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La Vuelta a Espana


Apr 23, 2006
And NOW its time the la vuelta!

La Vuelta a Espana!

(doesn't it just roll of the tongue?)

TCC gives YOU the chance to comment and be read!

Those of you who have not (quite)condemned pro cycling to the dustbin are given one more chance! (or is it the just the next chance?) The Vuelta promises some very exciting cycling and even more I look forward to the comments of our erudite TCC members (and guests) over the next few weeks!

Despite or because of the terrible controversy over La Tour, we had a terrific forum on that race. The Vuelta will be a great occasion to continue this discussion on things pro cycling!

So guys and gals! Who's gonna win?

lets roll!

So guys and gals! Who's gonna win?

Hey! who cares?.....lets hope it's clean and exciting racing!

"Desea vivo el viaje de España":bike:

Rough translation....."Long Live the Tour of Spain".....sounds better in Spanish though!

it starts today!

The preview from cyclingnews:

62nd Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, September 1-23, 2007
Vuelta's one-two punch
The 2007 Vuelta a España will start without not only last year's winner, but without the entire 2006 podium. Despite this, the racing will be as close and exciting as ever. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown picks out the favourites.
The arid, windy conditions of the Vuelta
Photo ©: Unipublic
The riders of the 62nd Vuelta a España will start their 3291-kilometre journey this Saturday, September 1, from Vigo, heading out onto a parcours that, along with the composition of the peloton, should make for a gripping 2007 edition of the race. Organiser Unipublic has continued to do what it does best by offering an exciting three-week journey, this year delivered in the form of a one-two punch.

The fight for the Maillot Oro will take place as the roads guide the riders from north-western Spain in a clockwise direction. It takes in Galicia and Asturia on its way east before skirting down the coast for the southern stages. It is the northern stages of the first week and the southern stages in the third week that will pack the biggest punch. After the sprinters have had a chance in the first three days, the GC contenders will come out to play, and we should have an early glimpse of the final winner as early as Tuesday - just four days into the race - when the riders meet their first big obstacle: the 12.6-kilometre ascent of Lagos de Covadonga.

After stage four, the second big appointment will be the 52-kilometre time trial in Cariñena to Zaragoza. The slightly downhill parcours will be shaped by the wind, which is always a factor in the Spanish Tour.

There will be no respite for the overall contenders, and they will head immediately into the mountain-top finishes on stage nine (167.6 kilometres to Cerler) and stage 10 (a massive 214 kilometres to Andorra), both of which will blast out weaker riders and lock down the GC-battle to a select set of champions.

As the Vuelta travels to the south for its final punch after the second rest day, the sprinters and strong winds will have their day in the sun as the race hurtles toward a thrilling final week conclusion. Before the riders have their parade lap into Madrid, they'll have to deal with Stage 19, the third-to-last stage of the Vuelta, which will put the final icing on the cake. The 'short' 133-kilometre stage to Alto de Abantos is where Valverde lost the race in 2006, and is packed with five classified climbs before the final mountain top arrival.

Unlike the Tour de France with its brutally long and decisive time trials, the Vuelta's second time trial is just 20 kilometres in length, and will not likely make much of a difference in the pecking order of the final GC. However, if the overall classification is separated by mere seconds like this year's Tour, the flat dash around Villalba could make for an exciting stage before the sprinters have their romp into Madrid.

Samuel Sanchez is a top contender
Photo ©: Sirotti
The last editions of the Grand Tour have been marred with difficulties. Roberto Heras' title was stripped in 2005 after he tested positive for EPO, and the podium of 2006, now, seems more like a display of painful memories. Astana's Alexander Vinokourov (2006 winner) and Andrey Kashechkin (third) have both tested positive for blood doping in the last months, while Spain's favourite, Alejandro Valverde has been forced to face the courts in Operación Puerto-related matters.

There are still a lot of quality riders that will contest the 21 stages of this year's event. The favourites have to be Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Carlos Sastre (Team CSC). Favourites from outside of the Iberian Peninsula include second place Tour finisher Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), de facto 2005 winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson and Janez Brajkovic.

