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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Check out our latest wallpaper, in the wallpaper section:
Floyd Landis Time Trial and Lance Armstrong Paris Panorama

Tosatto's Day Out

Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) won yesterday's 18th stage of the Tour de France to Macon.  Part of a 15 man breakaway earlier in the day, Tosatto and Christian Moreni counter-attacked Ronny Scholtz's move with 18 km to go, catching him to form a 3-man lead group to the finish.  Scholtz, the slowest of the three men in a sprint, inexplicably did most of the work in the final kilometers, including leading the other two riders out for the last kilometer.  With Scholtz's chances blown, Tosatto simply took advantage of the work done and outsprinted Moreni.   Read more  - Chris

Friday, July 21, 2006

Click to read about Damiano Cunego taking the lead in the Young Rider competition
Damiano Cunego

Monumental ride by Landis

In June, we called it The Landis Way .  A week ago today, I suggested Floyd Landis might have trouble holding on to the yellow jersey in the Alps and forecast yesterday's stage to Morzine as "potentially very dramatic."  Little did anyone know that Floyd would have to come back from over eight minutes down to put himself into position to take the yellow jersey back in the final time trial, like Greg LeMond in 1989.  All I hoped for was a little exchanging of the jersey this final week; a minute deficit would have sufficed after the stage to La Toussuire.  But Floyd gave us so much more; ask for an inch and he gives us a mile!  That was a truly historic ride yesterday.  And thanks, too, to Carlos Sastre and Oscar Pereiro who battled like real champions  for every second.  Barring incident or illness, this race should be Floyd's after Saturday's long time trial.  At 57km, that stage is made for Floyd.  - Pete
The Return of Floyd

What can you say about yesterday's stage?  Absolutely phenomenal.  Floyd Landis, the man left for dead just 24 hours before, broke away from the peloton with 127km to go and stormed his way to his first ever stage victory in the Tour.  More importantly, though, was the 5:40 he put into Carlos Sastre and 7:08 he put into maillot jaune wearer Oscar Pereiro and everyone else.  Landis now sits in 3rd place on the general classification, a mere 30 seconds behind Perreiro.  With the final 57km time trial coming on Saturday, Landis, the biggest favorite for that time trial, is suddenly poised to claim final glory in Paris.

The stage started out like almost any other stage of the Tour, when 11 riders in a breakaway went up the road.   Read more  - Chris

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Today's forecast:

Click to read about Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero of Phonak
Profile: Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero

Note:  What's the quickest way to see photos of today's stage?  Click on the "Yahoo photo gallery" link in our live coverage programme.  AP and AFP photographers are equipped to transmit photos from the road.

Note:   If you are joining us for the Tour de France , please note that we do publish "Live Guides" like the one below all season long for big and small races, February to October.  We hope you stick around!

Note:  Some of you have expressed an interest in having more options, possibly via subscription, for video streaming of races, such as the Tour, in the future.  We plan to talk to France Télévisions, Eurosport and others about all this sometime after the Tour.  You can help out by letting us know what your concerns, interests and questions are.  Or email us about anything at all.  We'd like to hear from you.

Carnage at the Tour
Yesterday's 16th Stage of the Tour de France to La Toussuire completely blew apart the race.  Floyd Landis, the "Mennonite Menace" and seemingly in-control leader of the race, completely broke down on the final climb and lost 10 minutes by the end of the day.  Looking untroubled all day, he raced up the first 6km of the climb seemingly in good shape.  Carlos Sastre's attack at 10 km to go, however, completely put the pressure on to split the group and sent Floyd flying backwards.  It was a sad sight to see the maillot jaune pedalling so feebly, as riders who had just a few kilometers beforehand been dusted by Landis were suddenly passing him in waves. 
Meanwhile, Oscar "The Grouch" Pereiro had a phenomenal day to finish 3rd and reclaim the maillot jaune.  Following wheels the entire way and looking very composed, he managed to stay with or ahead of every one of his major rivals except Sastre, whose attack was whittled down to a mere 13 seconds gain by the end.  Pereiro, who was half an hour behind by the end of the Pyrenees but gifted all of it back, suddenly looks like one of the strongest climbers in the race.  He even managed to sprint around fellow group members Andreas Kloden and Cadel Evans to take the 3rd place time bonus.  With everyone around 2 minutes back and just one more mountain stage to go, it's looking like a possibility that Pereiro could just steal the maillot jaune all the way to Paris.
The winner of the day, though, was Michael "Chicken" Rasmussen.  Breaking away at the beginning of the stage, he managed to power his way over every mountain in the stage in first place and reclaim the king of the mountains jersey, in addition to the stage win.  With a 45 point lead over the gallant David de la Fuente in the mountains competition and a stage victory in the queen stage of the Tour de France, it's mission accomplished for Rasmussen and for Rabobank, who saw their leader Denis Menchov lose a further 2 minutes on the stage.  If only Rasmussen could ever learn to time trial (or at least not have 12 different mechanical incidents while time trialling, that would help)....
What an incredible day.  Landis completely tumbled out of the top 10.  Let's just hope he ran out of energy and bonked so that he can recover to save some glory for the rest of the Tour.  And who would have thought that Spain would be sitting 1-2 in the general classification (Pereiro and Sastre) this late in the race with their three best climbers (Iban Mayo, Francisco Mancebo, and Alejandro Valverde) and two of their teams (the ex Liberty Seguros and Communitat Valenciana) out of the race.
But before we think about any of that, let's all remember that everyone still has to go up the Col de Joux Plane today.  And lest we forget, the Joux Plane is the only road stage to ever seriously crack a certain otherwise invincible Texan.  I have a prediction: the Joux Plane will completely alter the Tour's landscape (again).  Then again, try to name a stage in this year's Tour that hasn't done so.
Bring it on!

