Velominati Super Prestige: Le Tour de France, Stage 18

Velominati Super Prestige: Le Tour de France, Stage 18

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More than two of the three weeks of this Tour lie in the rearview mirror and the race is impossible to call; nearly every GC Contender has shown some kind of weakness or given something away that makes them look beatable. Contador was dropped on the first uphill finish. The Schlecks have been on the attack but have been unable to make the gains they need to insure a final victory. They’ve also reminded us that what goes up doesn’t always come down as easily. Evans has been the most consistent and oportunistic, but has been racing hard since day one and, while he’s been close, he’s done little to stamp his authority on the race. Voekler has been defying the odds for nine days and continues to hang on to a lead which looks more tenable with each passing day.

So far, the “minor” mountain stages – those without uphill finishes – have proven to be as decisive as those with uphill finishes.  Normally reserved for the opportunist breakaway and a non-issue for the GC riders, Stage 17’s rain-slicked descent saw some of the best racing we’ve seen this year buddied up with the biggest impact on the GC since Tommy V took the Maillot Jaune.

Indeed, this year has everyone sitting around the table, questioning the accepted tactics of the recent past. The riders who go fast uphill will need to do something more than just attack a few k’s from the finish. Perhaps they are considering an Hinaultesque attack on a descent before the finishing climb. Or perhaps a Merckxian attack on the first pass, going long to take a huge advantage.

One thing is for certain: the rider who wins this Tour will not necessarily be the strongest one, for we’ve seen they are all closely matched. No, the winner will be the one who decides the old rulebook is better suited for toilet paper than a race manual. The winner will be the one who thinks creatively, leaves caution in the parking lot where Voekler punched his ticket today, and takes an extra dose of Rule #5 (I’m looking at you, Andy).

At this point, whomever rolls into Paris with the Yellow jersey on their shoulders will get the nod of approval from this guy. (Except Contador, obvs.) Vive le Tour, bitches.

Get your picks in by 5am Pacific tomorrow morning for the chance to win 3, 2, or 1 points for the podium spots, and 1 point for 4th and 5th places.  Good luck.

// Velominati Super Prestige

  1. ooops.

    In the last comment the third non-cleverly-named-“II”-link point to a video who is the one where you can have a really clear top view of the Alpe d’Huez hairpins …

  2. @eightzero
    Tv usually pretty ordinary in TTs. Cadel beat him by 2’01” on the same TT course at last months dauphine – but u would expect Voeckler to go a LOT better given the stakes.

    Cadel wins

  3. @Marcus

    @eightzero
    Tv usually pretty ordinary in TTs… but u would expect Voeckler to go a LOT better given the stakes.

    Stakes? Or steaks?

  4. ASO has to me all walking around with huge woodies. They sure made an entertaining show of it this year. Suspense right up to the end.

  5. me=be. yeesh.

  6. @Blah
    OK. I stand corrected. Even though he’s great fodder for poking fun at, Cuddles is clearly a serious hardman. Aussies all over might be a bit over-sensitive if the think he’s being maligned.

  7. @Marcus

    @Ron+1.
    @allCuddles still wins this Tour. And he deserves it. Has been the strongest rider throughout.
    Brent Bookwalter rode great for bmc today but I gotta ask, where was Hincapie?

    tbf he was the shield up the Izoard until Bookwalter came back to the pack

  8. Quote from the Cadelephant’s stage diary – http://www.cadelevans.com.au/cadelsdiary.aspx

    “with the wind though, escaping from the group was going to be very difficult but not very time effective, so, I just did one turn….for 9km….Basso did swap off for a few seconds, and I think that Europcar guy who could have had White today did one short turn as well”

    That’s one hell of a turn…not to mention driving the whole group up the Galibier!

  9. @Alpin
    The videos are perfect – I am a little jealous… some day ! In the mean time thank you.

  10. @Marcus
    Putting on his booties to keep his toes warm.

    @Ron
    Minion is peaking at the right time.