Pereiro and Sánchez have been targeting the Vuelta all year. Sammy Sánchez is one of the most dynamic riders in Spain. Seeing him round out his palmarès, which includes the GP Zürich, with a Grand Tour would be spectacular. Gomez Marchante's fifth place overall in 2006 proved the man can ride a good three week race, and his Spain-based team will back him completely as he goes for the top of the GC.

Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
Sastre, mister consistency, will for sure be in the top five by Madrid. He finished fourth in 2006 after riding the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. For 2007 he will be 'fresher' after only tackling the French tour. The shorter lengths of the time trials should favour the CSC rider, who excels on the climbs but suffers devastating time losses in the test against the clock.

It will be interesting to see what Australian Evans can do on this course after spending so much energy in the Tour de France, where he finished a close second behind Alberto Contador. His strong team could help him ride to the race's top spot.

American Tom Danielson is back on form after battling an intestinal illness that, among other things, caused him to miss the Tour. He picked up a stage win on his way to sixth overall last year. With the help of pure climber Brajkovic, he could make the top of the podium.

The stage battles in the lower lands will be fought out by Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi (both Milram), Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen (both Quick.Step - Innergetic), Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher (both Gerolsteiner) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

'Ale-Jet' Petacchi is the biggest winner of the group with 17 wins. The Italian will point to come back kicking after a dark period following the Giro. Double Tour stage winner 'Benna' and Freire will be the ones to threaten Petacchi the most. Expect to seek World Champion Bettini, 'Tin-Tin' Rebellin and Schumacher take the cake on the rolling stages.
another preview

from velonews:

Upside down Vuelta should deliver sparks
By Andrew Hood
VeloNews European correspondent
Filed: August 30, 2007
Ever since the Vuelta a España moved to September in the racing calendar a decade ago, the Spanish race has been trying to reinvent what a three-week grand tour should look like.

The 2007 Vuelta route

High-octane shorter stages, opening day team time trials, closing day time trials, finales inside 80,000-seat football stadiums, nothing wasn't worth a try for season's third big tour. There was once an even a zany idea about having 26 or so teams starting and then get rid of the four slowest squads through elimination rounds.

It all gave the Vuelta an exciting, unpredictable edge. No one really knew what to expect, especially when riders were uncorking attacks before rolling out of the neutral start zone.

For the 62nd edition of the Vuelta Ciclista a España, race organizers have once again turned the grand tour concept upside down - this time literally.

A top-heavy 21-stage course starting Saturday in Spain's lush Galicia region packs in three of the race's four summit finishes and the longest individual time trial all into the first 10 days of racing.

It would be hard to imagine that an unmistakable candidate for overall victory won't pull clear by the time the Vuelta rolls out of the Pyrénées for the first rest day Sept. 11.

"After the Pyrenees, the favorites will be pretty well defined. It's going to be a race that requires strength right from the gun in Vigo, because if not, you're in for a surprise," said Eusebio Unzue, sport director at Caisse d'Epargne. "It's a demanding Vuelta, harder than most years and nothing will be decided until the final summit and time trial."

There's no opening prologue or team time trial to kick-start the action. Instead, the race jumps right in with a hilly, 146.6km road stage starting and ending in Vigo that will give the sprinters a chance to grab the jersey.

They won't hold it for long. The Vuelta wastes no time turning on the pain button and steers the peloton up the steep Lagos de Covadonga in the rugged Picos de Europa in stage four. Typical foul weather along Spain's Costa Verde could make the suffering worse.

Some tricky transition stages push the Vuelta east along the northern coast and then across the windy Duero and Ebro valleys, where dangerous echelons can cut the field.

The second weekend of racing will be a doozy, with summit finishes at Cerler in the Spanish Pyrénées and Arcalís in Andorra before a long, 52km individual time trial in windy Zaragoza.

It seems that Vuelta organizers wanted to give the shell-shocked peloton a chance to catch its collective breath. The course then weaves between small towns across Valencia, Murcia and Andalucia in transition stages well-suited for head-bangers and any surviving sprinters.

