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95th Tour de France - Le Tour Report Card: Stage 13
By Staff
Date: 7/19/2008
95th Tour de France - Le Tour Report Card: Stage 13

95th Tour de France- Le Tour Report Card: Stage 13
Another day for the sprinters and another chance for Britain’s newfound Royalty to display his stunning speed.

By Tim Lee

The fact that the ‘Saunier saga’ continues to reek like a dead fish has been overshadowed by Mark Cavendish and his Team Columbia’s domination of the flat stages so far this year. Also noteworthy is that three of the top four riders today were in the young riders classification, so hats off to the whippersnappers this year! But what about the rest of the 158 remaining riders in this year’s race? Here is the score on who’s good, who’s bad, and who is making an impact either way:

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
• le Tour Farceur Imbécile Award 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.

Cavendish gets the jump on (left to right) Duque, Haussler, Freire, McEwen and Feillu for his fourth tour win in Nimes.

A - Mark ‘Untouchable’ Cavendish. Has to score this grade given the sheer supremacy displayed on his way to collecting four stage victories thus far. Cipollini did it in 1999; Petacchi did it in 2003 and now Cavendish has done it in 2008. Of course Cipo did four in succession but neither of the Italian stallions were as young as Cavendish. Will he put a green jersey ahead of an Olympic gold? The obvious answer is no; but then again initially he wasn’t even going to ride the tour… Even if he did pull out now, Team Columbia can look back on this tour with much pride and satisfaction. Perhaps the best part about Cavendish is that he openly stands for clean cycling, an advocate for the new generation if you will. More please!

Cavendish sits up over the line on stage 13, flanked by McEwen and Feillu.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

B - Romain ‘Roaming’ Feillu scored a handy 3rd place today, which is really a 2nd place because lets face it, Cavendish is in a league of his own. Not content with the 41 painful minutes he spent in yellow in Cholet last week, the little Frenchman rode a fast and cunning finale today. Without much team support, he finished ahead of guys like Freire, Hushovd, and Zabel so can hold his head high.

C - Gerald ‘Me too’ Ciolek deserves a mid-grade score. With the exception of a 3rd place on stage two, his results thus far have been anonymous. However he himself has been anything but anonymous, constantly seen on the front towards the end of the flat stages playing an absolutely instrumental part of Cavendish’s victories. For a guy that has proven speed, it must be frustrating to play second fiddle to the Brit, but his time will surely come. It does show what a good sport he is in playing the ultimate team mate and Cavendish must owe him quite a few beers next time they hit the town. Interestingly, Ciolek won gold at the 2006 U23 world championships; Feillu won silver and Cavendish could only manage 11th. Oh how times change!

D - Gert ‘To Russia with love’ Steegmans. Two top-ten finishes thus far in the tour isn’t a great return for a sprinter that is capable of winning as we saw in stage two last year. This has been magnified because of the absence of Tom Boonen, meaning a lot more pressure has fallen on the shoulders of the Belgian. Perhaps his mind is on other things like his purportedly fat contract with Tinkoff nee Katyusha for next year. Of course, the more likely explanation is that he is one or two percent off his best and hasn’t had the luck and opportunities needed to win.

E - Sven ‘Any tougher he’d rust’ Krauss. Rolling in 15 minutes behind the bunch on a flat day would normally be seen as a failure but to see Krauss pick himself up off the asphalt and carry on was pretty amazing given the spectacle of his crash. After colliding with a sign on a traffic island, his Specialized Tarmac flew into the air and quite literally snapped into several pieces. The ‘water boys’ are keen for some media attention to attract a new sponsor but this is a bit extreme! Glad to see Sven finished on his (spare) bike and not in the ambo and lets hope he can continue on.

Le Tour Farceur Imbécile Award
Today’s tool is Leonardo ‘Peep show’ Piepoli. Apparently the police took a little peep in his home today his team manager has sacked the climber for ‘doping violations’. This could see yet another major sponsor pull out of the sport, which would inevitably leave dozens of people either unemployed or having to accept lower wages than what they are worth. So from the whole team, thanks Leo. The world of cycling further plunges into depression because it just seems the big black hole that is doping will never end. So from the cycling community, thanks Leo. Perhaps the biggest issue to be born out of this ongoing disaster is this: how can someone still not fail blood and urine tests with the supposedly foolproof biological passport?

Florent ‘Nomad’ Brard. The man that has ridden for no less than six teams during his career took off with Niki Terpstra inside the first kilometre and wasn’t seen again for hours. Heading up the Pic Saint Loup he had Terpstra in trouble then watched as the Dutchman took a flyer with 30 clicks to go. Later joined by perennial breakaway guru Stephane Auge, the two Frenchies worked together until being caught at about 15 kms from the line.

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