Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tour de France - Stage 17 Wrap-up

Today the race evolved into the dual we were all expecting: Astana vs. Saxo Bank. We knew the Schleck’s would mount the most serious threat to Astana’s race leadership, but we didn’t know that by the end of the stage Contador's rivals might now be his only allies. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer; but what if you can't tell who's who?

It appears Saxo Bank has conceded the race to Contador—at least until Ventoux, when all bets might be off—more content today to try and take time from the riders they deem threats to Andy and Frank Schleck’s places on GC.

Contador seems to be getting a bit flustered (as he tends to do); his attack with 2km left to the summit of the Colombière did nothing more than drop his teammate Andreas Kloden. One can only wonder how many supporters Contador has left within his team; hopefully it won’t come back to bite him by the time the race gets to Paris.

At this point, Contador might have better support from his rivals, namely the Schleck’s, whom he was frequently seen talking to on the descent of the Colombière. And it makes sense: Lance Armstrong was clearly chasing Kloden who in turn was chasing Contador and the Schleck's. Can you blame the guy for being paranoid? Why put yourself at risk for later attacks from your own teammates?

The stage was a peace offering to the Schleck's; Contador knows he’ll gain time on them in tomorrow’s ITT, conceding the stage today might mean a bit less animosity on Ventoux—from them. What he can expect from his own teammates is anyone’s guess. Once again, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Astana’s hotel tonight.

To me the stage’s most striking image was that of Armstrong, isolated over the top of the Colombière, chasing alone to protect his place on GC. When was the last time we saw that?

And you? What stood-out? What are your thoughts for tomorrow and the days beyond?

Share you comments below.


  1. Today was one of those rare televised stages where the entire 4+ hours of coverage was interesting and entertaining. Thor's breakaway showed Cav the points race is more than just sprinting. Cadel's continuing collapse is almost unbearable to watch and I can't help but think there is an underlying cause (emotional/physical). Also, I will reserve judgement until Saturday, but we may be witnessing the end of Sastre's GC career. More than likely he will hang on for a year or two, riding the GTs much like he did the Giro-as a big mountain stage hunter.

  2. Great race by Thor. To see a sprinter last that long in those mountains, and to rub it in Cavendish's face was excellent.

    However, Contador really showed his lack of inteliigence (or experience?) with that attack. He cost Astana a slot each for Kloden and Armostrong. I'm sure there are many Astana team mates not too happy with him tonight. Amatuer and unprofessional move by AC.

    Wasn't it Kloden who went back to assist AC into the peleton after he flatted earlier? Classy way to say thanks to him!

  3. I think that Contador was assuming the Schlecks would bring Kloden back up to him and then Kloden could counter.

    Once the Schlecks came back without Kloden you could see Contador looking back again and again, so it seemed like the result wasn't what he expected


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