93rd Tour de France - Stage 18 Live
Welcome to our live coverage this morning. Our commentator today is Locutus
with Crazy Jane off to Paris to catch the last two stages. Join other fans from around the world to discuss the race
in progress while you follow the ticker in the
Daily Peloton Chat room.
This 197 kilometer stage from Morzine to Macon serves as a transitional stage
before the final time trial. Look for the GC men to be saving their remaining
bullets for that time trial while the opportunists who have lost hours in the
mountains try to take advantage of the apathy and sneak another stage win.
With the mountains behind them, I expect the teams of the sprinters to really
chase down everything on this stage and bring it home for another bunch sprint.
There are three climbs clustered in the middle of the stage: the Cat 3 Cote
de Chatillon-en-Michaille (5.1 km at 3.7%) which comes at the 93 kilometer mark,
the Cat 2 Col du Berthiand (4.7 km at 6%) which starts at the 126 kilometer
mark, and the Cat 4 Cote de Chambod (1.9 km at 6.4%) which jumps out at the
137.5 kilometer point. The final 41 kilometers are flat, and this should see the
sprinters reorganize themselves, get their trains into gear, and chase down the
inevitable long break. But with most of the big sprinters out of the race, and
the peloton exhausted, who knows what will happen?
Stage 18 profile Morzine - Macon 197 km
Here is the poem of the day from Dancing on the
Pedals: The Found Poetry of Phil Liggett, the Voice of Cycling by
Doug Donaldson and Phil Liggett.
They know exactly
what they have to do.
They are the sharp end of the race.
Stage 12, 2000
1452 CEST - 99 km left. So we start our
coverage, and guess what? Yes, there is a breakaway! It consists of 15 men and
is only 3 min 38 sec ahead of the peloton.
Here are the 15 men in the break: Zabriskie (CSC), Sinkewitz (T-Mobile),
Calzati (AG2r), Martinez (Discovery Channel), Scholz and Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner),
Flecha (Rabobank), Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Vaugrenard (FDJeux), Tossatto (Quick
Step), Hinault (Credit Agricole), Moreni (Cofidis), Isasi (Euskaltel), Quinziato
(Liquigas), and Pineau (Bouygues Telecom).
The peloton...what's left of it... is actually paying attention today. This
break only got a maximum of four minutes. By the way, sprinter Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
didn't start today, so the only big-name sprinter left is McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto).
He just has to stay upright and he'll win the Green Jersey competition.
There are only 140 riders left in this race. That's still quite a lot of men,
but it is very small for a Tour de France peloton. In the peloton, it is Saunier
Duval-Prodir doing an awful lot of work for some reason. They have five men on
the front. Floyd "Superman" Landis is riding alongside his old teammate and
current Yellow Jersey wearer Oscar Pereiro. Landis and Pereiro are having a
friendly chat. Clearly the two are still good friends.
After the stage yesterday the Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears rider commented,
“I am really satisfied with my stage. If it is a fact that Landis achieved
something incredible today, it is also a fact that my team-mates achieved an
incredible job too! We really achieved a big stage and I think we have to be
happy with the fact the yellow jersey remains in the team. Right now I will rest
a little before concentrating on the time trial that expects us next Saturday.
It is a fact that to win the Tour will be something complicated but tonight the
yellow jersey is still mine and I will have a good night! Tomorrow will be
D.S. José Miguel Echávarri commented with the feelings of the team, “What
Landis did change the face of this incredible Tour, one more time. The Team
Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears with their leader Oscar Pereiro was the only one
which gave importance to Landis’ break, waiting for the other team managers to
collaborate, at least the ones who still had riders who could finish on the
podium in Paris. Some reacted, but too late. Because they only thought in the
fact they could eliminate Pereiro, they did not realize that Landis was
supplanting them all.”
CSC's comments on the chase after the
Carlos Sastre, "Already on the first climb I could tell that he was going to
attack. He just took off like an eagle and there was nothing we could do about
it. He was way too strong,"
"We did the right thing in letting him escape at the beginning, because he
was so strong. But we realized too late that the Caisse d'Epargne riders weren't
able to catch him, and he simply took that last climb a couple of minutes faster
than we'd expected. There's no doubt that it was a mistake to let him get as far
as he did, because he is a major favorite to the overall win now," explained
Bjarne Riis with regret.
