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TDF06 Stg 7: The First Day Of Truth

This is the first big sort out; setting the stage for the real Tour de France. The real contenders emerged from the shimmering plains of north western Farnce, and the day was full of surprises.

The first long time trial of this year’s Tour de France is from Saint Gregoire to Rennes, 52 kilometres on rolling roads, starting at 47 meters altitude and climbing directly to 112 meters at La Meziere then undulating to the finish in Rennes at about the same altitude as the start, not a climbers course, but as we reported yesterday in our TT course preview, it should suit the power men like Landis, Millar, Zabriskie, Landis and of course World time trial champion, Michael Rogers. First man off at 11 o’clock is Sebastien Joly of Francaise des Jeux.

The Early Starters
Early leader on the result board is our PEZ writer Maggy Backstedt with a time of 1 hour 5 minutes 58 seconds, a good time early on, but didn’t hold up too long as an other Swede Gustav Larsson (Francaise des Jeux) took 2 minutes 41 seconds out of him to take the lead, there are many more to come in the next four hours and things are going to change.

The first time check is at Geveze after 16.5 kilometres in a dip after the first little climb and before the second to Romille and by 3 o’clock Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) is intermediate leader 3 seconds ahead of Larsson, he still has 36.5 kms to the finish, so don’t bet your shirt on him yet. The fast last section suits German rider Seb Lang (Gerolsteiner) who pulls out his best to knock Larsson of the podium place, but we’ve not seen any specialists yet, so hold on to your hats!

The Big Guns Start To Fire!
Favourites for past Tour winner, Perico Delgado, is CSC’s David Zabriskie and Floyd Landis (Phonak), when told this, Zabriskie says he is honoured and will be out to do a ride. Rasmusssen is asked for the millionth time about last year’s TT, he said he has learned a lot and has been working on his time trailing, like not falling off!

Then a bad crash for Bobby Julich on a roundabout, too fast into the bend and lost it, nailed the curb with his ribs, his Tour is over as he gets into an ambulance. The start may be harder than we thought as Carlos Sastre (CSC) goes top of the leader board at the intermediate time check at the top of the small climb, now the top men are showing there stuff as Menchov (Rabobank) is the next fastest rider to the climb.

Many of the favourites have started, of the riders who “look” fast (but may not be) are Kloden, Karpets and David Millar, in the not so smooth category is Mayo, Simoni and Moreau with his tongue hanging out, but they are climbers, the next group to start are the sprinters, Friere, Hushovd, McEwen and last the yellow jersey; Boonen (Quick-Step), a few of them are going to drop off the overall standings today.

Looking at the position of Floyd Landis (Phonak), with his hands up nearly in front of his face reminds me of the first Graeme Obree position were his shoulders touched his hands, very aerodynamic but not the nicest to look at, but it seems to be working for Floyd as he moves into second place at the first time check behind Sergie Honchar (T-Mobile) and ahead of Kloden.

A fast Hincapie (Discovery) catches and drops Hushovd (CA) as news comes through that Leiphiemer has lost five minutes (!) on Lang at the finish as his team mate Fothen goes third, it seems to be turning into a German battle between T-Mobile and Gerolstiener. Favourite Zabriskie (CSC) comes in 52 seconds off Lang’s time, which will put him in 10th, next disappointment is Millar over 3 minutes down, but surprise “Mr. Tongue” Moreau was faster than he looked and might manage to only lose a little over a minute as does Cadel Evans (Lotto), not bad.

It seems Levi borrowed Robbie Mac’s ‘Invisible Cloak’ and disappeared today. Apparently the same happened to the Specialized TT rigs, which look a lot more like Walsers than anything made by the big S.

Lang has been leader for a long time now, until Honchar comes in a full minute and four seconds faster, phew! What a ride, this could put him in Yellow tonight as Landis finishes three seconds faster than Lang, Hincapie is out of the top twenty and last man that could make any difference, Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), finishes fourth at 1 minute 23 seconds. Out on the course Boonen and McEwen are together battling it out, but with 10 kilometres to Rennes, McEwen can’t hold on any longer and will have to finish as best he can, Boonen’s style is very efficient although not fast enough to keep yellow on his back and finishes over 3 minutes down on Honchar.

A new overall leader, Honchar should be able to hold his lead until at least Wednesday and possibly longer as he is looking lighter than previous years, he has the experience and over a minute on his rivals. The big loser is Bobby Julich, off to hospital with a suspected broken wrist, while the other loser Leiphiemer, still in the race but lost 6 minutes.

On his lackluster perfromce, Team CSC reported Zabriskie as saying: “I was hoping for the win, but sometimes it doesn’t work, honestly, I wish could have seen this course in advance. It was hard to get a feel for it. It’s like a circus out there.”

TDF06 Stage 7 Results
1st Sergie Honchar (Ukr) T-Mobile in (50.54 km/h)
2nd Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak at 1.00.62
3rd Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 1.04.27
4th Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile at 1.23.87
5th Gustav Larsson (Swe) Francaise Des Jeux at 1.33.48
6th Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile at 1.38.65
7th Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 1.41.77
8th Andreas Klцden (Ger) T-Mobile at 1.43.26
9th Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 1.43.90
10th Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank at 1.44.41
11th Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto at 1.49.39
12th Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears at 1.51.68
13th David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC at 1.56.59
14th Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile at 2.02.77
15th Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance at 2.03.46

TDF06 Overall After Stage 7
1 023 HONCHAR Serhiy TMO UKR
2 071 LANDIS Floyd PHO USA 01′ 00″
3 026 ROGERS Michael TMO AUS 01′ 08″
4 027 SINKEWITZ Patrik TMO GER 01′ 45″
5 042 FOTHEN Marcus GST GER 01′ 50″
6 021 KLЦDEN Andrйas TMO GER 01′ 50″
7 096 KARPETS Vladimir CEI RUS 01′ 52″
8 061 EVANS Cadel DVL AUS 01′ 52″
9 051 MENCHOV Denis RAB RUS 02′ 00″
10 018 ZABRISKIE David CSC USA 02′ 03″
11 024 KESSLER Matthias TMO GER 02′ 03″
12 031 MOREAU Christophe A2R FRA 02′ 07″
13 009 SAVOLDELLI Paolo DSC ITA 02′ 10″
14 025 MAZZOLENI Eddy TMO ITA 02′ 14″
15 044 LANG Sebastian GST GER 02′ 22″
16 014 SASTRE Carlos CSC ESP 02′ 27″
17 003 HINCAPIE George DSC USA 02′ 30″
18 097 PEREIRO SIO Oscar CEI ESP 02′ 57″
19 157 LЦVKVIST Thomas FDJ SWE 03′ 01″
20 178 ROUS Didier BTL FRA 03′ 15″

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