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2010 Tour de France – Stage 14 News and Recap

| by Sports Nickel

97th Tour de France

Stage 14 – Revel to Ax-3-Domaines – 184.0 km (114.1 mi)

18 July 2010

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

 

A century ago this year, the godfather of the Tour de France Henri Desgrange made alterations to the layout of the race’s course that would have a major impact on the grand tour — along with its sister events in Italy and Spain — right through to modern times. Before the days when derailleurs were all the rage, cyclists on what were effectively fixed-gear bicycles mashed their pedals in 1910 up the now-famous slopes of the Pyrenees. The mountains along the French-Spanish borderlands have played an integral role in the race’s history ever since, witness to some of the most memorable events in Tour lore. And the drama of the high altitudes proved infectious; these days a stage race would seem incomplete without at least one ramp to ascend.

Today they were, on their centennial reappearance at the 2010 Tour de France, a launching pad for one audacious Frenchman to snatch the host nation’s fourth stage win so far in this year’s race. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) was the sole survivor of the breakaway that split from the peloton just ten kilometers into today’s stage and stayed away to take the summit at Ax-3-Domaines by nearly a minute over GC contenders Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Riblon’s ride was yet another injection of French pride to the home race after wins thrice before in the first fortnight.

Of course, that win would have little to no effect on the general classification. Menchov and Sanchez managed to steal back 14 seconds from defending champ Alberto Contador and current yellow jersey Andy Schleck… but while that would secure third and fourth position for the Spaniard and the Russian, they were still over two and a half minutes adrift of Schleck’s leading time. And among top-ten riders in the standings, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) were all able to stick with the two leading men in the race. Meanwhile, pre-race contenders like Carlos Sastre and Damiano Cunego (+0:41), Ivan Basso (+1:22), Cadel Evans (+5:31) and Lance Armstrong (+15:06) all lost major chunks of time to the favorites at the front.

With Schleck and Contador content to work together to distance themselves further from the rest of the pack rather than trading punches back and forth, the Tour was never going to be won on the first Pyrenean stage. But those who are already lagging in time found that the stage could ensure you had no hope in hell of coming back for victory. Only Sanchez and Menchov are now within three minutes of the leaders; Van Den Broeck, Gesink and Rodriguez are all between three and five minutes in arrears already despite sticking to the wheel of the maillot jaune up the climb to Ax-3-Domaines.

Basso, who won this year’s Giro d’Italia and was hoping to become the first rider to pull off the Giro-Tour double since compatriot Marco Pantani achieved it in 1998, is sitting in 10th, just under seven minutes behind Schleck. 2008 Tour champ Carlos Sastre is 15th, now 8:15 off the pace and falling further behind by the stage. He’s at least in better shape than Evans, the former yellow jersey of this year’s race who is soldiering on despite fracturing his elbow in a crash on Stage 8, now not even in the running for a third career podium placement. The Aussie, wearing once again the rainbow-striped jersey of the world champion now that he’s no longer in yellow, is in 19th — over twelve and a half minutes distancing him from Schleck’s time at the moment.

Perhaps the saddest case, though, is the tumble from grace of seven-time champ Lance Armstrong. Racing his final Tour de France — the same thing we thought when he said it the first time in 2005 as he won his seventh before returning from retirement late 2008 — the nearly-40-year-old rider is a shell of his former self. The man who finished 3rd last year is now all the way back in 38th, almost forty minutes behind after today’s stage. I never expected Armstrong to win the Tour this year, but neither did I expect this far a plunge. For those who ask the question “How long is too long to hang on for an athlete?”, you’ve now got your answer personified in the once-invincible form of Lance. (Beware, Brett Favre, lest this be you next…)

So with three days in the Pyrenees still to come amongst only six stages left in this year’s race, the equation has been simplified. You effectively have a one-in-two chance of picking the winner at this point. Will it be Contador, defending his crown and taking a third career Tour de France and fifth career grand tour? Or will it be Schleck, reliving the ascending glories of fellow Luxembourger Charly Gaul — the only man from that tiny European hamlet ever to win the world’s preeminent bike race — fifty-two years later? If another man wins this race, given how well these two are going, it will be the greatest upset in years…

STAGE 14 RESULTS

1
Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4:52:42
 

2
Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
0:00:54
 

3
Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
 
 

4
Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
0:01:08
 

5
Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
 
 

6
Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
 
 

7
Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
 
 

8
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
 
 

9
Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
0:01:49
 

10
Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
 
 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1
Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
68:02:30
 

2
Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
0:00:31
 

3
Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
0:02:31
 

4
Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
0:02:44
 

5
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
0:03:31
 

6
Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
0:04:27
 

7
Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack
0:04:51
 

8
Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
0:04:58
 

9
Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
0:05:56
 

10
Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
0:06:52
 

POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1
Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
187
pts

2
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
185
 

3
Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia
162
 

4
Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
144
 

5
Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
138
 

6
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
120
 

7
Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
102
 

8
Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
101
 

9
Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
92
 

10
Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
89
 

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1
Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
115
pts

2
Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
92
 

3
Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
76
 

4
Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
72
 

5
Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne
68
 

6
Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
65
 

7
Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
63
 

8
Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
62
 

9
Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
60
 

10
Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
56
 

BEST YOUNG RIDER

1
Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
68:02:30
 

2
Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
0:04:27
 

3
Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo
0:07:11
 

4
Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
0:35:47
 

5
Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
0:45:07
 

6
Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto
0:49:50
 

7
Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
0:50:22
 

8
Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
1:10:29
 

9
Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank
1:13:44
 

10
Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
1:17:39
 


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  2. 2010 Tour de France – Stage 12 News and Notes
  3. 2010 Tour de France – Stage 11 News and Notes