1503 CEST - 90 km left. The riders have
already covered the first climb of the day, a Cat 3, and Aerts took maximum
points. Not that it matters: Mickael Rasmussen of Rabobank has an unassailable
lead in the Mountains competition. He'll win the Polka-Dot Jersey in Paris for
the 2nd straight year. Rabobank has had an amazingly strong Tour, despite
Menchov falling off the pace a bit in the GC race. Freire won two stages,
Menchov won a stage, Rasmussen won a stage and the Polka-Dot Jersey... that's
quite a successful race.
The gap is still around 3 min 20 sec right now. Saunier Duval is still on the
front, and erstwhile Polka-Dot Jersey wearer David de la Fuente is setting the
pace and keeping the peloton strung out.
Erik Zabel (Team Milram) has a flat tire at the back of the peloton. He gets
a change and is back on. You know, Zabel is one of the few men left in this race
who can challenge McEwen in a sprint.
Zabel is 2nd in the Green Jersey competition at 80 points behind McEwen. The
only other big name sprinter still in the race is Hushovd of Credit Agricole,
and he's in 3rd in the Green Jersey competition. Of course, Hushovd won that
competition last year, and Zabel has won it more times than anybody else in the
history of the Tour de France.
Looking at this break, the best sprinters in there are Isasi of Euskaltel and
Tosatto of Quick Step. Moreni also has a handy sprint. But somehow, I don't
think this break will stay away. I think Milram, might help chase if this gap
stays the same. Of course, they only have five men left in the race, so that
won't be much help.
1515 CEST - 82 km left. All the GC men
are taking it easy today. They are resting up for the big time trial tomorrow.
If this break gets caught, it isn't too much to think that a couple of GC guys
might attack to try and get some time or bonus seconds.
The break is about 10 km from the biggest climb of the day, the Cat 2 Col du
Berthiand. It is a 4.7 km climb at 6%, so it is steep enough to cause some
problems. The break will likely splinter a bit on that climb, especially with
guys like Leipheimer in there. The peloton will probably lose a couple of
riders, but it will likely stay together or regroup on the descent.
Interesting the Zabriskie is once again on the attack. He could just be
marking this break so that his teammates don't have to work to chase it. He
could be there to help out if Sastre gets friskie and decides to try something.
Or, he could be there to try to win the stage. Zabriskie broke through in the
grand tours not in a time trial, but in a long solo breakaway stage win in the
Vuelta a Espana a couple of years back.
Flecha, Tossato, and Leipheimer are on the front driving this break right
now. Saunier Duval still has all their men on the front of the peloton chasing.
The gap is still hovering at about 3 min 25 sec, so the peloton is keeping them
in check. Will Simoni attack and try to bridge on this short Cat 2 climb? Hard
to figure out what Saunier Duval is doing here.
1525 CEST - 74 km left. The riders are
rolling along a lake. It's very picturesque, but nobody has the time to enjoy
it... the hammer is down. Well, the riders go through a town and the roads
narrow. The peloton has to slow a bit to squeeze through. The roads are thick
with fans. You know, Lampre is also helping Saunier Duval chase. Lampre only has
one guy in there helping, but that is something at least. The Caisse d'Epargne
squad of Yellow Jersey wearer Oscar Pereiro is looking good behind the Saunier
Duval and Lampre boys.
Leipheimer fell to 18th on GC with a terrible bonk yesterday... he lost over
21 minutes. So he's up there trying to get back some time on GC. He's lurking at
the back of the break as they turn onto an uphill slope. Will he attack on this
climb? ...or will he try to pull a "Superman" like Floyd did yesterday?
or...a Periero... the precedent is there in this Tour... smart move really. If
Saunier Duval wasn't chasing, he'd probably be gaining huge time...
The break is on the climb. Hinault leads the break, and now Calzati pulls
through. Calzati already has one stage win in this Tour.
1532 CEST - 70 km left. Leipheimer is the
highest man on GC in this break at 18th, 22 min 01 sec behind Pereiro. Sinkewitz
of T-Mobile is in 25th on GC at 50 min 07 sec, and he was off the front on the
wheel of Landis most of the day yesterday.
Calzati still leads the break on this Cat 2 with only 2 km left on the climb.
Leipheimer moves up on the outside of the break. He's not attacking, yet, but he
likes to have his face in the wind for the cooling effect. This is actually the
hottest day of the Tour so far... it is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit out there.
In the peloton, Saunier Duval is still on the front trying to force the peloton
to slog up this climb. Saunier Duval missed this break, so this pacemaking could
be punishment for missing the boat today. Matteo Algeri: he's a harsh
1538 CEST - 69 km left. Only one
kilometer left on this climb. Calzati still leads the break, which is all
together still. The fans and campers and cars are very thick along the road. You
know, the even and surprising racing in this Tour seems to have captured the
imagination of the public. They seem to love this wide open race. It's easy to
In the peloton, McEwen and his Green Jersey are still in there comfortably.
