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95th Tour de France - le Tour Report Card: Stage 18
By Staff
Date: 7/25/2008
95th Tour de France - le Tour Report Card: Stage 18

95th Tour de France- le Tour Report Card: Stage 18
An easier day today offers some respite from the brutality of the high Alps but with three categorised climbs there was still an opportunity for the opportunists to get some glory.

By Tim Lee

As expected by this time of le Tour, the bunch was quite lethargic after three merciless days of climbing. Those still motivated for stage success in this year’s Tour took heart in this and did the ‘Harry Holt’ up the road. Two riders ended up fighting for the stage win from two teams at either end of the success spectrum of le Tour this year. Behind them the battle for the Maillot Blanc heated up a little while the heavy hitters had a comparatively trouble-free day. The post stage report card are out. Here is how to interpret it:

A- Outstanding achievement worthy of all superlatives known to mankind.
B- Damn fine effort but falling just short of stardom.
C- Middle-of-the-road performance but can hold head high.
D- Needs improving but there is a skerrick of hope.
E- Remedial classes required. No good can come from this.
F- Indicates a fall has taken place and is worthy of mention.

Special awards
• OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said
• le Tour Farceur Imbécile… 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- Marcus ‘Burglar’ Burghardt snatched the win today from an irate Carlos Barredo. The Big German was in the first escape of the day and then made it into the one that counted. After his classics season was wiped out by a persistent knee injury, last years Gent-Wevelgem winner came back with a vengeance today. The still-young Team Columbia rider is steadily building impressive palmáres and looks set be one of the new generation of successful Germans in the post Ullrich/Zabel era.

B - Carlos ‘Astra’ Sastre had a relatively straight forward day in the Maillot Jaune today. No doubt after consoling Schleck senior last night with the old “your time will come” talk last night, the 33 year-old Spanish star was happy to let the breakaway stay up the road today. CSC took it easy today; a tactic that must be quite foreign to them. Is this a sign of confidence that he has sufficient time on Evans for the stage 20 TT?

C - Roman ‘Stealthy’ Kreuziger won the Tour de Suisse with a dominant display of strength in front of some of the biggest names in the sport but has quietly been solidifying his growing reputation as a rider to watch during le Tour this year. He has been largely anonymous so far but today snuck off the front to try and steal precious seconds before the final TT in the race for the Maillot Blanc. Unfortunately for him, Andy Schleck was up to the challenge and came along for the ride but the Liquigas rider is still within striking distance if he time trials to the max of his ability. Andy Schleck may well be the most talented rider in the world but Kreuziger has had a very good tour and will take the fight right to the Luxembourger.

D - Carlos ‘Tanty’ Barredo rode a great race today but his antics as he crossed the finish line were childish and excessive. After launching several attacks that were easily neutralized by The Burglar it was quite obvious that the little Spaniard would loose in the sprint; but when he did he threw a hissy fit that Amy Winehouse would be proud of. The result was that numerous photos of Marcus Burghardt enjoying possibly the finest day of his career were spoiled with a cranky Quickstep rider wielding his arms in the air and slamming his handlebars clearly in view. Perhaps Barredo was too desperate for the win given the lackluster performance of his team thus far in le Tour. Quickstep are showing the world how dependant they are on Tom ‘Party time’ Boonen…

E - Poor Cofidis had two riders in the initial break but were left high and dry when the break of the day went. Not really deserving of an ‘E’ grade but no one else misbehaved or failed today! These types of stages suit the teams with no designated GC candidate who rely on their rouleurs and Cofidis falls neatly into this category. Samuel ‘Mini-me’ Dumoulin showed his speed at the finish but it was only for sixth place. Tomorrow’s another day…

F - Damiano ‘Blondie’ Cunego must have crossed the path of a black cat before riding under a ladder on his way to smashing a mirror before this Tour. The little prince crashed at about 30 clicks into the stage when the bunch was chasing the first break of the day. Cunego stayed on the road for a while getting a lot of attention paid to his bloodied chin and ripped jersey. Much to his credit, the Lampre man made it to the finish with four team mates after riding the remaining 160 km as a mini team time trial. That showed a lot of mettle given that most of us would not blame him if he wanted to quit the race. Philippe ‘Tough as nails’ Gilbert and Alexandre ‘Botch job’ Botcharov were also involved but got back on their bikes with minimal time loss.

OFE - Romain ‘Roamer’ Feillu attacked with The Burglar to bridge up to Barredo but was unable make it over the Col de Parmenie with these two to fight for the stage win. Having worn the Maillot Jaune already this Tour the little Frenchie has helped his wildcard Team Agritubel to justify their place in le Tour. Who knows he may even surprise us on le Champs Élysées now that le Tour is sans Cavendish?

le Tour Farceur Imbécile Award
No fools or tools today. Very refreshing indeed!

Honourable Mentions
Hats off to Mikel ‘Twiggy’ Astarloza today for trying to gain time on a flattish stage. After finding himself 23 minutes off the pace in 18th place the skinny Basque climber squeezed just over three minutes out of the big boys today by attacking on the Col de Parmenie, but left his run a little too late for the stage win. Despite the fact that Samuel ‘Dirty’ Sanchez is sitting pretty for a top ten performance this year the Orange-clad Basque Team are without a stage win (notably in the Pyrenees) but it was good to see they are still trying even though their favourite terrain is now behind them.

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