Organizers delivered on its promise to avoid larger cities and the traffic delays due to road closures and directed the course off the big wide-open highways onto smaller, more challenging roads that lead to new host cities.

Any rider hitting form in the final week will their chances in the final weekend of racing around Madrid to make a raid on the GC.

The rollercoaster Stage 18 into Ávila and mountainous Stage 19 with the fourth and final summit finish at Alto de Abantos on the jagged mountains west of Madrid could reshuffle the pecking order.

The Vuelta jefes would love nothing better than to have the winner crowned on the penultimate stage in the pancake-flat 20km final TT at Collado Villalba.

At least they followed the script when they included the 104.2km finale into Madrid serving up a sprinter's paradise.

"We are trying to create the myths of the Vuelta," said race director Victor Cordero. "When we designed the course, with did it as if it were a play at the theater, thinking about who is going to play the roles and about what could happen. Things will remain unsettled until the final time trial. The Vuelta will deliver an all-round rider who can climb and time trial."

And then there are the Vuelta's famous post-stage parties for race officials, sport directors, VIPs, podium girls and hard-at-work journalists. At least that much hasn't changed.

So who can win?
The Vuelta starts without any of its top-three podium finishers from its previous edition. Winner Alexandre Vinokourov and third-place man Andrey Kashechkin both tested positive for homologous blood doping and their Astana team was told they are not welcome.

Last year's runner-up Alejandro Valverde was already planning on skipping the Vuelta to focus on the world championships. Now that he's been told by the UCI he's not welcome, could he try to start the Vuelta? Not likely. The Vuelta doesn't want any stain of Operación Puerto on its baby this year.

As it looks now, the favorites come from a mix of Spanish (Carlos Sastre, Samuel Sánchez, Oscar Pereiro and Angel Gómez Marchante) and a handful of foreign riders who roll into the Vuelta with unclear ambitions.

Cadel Evans, fresh off second in the Tour de France, 2005 winner Denis Menchov and 2004 Giro champ Damiano Cunego are enter the Vuelta with chances to win, but we'll have to wait to see if they have the legs or the motivation to try.

Discovery Channel - in its swan song grand tour before closing its doors at the end of the season - could be the surprise with the likes of Janez Brajkovic, Stijn Devolder and Tom Danielson hoping to give the American team a winning sendoff.

Many riders use the Vuelta as a trampoline for the world championships. Both Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini won their respective world titles after racing the Vuelta and, not surprisingly, both are back are this year.

A herd of world-class sprinters - Boonen, Bettini, Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Daniele Bennati, Allan Davis and Oscar Freire - should keep the racing interesting in the transition stages.

Smoking out the cheats
Vuelta organizers are putting money on the line to assure that there are no doubts about this year's winner.

Hoping to catch the cheats before they come to the race, the Spanish grand tour took the unprecedented step to spend 180,000 euros (about $250,000) to carry out an estimated 80 surprise anti-doping controls ahead of the race. The extra cash gave a big boost to the UCI's out-of-competition testing program.

The money has already been well spent.

On Aug. 1, Kashechkin was located in the remote Turkish town of Belek (Astana team manager Marc Biver admitted he didn't know where the Kazakh rider was) and he tested positive for banned blood transfusions. Astana later saw its invitation revoked.

"We have to keep fighting to guarantee the credibility and that's why we've announced the anti-doping plan," said Vuelta race director Victor Cordero. "It demonstrates that the anti-doping controls work and there remain fewer and fewer options for cheaters. It's the only guarantee we can offer."

For the Vuelta, it's a small price to pay to deliver a clean winner.
Just watching the Aussies...
Predictor Lotto have left McEwen off so looks like full support for Cadel.
Brad McGee is making a comeback but he won't have any chance...
Too bad Michael Rogers isn't racing, even though he is injured he's still racing strongly and would have been a better chance than Evans in this IMHO.
Allan Davis may do well too...