- Chris, cyclingfans.com columnist

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lord of the Yellow Jersey, or Floyd of the Rings?
(with apologies to JRR Tolkien)

View from Col du Galibier

Paris (cyclingfans.com) - They set out on July 1 with one goal: take the yellow jersey to Paris.  Nine riders (but not the Nine Riders of evil) in Middle-earth (photo, aka the Galibier Pass) forming Phonak's Fellowship of the Yellow Jersey.  But poor Floyd and his weary companions; the weight of the jersey was too much to bear the entire distance.  Floyd succeeded in getting rid of the ring, er, jersey the other day and didn't want it back just yet.  The other 143 riders remaining in the race known as the Tour de France would gladly wear it, for the yellow jersey gives one great powers.  But it seems the jersey WANTS to be worn by Floyd.  And there apparently isn't much Floyd can do about it, so he is back again in yellow after Alpe d'Huez.  The Fellowship will have to defend it too.  It is Floyd's destiny perhaps to take the jersey to Paris...where the French media will probably want to destroy it in the fires of Issy-les-Moulineaux, home too of race organizer Amaury Sport Organization (A.S.O.).

Or will Floyd find himself in danger today on Mount Doom?  The race travels over the Two Towers that are the Galibier and Croix-de-Fer passes, both rated Hors Categorie (beyond category), before finishing on La Toussuire where hobbit Iban Mayo won in the Dauphiné Libéré last month.  But Mayo has dropped out of the Tour because, c'mon, how could a hobbit ever be happy with just three pockets for food if he can avoid it?

Yesterday saw the Return of the King:  Lance.  Today, Frodo, er, Floyd will surely see the break-up of the Fellowship and find himself isolated with dangerous attackers wanting that jersey for themselves.  And if he survives today, it could still all come apart in tomorrow's final day in the mountains.  For even a hobbit has a bad day.  And if not, then we will have a new American king in Paris on Sunday.  (Bet you didn't know hobbits can time-trial with the best of them...)
Today's Forecast

Note:  Expect heavy usage of video and audio streams today.  If you can't get in, keep trying and/or try a different stream.

Note:  The Sputnik live video (below) has kicked in early today, as the riders are climbing the Galibier...

Click to read about Frank Schleck and Damiano Cunego
Profiles: Fränk Schleck and
Damiano Cunego

Schleck Wins, Landis in Yellow

Frank Schleck of Team CSC won yesterday's epic 15th stage to the mythical Alpe d'Huez.  Attacking breakaway companion Damiano Cunego in the final kilometers, Schleck powered away from the Italian young gun to finish 11 seconds in front and win his first ever stage in the Tour de France.  They were part of a 25 man breakaway that got away after 30 kilometers, including big names such as George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Axel Merckx, Eddy Mazzoleni, and David Zabriskie.  They built up a maximum advantage of 6:30, which was enough to propel the man from Luxembourg, winner of the 2006 Amstel Gold Race, to perhaps his greatest victory ever as a professional.

