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Friday, July 13, 2007

TDF - Cadel Watch Stage 5

The eyes are bleary but once again I am lovin it, lovin it, lovin it. The Tour de France is well underway with Stage 5 completed and we’re only a couple of days away from the first mountain stage in the Alps.

Because I’m putting in the hard yards every night and things are just starting to get serious, I hope you will indulge me as I enthuse over each stage and track the progress of the leader of the Predictor Lotto team, Cadel Evans. My hope is that he can maybe, just maybe, improve on his 5th placing from last year.

The Stage

Stage 5 was a 182km bump-fest from Chablis to Autun. Along the way the field of 185 riders had to overcome 3 category 4 climbs, 3 category 3 climbs and a 2nd category climb. But it wasn’t the uphill riding that caused the major problems, it was the descending and simply surviving in the pelaton.

The Highlights

There were a few crashes that affected some of the GC riders, most of them overcame their mishaps with just a few cuts and bruises. One who didn’t though was Alexander Vinokourov who came down inside the 20km to go mark and despite the best efforts of his team ended up losing 1:21 to the pelaton. To make the news doubly worse for the Astana team, Andreas Kloden who was runner-up in 2004 also crashed and although he remounted and finished the stage has since been diagnosed with a hairline fracture of the coccyx…nasty.

The winner of the 5th stage was Filippo Pozzato of the Liquigas team who came with a strong burst to beat out Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre).

Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey crossing the line in 12th place after a hair-raising final descent that saw him ride off the road behind one of the Discovery Channel riders.

Sylvain Chavenal (Cofidis) took maximum points in every climb until the last of the day to take a commanding lead in the King of the Mountain. This not surprisingly also earned him the Combativeness award for the stage and a set of red numbers for tomorrow.

The sprinters jersey has moved from the back of Tom Boonen across to the old man of the tour, Erik Zabel with Robbie McEwen hanging in for 3rd place.

Cadel Watch

All importantly, Cadel Evans looked to be riding comfortably at the front of the pelaton up the last 2 climbs when the pace really got going. There was a moment of madness at the end though when he must have begun channelling his team-mate Robbie McEwen and decided to contest the sprint. A brush with disaster when he brushed wheels with Daniele Bennati reminded him that he was there for the vertical, not the horizontal, racing.

Nevertheless, he picked up 11th place for the stage which has moved him from 21st to 15th overall, 56 seconds behind the maillot jeune. Just quietly, the other outside GC contender from Australia, Michael Rogers isn’t doing too badly at all sitting in 17th place just a second behind Evans.

The Contenders

2 Andreas Kloden (Astana) 33 secs
5 George Hincapie (Discovery) 43 secs
17 Michael Rogers (Team Mobile) 57 secs
18 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Caisse D’Epargne) 57 secs
22 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery) 1 min
23 Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 1 min
36 Christophe Moreau (AG2R) 1 min 9 secs
47 Carlos Sastre (CSC) 1 min 16 secs
49 Haimar Zulbeldia (Eukatel) 1 min 17 secs
53 Iban Mayo (Saunier) 1 min 20 secs
63 Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) 1 min 26
81 Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) 2 min 10 secs


mark said...

hey man, great wrap up. The next two nights have me wetting my pants. Cadel is the best place of the contenders bar kloden who can't possibly finish now?!

just one small thing seeings you will be saying it alot... it's pel_o_ton not pel_a_ton. enjoy the race man!

Damien said...

It's a fascinating TDF this year isn't it? And thanks for the correction...y'know I was just gonna call it the bunch.