July 13, 2003
Tyler Freaking Hamilton has updated his race diary at VeloNews.
On the technical side, he explains one adjustment they've made since he can't comfortably stand on the bike:
I've been trying to concentrate on using a higher cadence in this year's Tour de France. I've been riding a 52x36 instead of a typical 53x39.
The man is simply unbelievable. If I was in his place, I wouldn't be able to stand up straight for all the horse tranquilizers I'd be popping.
Did Beltran blow Armstrong's Alpe d'Huez?
From the cyclingnews.com Stage 8 wrapup:
Armstrong said, "There's no doubt that Triki [Beltran] went too hard at the base of the climb, but he's new to the team and I guess the system isn't clear enough yet. A fast tempo is a good thing but that tempo was supersonic and that's not a good thing. Immediately, the tempo put Chechu Rubiera in trouble. We'll talk about that tonight and it won't happen again. I can confirm if it looked fast, it was very fast!"
For today's field trip, class, we'll be taking a little trip into Gilberto Simoni's head after the climb up Alpe d'Huez:
Immediately after I passed the finish line, I wanted to cut ties with this Tour de France. Now, once again, I'm here to work out my crisis. Hear me, my friends, the face of Alpe d'Huez is not like taking a walk. A stage like this is a terrible test for everyone who has good health, now imagine what happens to those who don't. I was so close to a breakdown today. I'm upset cause I can't accept giving so much effort without any result. Someone praised my efforts on Col du Galibier and I was happy. But later, on the last hill, I felt weak again. I was out of energy. I wonder if it's wise to stay here, to continue the race. I have to accept my defeat, accepting at the same time Armstrong's supremacy. Otherwise, I'm not sure that I'll find a way to come back in the next two weeks. What's the matter? What's the matter? It's my aching question, my obsession. My body doesn't reply; it signals failure. And I worry about that.
Looks like Simoni could be the next big-name Italian drop-out.
Peloton police blotter
One feature I love in the cyclingnews.com coverage is the commissaire's report, the police blotter of the peloton, where the day's fines for cheating, administrative oversights, and other infractions are laid out for all to see.
The following riders were each fined 100 Swiss francs for failing to sign in at the stage start: Christensen (CSC), Rebellin, Haselbacher, Peschel, Totschnig, and Zberg (all Gerolsteiner).
The following riders were fined 50 Swiss francs, penalised 10" and lost 5 points in the points competition for holding onto their team cars: Boogerd, Nierman (Rabobank), Glomser (Saeco), Clain (Cofidis), Parra (Kelme), Zampieri (Caldirola-SO.DI.), Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Nazon (Brioches La Boulangère), Schmidt (Gerolsteiner).
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) was fined 50 Swiss francs for being pushed by a spectator, while Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com) was fined 60 francs for multiple pushes.
Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère) was fined 50 Swiss francs for drafting behind a car.
The following riders were fined 50 Swiss francs for receiving unauthorised feeds: Heras, Rubiera (US Postal), Lelli (Cofidis), Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dufaux (Alessio), Lefevre (Jean Delatour).
Each rider's directeur sportif was also fined for the same infraction.
The directeurs sportifs of US Postal, Team CSC, and Team Bianchi were also fined 100 Swiss francs for failing to follow the instructions of the commissaires during the race.
My sympathies to Jimmy Casper, who has been the lanterne rouge (the last-placed rider in the race, so called because of the red lantern that used to hang at the back of a train) since Stage 3, 10+ minutes behind the nearest competitor. He's finished dead last in more stages (5) than Petacchi won (4), and of course was riding with a neck brace for a while after the Stage 1 crash.
Hamilton: "As long as I am able to stay in the saddle, I can deal with the pain but whenever I have to stand up in the pedals and pull with my right arm, it is extremely painful...Tomorrow's stage may not look difficult on paper, but the penultimate climb has a very steep section where I will have to stand up in the pedals and I am a bit anxious about that. At the moment, I choose to be happy about my performance today and I hope that I will be able to maintain my current level all the way to Paris."
Also post-race quotes from Vinokourov, Michael Rogers, Rolf Aldag, Baden Cooke, and Santiago Botero.
