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95th Tour de France: Jambon Report, Stage 11
 
By Andy McGrath
Date: 7/16/2008
95th Tour de France: Jambon Report, Stage 11
 

Golden Hams of the Day

  • Kurt “A-Bomb” Asle-Arvesen (Team CSC)
    His fellow breakaway riders might be muttering something less complimentary and a tad longer than Asle, but all credit to him and CSC. Arvesen, another locomotive in a seemingly endless line of them in the CSC depot, powered the crucial break away inside the last 4 kilometres, and cornered on rails to take the winning line into the final 300 metres. To his credit – only because he won – he didn’t close the door on Elmiger in the sprint either, though it was mighty close. Watch the finish again, as the Norwegian enjoys a little celebration before clearly thinking ‘Wait, did I win that?’

  • Amael “Mountain Maniac” Moinard (Cofidis)
    Most breakaway riders start the cat-and-mouse attack/hesitation games in the last 15 kilometres. But Amael Moinard's oh-so-hugely-premature attack on the Col de Portel - over 60 kilometres out - showed that "Momo" Moinard is the next in a long line of impatient, valiant, starry-eyed French dreamers (see Ham-Gazers for the FCPBUT), who go up the road with the urgency of an incontinent grandpère told that there’s a toilet in the next village, when a Tour de France stage win is on the table. Quickly putting two minutes into his apathetic former companions, things briefly looked good for the Cofidis man. Maybe on another day when he hadn’t had winners of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Milano-San Remo, GP E3-Harelbeke and several assorted national championships organised in the group behind...
    Yet, his brave work still paid dividends. Courtesy of today's escape, Moinard is now the best-placed French rider, 25th at 11’49”, which in itself is quite sad. Richard Virenque, all is forgiven?

  • Oscar “Pissed Off” Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
    The 2006 champ launched a vicious attack on the Col de Portel and proceeded to go it solo for the next 50 kilometres, as if to say “I’m doing what you never could, Alejandro”. As a Tour de France winner treated as little more than Valverde’s paeon, Pereiro has a right to feel a tad slighted, but his leader’s utter capitulation on the road to Hautacam has to be even more incredibly frustrating. Alas, today was (more) wasted energy on Pereiro’s behalf, as he was reined back inside the last fifteen minutes, leading to more angsty mutterings. However, it represents a re-given freedom for the Spaniard, throwing off the shackles of domestique responsibility. It’s good to see Pereiro back to his pre-2006 aggressive self. Whether it be regret or anger driving him, hopefully we’ll see him up the road in the Alps.

Ham Gazers of the Day

  • Cadel “The Charisma-less Calculator” Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    OK, so he doesn't really do charisma, the whole nicey-nicey media thing or decisive explosive attacks. But Evans's grit and tenacity deserve many plaudits. After some great mathematical nous on his behalf to gain the yellow jersey on Hautacam, it almost looked for a while today as if Evans would just put his Silence-Lotto team on the front and ensure that the yellow jersey was saved by a second from Alexandre Botcharov. They were helped by the fact that CSC rode as if they were defending the yellow jersey to keep the deficit at a respectable 16 minutes. Thus, Evans was able to sit back and enjoy his first day in the maillot jaune even more. In truth, these next few days are the calm before the storm. His Silence-Lotto team-mates will be blown out the back when the going gets tough, and his rivals know it. And on the subject of apparently crap team-mates...

  • Wim “Lanterne Rouge” Vansevenant (Silence-Lotto)
    Not the most imaginative nickname, but Vansevenant isn’t the most imaginative of riders. He is the best kind of Ham Gazer – an utterly intended one. The Belgian quietly does his job for the likes of McEwen and Evans then sets his crosshair on his own personal goal – a third consecutive lanterne rouge finish. At 36, it may be his last year of challenging for this prestigious accolade. At the halfway mark, signs are promising: 166th-placed Vansevenant is bottom of the pile, though (naturally) Frenchmen Sprick and Augé are within four minutes. Kudos must also go to him for managing to finish outside the top hundred in all the stages so far. Nick Gates, take note.

  • Crédit Agricole
    The only team with two men in the front group did precious little to make their numerical advantage count. The two Ovs – Botcharov and Fofonov – are handy riders on their day, but they sat back when Arvesen and Elmiger were doing their thing, and it was suddenly Game Ov-er. Thor Hushovd may have won the bunch sprint for 13th, but the team should have had a podium, at the very least.

  • The French Club of Plucky-but-Unsuccessful Triers
    (FCPBUT; key members include Sylvain Chavanel, Nicolas Vogondy, Thomas Voeckler etc.)
    Well, where were they? They had a whole rest day in their club bat-cave in Lannemezan to eat croissants and discuss ways of narrowly missing out on transition-stage glory as to exhort maximum sympathy points from French housewives, media and fans alikes. After all, days like this are paydirt for the likes of fresh-faced Voeckler and Chavanel. This year, we’ve become used to seeing so many Frenchmen up the road that the mere duo – Vaugrenard and Momo Moinard - today was a bit of a disappointment. Luckily, Moinard renewed his membership in the club and saved their reputation with his gloriously-premature attack. Still, watch out for Casar, Chavanel and Co. in the coming days.

Genetically-Modified Hams

  • Nice one, Moises Duenas. Positive test number two for the Tour. As far as bad trips with drugs go, being imprisoned, full-body-searched and heavily questioned by stone-faced French gendarmes for a few days has to be up there among the worst. With Beltran, some were saying "Just another of the old guard being ousted, good." Now, what's the excuse for this? Shall the witch-hunt focus on those wicked Catholic Spanish riders now? Duenas has a lot to answer for, as do Barloworld, whose credibility is now in tatters. One hopes this will be the last positive test the race sees, but it could just be the tip of the iceberg. Fear and Loathing in Lannemezan indeed...

 
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