Hesjedal one stage away from the Champs-Élysées

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UPDATE: Hesjedal was 35th on the Mont Ventoux stage today, finishing in 4’45″06. That was 5:45 seconds behind stage winner Juan Manuel Garate of Spain. He’s currently in 49th overall at 82:59:58, which is 1:13:41 behind Contador (81:46:17). By the end of tomorrow’s stage on the Champs-Élysées he will have covered a total distance of 3435 km.

Photo courtesy of Garmin Slipstream.

Victoria’s Hesjedal gearing up for Tour’s end
Cleve Dheensaw, Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, July 25, 2009

VICTORIA — After nearly 88 hours of pedalling, 3,500 hard kilometres under a relentless sun and three crashes, Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria will ride down Paris’s famed Champs-Elysees on Sunday to end his second Tour de France.

“It’s hard to put into words, but coming down the Champs is the magic moment every cyclist dreams of,” Hesjedal said Saturday from France.

“The Champs will be crazy with all the people and atmosphere. It’s a truly significant moment in the career of any cyclist and I’m looking forward to it.”

Until last year’s race, no Canadian cyclist had experienced that rush for more than a decade.

“It will be hard to beat the memory of the first time I did it (2008),” said two-time Olympian, only the fourth Canadian ever to ride in the Tour.

“Nothing compares with the first time. But returning to do it again for the second time is hugely satisfying on a whole different level. I’ve shown I belong in this race at this level.”

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Armstrong’s bike on the team car before the Ventoux stage

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More to come soon …


Result after stage 20

Total distance covered: 167 km

Standing Rider Rider number bib Team Time Gaps
1. GARATE Juan Manuel 45 RABOBANK 4h 39′ 21″
2. MARTIN Tony 76 TEAM COLUMBIA – HTC 4h 39′ 24″ + 00′ 03″
3. SCHLECK Andy 31 TEAM SAXO BANK 4h 39′ 59″ + 00′ 38″
4. CONTADOR Alberto 21 ASTANA 4h 39′ 59″ + 00′ 38″
5. ARMSTRONG Lance 22 ASTANA 4h 40′ 02″ + 00′ 41″
6. SCHLECK Frank 36 TEAM SAXO BANK 4h 40′ 04″ + 00′ 43″
7. KREUZIGER Roman 93 LIQUIGAS 4h 40′ 07″ + 00′ 46″
8. PELLIZOTTI Franco 91 LIQUIGAS 4h 40′ 17″ + 00′ 56″
9. NIBALI Vincenzo 95 LIQUIGAS 4h 40′ 19″ + 00′ 58″
10. WIGGINS Bradley 58 GARMIN – SLIPSTREAM 4h 40′ 24″ + 01′ 03″
11. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 17 SILENCE – LOTTO 4h 41′ 00″ + 01′ 39″
12. KLÖDEN Andréas 23 ASTANA 4h 41′ 03″ + 01′ 42″
35. HESJEDAL Ryder 54 GARMIN – SLIPSTREAM 4h 45′ 06″ + 05′ 45″

Third time lucky?

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Sentiment is calling for Armstrong to conquer the Ventoux this year. The realities of a 37 year old athlete up against a half dozen riders in their prime may spoil that storyline.

Pantani_Armstrong_Mont_VentouxIn his heyday, Armstrong had two occasions to triumph on the 13-mile ascent at an average gradient of 7.6 percent.

In 2000, when he won the Tour for a second time, he allowed Marco Pantani (photo left) of Italy to pass him at the finish line and later regretted having given away the victory. Two years later, Armstrong’s team reacted too late and failed to catch Frenchman Richard Virenque, settling for third place.

“It reinforces that I made mistakes the previous two times,” Armstrong recently told the Associated Press. “I should have raced differently in 2000 and we should have raced differently in 2002. The Ventoux deserves the strongest riders, the mountain asks for that.”

Associated Press

Spectre of le Géant looming for TdF riders

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Mount Ventoux is the highest peak of the Vaucluse, reaching 1, 912 meters. It’s the most feared climb on the TdF and this year it’s the penultimate stage. This is the climb that will select the riders on the podium in Paris.

Specter of Mont Ventoux looming for Tour de France riders

ventoux1One cruel, spooky and mystical peak stands between the riders in the Tour de France and their finale on the Champs Elysees.

Before sipping champagne they must swallow pain on one last climb, the toughest of the 2,174-mile race.

Mont Ventoux looms as the implacable star of Saturday’s Stage 20. Called the “Bald Mountain” and the “Giant of Provence,” it rises 6,273 feet above the Comtadine Plains. It appears to be snow-capped because of its barren, limestone slopes, stripped of trees by shipbuilders centuries ago. It challenges cyclists with its steep, nearly hour-long ascent, often in torrid heat and buffeting winds.

Tour organizers chose Mont Ventoux for the penultimate stage to create suspense.

“It’s the piece de resistance, ridiculous and exciting,” said TV commentator Paul Sherwen, who rode the mountain as a pro. “It’s a very sadomasochistic choice.”