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TdF’10 St.19: Bang, Bang, Bert!

Race Report: Many would say that Alberto Contador had this Tour in the bag, he did not know how much work Andy Schleck had done on his solo riding against the clock. Contador got a fright early on with a 5 second deficit, but he came through in the end…it was close!

Time trial, contrarreloj, corse a cronometro, contre la montre; call it what you want, but today will decide the podium and many of the other overall places. Alberto Contador should feel a little nervous with only 8 seconds in hand over Andy Schleck, also there are many other riders are close to each other on time, some will just want to finish and get it over with, but if you are in the top twenty, then there is something to race for.

Here is an up-date on the top 20 as of this morning:
1 Alberto Contador Astana 88:09:48
2 Andy Schleck Saxo Bank +00:00:08
3 Samuel Sбnchez Euskaltel +00:03:32
4 Denis Menchov Rabobank +00:03:53
5 Jurgen Van den Broeck Omega +00:05:27
6 Robert Gesink Rabobank +00:06:41
7 Joaquнn Rodrнguez Katusha +00:07:03
8 Ryder Hesjedal Garmin +00:09:18
9 Roman Kreuziger Liquigas +00:10:12
10 Christopher Horner RadioShack +00:10:37
11 Luis Leуn Sanchez Caisse d’Epargne +00:12:46
12 Rubйn Plaza Caisse d’Epargne +00:13:01
13 Levi Leipheimer RadioShack +00:14:24
14 Andrйas Klцden RadioShack +00:14:44
15 Nicolas Roche Ag2r +00:16:00
16 Alexandre Vinokourov Astana +00:17:57
17 John Gadret Ag2r +00:17:59
18 Thomas Lцvkvist Sky +00:18:30
19 Kevin De Weert Quick-Step +00:20:03
20 Daniel Moreno Omega +00:25:23

The Early Times
The 52 kilometres from Bordeaux to Pauillac is flat, very flat, but there is a bit of wind around, most riders should get the 54 x 11 round today through some of the most famous vineyards of the world. No surprise to who the early leader was? Yes, it had to be the flying man from Switzerland; Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank with a time of 1:00:56 and closest to him for a long time was HTC’s Tony Martin, 17 seconds slower. David Zabriskie (Garmin) comes in off the pace at 3 minutes down and Geraint Thomas (Sky) at 3:38.

Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin were in a class unto themselves in Stage 19. The World TT Champion would take the win but only by 9 seconds over the ever improving Martin.

The first time check at Le Pian-Mйdoc after 18 kilometres showed that Tony Martin wanted to do a good time as he was early leader with a time of 21:39, Cancellara was 9 seconds slower.

At the second check in Arcins en Mйdoc, after 36 kilometres Martin was 9 seconds adrift of Cancellara.

Ex-King of the Tour time trials; Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) kicked out of the start house with the old look of aggression for his last ever Tour TT. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was already on the road, pumping at the pedals at 100 rpm, not looking so comfortable was Cadel Evans (BMC) who must be in pain from his broken elbow resting on the aero bars.

Nothing much changed for a long time until Bradley Wiggins came through the 18 kilometre time check 31 seconds slower than Tony Martin. Armstrong was 1:45 down at the same point. Vino at 1:05, Nicolas Roche at 1:43, Kloden at 1:49, Leiphiemer at 1:41.

At the 36 kilometre mark Armstrong had dropped back to 4:31 behind Cancellara and Wiggins was at 2:02, Sastre at 4:18, Vino at 3:25, Roche at 4:42.

At the finish Armstrong at 7:04, Wiggins at 3:32, Sastre at 6:30, Vino at 5:32, Levi at 3:57, Roche at 6:42, Evans at 10:57, Kloden at 7:35.

The Stars Come Out
Chris Horner (RadioShack) is the first of the top 10 men to shoot down the start ramp and we just have to wait for the other stars to finish their warm-up and show us their TT strengths. Luis Sanchez was a bit off the pace 1:31 at the first check Horner at 2:18,

Denis Menchov crushed Samuel Sanchez in their head to head battle to take the final spot on the podium in Paris tomorrow.

