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TDF Stage 9 - Col du Tourmalet, Spinning Class On Steroids

 

A lone rider on the Col du Tourmalet. Image Credit: steephill.tv

TDF Stage 9 - Col du Tourmalet, Spinning Class On Steroids

A great, tactical, and very professional Tour de France has been shaping up in the previous eight days. Team rules take the day in the last day in Stage 9 - Saint-Gaudens → Tarbes - in the Pyrenees featuring a big climb up the Col du Tourmalet before a day off and a group of Stages in the middle flat of France before reaching the Alps, and a chance to create separation in about a week.

Col du Tourmalet from Luz Saint Sauveur in 3D, on Googleearth! Image Credit: climbbybike.com

It doesn't really make sense to waste energy needlessly when a team can control it's destiny with level headed tactics. Team Astana was content to have someone else wear, and some other team protect, the Yellow Jersey over the next several days while keeping their own strength up in the Peloton. No real attack, no real drama, just keep the Yellow Jersey in the group and take control of the Peloton when necessary so that no time is lost to the leader.

One can not blame Team Astana when they have three top riders just 6 seconds - Alberto Contador, 8 seconds - Lance Armstrong, and 39 seconds - Levi Leipheimer behind Rinaldo Nocentini and several days of flat stage work ahead ... with having the Yellow Jersey holding Team AG2R-La Mondiale (ALM) out in front to break the wind.

The Col du Tourmalet is situated in Pyrenees. Starting from Luz Saint Sauveur, the Col du Tourmalet is 19 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1404 heightmeters. The average percentage is thus 7.4 % and represents some of the toughest mountain cycling in Pyrenees. Image Credit: Patrick Giraud via Wikipedia

Today was a very pretty stage and one that shows the fanatic following of the event up the long climb to the top of the Col du Tourmalet. The crowds were not able to drive up the mountain a full day before the tour was due to visit, so one either had to drive in and stay overnight to camp out, or climb up to secure a vantage point and watch the 180 riders conduct their "spinning" class and maintain their position before going over the crest and on down the back of the mountain at 55 mph+ before another 50k of slightly downhill/flat cycling to the finish.

With no real changes in the General Classification in Stage 9 with today amounting to a real strenuous and long "Spinning Class" workout (slang - "on steroids") to end. The finish line presents the riders with an airplane ticket and a full day off before the tour resumes on July 14, 2009 with Stage 10 - Limoges → Issoudun - with 15 more days of battle to end through the streets of Paris.

Col du Tourmalet - One of the "big three" in the tour, together with the Aubisque and the Galibier. On its west side (Luz), the Tourmalet is a very regular climb at nearly 8%. Yet, it takes 18 km and 2 hours to reach the top at 2115 m. Image Credit: climbbybike.com

This end of stage entry excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

3:59
CPelkey: 31km to go.

Rabobank is setting tempo' at the front.
4:01
CPelkey: With 30km to go, the gap is now 2:40.

No way they're gonna stay out there.

We'll have to look through the archives to dredge up a stage that included the Tourmalet and ended in a freakin' field sprint.

Kinda sux.
4:04
CPelkey: One rider missing from the main field is points jersey leader Thor Hushovd.

We still can't figure out if Cavendish is in there, but reason would suggest that he is not.
4:06
CPelkey: The leaders are 26km from the finish. The gap is now 2:30.
4:07
CPelkey: The Rabobank and Caisse d'Epargne teams are setting tempo at the front of the peloton. The gap is being cut. We'll see if the two leaders hold on.
4:09
[Comment From Mr. Matt ]
How many riders are scored into the team competition?
4:10
CPelkey: The team competition is not based on overall GC. It's based on the times of each team's top three riders each day. That's why Ag2r - with riders in breaks these past two days - now leads the Team standings.
4:11
CPelkey: Our two leaders are 22km from the finish. They have been able to maintain the 2:30 gap.
4:16
VeloNews.com: Vande Velde: "didn't realize that wasn't part of their (Astana) plan"

