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95th Tour de France - Le Tour Report Card: Stage 10
By Staff
Date: 7/15/2008
95th Tour de France - Le Tour Report Card: Stage 10

95th Tour de France - Le Tour Report Card: Stage 10
Schools out after the stage 10, the report cards are being distributed...

By Tim Lee

Well here we go, the first high mountain top finish (stage six to Super-Besse was a warm up). With no eye watering descents to the finish like yesterday, the anticipation was as palpable as the scabs forming on Cadel’s left shoulder that there would be significant time gaps created. Featuring the Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam, this promised to be a great stage.

Here’s a piece of useless trivia for you: On the only three previous occasions the tour has had a stage finish at Hautacam, the guy in yellow at the end of the day ended up in the same colour in Paris... Tantalizing isn’t it???

So, School’s out from stage 10 and the report cards are being distributed. Here is how to interpret them to see how your riders fared:

A- Outstanding achievement worthy of all the superlatives known to mankind.
B- Damn good effort but falling just short of stardom.
C- Middle-of-the-rode but can hold their heads high.
D- Needs improving but there’s a skerrick of hope.
E- Remedial classes required. No good can come from this.

Special awards
• OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said
• George W Bush- Otherwise known as the ’tool’ award, this goes to the rider that makes a decision that 99% of us can see is either wrong or futile but they think there is merit to it.
• There will also be some honourable mentions to those that excel but just don’t quite get the result they were after. Think Paolo Bettini at the Giro.

Cadel fights back the tears after he receives his first maillot jaune.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

A - Cadel ‘Rock star’ Evans didn’t have the most impressive climb today on the Hautacam but under the pressure of being a targeted rider he survived an onslaught of attacks and then found himself in a frustrating situation of only really having help from Menchov. Sastre, Ricco and Co. must’ve enjoyed the free ride. Cadel was composed and didn’t make any unnecessary efforts, indicating good confidence. I hope he has the same confidence in his team, who weren’t so impressive today but will now have to defend the maillot jaune. Finally, how good was it to see so much emotion on the podium, to see how much this moment meant to him. Brilliant.

B - Jens ‘Tenderizer’ Voigt is as allergic to civil riding in the bunch as Amy Winehouse is to going a day without pharmaceutical happiness. He must have been itching to attack for a week now; but we saw today why Bjarne Riis has held him back. Voigt single-handedly beat the living existence out of all but 15 of the strongest riders in the race on the Tourmalet. Then teamed up with Fabian ‘No Chance’ Cancellara on the valley road and lower slopes of Hautacam to ensure Valverde and Cunego weren’t coming back and everyone else felt like they were in a team time trial. It’s a pity the team missed out on the race lead by a meager second and the stage victory as it would have been a just reward for their awesome work.

A - Leonardo Piepoli So often at the service of others like Simoni and Ricco in the past, today Leonardo put the Peep Show on display. Juan Jose Cobo was a valiant second. The Saunier Duval lads are always good for lighting it up in the mountains and today was a great example of this.

Leonardo Piepoli and Juan Jose 'Juanjo' Cobo finish. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

D - Samuel ‘Dirty’ Sanchez lost over five minutes and Stefan ‘Shuey’ Schumacher came in over seven minutes down today. Both were expected to loose time, but for Sanchez it was a blow as he may now need to sacrifice himself for Astaloza, which is not why Euskaltel is paying him a lot more than any other rider on the team. Meanwhile Schuey is now firmly out of the top ten.

E - The day’s biggest losers were without doubt Damiano ‘Blondie’ Cunego and Alejandro Valverde, who rolled over the line in 18th and 19th respectively, looking quite dejected. Cunego just has not looked comfortable at the tour this year. He imploded on the Col du Tourmalet and never recovered. He must be wishing for the form of 2004 to return. Valverde has spent a lot of bikkies at the Dauphine/Spanish Champs/start of le Tour and may be paying for it now. Expect both of these guys to show some fireworks before the tour is over, as they are not the sorts of riders to drift away without a fight.

Remi ‘Gregarious’ De Gregorio has promised a lot in a still young career. Unfortunately he only lasted five stages in his debut tour last year but harnessed all of his tanned and stylish energy to be the rider of the day today. In typical French style he rode with panache all the way until when it actually counted at the business end of the stage, but still made a very good impression. Maybe he is the next Virenque blah blah blah…

George W Bush Award
No one really earned this award today, which counter-intuitively must be a good thing. However ‘Lanky’ Frank Schleck, whilst putting in an attack that looked like it was going to end in yellow, also put his little bro in the hurt box and out the back of the lead group. Not cool, but like I said, no one really claimed this award today.

"Ice cool" Denis Menchov leads the favorites group, Evans second wheel, with Ricco, Vandevelde and Sastre. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Honourable mentions
Oscar ‘Houdini’ Freire is like a magician both in a sprint itself, and in general - now you see him now you don’t. He popped up briefly in the break of the day before heading back to the comfort of the bunch. In a tour littered with lumpy stages Freire is a real dark horse for the final Green Jersey, if Kirchen lets it go.

Denis ‘The Menace’ Menchov showed everybody today that his indestructible Russian body seems to need one grand tour in his legs before attempting to win the next. The double Vuelta winner was ice cool today and whilst not spectacular, will be hard to shake this year...

Bernard Kohl hung with the favorites and finished for fourth place on his own.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Bernard ‘Bernie’ Kohl rose above designated team leader Marcus Fothen today. Bernie had an awesome Dauphine a few years ago and has been in the wilderness a bit since. Today he attacked the Evan’s group and stayed away until the finish. Mighty impressive. The same can be said for Vladimir Efimkin who looks to have taken over from Dessel as AG2Rs GC rider.

Finally, Christian ‘V12’ Vande Velde again hung tough and preserved his third place on GC. He used the tactical games of Evans/Sastre/Menchov to his advantage to stay in the shadows and finish with the big guns. How long can he resist?

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