Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stage 9: It's All About the HC

Alberto and Andy, topping Col de la Madeleine

Morzine-Avorias-->Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, 204.5k/126.8 miles, same distance as Reno, NV-->Sacramento, CA

There were a number of category 1 and category 2 climbs today, which softened up the riders for the Col de la Madeleine, an "HC", or "above category" climb. This stage really split up the riders, creating at one point maybe five or six groups.

Neither Alberto or Andy won the stage; that was won by Sandy Casar (FRA, Francais des Jeux), who seemed to know best his way around the last few turns before the finish. However, it was Andy Schleck, (LUX, Saxo Bank) who now has the overall-leader yellow jersey, with Roberto Contador (ESP, Astana) just 41 seconds behind. As Contador was first last year, and Andy was third, it's pretty much a given those two will be first and second this year. But look how wiped out Andy is after this stage. I wonder if it will affect him tomorrow, or if Alberto is similarly wiped.

Andy, completely wasted after stage.

Look how dirty Levi Leipheimer's face is. He didn't crash, but this seems to be typical of how the riders look after a long stage.

Overall, Levi had a good ride today, and may place well at the end in Paris. And I agreed with him, as he said here, that the fast pace of the leaders completely split up the riders. I actually had a tough time following everything today because of it.

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