Click link to view comment from C. Vande Velde - Flash Required / Mobile options coming soon.
4:16
CPelkey: These guys are doing a good job. They're holding their lead and have 20km to go.
4:16
[Comment From Peggy ]
Compare Lance's team this year to previous--team, strategy, standings. TY
4:18
CPelkey: Well, to start, the dynamic is quite different this time. Since his win in '99, he's never been in a situation where his leadership of the team is in doubt.
4:20
CPelkey: That's kinda cool.
The Liquigas and BBox teams are up front, not chasing, but allowing little gaps to develop in the chase. It's a nice example of how a team can disrupt a chase.
4:20
[Comment From Mtnbyked ]
What wheelset is Armstrong using today?
4:20
CPelkey: Heck, I dunno.
They look round.
4:22
CPelkey: With 14km to go, the gap is 1:59. The chase is making some progress, but will it be enough?
4:24
CPelkey: With 12km remaining, the gap is 1:45.

This is going to be tight. Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank are setting tempo at the front.
4:25
[Comment From Mark ]
Will Lance win the ITT of put time into Contador?
4:27
CPelkey: Not sure. Do recall that Contador actually finished the Monaco time trial ahead of Armstrong. He's been working on his time trialing and continues to improve. The next TT is 40km, so the results may be quite different. Who knows? If I was good at predicting the future, I'd have bought Microsoft stock back in the '80s.
4:28
CPelkey: Our leaders are 9km from the finish. The gap is coming down now. 1:16.
4:28
[Comment From REG ]
All the Lance questions are annoying. There's 175 other riders in the race too
4:29
CPelkey: With 8km remaining, the gap is 1:10.
4:29
CPelkey: Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank are driving hard. The effort to disrupt the chase hasn't had a huge impact.
4:30
CPelkey: Lots of road furniture in town here.
4:30
CPelkey: With 7km to go, the gap is 59 seconds.
4:31
CPelkey: 6km to go and the gap is 52 seconds.
4:32
CPelkey: The peloton includes all of the usual GC suspects, Sastre, Armstrong, Vande Velde, Contador ... no big players are missing.
4:32
CPelkey: Five kilometers to go.
The gap is 44 seconds.
4:34
CPelkey: Psssssssssssssss Andy Schleck has flatted. He's chasing and this happened outside of the 3km limit. He needs to chase.
4:35
CPelkey: Our two leaders are at 3.2km and have 41 seconds.
4:36
CPelkey: With 3km to go, the gap is holding.

Schleck is back, having been towed back to the field by Jens Voigt.
4:36
CPelkey: 2.5 km to go... 40 seconds.
4:36
CPelkey: 2km to go, and the gap is 39 seconds.
4:37
CPelkey: Liquigas is muddling up the chase a bit.
4:37
CPelkey: With 1.4 km to go, the gap is STILL 38 seconds.
4:37
CPelkey: Red Kite.
4:38
CPelkey: The two are still cooperating. Thaty will end in a couple of meters.
4:38
CPelkey: Pellizotti is trailing and not taking a pull.
4:38
CPelkey: Pellizotti attacks!
4:39
CPelkey: Chaaaaaaarge!
4:39
CPelkey: No he went to early
Pierrik Fedrigo (BBox) gets it
4:40
CPelkey: Freire gets the field sprint at about 35 seconds.
4:40
CPelkey: Well, nice move on Pierrik Fedrigo's part.
4:43
CPelkey: Well we have to credit Fedrigo and Pellizotti for at least doing their part from making this stage a complete embarrassment. A field sprint at the end of stage with the Tourmalet would be nuts.
4:45
[Comment From Sal Ruibal ]
hang in there CP. rest day coming up. woot woot
4:46
CPelkey: Ahhhh, Mr. Ruibal. Leave it to a member of the press corps to remind us that we get a day off tomorrow.
4:47
CPelkey: Tomorrow is, indeed, the first rest day of the Tour, folks. So we'll be back on Tuesday with Live Coverage of Stage 10.
4:49
CPelkey:

