Failing a complete disaster for Contador in the remaining stages, this is a photo of the next TdF champion.
With every tour champion comes the doping allegations. Contador’s performance has been stunning, and Greg Lemond was quoted today in the Australian press openly questioning Alberto’s advantage …
Contador dodges questions on doping
Rupert Guinness at Lake Annecy,
July 24, 2009 – 7:12AM
It took only two questions into Tour de France leader Alberto Contador’s press conference after winning the stage 18 time trial before the Spaniard found himself fending off questions about a newspaper column by former triple champion Greg LeMond that said he must prove he has raced clean.
LeMond, referring to the 8.5km climb at an average gradient of 7.5 per cent, wrote: “Never has a rider in the Tour climbed so fast. How do you explain such a performance? According to the last information published by former Festina trainer and specialist in performance Antoine Vayer in [the French newspaper] Liberation, the Spanish rider would have needed a VO2 max (consummation of oxygen) of 99.5 ml/mn/kg to produce such an effort.
“To my knowledge this figure has never been achieved by any athlete in any sport. It is a bit like if you took a nice Mercedes out of the car showroom, lined it up on a Formula 1 circuit and won the race. There is something that is wrong. It would be interesting to know what is under the bonnet.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST, A RYDER UPDATE:
Great stage by Hesjedal today. The Victoria native raced to a strong 26th place finish in the hardest stage of the Tour, only 7’47” off a nasty pace that crossed over four fierce Category 1 climbs. This was a goodbye to the French Alps and Ryder has scratched his way back up to 56th overall. Tomorrow is the Lac d’Annecy time trial.
Back to the race leaders …
In the midst of a very tactical race today, Alberto Contador mystified most TdF watchers with a weird and unnecessary attack on the Schleck Bros. Nice brain cramp Alberto.
Star News Services
LE GRAND BORNAND, France | Alberto Contador has survived every significant threat to his yellow jersey this week. On Wednesday, his odd racing tactics posted a threat to his team.
Contador possibly cost teammates Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloden a spot on the podium next to him on Sunday in Paris.
At issue was why Contador, while ascending the last of the stage’s six climbs, decided to attack with little to gain.
His acceleration dropped his fatigued teammate Kloden, effectively isolating Contador against two rivals — brothers Andy and Frank Schleck — who took advantage of the situation and quickened the pace on everyone. At the end of the day, Contador widened his overall lead, but at a cost to Armstrong and Kloden, who had been in second and fourth place going into the 17th stage.
“We could have been one, two, three after today,” said Johan Bruyneel, Astana’s team director. “Now we are one, four and five.
After stage 16, Lance Armstrong remains in second place behind teammate and tour leader Alberto Contador of Spain. Armstrong remains 1 minute 37 seconds back after mounting a most impressive comeback of sheer heart on the route from Martigny to Bour-Saint-Maurice. Armstrong fell back of Contador and other tour leaders by as much as 35 seconds. He probably will not win his 8th Tour de France, but the comeback by the 37-year-old during stage 16, catching back up to Contador, was as impressive as any of his seven tour wins.
Now the riders head to the town of ultimate beauty, Annecy. You don’t live there now, but if ever any of us would be so lucky to call Annecy home, well, you’d be pretty happy. The town of art and history is called the Venice of the Alps. Annecy is also France’s nomination to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Tour de France of Ski: Stage 18, Annecy
There’s a reason the 60% of all World Cup alpine events in France are hosted by Annecy. Le Grand Bornand, Manigold, La Clusaz, Megeve, les Saisies are all ski areas within 20 miles of Annecy.
Contador cautious ahead of second Alpine stage
Tue 21 Jul, 04:04 AM
Alberto Contador will be on his guard when the Tour de France resumes following a rest day with Tuesday’s 16th stage taking riders on a 159-km trek in the Alps from Martigny to Bourg St Maurice.
The Spaniard, in a league of his own in Sunday’s first Alpine stage when he took the overall leader’s yellow jersey, leads Astana team mate Lance Armstrong by one minute 37 seconds and Briton Bradley Wiggins by 1:46.
Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans are among those also hot on his heels and will be ready to jump on the opportunity should Contador have a bad day.
“I must make sure that I do everything correctly so that my rivals cannot have a chance,” said Contador, who lost his Paris-Nice lead earlier this year when he cracked in the penultimate stage.
Tuesday’s stage will take the bunch to the summit of this year’s Tour with the long ascent to the Col du Grand St Bernard, culminating at 2,473 metres.
Attacks could come in the climb to the Col du Petit St Bernard, after which there is a 30-km descent to Bourg St Maurice.
Ryder Hesjedal – Tour de France 2009, stage 15, originally uploaded by Garmin Slipstream Pro Cycling Team.
Ryder was a key catalyst in the breakaway group today, bringing home points toward the polka dot jersey by finishing second on the category 3 Prevonloup climb and finishing right up with the escape leaders on the Col des Mosses category 2. He also got a lot of face time on Versus when they aired a profile on him as he climbed the Col des Mosses.
Solid day all round.
The peleton eventually caught up to the escape group for the final ascent up Verbier, with Ryder ending up 44th for the stage, 4’23” back. Hesjedal now stands in 57th, among notable Tour vets Jens Voigt and Christophe Moreau.
Contador was clearly the story of the day, pulling away with ease from the other leaders to take the stage by 43″ over Andy Schleck, and 1’35” over Lance Armstrong, who finished 9th.
The Tour has the strong feeling of an anti-climax, partly because Contador has twice attacked Armstrong with no response, and also because there have been no real shake outs since the early Pyrenees stages. Tour organizers have managed to make this a fairly pedestrian tour so far, long on gorgeous French, Spanish, Swiss, and Alsatian landscapes, but very short on dramatic attacks.
Armstrong admitted in a gracious post-stage interview that Contador is clearly the better rider right now. Looks like he’s setting his sights on second place as the notorious Ventoux lies in wait for the Tour leaders.
Stage 15 of the Tour de France of Ski, Verbier
Stage 14 of the Tour de France finally brought a minor shake-up to the Rinaldo Nocentini-Alberto Contador-Lance Armstrong trifecta that has been frozen in the top three positions for nearly a week now. Enter American George Hincapie. Hincapie, a former teammeate of Armstrong, was part of a small breakway group that finished just beind stage 14 winner Serguei Ivanov of Russia. Five seconds faster and Hincapie would have wrestled the yellow jersey away from Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy. For the time being, Hincapie will have to settle for second place, five seconds off the lead. Alberto Contador remains six seconds back, and Lance Amstrong, now in fourth place, is still just eight seconds off the lead.
It’s all about to get very interesting as the tour enters the Alps, stage 15 winding from Pontarlier to Verbier.
Tour de France of Ski: Stage 15, Verbier
Discussion and debate over the world’s greatest ski resort will always involve Verbier. On piste, off piste, day life, night life, Verbier has no weakness. And we haven’t begun to talk about the blueberry pancakes at the Offshore coffee bar.