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Old 07-16-11, 08:44 AM   #26
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Jens!! Jesus is he an animal!!

Saxo has help for Contador today. 3 riders still left for him. hmmmm.
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Old 07-16-11, 08:45 AM   #27
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I hope he can do it, but today is just too hard. He had a good run. If he loses a lot of time today he can get into another break later on and try for a stage win.
I think he will keep it.
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Old 07-16-11, 08:55 AM   #28
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If they keep up the attack/go slow pattern Voeckler has a chance.
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Old 07-16-11, 08:56 AM   #29
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5k is where this will all be decided.
AS is burning up alot of energy.
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Old 07-16-11, 08:59 AM   #30
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AS is at the back of the pack now. Franks launch put him there...so frank let up + Cadel had him well covered.

How about Cadel?!!...he hasnt blown up yet. Ive been waiting for his 1 terrible stage...still waiting...??
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Old 07-16-11, 09:25 AM   #31
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Huge ride from Voeckler. Talk about heart.

Evans is looking good. The Schlecks need to forget about Contador and try to gain some time on him.
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Old 07-16-11, 09:26 AM   #32
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Voeckler is determined to be a factor to the end. Very impressive ride. Same with Evans. Its seems like AC and AS have come back to the pack. AC doesn't seem right. He didn't try one attack all day. Not like him at all. Could be hurting still or just not have the snap in the legs. AS can put on the quick bursts, but not for long. Gonna be a great race to the time trial.
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Old 07-16-11, 09:29 AM   #33
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Huge ride from Voeckler. Talk about heart.

Evans is looking good. The Schlecks need to forget about Contador and try to gain some time on him.
I don't think they can. They were trying to separate themselves throughout the climb, but Voeckler and Evans always seemed like the ones first to react. Contador seemed like he was just trying to hang in there. Just doesn't seem to have the burst in his legs.
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Old 07-16-11, 09:31 AM   #34
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Good for Voeckler! I would love it if he could find a way win the Tour. I never thought he could stay with the Schlecks, AC, and Evans. Fantastic! This tour is turning out to be a lot of fun!
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Old 07-16-11, 10:03 AM   #35
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Really not impressed with the big names, but Sanchez, Vanendert, and Voeckler are amazing.

Jens will be Jens. I think when he crashes the ground says "ouch" and Jens absorbs some energy from the Earth.
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Old 07-16-11, 10:08 AM   #36
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It was sort of the same story for Contador. He was able to follow the early attacks pretty easily, but you could see him sort of wear out as the climb went on. He wasn't a threat to attack in the last 5k and probably even earlier. The Schlecks were still watching him, though. At that point they should have tried to drop Evans and Basso. If Contador could have kept up, so be it, but it's not like he was going to throw in a counter move. As of today they have enough time on Contador to keep a lead in the TT. They don't have that time on Evans and Basso is a little too far back, but still too close for comfort.

I was watching the post-race show on Eurosport and they made a good point that the Schlecks never seem to commit to an attack. They attack, get a gap, and then start looking around.
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Old 07-16-11, 10:25 AM   #37
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Voeckler is looking very strong at this point. He is almost always one of the first to react to accelerations and he was also the only one to still have a teammate with him at the end. If he can put in a little attack to take about 30 seconds, then he could very well hold on in the time trial for a major upset win of the TDF. He would be the first Frenchman to win since Hinault in '85.

Vanendert looks like a future star that could contend for GT victories as early as next season.
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Old 07-16-11, 10:51 AM   #38
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It was sort of the same story for Contador. He was able to follow the early attacks pretty easily, but you could see him sort of wear out as the climb went on. He wasn't a threat to attack in the last 5k and probably even earlier. The Schlecks were still watching him, though. At that point they should have tried to drop Evans and Basso. If Contador could have kept up, so be it, but it's not like he was going to throw in a counter move. As of today they have enough time on Contador to keep a lead in the TT. They don't have that time on Evans and Basso is a little too far back, but still too close for comfort.

I was watching the post-race show on Eurosport and they made a good point that the Schlecks never seem to commit to an attack. They attack, get a gap, and then start looking around.
I don't think they have enough time on Basso. He's a pretty good TT man.

I think the Schlecks were committed well enough to their attacks. They just couldn't drop the guys. Its pretty easy for a commentator to say that when they're not in the saddle. They expended a huge team effort at the bottom. They seemed determined to make this a selections stage by the way Leopard was driving forward at the bottom. Of the main GC group, the Schlecks threw out the most attacks. If they could have kept the gap, they would have. None of them stuck except for Andy's sprint at the finish.