As you might have guessed, today's stage had very little impact on the GC picture:
# 1. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale
# 2. Alberto Contador Astana, at 00:06
# 3. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:08
# 4. Levi Leipheimer Astana at 00:39
# 5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:46
# 6. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:54
# 7. Tony Martin Team Columbia - Htc at 01:00
# 8. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 01:24
# 9. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 01:49
# 10. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 01:54
# 11. Luis-leon Sanchez Caisse D’epargne at 02:16
# 12. Maxime Monfort Team Columbia - Htc at 02:21
# 13. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 02:25
# 14. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 02:40
# 15. Vladimir Efimkin Ag2r-La Mondiale at 02:45
# 16. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 02:52
# 17. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 03:02
# 18. Cadel Evans Silence - Lotto at 03:07
# 19. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 03:16
# 20. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 03:49

4:50
CPelkey: Today's stage results:
# 1. Pierrick Fedrigo Bbox Bouygues Telecom
# 2. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas
# 3. Oscar Freire Rabobank at 00:34
# 4. Serguei Ivanov Team Katusha at 00:34
# 5. Peter Velits Team Milram at 00:34
# 6. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne at 00:34
# 7. Greg Van Avermaet Silence - Lotto at 00:34
# 8. Geoffroy Lequatre Agritubel at 00:34
# 9. Alessandro Ballan Lampre - N.g.c at 00:34
# 10. Nicolas Roche Ag2r-La Mondiale at 00:34
# 11. Jérémy Roy Francaise Des Jeux at 00:34
# 12. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 00:34
# 13. Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step at 00:34
# 14. Sébastien Minard Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at 00:34
# 15. Brice Feillu Agritubel at 00:34
# 16. George Hincapie Team Columbia - Htc at 00:34
# 17. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:34
# 18. Pierre Rolland Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:34
# 19. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:34
# 20. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:34

4:50
[Comment From Franz Lani ]
Where can we get the results complete for Stage 9 and overall standings?
4:50
CPelkey: We should have those posted momentarily.
4:55
CPelkey: While we won't be offering Live Coverage tomorrow, we will continue with Rest Day stories and news from press conferences.

Later today, our video crew will posting the latest edition of VeloCenter. It's usually up by 4:00 p.m. EDT.

They, too, will be working tomorrow producing a Rest Day edition of our daily reports on VeloNews.TV.
4:56
CPelkey: After the two big climbs today, the KOM picture has changed:
# 1. Egoi Martinez Euskaltel - Euskadi 78 points
# 2. Christophe Kern Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne 59 points
# 3. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas 55 points
# 4. Brice Feillu Agritubel 49 points
# 5. Pierrick Fedrigo Bbox Bouygues Telecom 49 points
# 6. Christophe Riblon Ag2r-La Mondiale 46 points
# 7. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux 43 points
# 8. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi 38 points
# 9. Vladimir Efimkin Ag2r-La Mondiale 35 points
# 10. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r-La Mondiale 34 points

4:58
CPelkey: Today's stage didn't have much impact on the points race, though:
# 1. Thor Hushovd Cervelo Test Team 117 points
# 2. Mark Cavendish Team Columbia - Htc 106 points
# 3. Joaquin Rojas Jose Caisse D’epargne 75 points
# 4. Gerald Ciolek Team Milram 66 points
# 5. Oscar Freire Rabobank 62 points
# 6. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank 55 points
# 7. Tyler Farrar Garmin - Slipstream 54 points
# 8. Thomas Voeckler Bbox Bouygues Telecom 47 points
# 9. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas 47 points
# 10. Jérôme Pineau Quick Step 46 points  Source: http://maxine-log.blogspot.com/2009/07/tdf-stage-9-col-du-tourmalet-spinning.html