Floyd Landis, meanwhile, got tired of people asking whether or not he wanted the maillot jaune and answered with an emphatic "yes!"  He was in complete control the entire day, finishing atop the mountain with Andreas Kloden, ahead of all his other major rivals.  His only spot of difficulty was at the bottom of the Alpe on the wheel of his teammate Perdiguero, who could not hear Landis' instructions to slow down a bit, a la Lance Armstrong in 2002 with Roberto Heras (the similarities between Lance and Floyd are becoming scary.  The list goes on and on, being dropped by a teammate, the yellow jersey giveaway tactics, the fact that they both ride bicycles, it's pretty incredible).  By the way, does anyone else see irony in the fact that the Phonak riders couldn't hear each other, given the fact that their major sponsor is a hearing aid company!  They do wonders nowadays I hear (pun intended).

So Landis is now back in yellow, with a comfortable margin of two minutes ahead of everyone else except previous maillot jaune holder Oscar Pereiro.  Give credit to Pereiro for fighting all the way to the finish, but at the end it was just not quite enough, losing out by just 10 seconds.  As for those rumors involving a Discovery/Rabobank agreement to knock off the Phonak team, well, both teams had a bad day.  Despite having two riders in the breakaway (Hincapie, Martinez), Discovery completely disappeared in the finale.  As for Rabobank, Menchov lost 1'11 on the day. 

But today is a new day, and everything could be completely flipped on its head again.  In fact, it'd be quite surprising if things didn't.  La Toussuire awaits!

- Chris, cyclingfans.com columnist

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

L'Alpe d'Huez Awaits
The Tour today enters the first of three key stages in the Alps, from Gap to the mythic L'Alpe d'Huez.  Phonak's Floyd Landis, previously the race leader, handed that responsibility over to Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro when he allowed Pereiro to take the yellow jersey in stage 13.  It was a questionable decision for purists such as Bobby Julich (the yellow jersey is something to be honored and defended), and indeed a rare decision heading into the final week, a "good tactic" for those who perhaps believe anything goes in modern cycling.  Phonak has an ally in Caisse d'Epargne to the extent that the latter works hard to defend the jersey today, something they may be expected to do to the best of their abilities.  But Phonak will have to work too.  Phonak denies there was any secret agreement with the team of their former rider, Pereiro.  There have also been rumors of a Rabobank/Discovery Channel alliance to counter the perceived strength of Landis.  Collusion is against race rules, however, and there is no proof that any such agreements have taken place.  Landis has a one minute lead on his closest rival, Denis Menchov of Rabobank, so it is up to Menchov and others to attack Landis, who can ride defensively.  Who will attack today and who will wait for tomorrow?  Today should be exciting with the race still so wide open.
Today's Forecast

Note:  Expect heavy usage of video and audio streams today.  If you can't get in, keep trying and/or try a different stream.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Click to read about David De La Fuente of Saunier Duval Prodir
Profile: David De La Fuente

  If you are joining us for the Tour de France , please note that we do publish "Live Guides" all season long for big and small races, February to October.  We hope you stick around!
Babel Fish translation
AltaVista Babel Fish translation

If English is not your preferred language, please note that you may now view this site, as well as the sites we link to, in eight other languages.  Scroll down the page and look for the Babel Fish graphic on the lefthand side.  Goofy translations guaranteed!
Live video stream flash:  We have yet another live Tour de France video stream (sputnik.dk) for you today.  Bernie S. has been monitoring this one for awhile and it was a surprise that today they are suddenly showing the Tour on this stream, available outside Denmark.  So we do not know at this time, however, if this stream will be fully available for the final week of the race.  More as we know...  Serbian TV stream should go live after replay of yesterday's stage.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer on Mont Ventoux, 2005 Dauphine Libere Landis in yellow
After Lance, does Floyd own the road to Paris?
A Tour that moves counter-clockwise around France.  Luxembourg.  Liège.  A big time trial to Rennes.  Bordeaux.  Pau.  An American in yellow by just eight seconds over a Frenchman.  Luchon.  L'Alpe d'Huez.  There are indeed some striking similarities to the 1989 Tour, considered by many to be the best-ever edition of the race.  Photojournalist Pete Geyer in France looks back at 1989 and contemplates how Floyd Landis, like Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon, might find it tough to hold on to the yellow jersey all the way to Paris.   Read more

Click to read about Marcus Fothen of Gerolsteiner
Profile: Marcus Fothen

Note:  If you are joining us for the Tour de France , please note that we do publish "Live Guides" like the one below all season long for big and small races, February to October.  We hope you stick around!

Note:   Serbian TV live streaming of Tour stages starts after their replay of the previous day's coverage.

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