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.
• 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.
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
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
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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