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.
• 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
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.
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!
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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