At this point, as has been said, Contador isn't their biggest worry. Its Voeckler, Evans, and Basso. Evans and Basso can definitely TT better than both Schlecks. And Voeckler has time 2+ minutes on all but Frank. And Frank is not a good TT rider. Voeckler didn't seem to have much trouble at all hanging with them. There is still a long ways to go, but I think there may be some head scratching in the Leopard camp this evening after today's stage.
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Old 07-16-11, 10:52 AM   #39
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Random thoughts:

I want to see Voeckler and Rolland do the "Schleck 1-2" on the Schlecks.

Contador looks like hell. I can't tell if he was in WAY better form at the Giro, or if Scarpone and Nibali just made him look fast.

Agreed on the pathetic Schleck attacks. What Andy did to the finish line is what he needs to do on the mountain, but in smaller bursts.

The Schleck's constant looking-around-while-soft-pedaling and "assessing opponents' weaknesses" phase should have been over two days ago. What should have been learned from the phase is that, as of now, Sanchez and Evans are the problem, not Contador.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:00 AM   #40
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I just looked at the rest of the stage profiles, and I really think Voeckler has a real chance. There are a few downhill finishes left and he's one of the best descenders of the GC men (alongside Sammy Sanchez). All he needs is to take off at the top of climb and he could easily put 30 seconds into everyone. If he has 2.30 on Evans in the TT with yellow on his shoulders, who's going to catch him? I don't think anyone can make up 2.30 on a man as motivated as T. Voeckler would be going into the final time trial.

The GC men have only 2 more stages to bring Voeckler back, 18 and 19. That's it.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:10 AM   #41
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Random thoughts:

I want to see Voeckler and Rolland do the "Schleck 1-2" on the Schlecks.

Contador looks like hell. I can't tell if he was in WAY better form at the Giro, or if Scarpone and Nibali just made him look fast.

Agreed on the pathetic Schleck attacks. What Andy did to the finish line is what he needs to do on the mountain, but in smaller bursts.

The Schleck's constant looking-around-while-soft-pedaling and "assessing opponents' weaknesses" phase should have been over two days ago. What should have been learned from the phase is that, as of now, Sanchez and Evans are the problem, not Contador.
Contador looked like the AC were used to seeing at the Giro. It could just be a combination of his form peaking in May along with the crashes suffered here taking the snap out of legs. He really looks like he's just surviving. But I wouldn't be surprised if he's able throw one huge attack out there on 18 or 19.

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I just looked at the rest of the stage profiles, and I really think Voeckler has a real chance. There are a few downhill finishes left and he's one of the best descenders of the GC men (alongside Sammy Sanchez). All he needs is to take off at the top of climb and he could easily put 30 seconds into everyone. If he has 2.30 on Evans in the TT with yellow on his shoulders, who's going to catch him? I don't think anyone can make up 2.30 on a man as motivated as T. Voeckler would be going into the final time trial.

The GC men have only 2 more stages to bring Voeckler back, 18 and 19. That's it.
I think you're right. Voeckler and Evans are going to be real problems to the finish. For all of the hype about AC and AS, I really think everyone is surprised Voeckler finished as easily as he did with them.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:23 AM   #42
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Wow! Voekler's odds SHOT UP after Stage 14. MASSIVELY. He's at about the same as Frank Schleck.

I guess keeping up with famous people up big mountains makes a difference to people.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:30 AM   #43
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Wow! Voekler's odds SHOT UP after Stage 14. MASSIVELY. He's at about the same as Frank Schleck.

I guess keeping up with famous people up big mountains makes a difference to people.
Well, he's got a 2 minute lead on the main contenders and they couldn't drop him on a big mountain top finish stage. His odds ought to be better than F. Schleck's at this point. Frank can't TT for crap.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:33 AM   #44
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But I mean, they were like 100 to 1 or something yesterday, and now he's at 15 to 1. That's not an "improvement," that's a whole new world.

Aww MAN, where was my $20 when he was 500 to 1 or whatever.
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Old 07-16-11, 11:43 AM   #45
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But I mean, they were like 100 to 1 or something yesterday, and now he's at 15 to 1. That's not an "improvement," that's a whole new world.