After the final Cat 4 climb, which comes right after this Cat 2, don't be
surprised if Davitamon-Lotto put some guys on the front to help chase. Sure,
Aerts is in the break, but so are 14 other guys. If it comes down to a bunch
sprint, McEwen will be very hard to beat. So the break is over the top of the
climb. Calzati drops back to get a water bottle after taking maximum points on
the climb. Meanwhile, Saunier Duval still suffers up the climb at the front of
Floyd Landis is prominent near the front of the peloton. As you might expect
from his 130 km attack and stage win yesterday, Landis is wearing the Red Number
of most aggressive rider today. Some big names now at the front of the peloton
setting the pace: Gilberto Simoni is actually at the front for Saunier Duval,
and next to him is Axel Merckx of Phonak who is looking out for Landis.
Kloden is keeping an eye on things for T-Mobile near the front. Cunego of
Lampre is visible up there too. Caisse d'Epargne rider Florent Brard, the French
Champion, shows his champion's jersey at the front to set the pace now.
Forget the Devil at le tour... The Kangaroo has landed from Australia. Photo
c. Ben Ross
1546 CEST - 61 km left. The break is
bombing the descent at over 90 kph. The break is still all together with fifteen
men. The peloton is nearing the top of the climb. The gap is still about 3 min
35 sec, and that has been the case for quite a while now. The peloton is on the
long, fast descent now. The road is relatively straight and the road is wide,
the pavement is good, and the riders are bombing. This is quite a change from
the treacherous descents the riders have faced over the past few days.
The break is now on the final climb of the day. It is a Cat 4 climb, and
Sinkewitz is pushing the pace. He is really stretching things out a bit. He had
a gap, and Leipheimer had to close it. A few men are dropping off the back of
this group. Leipheimer is the one driving it over the top of the climb. He sits
up a bit over the top, and the guys in trouble get back on to the group.
Leipheimer wants time as much as a stage win right now.
In the peloton, Simoni is leading again and driving it up this Cat 4 climb.
The gap is down to about 3 min 07 sec, but it is still just Saunier Duval and
one Lampre guy setting the pace in the pack.
Speaking of Australian fans...
A few proud Aussie fans on Joux Plane... Photo
c. Ben Ross
1553 CEST - 56 km left. There are no more
categorized climbs today. The riders will hit one little uncategorized climb
soon, then it's pretty much flat all the way to the finish. That is when the
peloton will really hit the gas. Probably. The peloton rolls through a town and
has to avoid some road furniture. They've split around a median, and now come
back together. They make that look easy, but it is incredibly tricky. That's why
1600 CEST - 50.5 km left. Calzati
attacks, and Flecha brings him back. Calzati goes again, and Martinez marks him.
Leipheimer goes up to him too. This is on the uncategorized climb. After that
flurry, they've settled down a bit. And now Isasi attacks. He is a powerful man,
and he has a good gap. Nobody is chasing him just now. Wait, now Leipheimer is
joining Isasi. So Isasi and Leipheimer have a gap of about 150 meters on this
uphill drag. Sinkewitz is trying to bridge, but he looks over his shoulder for
help. Nobody wants to help.
Aerts, Sinkewitz, and Martinez all try to bridge and get chased. Now Pineau
launches to try to bridge. He has about 20 meters. Leipheimer and Isasi still
have a good gap and they are working well together. Pineau is halfway between
the two leaders and the twelve chasers.
In the peloton, Saunier Duval is still setting the pace. If Aerts doesn't get
up to the two leaders, then Davitamon-Lotto will come to the front of the
peloton in force in order to chase and set things up for McEwen. In the chase
group, they have pulled back Pineau. So there are thirteen men chasing
Leipheimer and Isasi, but they aren't very organized still.
1607 CEST - 46 km left. Leipheimer and
Isasi have pushed their lead over the peloton up to 4 minutes. Levi really wants
the stage win today. The two leaders have a gap of 25 seconds over the thirteen
men chasing. Of course, Leipheimer's teammate Scholz is sitting on the back the
this chase group doing nothing to help.
42 km left. The gap of Leiheimer and
Isasi is coming down a bit. The chase group has gotten organized a little, and
they are only 20 seconds behind. The peloton is slipping, and the gap to the
peloton is now 4 min 15 sec right now. It looks like this good dig by Isasi and
Leipheimer is going to fail.
