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. Seriously, could someone please tell my velominhottie that I don’t spend that much time on the internet. For example, totally missed this VSP.

  2. That was an absolutely amazing stage. I can’t decide who was the most impressive of the 3 riders.

    Cadel was clearly the most courageous for seeing that nobody was going to help him, and busting his ass all the way up the climb to bring back Schleck. Except that Schleck was even more courageous for going from 60k out and stamping his authority on the race. Except that Voeckler was the most courageous for even being there at all. In the end we saw 3 men supersede their abilities and do something amazing. As evidenced by Schleck fading 1k from the top, Evans not being able to bring Schleck all the way back, and Voeckler having his out of body experience at the finish, all of these men were beyond their limits.

    All that and the remaining suspense of the next two days. Can Schleck repeat tomorrow? Can Voeckler TT like a man possessed and bring home yellow? Or do the 3 of them ride to the top together tomorrow, and Evans walks away with it on Saturday?

  3. @sgt

    The Spaniards help each other out, Cuddles holds on to lose less than 30 sec, Andy loses time.
    And little Tommy finally runs out of V (too bad, that, but it had to happen)
    I’ll be late for work tomorrow.
    VSP PICKS:
    1. Cothodor
    2. Sanchez
    3. Cadel
    4. F Schleck
    5. Andy

    LOL. The only thing I got right was being late for work… Great stage tho, looking forward to L’Alp D’Huez. Late for work again tomorrow.

  4. I quote my post when I made my picks last night:

    “[Because I gave up on choosing him to win], he’ll spend all night meditating on Rule #5, and dish out the pain on the Galibier tomorrow after all, completely betraying my picking him for the last god knows how long…”

    Well, I was right. What a ride!

  5. 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?

  6. @sgt
    Turn your VSP exactly around and you have the top-3.

  7. Chapeau to Fränk for wearing a cycling cap to the post-race interviews…

  8. Fireworks on l’Alpe tomorrow. No question all the guns will go off right before turn #1. I wish to Merckx I was there right now. How cool would it be to part of that party?

    But watch for all the jockying right before the base of the climb. Teams will be amassing, and when they make that left turn, some shits gonna go down.

  9. @Steampunk

    Chapeau to Fränk for wearing a cycling cap to the post-race interviews…

    indeed!

  10. @Joe

    Grimp Jr, (Good) Cadel, Tommy V – epic grinta. Chapeau!
    Still absolutely all to play for between cadel and the schleckles tomorrow though, there’s the real win!

    I’m on pins and needles!!! You just have to support whoever wins this one!! WOW!

  11. @Steampunk

    Chapeau to Fränk for wearing a cycling cap to the post-race interviews…

    Thought the same thing. Nicely done.

  12. Cyclops for the VSP win today, yea!!!! Also, a copy of Chasing Legends just showed up in my mailbox so I’ll be eating steak and watching that in preparation for the Sr. Games road race tomorrow. Hopefully I can get on the podium again.

  13. Well, anyone who thought with his head and not with his heart and believed that Tommy V. was going to have the ride of his life today is lying into the computer monitor. That was some beautiful racing today. I was particularly impressed, dare I say it, by Cadel Evans. And, sad to say, shocked that at this stage of the race, of all stages, Contador really cracked. Didn’t see any of this coming. As to A. Schleck, he was very wise to execute a stage plan to put himself in a great position. He, too, didn’t think Tommy V. was going to ride as he did. I don’t see it paying off for either Schleck in Paris.

    But, then again, I’ve been wrong before.

  14. What a stage I could not see the last 15k so will catch it tonight… one thought was that Andy, when he went, never swivelnecked, hesitated or faltered and Cadel is now an official hardman if he wasn’t already – EPIC!

  15. That will go down in history as an absolute classic. As will this whole Tour. Cadel is a stud. TV is a stud. And the Swivel Family has redeemed itself. Marvellous, marvellous stuff.

  16. I think Evans might be in a bit of trouble tomorrow. Frank who will be fresher than Andy can put some pressure on Evans to really try to break him. Evans was looking really hurt today at the end.
    Stage win of this tour goes to Andy.
    Ride of the tour goes to Tommy V.

