Rest day Deux -- TDF 2004

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Anonymous's picture

1. In June Atthe Dauphine Libire, Iban Mayo won the time trial up the Mount Ventoux by a two minute margin over Lance Armstrong, and Tyler hamilton had bested Lance on the same stage by about 35 seconds. This regenerated speculation that maybe Lance was vunerable on the climbs, a place that he was clearly superior to the rest of the world at the TDF in 2001 & 2002.

US Postal adjusted their tactics. They used to deliver Lance to a point on a mountain where he would launch a devastating attack at around the 10km mark. Now there was no guarentee that this would work. Instead, Postal now sets a high tempo from the beginning of the stage, then increase the pace at selected points. Three instances of this were decisive.

a. Stage Three: Postal's Hincapie and Landis cranked up the pace and wound up first at the Pave sections. This split the peleton, catching then race leader Thor Hushovd behind the break. Also, Iban Mayo crashed before the pave, and was unable to catch the forward peleton, and he lost nearly 4 minutes.

b. Stage 12. Storm Clouds are clearing over the finish at La Mongie as the peleton races up the penultimate climb of the Col de Aspin, where the rain is falling. Postal has eight! guys up front, and they turn up the pace, and the peleton fractures and breaks. This puts fewer riders to mess up the descent for postal in the rain. And the damage is done to everyone, including the Posties. The climb up La Mongie is not an exceptionally fast time, but every contender (Heras, Mayo, Hamilton, Jullich, Voekler and Ullrich) loses time except Lance and stage winner Ivan Basso. Everybody's face shows intense pain. Now the question is who can recover for the next stage.

c. Stage 13. answer to the last question -- very few can recover. Again, US Postal is setting a high tempo over multiple climbs. Before the stage is half over, Tyler Hamilton abandons, his back showing the scars from a fall in stage 6. I am sad that he is gone -- he's not a quitter, so the pain must have been immense. Later, Iban Mayo is ready to quit. He is convinced to continue, but he wobbles as he grabs onto the team car for support. If he had abandoned, the Basque fans in orange on Plateau de Beille would have rioted, perhaps against the other riders, certainly some would have tracked Mayo down. He finishes 37 minutes in arrears. But Mayo wasn't the only to crack halfway through. Roberto Heras also loses over 21 minutes. At the end, Ullrich loses 2:42, Leipheimer loses 6+ minutes. As for the climb, Lance does the climb in 45 minutes, shedding Hincapie and Landis at the Start of the climb, Rubiera at around the 12 km to go mark, and Acevedo at about 7.5 km to go, with Ullrich and Leipheimer cracking around 10-11 km. All this damage done by the pain that Postal inflicts just on the pacemaking that they do. I call them the Pain Merchants because they deliver it to every team whether it was ordered or not. Only at the 7-6-5 km mark does Lance actually breakway from Kloeden, Mancebo, and Toschning, and only Basso can follow. Then, Basso and Armstrong work TOGETHER to increase the distance and time differential.

John Zenkus put it this way -- not sure that Postal could win the TDF vertically, i.e. Lance makes the devastating attack in the mountains that drops everybody, Postal is winning it horizontally -- increasing the pace, turning the screws, and stretching out the bunch till they break apart like loose cherries or grapes. And there are two more stages in the Alps for the Pain Merchants to make additional delieveries en masse (there is a third Alpe stage, but that is the mountain ITT up Alpe de Heuz)

2. Second story on this post, but #1 in France is Thomas Voeckler. He has had the Maillot Jaune for 9 stages, and has been the first Frenchmen since 1992 to have the lead for so long. He has been dropped on every climb, but fights to regain the group at every chance. He lost 4 minutes o

Anonymous's picture
Maggie Schwarz (not verified)

Chris, apparently he grew up on Martinique, yet he's riding for France and has a German name.

I guess Martinique is a French West Indian island, so does that make you as a Martinique citizen, also a French citizen?

And I think it's a volcanic island so it's got some big climbs?

Voeckler is a big story in France but probably a bigger one on Martinique.

Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
Voeckler and other French riders

Voeckler was raised in Martinique, but I believe was born in Alsalce -- a provence that borders Germany, and was part of Germany between 1871 and 1919. Martinique is a French department -- it is not an independant state. France has held onto many of its island posessions, Tahiti is another, rather than grant independence.

I also should mention that Richard Virenque's win of Stage 10 on Bastille day was another great day for France. He also donned the Malliot Pois (mountains jersey) that day. The next day Cofidis rider David Moncoutié took the second consecutive stage win by a French rider at this year's Tour. France had not seen back to back stage wins since 199

Anonymous's picture
JedW (not verified)

"Well as Martinique is a ""departament"", its considered part of France in the same way we consider Hawaii part of the U.S.

In any case Voeckler gave an amazing performance, especially coming back over and over again every time he got dropped on the climb in Stage 13 and managed to hang on to those 20 odd seconds to keep the Maillot Jaune. I must say though his standing climb is the strangest I think I've seen!"

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