"The best team in sports right now isn’t necessarily in the NBA or the NFL, it may be the underappreciated and largely unrecognized U.S. Postal Service cycling team, a bunch of guys who continually sacrifice their bodies and egos to escort Lance Armstrong to the finish line in Paris, so he can hoist the Tour de France trophy and be an Inspiration to Us All," she begins, and the whole thing is definitely worth reading.
Seen at Lance Armstrong's official site.
Jonathan Vaughters, who is racing in the US this year, says Armstrong is in for a race this year:
Lance's climbing speed today was considerably off his 2001 pace (nearly 41 minutes up the final climb versus his pace of 38:01 in 2001), making me believe that he's at least a tad more vulnerable. I was in the lead group in 2001, approaching the L'Alpe, and nearly 80km from the finish, Lance announced to me that he was going to win that day. I really doubt that he would have said that today. "
VeloNews has John Wilcockson's analysis of Stage 8.
Armstrong and his team have a fight on their hands; and it may be one that they won't be able to control. The American-based squad is programmed to ride a hard tempo up the climbs and through the valleys, with a view to discouraging attacks by Armstrong's rivals. It is a tactic that has proved itself in his previous four winning Tours; but there were signs Sunday that the team and the tactic are growing weary.
VeloNews: Stage 8 photos
VeloNews has posted three new photo galleries of Stage 8.
OLN daily reports updated: Stage 8
- Today's highlights:
- Phil Liggett ("It was the greatest of all battles on Alpe d'Huez -- and I've seen 22 of the 23 throughout the fabled history of the climb. Lance Armstrong appeared to be in trouble, but he knew what his body was capable of and he marshaled his strength to end the day as race leader.")
- Paul Sherwen ("Armstrong admitted surprise at his legs, said they didn't respond quite the way he had wanted them to. He praised his team who did a magnificent job for him. Whether he was good or not, he was still able to finish off the job and chase and parry all the attacks. I think the reason he raced the way he did today was to try and put time between himself and Jan Ullrich.")
CBS bad, OLN good
CBS comes through with 3 MINUTES of coverage of the most important, and one of the most interesting, stages of the 2003 Tour.
Do we see anything of the Col du Galibier or the other preliminary climbs? No, we just start part way up Alpe d'Huez, with "the yellow jersey already suffering at the back of the pack" and Ullrich further down the mountain. Any sign of the multiple attacks on Armstrong, or of the teamwork of USPS to place Armstrong in position for that final climb?
Nope. This is big-time network TV. As the man once said, "It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long, if you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05."
No matter how you feel about Kristen Gum, the OLN coverage is head-and-shoulders above any US coverage of the last 15 years.
cyclingnews.com offers an interview with l'Alpe d'Huez winner Iban Mayo.
"After I attacked Lance in Dauphine, I was told that it would be very different and much harder for me to do the same thing in the Tour," the 25 year old rider smiled behind the podium at the top of the Alpe. "Now I have done just that, and my attack carried me all the way to the finish. It is true though that my team lost a lot of time in the team time trial, and because of that I don't think I was considered a big threat to Lance today and that might have been a reason that they let me have a go here. I am sure I will be more controlled by the other teams after today."
Mayo who has been a pro since 2000 and is riding his second Tour de France, came to the start in Paris with a very specific goal. "I told journalists before the Tour that I wanted to win a stage, and that it should be this specific stage. I think Alpe d'Huez is the most beautiful of all stages and it is certainly an important one, both historically and for the general classification."
The New York Times Stage 8 report by Samuel Abt is up.
"The team was superb, but me, I don't know."
Later, he said, "I'm perhaps not as strong as the other years," referring to his four successive victories in the Tour. "It's been that way from the start. Let's hope things get better, not worse."
His analysis was spot on. The team gave him fine support, setting him up on the final climb for his usual explosive ride away from his opponents. This time, though, Armstrong could not counter attacks by Iban Mayo, a Spaniard with Euskaltel, and Alexandre Vinokourov, a Kazakh with Telekom.
Otherwise, Armstrong said, he had little to celebrate other than the yellow jersey.
"If you'd asked me a month ago if I was going to suffer this much on Alpe d'Huez," he said, "I would have said, `No way.' "
Race standings updated
The Tour website has finished posting stage and overall standings, updated by today's race activities:
- Stage 8
- Overall points - Green Jersey
- Overall mountain - King of the Mountains Jersey
- Young riders - White Jersey
- Overall team (Euskaltel moves into the lead)
RoadCycling.com offers a look at some of the weight-saving equipment teams are using to get through the Alps a little faster, including the Trek Madone 5.9 frames being used by the US Postal team, next year's component groups from Shimano and Campagnolo, and the Cervelo R2.5 frames being ridden by Tyler Freaking Hamilton's CSC team.
