Saturday 23 July 2011

Tour de France: Stage 20 Debrief - Aussie Rules!

Could the 24th of July soon be known
as Cadel Evans Day?
It's fair to say that most of us expected Cadel Evans to beat Andy Schleck today simply because he's so much the better rider in individual time trials, but since Andy's got so much better recently we expected a close result.

How wrong we were. Cadel thrashed the competition, recording an excellent time while Andy was rather lack-lustre. The Luxembourger ends the stage 1'34" behind the Australian who will now be wearing the yellow jersey as he rides into Paris tomorrow and, barring the unthinkable and punctures, will be this year's overall General Classification winner. He certainly earned it today, as anyone who saw him crying with joy as his BMC comrades hugged him will attest.

Australians have been a part of the Tour since 1914, when Don Kirkham and Ivan Munro entered and came 17th and 20th, and Australian Phil Anderson was the first non-European to wear the yellow jersey during Stage 8 in 1981; but Cadel will be their first overall General Classification winner. Aussie fans have organised petitions demanding that, if he does win, the Government declares the day a national pubic holiday in future. Any nation that takes a Tour de France win that seriously surely deserves one!

In the end, he took just 55'40" to get round the 42.5km course, a mere seven seconds behind the fastest time set all day and enough for 2nd place, after putting down the power all the way. When it comes to technique, the graceful Andy is always the better rider but this was all about strength; and Cadel's a much harder man than skinny Luxembourger, who ended up 17th - however, the younger of the Schleck brothers says on Twitter he's now going to eat twenty cheeseburgers, so who knows what'll happen next time?

It was no surprise that Fabian Cancellara set the first impressive time, setting the bar at an impressive 57'16", despite the wet roads earlier on in Grenoble. Not so long ago, once the Swiss champion set a time you could pretty much assume bettering it to be a physical impossibility but his best days have now gone and the roads dried up, so it didn't come as a shock when first Richie Porte lopped off 12" and then Thomas de Gendt took another couple of seconds off Porte's time. However, one thing that did come out of the blue was the stunning 56'39" time recorded by Alberto Contador; enough to place him in third place despite a wobbly start when his foot came free of the pedal. Poor Philippe Gilbert went one further - whilst standing up on the pedals, his chain came off and that, as all male cyclists are aware, leads inevitably to cajoneitis.

Tony Martin, who came first on this exact parcours when it was used in the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this year, also left nobody speechless with his time of 55'33" which would have been stunning for anyone except him - with Martin being as good as he is, times so far in advance of the rest are only to be expected.

Best Brit, Scotsman David Millar.
The best British rider was David Millar in 32nd place with +3'41" - a much slower time than was expected, but it's since been revealed he's suffering from bronchitis. Next was Welshman Geraint Thomas in 46th with +4'24", then Ben Swift in 130th with +7'14" and Mark Cavendish in 156th with +8'35". The best rider from Team Sky was Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, 12th place with +2'10". People's Champion Thomas Voeckler took a good 13th place with +2'14", putting him in 14th place overall.
"I am proud of my of my team and my fans - thanks for all the support - and even more proud to stand with my soulmate@schleckfrank on the podium." (@andy_schleck, Twitter)
"Congrats to Cadel to you deserve that! Happy for you and your team BMC! It's been a great battle, looking forward to next year already!!!" (@andy_schleck, Twitter)
"Congrats to Cadel Evans - the best won."@andy_schleck and me are proud to be on the podium. thx to @leopardtrek." (@schleckfrank, Twitter)
Not far now, lads!
Stage 20 Results:

1. MARTIN Tony 55' 33"  
2. EVANS Cadel + 00' 07"
3. CONTADOR Alberto + 01' 06"
4. DE GENDT Thomas + 01' 29"
5. PORTE Richie + 01' 30"
6. PERAUD Jean-Christophe + 01' 33"
7. SANCHEZ Samuel + 01' 37"
8. CANCELLARA Fabian + 01' 42"
9. VELITS Peter + 02' 03"
10. TAARAMAE Rein + 02' 03"

Overall General Classification results following Stage 10:

1. EVANS Cadel 83h 45' 20"  
2. SCHLECK Andy + 01' 34"
3. SCHLECK Frank + 02' 30"
4. VOECKLER Thomas + 03' 20"
5. CONTADOR Alberto + 03' 57"
6. SANCHEZ Samuel + 04' 55"
7. CUNEGO Damiano + 06' 05"
8. BASSO Ivan + 07' 23"
9. DANIELSON Tom + 08' 15"
10. PERAUD Jean-Christophe + 10' 11"

Points: Mark Cavendish; Climbing: Sammy Sanchez; Youth: Pierre Rolland; Team: Garmin-Cervelo; Combativity: Not yet available.

British riders in the Overall General Classification following Stage 20:

31. THOMAS Geraint + 1h 00' 48"
76. MILLAR David + 2h 14' 21"
130. CAVENDISH Mark + 3h 15' 05"
137. SWIFT Ben + 3h 18' 07"

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