Just watching the Aussies...
Predictor Lotto have left McEwen off so looks like full support for Cadel.
Brad McGee is making a comeback but he won't have any chance...
Too bad Michael Rogers isn't racing, even though he is injured he's still racing strongly and would have been a better chance than Evans in this IMHO.
Allan Davis may do well too...

yep, this is a real chance for Cadel if he still has the legs after the Tour! Lets see. Hopefully he will take the bull by the horns... (ok, that is the last matador joke...)I notice that some people have been rather keen on the americans, the swan song of Discovery as it were, but I rather doubt it due to the strong presence of AUSTRALIANS in the race! :D

I see also they are spending a lot of money to catch cheats, which is rather encouraging, so hopefully this is not going to turn into another pharmaceutical convention like the Tour.

I am praying for a clean race for a change and for some exciting cycling!

Anyway, it is 15 mins till go time as I write!

Viva la Ruta!:eek:

Well, here we are on day 2, and so far no drug scandal! A first for a grand tour so far this year!

Danielson is out after doing his collarbone, that guy has no luck at all. gotta feel sorry for him after all the problems he has had this year.

Of course, there are 3 AUSTRALIANS in the top 30, Davis, Renshaw and of course young Cadel. This of course is an almost insurmountable threat to the other 27 no-hopers! :D I am surprised they have not just all retired in the face of it :rolleyes: One has to admire them for carrying on though...:eek:

Bit of a hill in this, a cat 3, should be an interesting day!
Was MCGee in a crash or is he just washed up? He was already more than 4 minutes behind most after stage 1.
Allan Davis is looking for a new team so he'll try and keep his position.
Looks like a bit of a boring stage tonight....
Cunego as well, who I like is near the tail of the standings...
non doping cyclists finish Tour de France

From the Onion: :D

The Onion

Non-Doping Cyclists Finish Tour De France
August 30, 2007 | Onion Sports

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Onion Sports Year In Review: Team Sports

Sponsored by PARIS—A small but enthusiastic crowd of several dozen was on hand at the Tour de France's finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées Tuesday to applaud the efforts of the 28 cyclists who completed the grueling 20-stage, 2,208.3-mile race without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

Enlarge Image
Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins finished the final 56km time trial in a respectable and drug-free 4 hours and 38 minutes.

Finland's Piet Kvistik, a domestique with the Crédit Mondial team, was this year's highest-finishing non-doping rider (142nd overall). Kvistik claimed the maillot propre, the blue jersey worn by the highest-placed "clean" rider, on the ninth stage of the race when the six riders who had previously worn it tested positive for EPO, elevated levels of testosterone, and blood-packing.

"This is a very, very proud day for me," said the 115-pound Kvistik, who lost 45% of his body mass during the event, toppled from his saddle moments after finishing, and had to be administered oxygen, fed intravenously, and injected with adrenaline by attending medical personnel. "They say it is physically impossible to ride all of the Tour without drugs, but we prove them wrong this day."

"What day is it, anyway?" asked Kvistik, his eyes rolling wildly in his head. "I can no longer tell."

Kvistik's overall time for the Tour was 571 hours, 22 minutes, and 33 seconds, beating by over an hour the previous record for a non-enhanced rider, set by Albrect Påart during 1923's infamous ether-and-morphine-shortened race. Kvistik finished a mere 480 hours behind Alberto Contador, the overall winner, making 2007's margin between doping and non-doping riders the closest in history.

"It became most difficult for us on the 7th stage, which was almost 200 kilometers and the first stage through the mountains," Kvistik said while accepting the non-doping victor's 100-franc check from his stretcher. "Not only did the excruciating pain and weakness in my legs make it difficult to walk my bike on the steeper stretches, it was mentally very hard to know that half the other clean riders were dead or dying. Also, the other 141 riders finished the Tour in Paris that morning, which made it all that much harder."

