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  1. #1
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    Stage 14: Agde - Ax Trois Domaines

    Stage 14: Agde - Ax Trois Domaines 220.5 km


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    A brutal stage, ending on a climb. Most of the riders are tired, and many teams have lost "key" riders already. This is the sort of stage where an exhausted contender could easily lose five minutes or more. If Vinokourov is feeling strong, this is exactly the sort of stage where he has a shot to get back among the top contenders.

    Rasmussen and Moreau have proven they can stay with Basso and Lance on a given day. But, with two brutal climbing stages on Saturday and Sunday, it is likely that one or two of the top five GC contenders is gonna have a bad day.

    The list of top five contenders is likely to look different on Sunday night. By then, only the strongest riders will remain at the top of the list.

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    Dancing on the Pedals Corsaire's Avatar
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    It's on this Stage (AX3 Domaines) , I think, where Lance will strike his mighty blow (mountain top finish). He'll resort to he same tactic, using his teammates on a fast, crushing tempo to put the last "nail in the coffin" (Azevedo, Rubiera, Salvodelli & Popovich will pace this one), hoping this will pretty much "assasinate", at least the most important threats to the GC. There are still room for surprises though, nothing is written on stone yet, those who could surprise in the end by hanging on with Lance could be: Rasmussen (climbing strong this year) Basso (his chance to finally pounce), Valverde (fresh meat and motivated),Vino & Kloden(maybe), or Mancebo ("constant" is his middle name). Ulrich, hmmm, a very remote possiblity, doubt it.

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    Johan would like to have Beltran here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    It's on this Stage (AX3 Domaines) , I think, where Lance will strike his mighty blow (mountain top finish). He'll resort to he same tactic, using his teammates on a fast, crushing tempo to put the last "nail in the coffin" (Azevedo, Rubiera, Salvodelli & Popovich will pace this one), hoping this will pretty much "assasinate", at least the most important threats to the GC. There are still room for surprises though, nothing is written on stone yet, those who could surprise in the end by hanging on with Lance could be: Rasmussen (climbing strong this year) Basso (his chance to finally pounce), Valverde (fresh meat and motivated),Vino & Kloden(maybe), or Mancebo ("constant" is his middle name). Ulrich, hmmm, a very remote possiblity, doubt it.

    Corsaire
    Lance doesn't seem to have a choice but to make a go of it. With only a week to go, Rasmussen is dangerously close. If Lance and Disco encounter any problems, Rasmussen could find himself in yellow in which case, the ITT becomes even more important.

    Basso has to try something.

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    Senior Member jjmolyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JungleCat
    Lance doesn't seem to have a choice but to make a go of it. With only a week to go, Rasmussen is dangerously close. If Lance and Disco encounter any problems, Rasmussen could find himself in yellow in which case, the ITT becomes even more important.

    Basso has to try something.
    I think Lance is the only one with choices, he can sit back and wait to be attacked, if no GC contender attacks he is 38secs ahead, If Vino, Raz, or Basso attack, he just need to stay on their heels. If they do attack I imagine he will ride on their heels till he senses weakness, and then he will pounce.
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    Senior Member SunSwingsLow's Avatar
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    This stage and 15 define the tour. If Lance holds off all contenders on then the tour is over.

    Basso and Rassmussen cant TT with Lance. Rasmussen needs about 6+ minutes to have a chance assuming it comes down to the ITT. Basso needs about 2-3 minutes as well.

    I honestly think Rassmessen will be content with the KOM jersey.

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    Rassmessen is dead meat in the time trial. He will need to put need a 7 or 8 minute advantage to make up the the time he will lose in the ITT.

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    This weekend is critical for everyone that wants to win this race except Lance. So I expect major fireworks on both days. I fully expect Stage 14 to be a repeat of Tuesday except even more brutal and with less survivors at the end. Discovery will drive the pace hard from the start and the Lance will attack on the Port de Pailheres. If Rasmussen can hang on 'til the end look for him to step up and attack on Sunday. The only question being when. There are so many climbs on Sunday I can't even begin to guess where it'll hit the fan.

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    I wonder about Basso and the ITT. In the Grio he was just behind DZ in the first and beat DZ in the second TT. Not sure what happened to that form for the opening TT but I wouldn't say he needs 2-3 min. Last year he did but the training and new position on the TT bike have made big advances in his TT ability this year. I don't think he can take big time from Lance but if he is on and somehow has a lead I think he can hold it...IF he is on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_wmn
    Discovery will drive the pace hard from the start and the Lance will attack on the Port de Pailheres.
    I'll bet you a million $$$ that he won't. Never has he attacked before the final climb when riding for GC. Bad tactics in his position.

    Though that climb is a killer, and others will probably make a go.

    Port de Pailheres profile

    ( courtsey http://www.bertevers.nl/Profiles/profiles.htm )

    Basically the same route was used in 2003: http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2003...esults/stage13 for any that want to get an idea of how it may unfold again.

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    I think Discovery will try the same thing they did the first day in the Alps. The new "blue train" will ramp up the pace on the last climbs, shake those that can't hang and then have Lance deal with whatever attacks come his way. I expect Vinokourov to attack. Moreau as well. Basso too if he can hang. These guys have nothing to lose and have to get aggressive if they want to have a chance. I guess we just have to see if any of them will have the legs to keep up.

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    If the times stay as they are to the TT i would imagine Basso would finish 2nd.

