97th Tour de France
Stage 9 – Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – 204.5 km (126.8 mi)
13 July 2010
And now we’re really just down to two men who have a shot at this Tour de France. Just as we’d started predicting, as soon as they placed 1-2 in last year’s race, the 2010 Tour is going to be a showdown between Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck and Astana’s Alberto Contador. After joining forces to drop all their rivals and catch the breakaway in the final kilometer, they have distanced themselves far beyond the rest of the field. It isn’t even a fair fight anymore.
Just look at all the pre-race favorites now left far back, choking on the Alpine dust of the two young men dueling for the maillot jaune. The road up the Col de la Madeleine — the first hors-categorie climb of this year’s race — was a slog that cut many an elite name down to size. It is a who’s who of carnage scattered along the edges of France’s highways and byways. Nobody has been spared… but at least these guys have been more lucky than their fellow favorites, Frank Schleck and Christian Vande Velde, who have already crashed out of the race:
The other contenders of the 2010 Tour are left to fight for third as these two men pull themselves further and further ahead of the field...
Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack/6th at 3:59 back) - Leipheimer, the leader of Radio Shack now that Lance has taken a nose-dive down the standings after yesterdays’ ride, followed in his teammate’s footsteps (pedal strokes?) today when he lost another two minutes to Schleck and Contador. He’s finished on the podium before; along with Denis Menchov of Rabobank (4th at 2:58), he is the best-suited of the dark-horses to claim another podium finish. Though he is probably too distant for yellow, he is just 1:14 off the 3rd-place pace of Samuel Sanchez.
- Ivan Basso (Liquigas/10th at 5:09 back) - The two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia (including this spring’s edition), Basso was hoping to use that as his launching pad to become the first Giro/Tour winner in the same year since Marco Pantani in 1998. He will have to keep dreaming, after coming in well behind the leaders once again today. Basso finished 2:50 behind the winners of today’s stage, and the next few stages before the Pyrenees might just determine whether it is he or teammate Roman Kreuziger (11th at 5:11 back) who gets protected.
- Carlos Sastre (Cervelo/15th at 7:13 back) - The 2008 Tour winner is one of those guys who must benefit from the misfortunes of others in order to claim victory. After all, had Contador been allowed to defend his 2007 title that year, would Sastre have even been the Spaniard to win? Age and countless miles have started to catch up to Sastre, who was spit off the back of the front group and lost nearly five minutes just today. Sastre, not the strongest amongst either the climbers or the TT specialists, will need another miracle to reach the podium.
- Bradley Wiggins (Sky/16th at 7:18 back) – The British rider, a revelation in last year’s race as he battled his way amongst the top ten in the race, was expected to be back to compete for a podium position this time around. But after finishing this Alpine stage alongside Sastre and FdJeux’s Christophe Le Mevel (28th at 13:26) five minutes behind the leaders, there is little chance for this former track star to do more than try to vault himself back into a top-ten position.
- Cadel Evans (BMC/18th at 7:47 back) - The Aussie entered the stage clad in the yellow jersey as the race leader after the rest day in Morzine. He probably wishes he could’ve camped in Morzine longer after today’s stage saw him lose eight minutes at the finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. He now knows how Lance Armstrong must’ve felt yesterday when he came over the line at the ski resort at Morzine-Avoriaz; the vanquisher became the vanquished in the Alps today.
- Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack/31st at 15:54 back) – The seven-time champion, racing in his final Tour de France, is now knowing what so many of his rivals felt like during the peak of his prowess. Unable to match the accelerations of Contador, Schleck and the others and finding that his team — built to be strong to protect him over the three-week journey — is actually stronger than he is, Armstrong is a sad shell of his former dominant self. He’s vowed to stay in the race, to protect his teammates… but a few more crashes and he’ll likely be headed back to Austin for some Shiner Bock and hill-country riding for fun.
The best part, though, is that we’re still nearly two weeks away from Paris. There are many more mountain stages to come. We still have the longer time trial to come toward the end of the race. A lot can certainly happen over the next two weeks… but save an act of God, a drug test gone afoul or a freak illness decimating the field, we’ve already seen the contenders for the overall victory winnowed down to just the two strongest young men in the peloton. Will it be Schleck, currently donning the yellow, who wears it into Paris? Will Contador wrest it away in the Pyrenees to reach the Champs-Elysees in the golden fleece for a second straight year and the third of his career? Whichever it is, it is hard to envision anyone other than the Spaniard or the Luxembourger earning the Sevres porcelain and the accolades at the end of the annual 23-day jaunt around La Grande Boucle…
RESULTS – STAGE 9
|1||Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux||5:38:10|
|2||Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne|
|3||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini|
|4||Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne||+0:00:02|
|5||Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom|
|6||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana|
|7||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank|
|8||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi||+0:00:52|
|9||Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||+0:02:07|
|10||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack|
|1||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||43:35:41|
|2||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana||+0:00:41|
|3||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi||+0:02:45|
|4||Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank||+0:02:58|
|5||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||+0:03:31|
|6||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack||+0:03:59|
|7||Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank||+0:04:22|
|8||Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||+0:04:41|
|9||Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||+0:05:08|
|10||Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo||+0:05:09|
|1||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team||124||pts|
|2||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini||114|
|3||Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha||105|
|4||Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||92|
|5||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia||85|
|6||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team||82|
|7||Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||79|
|8||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team||74|
|9||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram||71|
|10||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step||69|
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
|1||Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||85||pts|
|2||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step||85|
|3||Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne||62|
|4||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini||56|
|5||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||50|
|6||Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||47|
|7||Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux||43|
|8||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi||40|
|9||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step||36|
|10||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana||32|
BEST YOUNG RIDER
|1||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||43:35:41|
|2||Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank||+0:04:22|
|3||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo||+0:05:11|
|4||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||+0:28:50|
|5||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto||+0:30:01|
|6||Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne||+0:30:29|
|7||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank||+0:44:33|
|8||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||+0:45:49|
|9||Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) Footon-Servetto||+0:50:51|
|10||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team||+0:51:08|