"It's rather a shame that the Tour's 'clean' riders, or 'lanternes naturelles' as the fans call them, receive so little attention, for their monumental achievement," said cycling commentator Phil Liggett, reporting on the non-doping riders' finish for Versus-2, the little-sister network to Versus, who carried the main Tour de France coverage. "It's nearly impossible to compete in the full Tour while shot full of human growth hormone, erythropoietin, testosterone, glucocorticosteroids, synthetic testosterone, anabolic steroids, horse testosterone, amphetamines, and one's own pre-packed oxygen-rich red blood cells. To do it on water and bananas is almost heroic, no matter what one's time is."

While Kvistik's achievement is being celebrated by cycling insiders, critics of the Tour de France maintain that not enough is being done to combat the use of performance-enhancing substances in cycling's premier event.

"Nonsense—pure nonsense," said Tour general director Christian Prudhomme, who was vacationing in Switzerland as Kvistik crossed the finish line. "We have done everything we could imagine, both in terms of prize money and other incentives, to promote riders who compete without pharmaceutical aid. But we simply do not have the resources, nor the viewers the interest, to televise the entire two months it takes for a normal, unadulterated human to circumnavigate an entire nation on a bicycle."

Kvistik remains in critical condition at the Hôpital Neuilly-sur-Seine, where he was placed in a medically induced coma to aid his recovery from exhaustion, malnutrition, and loss of bone density. Attending physicians say he is not expected to return to cycling.

Last night Bettini ends his long drought by claiming a great sprint!

Tonight end point is a huge climb after a long day, are they preparing the riders for what lays ahead?

Beautiful scenery on todays run....lush and green, Spain is really a country of contrasts...
report from cycling news!

Bettini ends drought; Freire holds Vuelta lead

Freire wasn't happy with the result, but Bettini was.

Reigning world champion Paolo Bettini says he's not superstitious, but he was probably having his doubts after what's been a long season for the usually prolific Tuscan tiger.

Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic) came into the Vuelta a España with just one victory on the 2007 season and was relieved with his sprint victory Monday ahead of Óscar Freire Gómez (Rabobank) and Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) to end a winless streak dating back to February's Tour of California.

"I'm so happy with this victory. It really means a lot to me after coming so close to wins this season but always finishing second or third," said Bettini. "It's been a long time since I've won, but we're professionals and we know with the hard work, the results will come."

Another day and another civilized afternoon start

Bettini, 33, uncorked a perfect sprint to come past a fading Davis at the end of a frenetic 153km third stage from Viveira to Luarca along Spain's spectacular northern coast. It was Bettini's first win since a stage victory at the Tour of California.

"I spoke with (teammate Carlos) Barredo and he told me it was a good finish for me today," Bettini said. "Today to win was good for me because the entire Quick Step-Innergetic did a great job for me. It's been since February since I've won so today is a very special today for me."

Freire retained the race leader's jersey and made a half-hearted protest that Bettini barged him into the fences, but Bettini sprinted clear to the finish at the end of a rising finish that saw the likes of Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) and Chris Horner (Predictor-Lotto) make stabs at victory before the sprinters had their way for the third day in a row.

"Polemic with Freire? None at all. I spoke with him. We are friends and we respect each other. I told him that I was maintaining my line to the sprint and that I didn't see him," Bettini said. "There's no way you can say I boxed him in."

Bettini's win comes just in time as he prepares to defend his rainbow jersey at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, later this month.

"This is good for the morale," said Bettini. "I've been to the Vuelta three years in a row and I've been able to win a stage each year. The Vuelta is ideal preparation for the world's. The past two years I've come out of the Vuelta very strong for the world's. I hope it's the same this year. I will race for sure two weeks and there might be a chance to win another stage in the third stage, but I will likely pull out early to rest a little before Stuttgart."

For the third day in a row, a breakaway failed to hold off the hungry sprinters, anxious to strike success before the climbing stages start in earnest with Tuesday's grueling summit finish to Lagos de Covadonga.

More crashes marred the Vuelta, this time with pre-race favorite Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) going down after colliding with traffic cones that were placed inside the road near a race banner.

