95th Tour de France- le Tour Report Card; Stage 16
The Tour ventures back into France over the highest pass in Europe as the home
nation has reason to celebrate while there is a minor shake-up on GC…
By Tim Lee
Despite the fact that CSC comprised almost half the lead group at various
times during the ascent of the Bonette-Restefond, it was largely status quo for
the GC boys. That is, with the exception of Menchov and Vande Velde who lost
time today. The French will be going wild as they scored first and second on the
stage. Lets see how the riders scored on a day with two hors catëgorie climbs.
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-road but can hold head high
D- Needs improving but there’s a skerrick of hope
E- Remedial classes required. No good can come from this
F- Is not fail, but rather fall. This goes to the most spectacular crash of the
• OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said
• le Tour Farceur - Imbécile or el Tonto Payaso... 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.
A- le Schleck
brothers Lanky Frank and Handy Andy are each leading their respective
classifications. Frank remains in yellow as the overall leader while Andy now
wears white as the leader of the youth classification for under-25 riders. A
great day for the Schleck family, Team CSC, and Luxemburg as all parties
scramble to claim the dynamic duo as their own. Frank has been ultra impressive
as leader of the race and really has not looked in difficulty at all on the
climbs yet. And one has to wonder where Andy would be now if he had not had a
down day on Hautacam in stage 10. Look for these guys to ‘double-team’ Evans and
Co again on the hairpins of Alpe D’Huez.
‘Schuey’ Schumacher has been quite active so far in this Tour. The
stage four victor took off on the Col de la Lombarde and wasn’t seen again until
the reverse lights came on towards the top of the Bonette-Restefond. He took a
bit of pressure off Bernie Kohl and gave his team even more media exposure in
the search for a new sponsor.
‘Superstyling’ Hincapie. Possibly the classiest rider in the break
today, big George would have been the favourite for the win if it stayed
together but was unable to bridge the gap to the four leaders on the daredevil
descent. As the captain of the most successful team in the race (in terms of
stage wins anyway) he can already call this tour a success but when he appeared
in the breakaway his fans must have been excitedly thinking back to 2005 when he
beat a future tour winner on the summit finish to Pla d’Adet. It wasn’t to be
but it was good to see him strutting his stuff all the same.
D- Denis ‘The menace’ Menchov
took a driving miss daisy approach today on the intimidating technical
descent and it cost him. How much we won’t know until Paris but for a guy to
look so ice cool on the climb only to loose 35 seconds on the tricky descent to
the finish is a shame for the Russian. Considering he has been so consistent on
all the climbs and in the time trial this year, Rabobank must be bummed that his
only real time loss has been born out of an easily avoided tactical error on
stage three and now a cautious approach to a descent today. Still, probably not
as bummed as they were last year when they were wondering where Razza was…
E- Christian ‘V12’ Vandevelde
crested the summit of the Bonette-Restefond about half a minute or so off the
pace but the pressure of the chase got to him and he crashed on the decent to
the finish. The American eventually finished 2:36 behind the GC men he wanted to
be with and drops to sixth. Do not despair though, as this guy can punch a good
time trial when he needs to.
F- John Lee ‘Spiderman’
Augustyn. When the South African burst out of the lead group and
crested the high point of le Tour it looked like maybe things were on the up for
Barloworld. But then things went down, about 20 metres down to be more precise.
The youngest rider in this years Tour had a small margin as he began the descent
into Jausiers but disaster struck as he was getting caught by the leading
quartet that would go on to fight for the stage win. A momentary lapse in
concentration sent Augustyn flying down the barren rocky mountain slope. Poor
Johnny was stuck, clinging to the side of the mountain until a spectator came to
his aid and gave him a push so he could scale his way back up to the road.
Thankfully he appeared relatively uninjured but the same could not be said for
his estranged Bianchi which has been reported missing, last seen hurtling down
OFE - After missing the break on stage
15, the Frenchies came back with vengeance today in the form of a ‘one-two’
across the line. Cyril ‘Raising hell’ Dessel is having a great season after
being in the wilderness following his breakthrough performance in the 2006 Tour
where he wore yellow for a day but narrowly missed the stage win. He can now
tick that box after today’s effort in the twisting finale. Sandy ‘Beaches’ Casar
also came within a whisker of getting another stage win after his success in
stage 18 last year. A great result for France, getting their second stage win
le Tour Farceur Imbécile Award
The Silence-Lotto director who allowed Yaroslav ‘Popeye’ Popovych to not only
remain in the break but help with the pace making of it too. As Voigt and
Arvesen were dropping back from the breakaway to help the leading group,
Popovych remained with the front-runners and was seen multiple times on the
front of the group. All this for what? A fourth place? Given the severity of
tomorrows stage it will look a bit ridiculous if Popovych cracks early and is
unable to help Evans because of the bikkies he spent today attaining a fourth
place today. Tactically, not a great move.
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