At 2 minutes after 4:00 PM local time, Alberto Contador set off after Andy Schleck and a third Tour win and he was straight into his rhythm through the streets of Bordeaux. Early reports were that Schleck was slightly ahead of Contador, but after only 2 kilometres it was far too early for an important result.

At the first time check Andy Schleck was 2 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador and further back Menchov had taken 48 seconds out of Samu Sanchez which would put Menchov on the podium as he was only 21 seconds behind the Spanish Olympic road champ.

1st Time Check At 18 Kilometres:
Fastest: Martin in 21:39.
Contador: 23:12 at 1:33
Schleck: 23:10 at 1:31
Sanchez: 23:19 at 1:40.
Menchov: 22:31 at 0:52.
Van den Broeck: 23:17 at 1:38.

Andy gave it a huge effort, but it just wasn’t enough.

The time checks were showing that the yellow jersey was jumping from Spanish to Luxembourg shoulders from one second to the other. Contador did not look like the metronome that won him the Tour last year.

2nd Time Check At 36 Kilometres:
Fastest: Cancellara in 43:01.
Contador: 46:46 at 3:44.
Schleck: 46:52 at 3:51.
Sanchez: 46:53 at 3:52.
Menchov: 45:32 at 2:31.
Van den Broeck: 47:46 at 4:45.
Gesink: 48:51 at 5:50.

At the second time check Contador had pulled back from his 2 second deficit to a 6 second advantage, showing that Schleck had started too fast. Denis Menchov caught and passed Van den Broeck who had started 2 minutes in front of him.

Schleck was justifiably down at the finish, but he promises he’ll be back to win in 2011.

At The Finish:
Fastest: Cancellara in 1:00:56.
Contador: 1:006:38 at 5:43.
Schleck: 1:07:10 at 6:14.
Sanchez: 1:06:47 at 5:51.
Menchov: 1:04:47 at 3:51.
Van den Broeck: 1:08:06 at 7:10.
Gesink: 1:09:29 at 8:33.

Alberto Contador, meanwhile, put in a sub-standard time trial due to illness, but had more than enough to hold on for the overall victory.

Andy Schleck had run out of steam and the experience of Contador was keeping him cool under pressure while his lead crept up to around 25 seconds advantage. The Tour win was safe. This was not the case for Samu Sanchez as he had lost his podium place to the Rabobank rider; Denis Menchov.

Tour surprise Ryder Hesjedal kept his march up the GC ladder alive by passing his 3 minute man Rodriguez to end up 7th – the highest place by a Canadian since Steve Bauer back in the late ’80’s.

Contador was a humbled, ecstatic, soon-to-be Tour de France winner, on the podium.

Andy Schleck gave it all he had and he nearly pulled it off, but it was just too much for the non TT rider to manage and Contador will win this Tour by 39 seconds, “chaingate” now means nothing! Another great TT win by Spartacus and another Tour de France is all but done.

One of the best Tours we have seen for many years. Stay tuned to Pez for tomorrow’s finish and the battle for green and Ed road side.

TdF ’10 Stage 19 Result:
1.Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) 1:00:56
2.Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) at 0:17
3.Bert Grabsch (HTC-Columbia) at 1:48
4.Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervelo) at 2:34
5.David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) at 3:00
6.Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) at 3:03
7.Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) at 3:10
8.Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) at 3:21
9.Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at 3:33
10.Geraint Thomas (Sky) at 3:38.

Overall After Stage 19:
1. Alberto Contador (Astana) in 89:16:27
2. Andy Schleck (Saxo) at 0:39
3. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) at 2:01
4. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) at 3:40
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega) at 6:54
6. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) at 9:31
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) at 10:15
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) at 11:37
9. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) at 11:54
10. Christopher Horner (RadioShack) at 12:02
11. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) at 14:21
12. Ruben Plaza (Caisse d’Epargne) at 14:29
13. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) at 14:40
14. Andrйas Klцden (RadioShack) at 16:36
15. Nicolas Roche (Ag2r) at 16:59
16. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) at 17:46
17. Thomas Lцvkvist (Sky) at 20:46
18. Kevin De Weert (Quick-Step) at 21:54
19. John Gadret (Ag2r) 24:04
20. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) at 26:37.

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