Stage 15 - Yellow again!

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Guess the boy couldn稚 wait till Alpe d辿uez to take back the Yellow Jersey. Another hard day in the mountains, and another scorching win for Lance.

On the way to Villard de Lans, the GC contenders went firin� off the front and left the mortals gasping for air. By days end, Voeckler痴 legs began to finally buckle under the pressure of defending the Maillot Jaune and would find himself drifting off the back like his bike were made of lead. And while it wasn稚 a surprise that Lance would gain those measly 22 seconds and take the jersey from Voeckler痴 back, it was a bit of a shock to see Voeckler lose more than 9 and a half minutes. But it was perhaps even more of a surprise to see Lance go for yet another sprint win. He痴 said in the past that it痴 good to not be too greedy in the Tour, to let others get victories to satisfy the team sponsors, but it appears this year he痴 not showing any mercy. So, as the group of Lance/ Basso/ Ullrich/ Kloden, and (good to finally see him here) Levy Leipheimer approached the summit, Lance hit the thrusters from the back of the group and dropped them all. Only Basso could follow, losing by what looked like 2 seconds to us, although he was given the same time, then Ullrich & Kloden gasped their way in, and finally the toasted Leiphemer grabbed a respectable fifth. Levy痴 effort would move him into fifth overall, while Lance痴 20 second time bonus for winning would raise his lead over Basso to 1:25. Still a bit close, and Lance was sure to remind reporters in the post-race interview that 渡othing痴 over yet.�

The speculation on the street, however, is that, while Basso will probably cork a top 3 result tomorrow on Alpe d辿uez, he will undoubtedly lose a few minutes on the final TT in Besancon. So, barring disaster, Lance痴 sixth win looks fairly bankable. In fact, even after his first win two days ago, L脱quipe reported that they polled all 20 director sportifs from the 20 teams racing the Tour, and every single won predicted Lance to win羊ather remarkable with still 8 stages to go. They also predicted Basso to hold 2nd, and Kloden to retain 3rd. Only one director (probably from T-Mobile) predicted Ullrich on the podium, and that was for 3rd. So poor Jan; he must be thinking heavily about a career change around now. If I were 2nd six times, and then slipped back to 4th or 5th, I might call up DeVry and look into a good plumbing program.

As for our group, we decided to take a jaunt up Alpe d辿uez a day early to actually be able to ride it 渡ormally,� meaning without the estimated 1 million fans strewn across the road. However, a full day before the big TT, the road was already littered with insane fans. Roads were painted with racer痴 names, RVs were parked everywhere, flags were hung from rock walls, bottles of wine were being poured, Italians were teasing the Germans, and everyone was turning this race of all races into a Dionysian celebration of life. There wasn稚 a single space available on the whole 13.8km climb for a car (which is why our group drove one up there the night before with a day痴 supplies for our TT watching crew

So we had a great 30k descent to the foot of the Alpe, then the 14k climb (the actual TT tomorrow will add 1.7k of flats through town to the front just so the racers can get a bit of a warm up). ). As many know, Alpe d辿uez is one of the steeper climbs at 7.9%, even though it痴 shorter. Myself, I壇 much rather tackle a 21k climb at 6% than a 14k climb at 8%. The difference between 6 and 8% is excruciating. And if you池e truly a glutton for punishment, go follow the Tour of Spain where a number of climbs average 9%. (This is where even Roberto Heras used a triple crank様ike me預 few years ago.) On our way up, we tried to time ourselves, but there was a lot of traffic on the way up forcing stops. We had to get off the bikes a few times to wait for a few cars to un-jam themselves. By the end of the ride, accommodating for delays, I壇 say I could personally do the actual 13.8k climb in an hour on my best day. Pantani has the record at 36:50 from �95 (I had thought it was 37:30 in �98, but that was inaccurate). So it appears my decision not to pursue a bike racing career after high school was a wise one; I wouldn稚 be giving Lance anything to worry about tomorrow. There are a few guys in our group who could do the climb in more like 53 or so. We happen to have a guy named Lane who was once a national TT champion in the US. Despite his near 200 lbs these days, he left me gasping for air.

Anyway, I致e included a few photos of the day, including some incredible shots of our traverse home along a high-mountain pass that exits Alpe d辿uez at the 3k mark from a small town called La Garde. Those of you who値l be watching tomorrow, look for us around switchbacks 10-9. I知 sure we値l be easy to spot amongst the other 200,000 US fans here wearing Postal gear揺a, ha. Here痴 to a hell of a day of racing.

Supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation:
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local cuisine:
Sausage.jpg

entering 9th concentric ring of hell:
DHuezSign.jpg

Tour leader/ guide Chuck List:
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George Putnam; others:
GeorgeOthers.jpg

LaGarde1.jpg


LaGardeMark.jpg

RoadApproach.jpg

1 Comment

I have taken great pleasure in reading of your escapades up L'Alp D'Huez, as it has brought me closer to my ancestors homeland, the land of the 'Ugenots, OUI? I want to now know this-- did you help to paint some of those really kind and friendly things on the road there? I saw some good ones like "F$*K Lance" and "Lance Sucks", perhaps one upped by "Rip their balls off Lance".

Were you one of those people who spit on Lance? If so, shame on you. I am a big fan of Sheryl Crow, and becuase of that, I am a fan of Lance. And if you spit on Lance, you spit on Sheryl-- and thus you spit on me-- get it pal? So I come find you, and we have words. No body spits on Sheryl Crow. You know, when I first heard the great and wonderful Sheryl Crow I thought, "She is pretending to be Bonnie Raitt. She will not last!"

And now look at her, and look at Bonnie Raitt!. I think Bonnie Raitt now wants to be Sheryl Crow! Especially since now She is Mrs. Yellow Jersey. I still think Lance is Mr. Sheryl Crow, but it is getting closer now that he has shown he can ride a bike so fast.

Do not spit on Sheryl Crow, or I will spit on you, and then we will fight like little scratchy schoolgirls.

Jean-Frederique

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