Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shake Up in the Standings (TDF 09)

While Alberto Contador easily held on to the yellow jersey, some of his teammates however were not so lucky. Both Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloden lost their postions to the brothers Schleck after a grueling day in the Alps.

The Schleck's made their move on the second to last climb of the day, the Col de Romme. They wore down Armstrong and Garmin-Slipstream's Bradley Wiggins but couldn't shake Contador and Kloden.

On the final climb, the Col de la Colombiere, it was a two-team, four-man job, with the Schlecks battling the boy's of Astana. With 16.7km left, Contador made the tactical error of attacking off the front, which instead of dropping the Schlecks dropped his teammate, Kloden.

Contador's move helped the Schlecks move up in the standings, while putting pressure on both Armstrong and Kloden in the final days.

With about 15km to go, Armstrong repeated his feat from Stage 16, breaking away from Bradley Wiggins and by the end of the stage was able to finish in fifth, only 2:18 behind the stage winners.

Contador, barring any unforeseen circumstances, seems to have the race locked up. All he needs to do is ride a smart time trial tomorrow and keep up with any attacks from contenders on the final two stages and the race should be his.

What will be more interesting will to see what Armstrong and Kloden do to regain their time over the Schlecks in the hopes of Astana sweeping the podium. One positive note for Astana, in that regard, is that both Armstrong and Kloden are excellent time-trialists, while the Schlecks, Andy especially, have a disdain for the discipline.

Notes: Thor Hushovd rode brilliantly for sprinter in the mountains and all but secured his green jersey in Paris.

Carlos Sastre did not look good after his attack on the Col du Romme and seems to have fallen out of contention. Cadel Evans and this year's Giro winner, Denis Menchov, also had poor performance's on Stage 17.

Franco Pellizotti had a good day and seems a lock for King of Mountains.

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