Montpellier

Sitting here in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, perhaps I’m going to revise my opinion that l’Equipe’s Tour coverage isn’t as good as the Gazzetta’s Giro coverage. The Gazzetta looks better, but the L’Equipe goes so deep.

Today, for example, as well as the usual stats, there’s a big analysis of how the stage might pan out, with four options; a table of how Contador has built his lead and – one that Viktor will love – the best and worst descenders.

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Ed and Martin decided to take a trip through the Mont Blanc tunnel to get onto the race route in Italy, then drive along race route and stop on the last climb to watch the action. And have a picnic. Photo©Ed Hood

In line with their “in depth” approach, they’ve canvassed a whole host of riders and DS’s.

Hushovd comes out as ‘meilleur descendeur’ with Cancellara and Samuel Sanchez joint second.

But not content with the best, they’ve sussed the ‘moin bons descendeurs’ – and here’s the part that will please Viktor – worst by a mile is David Moncoutie with Frank Schleck second and the disappeared Mauricio Soler in third spot.

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Pello rode strongly today. Photo©Ed Hood

Every day, you have to be thinking about doing things just a little differently – today is le pique-nique; we’ve got bread, cheese, salami, water, fruit – all we need now, is a little alcohol!

Well, 11:50 pm and the day is up on the site – no dinner tonight, didn’t have time.

A good day’s racing – the last climb was carnage, riders everywhere; and Brad’s still there, among the Heads.

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LA is surprising lots of folk with his powerful riding in the mountains. Photo©Martin Williamson
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It looked to us as if Dave was ridden-out, but when we spoke to Ryder tonight he said that it ‘just ended up that way’. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Cavendish was comfortable in the autobus. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The autobus was driven by Ballan and Pozzato. Photo©Martin Williamson

He has to get through tomorrow – it’s a monster; four firsts and a second cat. then, on Thursday, it’s his “thing,” the time trial – but a time trial in the last week of a three week Tour isn’t the same as a prologue or test in a small stage race.

However, he’s been full of surprises, thus far.

Midnight – time for bed, au demain.

Tour 09 Stage 16 Map.
Tour 09 Stage 16 Map.
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Tour 09 Stage 16 Profile.

* * *

Al Hamilton

Contador: “Quiero ganar muchos Tours”.

That was the top of the front page of todays: AS, yeah “Bert” wants to win lots of Tours and looking at his present form and the competition I should think that would be quite possible. He is still thinks of his rivals that “Andy Schleck is very strong and Wiggins is dangerous in the time trial”.

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The two climbs today were both monsters.

Inside the sports daily we have; the sunrise of a champion and the Tour following life, all good rest day fare as the race journalists struggle for anything to write!

French sports paper L’Equipe goes for the obvious “Contador is the matador of the Tour”.

In Italy, the Gazzetta dello Sport says; “climbs with an imperious (urgent) rhythm”

The New York Times gives “Contador a 2-0 win over Armstrong in the mountains”.

The Times of London think that Alberto “Is the boss of the Tour”. So nothing new from the worlds hacks.

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Carlos can’t complain about us – we bigged him up after his two Giro stage wins!

Talking of journalists, Carlos Sastre is not impressed with the press corps, especially the ones from his home country of Spain. He feels he is not treated as the previous year’s Tour winner, and complains that 99% of the questions they ask him are about the troubles at Astana, mainly to fuel the fires between Contador and Armstrong, not about his Tour or team. He would like to win on Mont Ventoux, the podium is now not his ambition.

José Angel Gomez Marchante is in this Tour to help Carlos Saste in the mountain stages, but he says he will be the leader of the Cervelo team at La Vuelta a España, so we might actually see him in that race as he’s been a bit invisible in the Tour!

Last word to Contador, the new king: “I want to win the maximum of Tours”

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El Tour segue vivo.

That’s the offerings from yesterdays rest day. We can only hope there is more to read this week?

Hasta Mañana. Al.

* * *

Postscript – 31/07/09

A Press Release from the UCI today accounced that Stage 16 winner Mikel Astarloza has been provisionally suspended by the UCI for a positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition test, dating from June 26 this year.

He: also finished 11th overall in the Tour, and the decision to suspend Astarloza was made in light of a report from the WADA-accredited laboratory in Madrid that found traces of the drug in a urine sample.

The provisional suspension will remain in place until a hearing panel convened by the Spanish Cycling Federation determines whether Astarloza is guilty. The hearing panel will also make a decision on applicable sanctions, if necessary, and possible disqualification from the Tour de France.

Wonder if second-place Sandy Casar will be promoted to the Stage win?

Astarloser.
Astarloser.