Thursday, July 12, 2007

At last, the mountains...

...well, sorta. Finally some elevation on today's stage in the Tour de France, with some Cat 4 climbs, a couple of Cat 3s and a Cat 2 in there as well. The day was expected to splinter the field some, and it did a little. But it was also expected that it might take the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara, which it did not, though he tried when he almost wrecked it taking a corner while trying to possibly run away in the closing kilometers and win the stage.

In the end, Filippo Pozzato took the day, making good on a promise before the stage started that this was a day that could be the day for him, and also giving Phil Liggett a chance to say "Leaky Gas" copious times, as the Leaky Gas boys rode towards the front all day and finally a Leaky Gas boy took the day.

It was an interesting day on the roads with some freaky crashes in some innocent places. Andreas Kloden went down about 3/4 of the way through but managed to get back into the Peloton. Then, Alexander Vinokourov, perhaps the favorite to win the whole thing this year, went down late in the stage at a time when the Peloton couldn't slow to wait for him. Six of his team members dropped back to help get him back to the field, which they never quite made and Vino dropped more than a minute to the Yellow Jersey today.

As for the Americans, George Hincapie is 5th overall after a 6th place finish today, :43 seconds behind the leader, Levi Leipheimer is 22nd, 1 minute behind Cancellara, Chris Horner is 41st, 1:13 behind the leader and Fred Rodriguez, Christian Van de Velde and David Zabriskie are all more than 5 minutes back of the Yellow Jersey heading into Friday's stage.

And speaking of that:

There's not alot you can expect to happen on Friday. It's a flat day with a couple of Cat 4 climbs for the field, which usually navigates those together without much trouble. Expect an attack early from a group of 4 or 5 to try and stir up the sprinter's teams, but also expect the Peloton to gather them back in before the finish and set things up for Saturday, which promises to be a brutal day with 2 Cat 3s, a Cat 4 and a Cat 1 up the famed Cole de Colombiere, which comes late in the stage. Expect Cancellara to hang onto Yellow for one more day and the sprinters have the stage on Friday before giving way on Saturday to the men expected to challenge for Yellow in Paris.

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