95th Tour de France – Le Tour Report Card: Stage 11
Another day, another dope is caught but more importantly some awesome racing is
By Tim Lee
After a couple of relatively large days in the Pyrenees today’s stage 11
offered only one category one climb mid-stage, which must have been music to the
ears of the Silence Lotto lads. Whilst it is unfair to call them weak as
kittens, one can only assume they really enjoyed the rest day before having to
take responsibility for the race pace and start dictating terms. So as the guys
that bought us the eclectic mix of snoring solutions, pregnancy tests and a
national lottery have their time in the sun, the report cards are churning out
thick and fast. Here’s a recap of how to interpret them:
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.
• 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.
‘axeman’ Averesen was in the day’s break supposedly so CSC didn’t
have to chase in the main bunch. Arh, someone forgot to tell Bjarne... Anyway
Arvesen put the axe to his breakaway companions with his blistering final kick
to the line. He wisely got rid of Pozzato but did have to contend with a strong
Elmiger and Ballan. It’s always nice to see a domestique get his own glory,
which will surely spur him to further pile-drive the tour next time the CSC boys
get on the front of the bunch.
B - Cadel ‘rock star’ Evans
had his first day in yellow today, and boy wasn’t he yellow! After putting my
shades on I could appreciate how resplendent he was in what must now be his
favourite color. Cadel had a pretty easy day (so too did his team) but deserves
a ‘B’ just because he has raced such a smart and methodical race so far. He is
fast becoming the international face of grit and determination.
Cadel Evans resplendent in yellow after signing in.
C - Oscar ‘Carrera’ Pereiro
rode like a Porche today and sparked a reaction from CSC, despite
being six minutes off the pace in 17th place going into the stage. He pulled out
to about two minutes and put the hurt on the bunch, but was ultimately caught at
the top of the Category three climb 20 clicks from the finish. Good to see the
Caisse d’Epargne boys antagonising the field; but perhaps it would have a more
lethal effect in the high mountains.
D - Filippo ‘Pippo’ Pozzato
was the obvious choice for the win in the breakaway today. The only
things this guy likes more than mirrors and make-up is winning, but today he
found himself in a situation where there were riders who didn’t want to take him
to the finish because of his speed. Still he didn’t look to be trying
desperately to keep things together toward the finish. Anyway, he’s a classy
rider and will have many other opportunities.
E - This goes to the whole Barloworld
team. Following on from a dream tour last year they had a shocker today. First
to go was Duenas Nevados (see below), then both Felix Cardenas and Paolo Longo
Borghini scored DNFs. With Mauricio Soler already out, things a looking a little
grim for the South African team. Hopefully Baden Cooke or Robbie Hunter can get
a morale-boosting win in one of the upcoming transitional stages because geez,
they could do with some good news.
Amael Moinard is in his debut Tour and has only won two races as a professional.
To be honest he didn’t look like winning today but he forced a reaction from the
11 breakaway riders and got his team a heap of TV coverage. He showed a lot of
‘ticker’ to attack so far from the finish and almost made it. Despite the fact
that they almost never win, the Frenchies really do animate the race and also
stop Ricardo Ricco whinging about vegetables sitting in the bunch...
George W Bush ‘Tool’
By definition this is awarded to a rider that makes a stupid decision. With that
in mind there can only be one winner and that is Moises
Duenas Nevados. After returning a non-negative post stage four TT,
police also found some naughty products in his hotel room. Hmm seems like the
2006 Tour de l’Avenir winner will be spending his now extended off-season with
Manuel Beltran. Maybe they can console each other on how they are the unlucky
victims of a dishonest system, or maybe they can just admit they are fighting a
losing battle against the force that is clean cycling.
Martin ‘Elmo’ Elmiger was so close today.
With only a bee’s privates between him and a trip to the podium he can hold his
head high but at the same time be frustrated that he was so close yet so far...
Kim ‘KK’ Kirchen was 17th today, but more
interestingly 5th in the main bunch, right behind Hushovd, Zabel, Freire and
Duque. Without too many pancake flat stages in this year’s tour, he could be a
real contender for the Green Jersey. We might be going back to the days of Sean
Kelly where the Maillot Verde actually finishes in the top 100 riders. Shock
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