  17. Alright! Going to get my Ron on and point out that I simply picked the Schlecks to one – two combo the field, without specifying which would take the stage, and that I picked that one like a dirty nose. I was thinking also that whoever wins this stage would win the tour, but its now a two horse race I reckon between Tommy and Cadel.
    PS in a blatant act of further Ronning I would also like to point out that I picked daylight to be in the third position. I am happy to be wrong about that, but I wasn’t FAR wrong.
    Tommy has put himself in the hurt box more than any rider I can recall to hold yellow, shy of riding with broken bones. Ten days is Charlie Sheen style winning from him as far as I’m concerned.

  18. 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.

  19. @Marcus

    What bike race were u guys watching? Voeckler rode like a turd. If he helped Cadel a bit they would have got a LOT closer – but ok you say he couldn’t help. Well what the fuck was his teammate there for? He did nothing.
    Cuddles rode ‘em all off his wheel. I still think Evans wins.
    Great ride from Andy. Great rode

    Giving Europcar the benefit of the doubt, I think Rolland was much fresher than TV. Didn’t he chase down Cadel’s initial break, then swivel neck, see TV in trouble, and drop back? If he had gone to the front, TV might have popped. They’ll keep Rolland fresh for tonight.

    I bet that Rolland get poached in the off-season by a serious GC team. Leopard could do worse than get him to replace that waste-of-space Terdemann. And he already displayed the prerequisite swivel-necking ability…

  20. @harminator

    @Collin
    Yes, but suggesting that Cadel is getting payback for wheelsucking other GC riders in the past.

    Nope. Angrily sarcastic. Not the first time we’ve seen a large group of GC riders throw away the tour because Cadel’s a bit better placed.

  21. And while I’m pimping Rolland, he is only 33 secs from taking the white jersey from Taaramae. So if TV goes “poof” tonight, he may be let off the leash to chase a jersey for himself. Which would be nice.

    Anyone else think that Cav’s 20 point penalty for missing the time cut was funny? Go JJR!

  22. @Ron
    +1.

    @all
    Cuddles 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?

  23. @Bianchi Denti
    TV is always struggling… Odd, isn’t it? Struggles mightily and juuuuuust hangs on. Acting cooked, and always insisting how much better everyone else is, is how he’s stayed in it and how he’ll podium. Great rider, but the theatrics are wearing a bit thin. Public laps it up, though.
    He was cooked by the end yesterday, but his decision to not work, and not let his teammate work, was a GC strategy rather than him struggling then and there 10km from the end.

  24. One rainbow seen over Grenoble this evening
    coming back downhill from a quick & dirty climb in the Vercors : Ezy
    …Well, not so easy.

    Even the meteorology here in the Alps is as variable and changing
    as the predictions of Ce très beau Tour!

    Is it an Oracle to announce :

    -the Reign of Tommy V ?
    -the Colors of Thor Hushovd ?
    -the Awakening of the Great Gay Hipster Day ?

    —-ALPE D’HUEZ TOMORROW—- !!!

    In any case, it seems like I ‘ll ride to see the stage finish
    on the slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez with a friend!
    Yep. I’m a bloody B@st@ard. Done.

    Also, There is a beautiful alternative road to access Huez from the valley
    ..very quiet and panoramic…

    See these videos made riding the Alpe one month ago

    I
    II
    II

    The climb can be so quiet without all the TDF circus!
    All due Respect.

    As the ride from Grenoble is for the round trip like 140km/1500m D+/D-,
    I won’t bring a big backpack and my old awfully heavy photo gear
    for one quick glance at the racers : but the Iphone should do the trick
    to give an idea of these moments!!

    However, Saturday the TT will forward hours of photo opportunities
    with the racers at the stands the morning and if ,St Merckx permits,
    on the mountainous parts of the TT tracé the afternoon…

    @frank

    I ‘ll try to send you quite live some pics & vids from the Iphone!!

  25. 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?

  26. 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 …

  27. @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

  28. @Marcus

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

    Stakes? Or steaks?

  29. 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.

  30. me=be. yeesh.

  31. @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.

  32. @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

  33. 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!

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

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

    @Ron
    Minion is peaking at the right time.

  36. 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.

  37. @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

  38. @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.

  39. @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.

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

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

  42. 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.

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

  44. @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…

  45. @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.

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

  47. @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?

  48. 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

  49. @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!

  50. 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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