24 July 2008

New Maillot Jeune

The Tour de France reached the Alps at the weekend the stage up there on Sunday say subtle changes in the General Classification in what was turning out to be a very tight race. Monsieur Frank from Luxembourg had a narrow lead over Mister Cadel from Australia. After a rest day on Wednesday nobody really was able to attack when the fight resumed on Tuesday, but yesterday's stage was to finish on top of the famous Alp d'Huez.

It is often said that however wears the Maillot Jeune atop the Alp usually wins in Paris with this being the last mountain stage of 2008 only a time triallist could have changed that scenario after yesterday's stage. Well before the first of the 21 turns up the Alp Senor Carlos a teammate of Monsieur Frank made a break and nobody was able to go with him.

Senor Carlos isn't as good a time triallist as Mister Cadel and had to make up a lot of time if he wanted to go higher on the final podium than he had before. Whenever anybody tried to launch a counter attack after Senor Carlos either Monsieur Frank or Monsieur Andy his brother, and the third CSC rider in the leading group, would be the first to close them down and sit on their wheel. Monsieur Frank was wearing the Maillot Jeune and his brother was in white as the best young rider. Senor Carlos went further and further away before finishing over a kilometer and 2 minutes and 3 seconds over the next man. Mister Cadel was a further 12 seconds back.

It makes for interesting times in the penultimate stage Time Trail as Senor Carlos leads, Monsieur Frank is 1:24 down, Herr Bernard 1:33, Mister Cadel 1:34. Will it be as tight or tighter than Mister Greg beating Monsieur Laurent in the 1989 Tour remains to be seen, this may come down to seconds like it has been for most of this years race.

Update the winner on the Alp this year did go on to win the Tour by 58 seconds over Evans in Paris, keeping up the mythology of the winner always winning the Tour.

As was my style for sport at the time this was written as my alter ego Lionel de Livi

10 July 2008

Off the Mark

Yippee! Mister Stephen was jumping on thge sofa last night for the first time in 6 years a Brit won a stage at the Tour de France.
In recent times it has either been as a time trialist like David Millar or Chris Broadman, or as a part of a breakaway as happened with Sean Yates. But when you are the world madison champion the bunch finish of a long flat stage in le Tour is nothing to get too worked up about. So Mark Cavendish (on the right) saw off experienced tour sprinters Oscar Freire, Erik Zabel and Thor Hushovd to see his first stage win in this race to go with his two in the Giro d'Italia earlier this year.
It will go some way to make up for this disappointment he faced last year when he crashed on the aproach to Cantebury when he wanted to start his Tour career with a win on home soil.
The 23 year-old is set to team up with Bradley Wiggins for the Maddison in Beijing next month but he is likely to see out the tour first, maybe hoping to win on the Champs Elysées. That hold no worries for Rod Ellingworth Team GB's cycling coach who earlier this week told the Times:
"I want him to finish the Tour and he does, too. He'll gain a lot from that in terms of experience and also form ahead of the Olympics. Am I worried about the effect that three weeks on the road will have on his track form ahead of the Olympics? No. He's so good anyway — his speed, his cadence, his ability to ride the track — that it all comes automatically to him."

As with sports reports of the time this was written in the style of my alter ego Lionel de Livi

9 July 2008

Schumacher Fast on Two Wheels

Mister Stephen is getting over the lack of Wimbledon on television this week by settling down to his month long trip round the roads and mountains of la belle France. He is very much hoping it is a clean race however from what I've seen those cyclists sweat a lot and must need a shower ever day.

Anyhoo, yesterday a German man named Schumacher (no not Michael or Ralf) won the first time trial of le Tour 2008. Unusually in recent years this was not the prologue but occurred on day four. You can see Herr Stefan Schumacher to the left holding one of my cousins.

Now ITV4 were quickly on Schumacher's case last night, in possibly a sad day for the sport. You see he didn't just beat the rest he smashed them. Schumacher is a one day racer and may have had a chance over a shorter time trial but over 29.5 kilometres he was 18 seconds quicker that Scot David Millar and Kim Kirchen both fancied time triallists and also 33 seconds faster than the world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

However as ITV4 and others were quick to point out last September the Gerolsteiner rider crashed his car while drunk and as well as a high blood alcohol content there were amphetamines detected. As it was a police rather than a UCI sanctioned test this has not affected his participation in cycling but until the statutory results of tests on the stage winner and other selected participants are known there will remain a cloud of suspicion in this sport that is trying to shake that image off.

Today he set off in the longest stage of this year's tour in yellow, 12 seconds ahead of Millar and Kirchen, 235km from Cholet to Châteauroux.

Update: There was sadly more to Schumacher's speed than the quality of his rice cakes, he later tested positive for EPO and was banned for 2 years from racing in France.

The was posted in the original as part of my alter-ego Lionel de Livi