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.