Spain's Iban Mayo won stage eight of the Tour de France after a powerful surge up to the finish in the ski resort of Alpe d'Huez.
Mayo, second to Lance Armstrong in the Dauphine Libere earlier this year, attacked the four-time Tour winner on the lower slopes of the famous climb to claim his first stage win.
Team Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov finished second on his own, one minute 44 seconds adrift on the brutal 219-km stage from Sallanches which crossed the infamous Col du Galibier.
US Postal rider Armstrong won a sprint to the line to finish third, 2:11 behind Mayo but sufficiently far ahead of overnight leader Richard Virenque to take the lead in the overall classification.
CBS Sportsline has posted their Stage 8 update.
Three noteworthy quotes from Armstrong:
"The attack by Beloki was very strong," Armstrong said. "The attack by Mayo wasn't too serious because he was a bit behind in the standings."
Armstrong described the stage, which began in Sallanches, as grueling. "It was a really hard stage from the start," Armstrong said in French. "The whole pack attacked."
"It was important to get distance from Jan Ullrich. That's the good news of the day," Armstrong said.
I've linked to it at the Austin American-Statesmen Tour de France special.
Ironic story du jour: Merckx targets Alpine success
Axel Merckx is the son of legendary racer Eddy Merckx, probably the greatest cyclist of all time (5 Tours, including one in which he won 8 stages). Axel told BBC Sport his goal was to win today's stage:
Merckx Jnr, however, insists he has the ability to take arguably the Tour's toughest stage prize.
He told the BBC Sport website: "Obviously because of my riding style, the mountain stages suit me a great deal but there's one that sticks more in the mind than the others.
"The dream is to win Alpe d'Huez and it remains this year's goal, but you just have to play these things by ear.
"My form has not been too bad so far and I'm getting increasingly near peak condition. I'll see how I feel on the morning of Alpe d'Huez and take it from there.
"Sadly, there'll be a lot of guys thinking the same thing."
Apparently some of those guys showed up today: Merckx was struggling behind the gruppetto (the laughing group, a group of riders working together just to escape elimination) today even before the climb to l'Alpe d'Huez started. Update: He eventually finished within the grupetto, which came in at 42:19.
Overall: Armstrong takes yellow
In the overall, Armstrong distanced himself from several main rivals, but couldn't gap Joseba Beloki, who was second overall last year.
Iban Mayo's victory moves him into serious overall contention: he's a little more than a minute back.
1) Armstrong 35:12:50
2) Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ :40
3) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 1:10
4) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) @ 1:17
5) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) @ 1:37
6) Tyler Freaking Hamilton (CSC) @ 1:52
7) Roberto Heras (USPS) @ 1:58
8) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) @ 2:10
9) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 2:25
10) Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 3:19
Stage 8 : Mayo on the mountain
Iban Mayo of Euskaltel takes the legendary stage, the (correction) 2nd Spaniard to win atop L'Alpe d'Huez.
Alexandre Vinokourov took second, and Lance Armstrong took 3rd, breaking out of a group of 6 that included Joseba Beloki and Tyler Freaking Hamilton (!!). Armstrong will move into yellow, but didn't dominate this stage the way he frequently has dominated mountain stages during his 4-year run of Tour titles.
Armstrong had a minor dustup on the descent from the Galibier, when he and teammate Roberto Heras touched wheels. Heras fell, and Armstrong rode off the road, and briefly stopped. No big.
Yesterday's winner, Richard Virenque, will lose the yellow jersey, but defended his polka-dot jersey by being first to the top of the day's first two climbs, and 4th on two others, earning 56 points in the King of the Mountains competition.
1) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
2) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) @ 1:45
3) Lance Armstrong (USPS) @ 2:12
4) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) same time
5) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t.
6) Joseba Beloki (ONCE) s.t.
7) Tyler Hamilton (CSC) s.t.
8) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
9) Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) s.t.
10) Roberto Caucchioli (Alessio) @ 3:36
Others of note:
11) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) @ 3:36
12) Roberto Heras (USPS) same time
13) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) s.t.
15) Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldiroli) @ 4:46
34) Michael Rogers (QuickStep) @ 9:29
35) Richard Virenque (QuickStep) @ 9:29
Looks like Hamilton will have to drop the "I'm just riding for Sastre" facade - his teammate Carlos Sastre came in @ 5:26.
L'Alpe d'Huez in progress
It doesn't look like Armstrong has the dominant conditioning he's had before. There are riders catching up to his group, and a number of riders are launching attacks from his group, forcing Armstrong (and Heras) to chase them down.
It looks like Armstrong doesn't have the gas to ride away, as he has in the past.
L'Alpe d'Huez in progress
Armstrong has closed the gap on Joseba Beloki. He's ridden away from his teammates, and only Tyler Freaking Hamilton and Iban Mayo could bridge up with him.
Now Hamilton, Beloki, and Mayo will take their turns trying to break away from Armstrong.
Armstrong along with teammates Rubiera, Heras, and Beltran fractured the field in the first kilometer up l'Alpe d'Huez. Virenque and Ullrich were dropped immediately.
Tyler Freaking Hamilton stayed right with Armstrong! Joseba Beloki rode along with the Armstrong briefly, then launched his own attack, gaining 70 meters or more on Armstrong. Beloki sits 1:08 behind Armstrong at the start of the day.
Bicycling Magazine's TourdeFranceNews.com site has a column from Cyrile Guimard. Guimard coached Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond (Bicycling calls him "the John Madden of cycling"), and had nothing kind to say about Petacchi's exit:
I don't know if Alessandro Petacchi learned anything or not today, but his ridiculous abandon on the first climb was even more insulting to the Tour organizers than those of Cipollini in past years. Sure he won four stages, but still, you don't quit the Tour de France like that. It's simply a matter of principle. I hope he never needs to benefit from a Tour de France wildcard bid in the future, because after his move today, he won't get any favors from the race organizers.
Rider's diaries updated at cyclingnews.com
There are updated riders' diaries at cyclingnews.com. Most of them are updated through yesterday's Stage 7. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano isn't racing the Tour this year, but is contributing a rider's diary with an insider's view.
Virenque: Yellow, Polka-dot, Red race number
With his ride yesterday, Richard Virenque of QuickStep earned the leader's yellow jersey as well as the polka-dot jersey of the King of the Mountains (which Rolf Aldag wears today, since a rider only wears one leader's jersey).
Virenque was also voted the most aggressive rider, which is denoted by a special red rider's number he's wearing today.
Virenque has won the overall polka-dot jersey 5 times, and has to be the early favorite to win it this year. So far today, he's riding with the leaders, who are over the top of the Galibier and headed for the climb of L'Alpe d'Huez. None of Virenque's teammates have been able to hang, while Lance Armstrong, 2nd overall, is riding with 6 teammates between the climbs. Update: Australia's Michael Rogers has rejoined the leaders' group, joining his teammate Virenque.
Seen at the official Tour website.
BBC Sport already has their photo gallery of today's stage online.
Presumably, they'll be adding photos as the stage progresses.
Yahoo! UK has a story from Agence France-Presse wrapping up Stage 7 and quoting the new green jersey on the old green jersey:
"I was a bit suprised about Petacchi really. He basically pulled out on the first climb of the Tour," Cooke, who now leads the points competition with 118 to McEwen'a 110, told AFP after Saturday's stage.
"I thought that was a bit soft and it doesn't show much respect for the race. But then again, when you've won four stages in the first week I suppose it doesn't matter.
"I was a bit more disappointed to hear about what happened the day before. Apparently he got pushed by two of his team-mates for about a kilometre when he got dropped on the last climb," added Cooke referring to Friday's 196.5km sixth stage where Petacchi beat the Aussie into second place.
"(Australian rider) Nick Gates seen the whole thing. I mean, I can't say I've never had a push before but to get pushed for a kilometre then go on to win the stage is a bit different."
Three non-starters this morning
- Failing to start this morning:
- Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) of Spain
- Sven Montgomery (Fassa Bortolo) of Switzerland
- Volodymir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo) of Ukraine
Gustov was in 28th on the GC last night. Fassa Bortolo now has 4 riders left, including Ivan Basso.
184 riders remain, of 198 starters.