Well, McEwen sprints off the front of the peloton and shouts. He felt that
the motorcycle with the camera at the front of the peloton was a bit too close.
McEwen, it seems, likes the chances of his teammate Aerts in the break. So now
the motorcycle is further away from the Saunier Duval men leading the peloton.
In other words, McEwen felt that the motorcycle was providing a bit of a
slipstream for the Saunier Duval men, giving them an unfair advantage. You don't
see that every day.
1617 CEST - 38 km left. Leipheimer and
Isasi still have 25 seconds on their chasers. So they've pushed their gap up
again, and the peloton is even further back at 4 min 34 sec... it looks like
nobody wants to come up to help the Saunier Duval men chase. This is good for
Damiano Cunego comments after yesterdays stage when he took the Maillot Blanc
of Best Young rider from Fothen, "Wearing this jersey makes me very happy.
I had a great performance that permitted me to obtain this jersey: I will wear
it for two days, and then I will probably give it back to Fothen after the time
trial. But at the end of the Tour nothing is so sure: the fatigue can cause
Damiano in the Maillot Blanc Photo Lampre/Fondital
Cunego also said that he won't race the Tour de France next year, instead
focusing on the Giro d'Italia. However, he expects to come to the Tour de France
to try to win it in 2008.
The chase group of 13 men has formed a double paceline and is working very
well together just now. Still, they are 20 seconds behind Leipheimer and Isasi.
The peloton is almost 5 minutes behind.
Other recent news: AEG announced yesterday afternoon the host cities for 2007
Amgen Tour of California, which will cover more than 650 miles of California
roadway from February 18-27, 2007. Beginning with the “traditional” prologue
through the streets of downtown San Francisco and traveling over the next week
on a newly created course, more than 150 of the world’s best professional
cyclists will race through “host cities” Sausalito, Santa Rosa, Sacramento (new
in 2007), Stockton (new in 2007), San Jose, Seaside (new in 2007), San Luis
Obispo, Solvang (new in 2007), Santa Barbara and Santa Clarita (new in 2007),
concluding for the first time in Long Beach.
“From the world-class riders and competition to the overwhelming support from
over one million fans who attended the inaugural Amgen Tour of California and
the critical acclaim from the international cycling community, the bar has been
set extremely high for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California,” said Shawn Hunter,
president, AEG Sports.
Keeping up with the peloton... Cycling is such a part of every day life in
c. Ben Ross
1625 CEST - 32 km left. Simoni leads the
peloton for Saunier Duval. The impetus has gone out of their chase... they seem
to be conceding that the break will stay away. Leipheimer and Isasi press their
advantage. The gap is 27 seconds to the thirteen chasers and 5 min 10 sec to the
28 km left. Leipheimer and Isasi are
losing ground again. They only have about 15 seconds on the thirteen chasers.
Leipheimer and Isasi are still working, but the chasers have them in their
sights now. The peloton is out of it: the peloton is almost six minutes behind,
and nobody wants to chase.
Leipheimer is making the chasers work for it. He's down in that American
time-trial position, hands together and steering with his elbows. The chasers
are still working that double paceline.
20 km left. Isasi and Leipheimer still
have 12 seconds. And the chasing group of thirteen men is starting to break up
the double paceline and look at each other. Now they've got them. So it is
fifteen men together at the front of the race. The peloton is almost 7 minutes
behind at this point.
17 km left. Moreni launches a huge attack
in the break. He is actually chasing Scholz, who slipped away with his fresh
legs. Moreni and Tosatto are working together trying to get up to Scholz.
Remember that Scholz is an outstanding time trialist, and he has been sitting on
this break doing no work for over 20 kilometers. So Moreni and Tosatto have
caught Scholz. The three start to work together to stay away from the twelve
chasers. Good teamwork by Gerolsteiner here, with Leipheimer and Scholz giving
the old 1-2.
Well, the break has split up now. There is a group of five men chasing the
three leaders now. Martinez and Aerts are in a group of five off the back.
Calzati is off the back too.
1648 CEST - Who are the five chasers?
Flecha, Sinkewitz, Quinziato, and Pineau are chasing with Leipheimer sitting on
them. Then there is a group of eight men, the rest of that fifteen man break,
off the back.
1650 CEST - 12 km left. Scholz, Tosatto,
and Moreni are ahead by about 12 seconds. Then a group of five with Flecha,
Sinkewitz, Quinziato, Pineau, and Leipheimer is chasing. They have 10 seconds on
the eight men behind. The peloton has gone into hibernation at over 8 minutes
This will be a big plus for Leipheimer. He's 22 minutes back on GC. If
Leipheimer gets 10 minutes on the peloton, he'll be up into 10th on GC. If the
current gap holds, he'll be up to about 13th.