And once again, the selection was made very early in the race. Angel Vallejo (Relax-GAM) opened up the aggression at just 4km into the day's battle and was quickly joined by David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) - the most aggressive rider in last year's Tour de France - and Serafín Martínez Acevedo (Karpin-Galicia).

Martínez was keen to protect his grip on the best climber's jersey he earned in Saturday's opener and took points over the Cat. 2 Alto de San André Boimente and the Cat. 3 Puerto Cruz de Campa in the opening 35km.

Rabobank was happy to let the threesome make a run for glory, but never let them get more than three minutes or so off the front on the lumpy run along Spain's Costa Verde.

Vallejo pipped Martínez over the Cat. 3 Alto de Cadeira at 58km and the lead hovered around three and a half minutes as Rabobank put five men on the front to keep the attackers on a short leash.

The lead was under two minutes when QuickStep-Innergetic took over the reigns of the chase heading up the day's final rated climb with the Cat. 3 Alto de Bobia with 33km to go.

Martínez couldn't stay with de la Fuente and Vallejo, but it didn't matter. He successfully defended his climber's jersey and the move was squelched after Euskaltel-Euskadi upped the pace on the narrow descent with 25km to go.

The orange-clad Basques wanted to try to split the peloton and the tactic worked as the bunch fractured under the pressure with about 25km to go. Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and Tom Boonen (QuickStep) were the bigger sprinters caught out by the aggressive riding.

Zubeldia was the unfortunate victim of a crash after he tripped over cones on the race course as it ran under a race banner. He was able to continue despite crashing hard on his shoulder and finished last at 11 minutes off the pace.

More splits came on a tough finishing circuit as QuickStep and Lampre ramped up the pace coming into a finishing circuit in Luarca.

Ruben Lobato and Alberto Fernandez (both Saunier Duval-Prodir) both hit the deck on the narrow run on the finishing circuit with less than 3km to go.

The final 3km featured a short ramp as steep as 7 percent and many of the top overall favorites were gunning at the front to avoid the risk of getting gapped.

"I felt much better today after my crash (Sunday). I didn't feel well in the first two hours of the race, but when I warmed up, I was okay," said Pereiro, who crashed in Sunday's finale. "I saw there was an opportunity to try to win the stage, but it wasn't meant to be. Still, it was a good sign that I was in the lead."

Lagos on the horizon
The 62nd Vuelta is wasting no time going into the hills with Tuesday's 185.1km fourth stage from Langreo to Lagos de Covadonga.

The route opens with a steep Cat. 2 at 17.5km with another Cat. 3 at 131km, which could spring another chance at a breakaway. The real fun begins with the 12.6km especial climb up to the Lagos de Covadonga deep in the heart of the Picos de Europa.

The road climbs 1100 meters with an average grade of 7.3 percent, but there are punishing ramps on the middle section of the climb as steep as 13 percent.

"It's an important stage, but I don't know if it will decide the winner, but it's an important test among the favorites," said Team CSC's Carlos Sastre. "The Lagos climb is always hard. Maybe it comes a little too early for some, I hope to be able to overcome the challenge of the climb."

62nd Vuelta a España, Stage 3, Viveiro to Luarca, 153km

Stage winner Paolo Bettini (Ita), QuickStep-Innergetic
Race leader 1. Oscar Freire (Spa), Rabobank, 2. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis; 3. Erik Zabel (Ger), Milram - all same time
Points jersey Freire
Climber's jersey Serafín Martínez Acevedo (Karpin-Galicia)
Best team Caisse d'Epargne
Peloton Mathieu Claude (Bouygues Telecom) did not finish, 187 riders remain.