From the Tour website.
Tour Today: Sallanches - L'Alpe d'Huez
Not much needs to be said beyond L'Alpe d'Huez, but here goes:
Today's not the longest stage of the Tour, but it's probably the hardest, with two haute categorie (beyond categorization) climbs: Col du Galibier, and Alpe d'Huez. Galibier is combined with the Col du Telegraphe to make for a 35-km climb with a brief respite after topping Telegraphe.
After Galibier, there's a 40-km descent, and then the 13.8-km climb through the 21 switchbacks of L'Alpe d'Huez.
The peloton is now at 187 riders, and there may be a few more who don't start this morning. If so, the Tour web site will list them as N.P. or Non Partant soon after the stage starts.
Unfortunately, in the US, the good Outdoor Life Network coverage will be replaced by awful CBS coverage. I believe the live radio feed at the Tour site will be working, and recommend it over the CBS coverage, which will likely be a review of the Tour so far and 10-15 minutes of highlights from today's stage.
Includes a table of every winner at l'Alpe d'Huez since 1952. Andy Hampsten was the first American to win the stage, back in 1992. Fausto Coppi and Lance Armstrong are the only two to win the stage and the Tour in the same year.
Marco Pantani still holds the record for fastest climb of the mountain at 37:35 in 1997.
There's a photo gallery of great moments in l'Alpe d'Huez history, as well.
At least 400,000 people will not miss the arrival Sunday, said Eric Muller, mayor of this village-turned-ski-resort at the roof of the race. Its normal population is 1,700, and he is a little worried.
Besides Dutch fanatics who have made a pilgrimage here since their countrymen won the Alpine stage eight times from 1976 to 1988, swarms of other Europeans have joined the French crowds.
And no small number of Americans have come to watch Lance Armstrong, attempting to win his fifth straight Tour de France after a fight with cancer.
"We don't know where to put them or what to do with them, but this is a historic moment," Muller said. "We'll manage."
Some people arrived 5 days early to get a primo location like Switchback No. 7, "Dutch Corner."
rec.bicycles | A Prayer for Greg on the morning of Alpe d'Huez
This is one of my two favorite posts ever on rec.bicycles.racing (Actually, it looks like this predates the great split of rec.bikes into subgroups, so it's from rec.bicycles). Dave "Hill" Harvey was the newsgroup's provocateur, and was probably a nom de plume of one or more of the group's regulars.
In honor of today's stage up L'Alpe d'Huez, and seeing that Greg's spiritual successor needs a good ride today, I thought I'd put it out there.
From: Dave "Hill" Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: A Prayer for Greg on the Morning of Alpe D'Huez
Date: 1991-07-23 13:14:48 PST
Heavenly Father, we, the readers of rec.bicycles, ask you to watch and
guide Greg Lemond as he pits the cardio-vascular intensity of his thighs
against the steepness of Alpe D'Huez,
that he may sense every break and crush it righteously to rise from the
ashes like a Phoenix and breakaway on his own, with or without his team-
mates of Z who may have made a pact with the devil to abandon him,
that he may cross the finish line alone with his hands outstretched to
touch your holy feet in Heaven, while his enemies are littered below on
the mountain vainly speaking in tongues to their team directors,
that he may fulfill your dreams for America by vanquishing the cycling
forces of Satan who ride for the heathen countries where English is not
that he may warp the time-space continuum for a measly 4:42+ and wear the
Yellow Jersey of Jesus, the Son, into the City of Wickedness, the City with
a monument to the Arch-Angel's Triumph, where the armies of Satan drink
powerful dark liquids on the sidewalks and plot the downfall of America with
Lord, the Father, of this we pray.
Your faithful groveling supplicant,
cyclingnews.com has posted their daily news roundup, including:
Jorg Jaksche (ONCE-Eroski): Digestive troubles
Pablo Lastras (iBanesto.com): Cuts to right thigh and contusion on right knee
Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC); Superficial cuts and bruises
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com): Superficial cuts and bruises
Anthony Tauler (Kelme-Costa Blanca): Cuts and contusions on left hip and knee
David Canada (Quick.Step-Davitamon): Cuts on left knee and both elbows
Damien Nazon (Brioches La Boulangère): Left knee pain
Jérôme Pineau (Brioches La Boulangère): Cut on left hip
Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio): Cut to left knee