  11. Some redemption from the Laughing Clowns but my take on today’s stage (only having just watched it) with Andy finally showing that he does actually own a seperate pair from his bro but…
    Good Cadel rode like a fucking trojan pulling the rest behind him. One of the best stages I have EVER seen IMHO.

  12. @Ron

    minion – You must have tiger blood in your veins to properly get your Ron on. I do, which is why I am able to pull a Ron from early in the VSP calendar right through to Lombardia.

    Adonis D – Ron – A all round

  13. @il ciclista medio
    Agreed. Giddy school girl at a Beiber concert right here for that last fourty minutes of the stage, esp when Contodor cracked. I think that’s going to have a more profound effect on the rest of the peloton than on Bert.

  14. @eightzero

    GoodCuddles can time trial for sure. Andy can…sort of. Frank can’t Anyone any clue of Tommy V? Grain of salt, of course, because no one thought he could dig like this in the mountains.
    And hey…look: someone we thought could never do something special…amazes us all…ride of their life…super effort. And it all turns out to be…from a pharmacy. Anyone thinking what I am about any of this? Are we still seeing a load of bullshit?

    Not really, because this was the type of ride people had ben expecting of the Schlecks so it’s not completely out of left field. And the drugs, for a while changed race tactics (Put the Disco train on the front, and have Lance belt the crap out of other riders in the mountains) what I think we’re seeing is probably less cheating with drugs, and other attributes are becoming prominent. Like the third leg little Tommy grew when he put the yellow jersey on for instance, and the tactical nous and incredible mental toughness of Cadel. It’s a more level playing field for sure, and for some reason Bjarne and Johann aren’t featuring in the race so much, or being praised as master tacticians. Fuckers.

  15. @Alpin
    you are a very lucky man indeed. and the 35 hour work week must do wonders for your riding.

  16. @minion
    To be honest, I thought the reference was to TV’s performance. And I agreed with it.

  17. Oh, and major chapeau to Pierre Rolland.

    Talk about a guy you want on your side when the going gets tough! He’s been an animal.

  18. @Mikael Liddy
    you sure? I thought that was Santaromita?

  19. @minion

    @eightzero

    Not really, because this was the type of ride people had ben expecting of the Schlecks so it’s not completely out of left field.

    WHAT? Who ever expected them to do that? They have never shown that they could do that sort of attack in any previous Tour, so it is completely out of left field…

  20. @Blah
    Yep, I thought that, I just took the long road round: tl:dr summary Fewer fully juiced up riders, flatter playing field means smarter, tougher, tactical riders can exploit their abilities. Like TV, Cuddles, Gilbert, et al. That’s my semi paranoid conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it.

    @brett
    They’ve had smoke blown up their backsides for years. CSC, Saxo Bank, people have always recognised they have buckets of natural talent, a strong team, and good managemnt. Leopard Trek, they pretty much put themselves centre stage and expectations went up again. Of course people EXPECTED them to do it, they just never came to the party till now.
    Course if you had Eddy yelling at you out the top of the UCI car you’d f**ken go as well.

  21. I had the top three backwards! Who knew Andy was going to show his cajones today? I love it!!

  22. @minion

    @il ciclista medio Agreed. Giddy school girl at a Beiber concert right here for that last fourty minutes of the stage, esp when Contodor cracked.

    But did you throw your panties on the stage?

  23. That was fucking fantastic. On the Izoard no less. Thank god I resisted the urge to look at the internet while at work today. 38 liter chapeaux to Andy, Cadel and Tommy V. Adieu les espagnols.

    @Netraam
    +infinity

  24. @ralasdair

    Also, was that Eddie Merckx injecting some pure V into le Petit Grimpleur in the final couple of kms from the Race Director’s car?

    It must be motivating to have God himself screaming in your ear!

  25. This is legendary!
    Bartali honoured for saving Jews during the Holocaust

    “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket.”

    Chapeau to Bartali!

    Thanks BRR!

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