Results - Stage 3
1 Paolo Bettini, (ITA), Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:08:42
2 Óscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, s.t.
3 Allan Davis, (AUS), Discovery Channel Team, s.t.
4 Davide Rebellin, (ITA), Gerolsteiner, s.t.
5 Philippe Gilbert, (BEL), Francaise des Jeux, s.t.
6 Rene Mandri, (EST), Ag2r Prevoyance, s.t.
7 Xavier Florencio, (ESP), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
8 Cadel Evans, (AUS), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
9 Franco Pellizotti, (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
10 Francisco Terciado, (Sp), Relax GAM, s.t.
>Overall, after Stage 3
1 Óscar Friere (Sp), Rabobank, 11:22:54
2 Leonardo Duque, (COL), Cofidis, s.t.
3 Erik Zabel, (GER), Milram, s.t.
4 Rene Mandri, (EST), Ag2r Prevoyance, s.t.
5 David LÓpez, (ESP), Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
6 Cadel Evans, (AUS), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
7 Manuel BeltrÁn, (Sp), Liquigas, s.t.
8 Xavier Florencio, (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
9 Ezequiel Mosquera, (Sp), Karpin Galicia, s.t.
10 J. Ángel GÓme
Erik Zabel is

amazing don`t you think. Truly a man in repentance I feel....

Cadel moves into 7th place...

1. Óscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 4:07:51
2. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre
3. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic
4. Philippe Gilbert (B), Francaise des Jeux
5. Erik Zabel (G), Milram
6. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis
7. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom
8. Josep Jufre (Sp), Predictor-Lotto
9. Rene Mandri (Est), Ag2r Prevoyance
10. David GarcÍa (Sp), Karpin Galicia

1. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), Caisse d'Epargne, 20:10:41
2. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, 1:06
3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 1:06
4. Maxime Monfort (B), Cofidis, 1:06
5. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel Team, 1:06
6. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, 1:06
7. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 1:28
8. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Cofidis, 1:33
9. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), Karpin Galicia, 1:36
10. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Liquigas, 1:49

Pretty well postioned here with the main mountains to come in week 3....:D
C`mon Carlos

this is his big chance I think...reasonable Tour, flattered somewhat by the decimated field in front of him, but lets see how he goes over the first mountain stage.

My podium call!

Results after last night's TT

1 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 29.25.55
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.30
3 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 1.28
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 1.54
5 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 2.12
6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 3.00
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 3.15
8 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quickstep - Innergetic 3.41
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 3.44
10 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Liquigas 4.03
11 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 4.09
12 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia 4.15
13 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 4.47
14 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 4.56
15 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 5.11

I am calling it here at the top 15, I dont think there is anyone really seriously capable of catching up to these guys in the mountain stages.

So here is my podium call:

1. Cadel Evans (thats no patriotism, the kid has the legs and the experience to do this):cool:

2. Carlos Sastre

3. Denis Menchov

If Pereiro can fight back from his stomach problems it will make it very interesting and it is also too early to write off Efimkin and Karpets.

Comments welcome!:D
I watched a few stages..last night being the crucial it's all over red rover stage...

Evans looked like he was going to drop dead of a heart attack at the end and he has dropped back into 3rd place. The look on his face was a contrast to the winner of the stage who rode over the finish line as if he'd just had a cool shower and was going to start the day all over again. Wasn't even puffing.... red light there.

Those drugs must make a huge difference is all I can say.

Looking forward to the World's and I'm afraid that Evans will be suffering from fatigue for the rest of the year... McEwen isn't in it either...

Predictor's big chance and possibly last chance for success will be next year...

I don't want to watch tonights stage... hopefully I will sleep early.

Menchov probably deserves this win but not sure about 2nd and 4th place...
A little off topic but relevant. I'm curious what everyone thinks of the possibility of Slipstream squeeking into the Pro Tour next year? They have secured some very big name riders (Millar, Danielson, Backstedt, etc). Could they become the new powerhouse on the tour? Additionally, if it is true, it will be interesting to see if Bruyneel can clean up Astana.
A little off topic but relevant. I'm curious what everyone thinks of the possibility of Slipstream squeeking into the Pro Tour next year? They have secured some very big name riders (Millar, Danielson, Backstedt, etc). Could they become the new powerhouse on the tour? Additionally, if it is true, it will be interesting to see if Bruyneel can clean up Astana.

as in lots of thick carpet to hide all the dirt under...?
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