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2010 Tour de France – Stage 17 News and Notes

| by Sports Nickel

97th Tour de France

Stage 17 – Pau to Col du Tourmalet – 174.0 km (107.9 mi)

22 July 2010

 2010 Tour de France - Stage 17 Map

2010 Tour de France - Stage 17 Profile

Today the Tourmalet was the mythbuster that once and for all separated the two real contenders of the 2010 Tour de France from all the pretenders that still had reason to dream about the maillot jaune. Winds and rain whipped at the riders and fog encapsulated the hundreds of thousands of fans clogging the roadside along the legendary Pyrenean mountain pass. It was serving as the final summit finish of the Tour before the road turns toward Paris — the second time it would be summited in this race as a centenary celebration of its first appearance in the route. What did the stage prove, and what did it refute?

Confirmed: Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are the two best grand-tour riders in the world at this juncture of cycling history. The defending champion and 2009′s best young rider — wearing the same jerseys again at this point of the 2010 race — were taking yet more minutes out of every other cyclist.

Contador and Schleck duel to a stalemate on the Tourmalet...

Contador and Schleck duel to a stalemate on the Tourmalet... but far outpace all their other rivals.

They also proved that the only thing separating them is a bad day apiece that let first Schleck and then Contador take over the yellow jersey. Both men tried at various points of today’s climb to shuck the other; both men were right their on their attacker’s wheel when the accelerations came. So this race is going to come down to the Bordeaux time trial to see which of the two, separated by just eight seconds, will take the title in Paris…

Debunked: Denis Menchov or Samuel Sanchez still have a chance of overtaking the pair at the top of the standings. Even before Contador and Schleck separated themselves from the rest of the chase group and burst past the remnants of the day’s breakaway to duel to the summit, neither the Russian nor the Spaniard looked strong enough to make their own victory bids today.

Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was the one climber with the potential to ride away from the leaders. Yet despite gaining eight more seconds’ advantage on Menchov at the finish, the more important number is 1:40 — the amount he ended up losing to Contador and Schleck to fall three and a half minutes back.

Menchov, the Russian long lusting after a Tour crown after success in the other grand tours, is a strong time trialist. But four minutes is probably too much to overcome over the Bordeaux course. He can still climb on the podium — at less than half a minute back of Sanchez, and the better TT rider, he will likely step up to third in Paris. But another year passes with a different rider claiming the maillot jaune than Menchov…

Confirmed: 2010 was a year too many for Lance Armstrong. After returning from retirement in 2009 and returning to France to finish third behind then-teammate Contador, many thought this would be the year for Lance to take number eight. He had his own team again, trusty lieutenants (who were consequently NOT with Contador) and his doppelganger in team director Johan Bruyneel all going in his favor.

But luck and time has failed him this year. He has the deck on numerous occasions — a sight which used to be as rare as harmony between the UCI and ASO. He has seen the next generation of cycling’s superstars leave him in their wake on climbs, whether in the Alps or Massif Central or the Pyrenees. The places which used to be his hallowed ground are now the canvas upon which has been painted his athletic mortality as he sits more than half an hour off the pace — a pace he used to be the one setting…

Debunked: The Tourmalet summit would prove the decisive stage in the 2010 Tour de France. For all the talk by the riders that the final Pyrenean stage would settle which rider was the strongest in this year’s race, the final standings are still as foggy as the mountainside they ascended. In fact, about the only competitions that were sealed today on the Tourmalet was the white jersey for the best young rider, which Andy Schleck will take for a second straight year as he now sits 6:33 clear of second-placed Robert Gesink. We also know that the polka dots of the King of the Mountains will grace the shoulders of Anthony Charteau; he maintained his 15-point gap over fellow Frenchman Christophe Moreau today, and with not a single categorized climb left nobody can wrest it away from him. And despite the performance by Lance, the Radio Shack squad almost surely will be the team taking the spoils in those standings as they opened up over eight minutes on Caisse d’Epargne.

Tomorrow’s stage will be one for the sprinters in advance of the Saturday time trial. The run into wine country will be flat, and with the green jersey still very much in play we will surely see the teams of the speedsters keeping a breakaway on a tight leash to prevent counterattacks and reeling it in in the preceding kilometers from the finish. With Alessandro Petacchi just four points behind defending champion Thor Hushovd, both this stage and the final on the Champs-Elysees will be pivotal as the points classification remains unsettled until the finish. Saturday’s 52km race against the clock should determine the GC champion; with just eight seconds separating Schleck from Contador, the Luxembourg national TT champion will be hoping to ride the stage of his life to prevent the defending yellow jersey from making it three in the last three attempts. But Saxo Bank has already asserted that, if the yellow jersey is not on their man’s shoulders after Bordeaux but is still within reach, the ride to Paris will be anything but a courtly promenade along the Seine. So we still have plenty of tense racing to witness in the last three days before a champion is crowned. Be sure to watch as history unfolds and more questions are finally answered…

STAGE 17 RESULTS

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 5:03:29  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana    
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:18  
4 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:01:27  
5 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:01:32  
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:01:40  
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank    
8 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack 0:01:45  
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:48  
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:14  

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 83:32:39  
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:08  
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:03:32  
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:03:53  
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:05:27  
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:06:41  
7 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:07:03  
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:09:18  
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:10:12  
10 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack 0:10:37

POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 191 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 187  
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 162  
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 149  
5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 138  
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team 132  
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 115  
8 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 112  
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 107  
10 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 107  

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 143 pts
2 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne 128  
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 116  
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 112  
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 99  
6 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 96  
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 93  
8 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 92  
9 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 82  
10 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 72  

BEST YOUNG RIDER

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 83:32:47  
2 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:06:33  
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:10:04  
4 Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne 0:48:48  
5 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 1:21:28  
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank 1:38:59  
7 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto 1:41:23  
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 1:43:27  
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 2:00:17  
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 2:02:02  

One final warning for all you regular readers: I am going to be spending the weekend camping, rather than watching these final stages. What… a Non-Traditional Sports Fan missing the finale of a race he’s been following religiously for the better part of three weeks?! Yep… just as I seemed to do during the Giro d’Italia, when Memorial Day beckoned for some time away, I will have the recap of the final three stages belatedly on Monday. After all, what can be more non-traditional these days than waiting to find out the results in this real-time reality in which we live? If you’re near a television or the internet, be sure to watch… and know I’ll be tensely anticipating the results of the time trial and ride into Paris even as I enjoy the great outdoors!

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