Aww MAN, where was my $20 when he was 500 to 1 or whatever.
Yeah, I think everyone was expecting him to loose significant time, if not the yellow, today. The fact that he still has the same lead he had a the start of the day has people thinking he might just hang on to win it. He looked very good today.
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Old 07-16-11, 12:00 PM   #46
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Is Evans the clear favorite now? If Schleck's plan is to do a 10 second attack, then look back and watch his rivals catch up - then he's never going to get away on stage 18. Which leaves Alpe d'Huez... but how much time could he gain on Evans, in their form? AC might be feeling better by then too.

The GC group rode so slow up this mountain. In a normal situation, Vandenert might have been caught halfway up the climb. Instead it was attack... then ride 5mph and watch each other...
Things might shake up differently if someone actually kept them at a high tempo.

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Contador looks like hell. I can't tell if he was in WAY better form at the Giro, or if Scarpone and Nibali just made him look fast.
Just think of all the Vuelta and Giro winners that thus ended up hyped as potential TDF winners, but often failed miserably. Simoni, Valverde, (when he didn't win the Vuelta in 03 but performed excellently as a young rider) Cunego, Heras... I think the Tour is just a lot more competitive. Two grand tours in 3 months is too much to be at 100% for. Thin margins between winning and finishing say, 5th.

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Old 07-16-11, 12:36 PM   #47
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Is Evans the clear favorite now? If Schleck's plan is to do a 10 second attack, then look back and watch his rivals catch up - then he's never going to get away on stage 18. Which leaves Alpe d'Huez... but how much time could he gain on Evans, in their form? AC might be feeling better by then too.

The GC group rode so slow up this mountain. In a normal situation, Vandenert might have been caught halfway up the climb. Instead it was attack... then ride 5mph and watch each other...
Things might shake up differently if someone actually kept them at a high tempo.



Just think of all the Vuelta and Giro winners that thus ended up hyped as potential TDF winners, but often failed miserably. Simoni, Valverde, (when he didn't win the Vuelta in 03 but performed excellently as a young rider) Cunego, Heras... I think the Tour is just a lot more competitive. Two grand tours in 3 months is too much to be at 100% for. Thin margins between winning and finishing say, 5th.
I don't think there is a "clear favorite." However, at this point, I would say that Evans and Voeckler are in very good positions. The fact that neither of them have been dumped on the big mountain top finishes so far bodes well for them. I may come down to whether or not 2 minutes is enough of a lead for Voeckler over Evans in the ITT. Voeckler hasn't been the best ITT rider in the past. But he's also been dropped on stages like this in the past.
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Old 07-16-11, 12:37 PM   #48
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AC looks like his knee must be bothering him...at least to me it looks like he isnt out of the saddle nearly as much and my guess is the pressure on the knee is greater out of the saddle than in it. So he can cover the attacks when necessary but cant afford to attack for fear it wont hold up.

Voeckler is goijng to be ont he podium in Paris.

There are to many contenders bunched together and it seems to muddle everyones strategy about who to cover and when to attack. Letting Sanchez get away was a mistake. The AC/AS battle hasnt gone any different than last year except AC has had a ton of bad luck(and probably a bum knee). I think AS is in worse form than he was last year, because at least then those 2 could drop the rest.

I keep waiting for Cadel to crack but at this point i think he is the favorite unless AC's knee heals and his form returns in the Alps.

This race is FAR FAR from over. The final week of this tour is murder, death, kill.
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Old 07-16-11, 12:52 PM   #49
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I don't see Voeckler winning. He can hang on and minimize lost time when the top GC guys make a late break with 2k to go, but a successful early break at the bottom of Alpe d'Huez will take him out of podium contention, must less the overall win.

When Armstrong did it in '01, Ulrich lost around 2 minutes. The yellow jersey, also a French rider, lost something like 10 minutes.
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Old 07-16-11, 12:57 PM   #50
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I don't see Voeckler winning. He can hang on and minimize lost time when the top GC guys make a late break with 2k to go, but a successful early break at the bottom of Alpe d'Huez will take him out of podium contention, must less the overall win.

When Armstrong did it in '01, Ulrich lost around 2 minutes. The yellow jersey, also a French rider, lost something like 10 minutes.
Maybe so, but Lance ain't in this race. And there were serious efforts at early and late breaks today and he had no problem covering them. His form is excellent this year. I don't think he's going to get dropped early on d'Huez.
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