relax a bit and kick back is like Christmas when you still believe in the big man. A morning to sleep late, eat a ridiculous amount of food, tool around on the bike for a while (preferably on some beautiful country Italian roads), grub down a bit more, sleep, then sleep a bit more, get a massage, eat another stupid amount of food, and then sleep again, ideally at least 10 hours.
Three weeks ago, Garmin-Chipotle’s Christian Vande Velde left his European home in Girona, Spain, for the Tour de France with the goal of his first-ever top 10 finish.
However as the Tour’s second rest day came to a close Monday, the 32-year-old American sits fifth overall, just 39 seconds behind race leader Frank Schleck, and is poised to capitalize on his strengths during stage 20’s time trial to fight for the Tour podium.
South African John-Lee Augustyn said he was lucky to escape with his life after a spectacular crash during the 16th stage of the Tour de France Tuesday left him halfway down a mountainside.
The Barloworld rider crossed the summit of the day's second unclassified climb on his own after attacking his leading group half a kilometer from the summit.
But moments later, after being rejoined by his group, he misjudged a right-hand bend and shot over the edge, leaving him 50 meters below on the gravel mountainside.
Christian Vande Velde’s miracle Tour de France ride took a dive in Tuesday’s hard-fought 157km, two-climb 16th stage when he crashed coming down the beyond-category descent off the Col de la Bonette.
Vande Velde, who started the day fifth overall at 39 seconds back, lost contact with the yellow jersey group about midway up the long, exposed 25.5km climb as CSC-Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck set a menacing pace.
A list of the past 25 riders to win a Tour de France stage atop the legendary Alpe d'Huez climb, the climax of this year's mountain stages:
1952: Fausto Coppi (ITA)
1976: Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
1977: Hennie Kuiper (NED)
1978: Hennie Kuiper (NED)
1979: Joachim Agostinho (POR)
1980: Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
1981: Peter Winnen (NED)
1982: Beat Breu (SUI)
1983: Peter Winnen (NED)
1984: Luis Herrera (COL)
1986: Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1987: Federico Echave (ESP)
1988: Steven Rooks (NED)
1989: Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED)
The threat of being caught cheating at this year's Tour de France has proved a major deterrent, according to the chief of France's national anti-doping agency (AFLD) on Tuesday.
AFLD chief Pierre Bordry said prior to the race's 16th stage that he had no further positive cases to report in the wake of three positive tests for EPO.
His claims come in the wake of a newspaper report in which disgraced Italian climber Riccardo Riccò re-affirms that he did not use banned substances.
Spain's 2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro admitted Tuesday that he thought he was going to die after a spectacular fall during the 15th stage at the weekend.
The Caisse d'Epargne rider toppled over a guard rail on his way down Col Agnel in the Alps between France and Italy, falling several meters onto the road below.
"I was going much faster than those on the left. I think that (Damiano) Cunego (Lampre team) got a slight fright. He made an abrupt maneuver and I couldn't avoid him," Pereiro told the Spanish press.
Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) won stage 16 of the Tour de France on Tuesday as Frank Schleck, backed by an indomitable CSC-Saxo Bank team, kept his grip on the maillot jaune. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), meanwhile, gained time on Rabobank's Denis Menchov while American Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle) slid to sixth overall, more than three minutes back of the race leader.
Those long stems Dear Lennard, I read that several riders at this year's Tour de France have opted for a small frame and very long stem (140-150mm) combination.
I'm curious whether this is to get a lighter frame (seems unlikely since pro's don't have to take unusual steps to reach the UCI legal weight), or to get less responsive/twitchy steering for high-speed descents etc.
I have run a similar setup for a couple of years due to the safer feel of the steering but people always tell me that a 140mm stem is ridiculous. Dan
There has never been a Tour de France as closely poised as this 2008 edition, less than a week before the finish. The most similar state of the race came in 2003, when prior to the final mountain stage, just 18 seconds separated race leader Lance Armstrong from his two remaining challengers, Jan Ullrich and Alexander Vinokourov. But Armstrong went on to win on the mountaintop finish at Luz-Ardiden (after famously being brought down by the handle of a spectator’s plastic bag), and clinched his fifth consecutive title in the final time trial at Nantes.