    Vino, Moreau and Ras probably should look to get into a breakaway and hope to stay away. I don't think they will be able to wait to the last climb to attack Lance.

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    Rasmussen seems to be ridin like a bad motha...I think he can mount a sucessful attack.. I am still wondering if Basso is lying low... JU might go for bust.. heck I cant think of any other place than Sat or Sun where he can...

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    Saturday and Sunday are too brutal for anyone to ride "all out" on both days. So, Lance must pick one day where he simply keeps pace with targeted GC contenders. And, on the other day, Lance will ride to win.

    Just a guess: Sunday is the day Lance most wants to win. It is the last opportunity in his life to win a race that ends on a steep mountain climb. After two days of brutal riding, with over 30,000 feet of climbing, many riders will be totally exhausted when they reach the final climb on Sunday.

    If Lance is still riding strong on that last climb, he could put two minutes, or four minutes, or six minutes into a contender who is struggling.

    If Lance is wearing the yellow jersey come Monday, he will be wearing it all the way to Paris.

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    106 kg of Pure Power zakk's Avatar
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    Lance will pace on 14 and then destroy on Stage 15, which will pass the memorial to his fallen Motorola teammate Casterelli (sp?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolomiti
    I'll bet you a million $$$ that he won't. Never has he attacked before the final climb when riding for GC. Bad tactics in his position.
    The summit at Pailheres is only 20km from the finish though, so I still expect a major Lance attack on the Pailheres. If I were Johan I'd use everyone but Lance and Paulo Salvodelli to shred the peleton right up to the early to midway stages of the Pailheres climb. If Paulo can hang with Lance to the summit he'd be helpful in taking Lance down the other side, and then it's Lance all the way from there.

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    Since Ever Since Devil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_wmn
    The summit at Pailheres is only 20km from the finish though, so I still expect a major Lance attack on the Pailheres. If I were Johan I'd use everyone but Lance and Paulo Salvodelli to shred the peleton right up to the early to midway stages of the Pailheres climb. If Paulo can hang with Lance to the summit he'd be helpful in taking Lance down the other side, and then it's Lance all the way from there.
    I'm not sure why people have this thing about Savoldelli being Lance's strongest lieutenant in the mountains. He clearly isn't. Popovych is. Look what he did on Courchevel, for instance. Popovych is this year's Azevedo.

    It's 30KM to the finish, by the way. Not 20.
    Last edited by Devil; 07-15-05 at 11:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_wmn
    The summit at Pailheres is only 20km from the finish though, so I still expect a major Lance attack on the Pailheres. If I were Johan I'd use everyone but Lance and Paulo Salvodelli to shred the peleton right up to the early to midway stages of the Pailheres climb. If Paulo can hang with Lance to the summit he'd be helpful in taking Lance down the other side, and then it's Lance all the way from there.
    What makes you think no one else would be able to hang with Salvodelli and Armstrong? And also, what makes you think they wouldn't be caught by the end of the descent anyway? It would be a total waste of energy to do all that and leave Armstrong without teamates, tired, amongst his rivals on the final climb.

    He always waits until the last climb....

  20. #20
    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Allow me to jump on the Rasmussen bandwagon and predict him to win.

    The guy is a climbing machine.

    If Rasmussen had visions of yellow this stage would be perfect for an attack because I agree that Lance is waiting for stage 15 to make a statement.

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    Dancing on the Pedals Corsaire's Avatar
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    Rassmussen is a very strong climber, he's come a long way since just last year, but I don't see him (don't think Lance either) as a real contender for the GC.Can't wait ti'll this weekend!

    Let the battle of the mountains...COMMENCE!!!

    Corsaire
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  22. #22
    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    Rassmussen is a very strong climber, he's come a long way since just last year, but I don't see him (don't think Lance either) as a real contender for the GC.Can't wait ti'll this weekend!
    I agree, and even Rassmussen agrees, but he's going to win the KOM anyway, so he should grow a Vino sized pair and just try it for the hell of it.

  23. #23
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    Basso finally registers a stage win here, or I book a flight to France and take his bike away.

  24. #24
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    Yea I am a big LA fan but how many points does Rassmussen need to lock up the Climbers jersey? I say lock that up (i.e. lock up his only remaining goal for this year's tour) and then just fing go for it for the GC. Say he blows up and looses 20 min because he went too early or too long...so what he still has the Polka Dots and he can feel good knowing he had the balls to go for it.
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  25. #25
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    If I were Lance, I wouldn't want to rely on the TT to polish off the Chicken or anybody else. A puncture, a lapse of concentration or bad weather could be a serious problem with a lead of only 38" (look at what happened to Ullrich in Nantes in '03 with the non-stop rain -- I should remember, I was there!). I have no faith in poultry boy's TT abilities, but the first TT is a poor guide for how he will perform in the final TT, as I don't think anyone honestly believes he was racing for a good time.

    Anyhow, according to Carmichael's daily email updates (a good read BTW), Lance didn't spend much time riding a bloc in the Alps, so he *should* be in pretty good shape to stage a big attack. I think he'll try to win on "Souvenir Casartelli" day (what an absolutely brutal profile on that day, eh? I need a massage just from looking at it), but he's also a master tactician so I expect if the opportunity arises to put somebody away tomorrow, he will. OTOH, he could crack too, who knows?

    I like the idea of Savo leading him down the big descent tomorrow, but I don't think it's going to happen (i.e. I don't expect they will break away together and be alone at the top).
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