Well, there has been a regrouping behind. So it is now twelve men chasing the
three leaders. Oh, but Isasi launches another counter-attack. But it goes
nowhere. Meanwhile, the three leaders keep pulling away.
7.5 km left. Three leaders still have
about 35 seconds on the chasers. It looks like Tosatto, Moreni, and Scholz will
fight out the stage victory. You know, each one of these guys has a decent
sprint. Aerts leads the chase group. They are working well right now. Zabriskie
pulls through to take his turn. Moreni and Tosatto were teammates last year...
what that means it is hard to tell. Now Quinziato attacks the chasers. Quinziato
has gotten away, and the rest of the break is sitting up looking at each other.
The gap goes up to 8:30!
5 km left. Quinziato is closing on
Tosatto, Moreni, and Scholz. It looks like the Gerolsteiner rider is still
working with the Italians.
3 km left.
The three men will stay away. Quinziato is fading a bit. But if these guys start
to monkey around, Quinziato could catch them. Quinziato is about 40 seconds
behind. Scholz attacks, and Tosatto barely nails him back. Now they sit up and
look at each other a bit. Moreni comes through, and Scholz gets on his wheel.
2 km left. Scholz goes again, and now
Tosatto chases him again. Moreni is looking good here. Moreni shakes his head at
Tosatto as if to say he won't pull through. Moreni is now just sitting on.
Scholz is at the front heading into the final kilometer. He starts weaving
across the road trying to get one of the Italians to pull through.
It is Scholz, then Tosatto and Moreni. It is Moreni with the best position
here. Scholz is really out on a limb here. Tosatto goes! Moroeni comes up behind
him, but he can't come around Tosatto!
Tosatto wins it! He succeeds where his
teammate Boonen could not. Moreni was 2nd, Scholz 3rd. Quinziato comes across 45
seconds later in 4th. here comes the sprint of the rest for 5th. Hinault takes
So that group came in 1 min 02 sec behind the winner. What will the gap be to
the peloton? How much time will Leipheimer get? At the last check, the peloton
was over 8 minutes back.
1707 CEST. Scholz was given a time 2
seconds behind Tosatto and Moreni. The riders in the peloton aren't doing much.
Maybe eating some powerbars and emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Just what we need on such a hot day: more gaseous emissions. Oh well.
Pineau was 6th, Calzati 7th, Vaugrenard 8th, Isasi 9th, Martinez 10th.
Euskaltel and T-Mobile have a man each doing some kind of minor leadout of
the peloton. The pace if up a bit, but they aren't exactly flying. McEwen is
about 5th wheel, and he's yelling at guys. He's the Green Jersey, so I guess he
feels he's the one to boss around and organize men in the sprint. The peloton is
in the final kilometer, and the clock has already gone past 7 minutes.
And FDJeux rider jumps and leads it out. They are racing pretty hard for 16th
place. McEwen ignores this: he has the Green Jersey sewn up. Why waste the
energy? The Yellow Jersey of Pereiro is up in that, making sure he loses no time
to his rivals.
They cross the line at 7 min 59 sec behind the leaders, which means that
Leipheimer will get 6 min 53 sec on GC today. Leipheimer was 14th at 1 min 06
sec, and Zabriskie was 15th at the 2 min 25 sec. Zabriskie likely was trying to
save something for that time trial tomorrow... he didn't do much in that break
You know, the Tour of California billed itself as a zero emissions race. a
very laudable effort to preserve the environment by balancing the emissions of
the support cars in the race with environmentally friendly actions designed to
reduce emissions. But I wonder if their calculations included the emissions of
the riders? The peloton is a flatulent bunch, what with all the energy they burn
and the gels and powerbars they consume. Just a thought.
So the stage is set tomorrow for the closest Tour de France finish in modern
history: the final time trial will decide it all. Three men are within 30
seconds at the front of the race. This will be exciting to watch.
Here is the GC situation:
1. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 12 sec
3. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 30 sec
=========== 2:00 ============
4. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2 min 32 sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3 min 11 sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 4' 17"
7. Cyril Dessel (AG2r-Prevoyance) @ 4 min 27 sec
8. Christophe Moreau (AG2r-Prevoyance) @ 5 min 48 sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) @ 8 min 19 sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 12 min 16 sec
This concludes our live coverage, of stage 18!
Thanks for joining us today.
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