By Dirk Friel
Stage 17 of the Tour de France was bound to be a make-or=break affair for those aiming at a podium position in Paris.
Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck predicted stage 17 would be important during Monday’s rest day press conference, “We will see a lot of damage in stage 17 with the Col de Romme and the other four climbs.”
Indeed, the general classification was shuffled by the time stage 17 ended in Le Grand-Bornand. Alberto Contador held on to the lead as he finished with the two Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank. However, Astana riders Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloden finished fifth and sixth, 2:18 behind, along with Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas.
The aftermath of stage 17 moved the Schleck brothers up to second and third in the overall, and bumped Lance and Kloden out of the top three.
The day’s damage was a direct result of Team Saxo Bank’s determination to take ownership of a brutal stage in their quest for a podium spot in Paris. Even though damage was inflicted to Astana.
Team Saxo Bank’s rider development manager Bobby Julich said after stage 17, “It was one of the best races I have ever seen and will go down in history as one of the most epic stages ever. They (Team Saxo Bank) have worked very hard and have always believed that today’s stage would be important. Now, no matter what happens they can be proud of what they have accomplished.”
Julich continues to explain just how important stage 17 was, and how the rest of the Tour may play out, “Frank and Andy proved that they are grand class … The podium will be decided on the slopes of Ventoux and they have to feel confident with their chances of at least one podium spot in Paris.
Chris Anker Sorensen’s SRM Data
The majority of Chris Anker’s duties were completed on the first three climbs of the day in order to soften the field up. Saxo Bank literally banked everything on the stage and sketched out a plan to destroy the entire field. With that in mind, Chris’s work started earlier compared to the previous mountain stages.
“Chris and the rest of the guys are doing a terrific job and it has been a pleasure watching them work so well together,” Julich said.
Team Saxo Bank set the pace early and often to soften the legs of the rest of the peloton. The day produced Chris’s second highest Training Stress Score value at 341 (Stage 7 was the highest at 403TSS).
Chris rode the hardest on the category 2 Araches climb by holding an average power of 350 watts for just under 20 minutes. His highest 5-minute maximum value was also set at the base of the Araches climb at 406 watts.
Km 18.0 – Cormet de Roselend (Category 1) 334w, 161 heart rate
Km 56.0 – Col des Saisies (Category 1) 337w, 158 heart rate
Km 111.5 – Côte d’Araches (Category 2) 350w, 168 heart rate
Km 140.5 – Col de Romme (Category 1) 308w, 157 heart rate
Km 154.5 – Col de la Colombière (Category 1) 307w, 153 heart rate