Today’s action started under warm sun, and sadly did not contain Damiano Cunego, who was forced to abandon due to injuries sustained in a nasty crash yesterday which saw The Little Prince’s chin end up in need of stitches, along with a thorax injury.
The action began from the flag as groups tried jumping away, seeking the elusive combination that would be to the peloton’s liking. The course started giving right from the start, as the first 30k was a slow upward grind. A few small groups went off, but nothing lasted that long as the peloton was hungry today.
Ever think that the break just scoots away? Not normally the case – as seen here.
With 100k to go, the estimable Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis leapt away, soon to be joined by Jeremy Roy of Francise des Jeux, and the duo powered away to build a comfortable margin. The break established, things cooled off in the peloton as CSC assumed their place at the head of the race to make tempo. With tomorrow’s time trial being the end all be all for the top contenders, no one was too interested in burning a lot of matches today.
With 40k left on the day, the break still maintained an advantage of almost 5 minutes. Barloworld decided they’d best make some hay while the sun was shining and they took the race by the horns, soon to be emulated by the other sprinter’s teams. Seemed no one liked CSC’s lullaby at the front, and decided that for a bunch sprint to occur, all hands would have to be on deck to reel in the duo up the road. By 22k it was down to 3:47. This one was going to the line.
CSC led the bunch for much of the day, until it was deemed that a field sprint was to the liking of a number of times. Unfortunately, they left it too late.
Carlos Sastre: still worried as ever.
In this the 105th Tour de France, two Frenchmen made their desperate bid to stay away as the bunch had seemingly miscalculated the time gap. At 14k to go, the lead was a few seconds above 3 minutes. It certainly looked good for the escapees. The group behind was in a veritable straight line, digging deep to catch, with Quick Step and Milram digging hard. Some Garmin-Chipotle riders also took to the chase, most likely in the hopes that Julian Dean could bring home the bacon.
Oscar Freire needs only to finish the next two days and his first ever Green Jersey is a done deal.
Same goes for Bernhard Kohl – all he needs to do is make it to the finish line in Paris and the Dots are his!
With 2k to go and 2 minutes in hand, the two riders were set for mano a mano, as the peloton couldn’t bring them back. A good day for France!
Under 1k and Chavanel moved to the left barrier, then the right, with Roy in his slipstream. Finally the two could slow down a bit as they weaved and positioned for the sprint. Constantly throwing looks over his shoulder, Chavanel kept Roy on his rear wheel, waiting for the jump. When Roy showed his card, Chavanel, in his 8th Tour, hit the jets to take his first ever stage win as Roy could not come around the Cofidis rider.
Gerald Ciolek led the bunch home not long afterwards, and made it clear that he is thinking hard about Paris.
Time now to clean the cannons and break out the skinsuits, as tomorrow’s race against the clock will reveal the winner of the 2008 Tour de France. Will Australia triumph over Spain? Will a Russian sneak on to the podium, will an American? All will be known by day’s end tomorrow, so keep it tuned to PEZ for the real deal!
Sylvain Chavanel waited a long time for his first ever Tour de France stage win…he has been in many a break.
Tomorrow is Cadel and Carlos’ date with destiny.
Results Stage 19
1. Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis Credit Par Telephone in 3:37:09
2. Jйrйmy Roy, Francaise Des Jeux at s.t.
3. Gerald Ciolek, Team Columbia in 3:38:22 at 01:13
4. Erik Zabel, Team Milram in 3:38:22 at 01:13
5. Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner in 3:38:22 at 01:13
6. Leonardo Duque, Cofidis in 3:38:22 at 01:13
7. Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas in 3:38:22 at 01:13
8. Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole in 3:38:22 at 01:13
9. Robert FЦrster, Gerolsteiner in 3:38:22 at 01:13
10. Julian Dean, Garmin Chipotle in 3:38:22 at 01:13
11. Oscar Freire, Rabobank in 3:38:22 at 01:13
12. Geoffroy Lequatre, Agritubel in 3:38:22 at 01:13
13. Christophe Riblon, Ag2r-La Mondiale in 3:38:22 at 01:13
14. Martijn Maaskant, Garmin Chipotle in 3:38:22 at 01:13
15. Alessandro Ballan, Lampre in 3:38:22 at 01:13
General Classification After 19 Stages
1. Carlos Sastre, Team Csc Saxo Bank in 82:54:36
2. Frank Schleck, Team Csc Saxo Bank at 01:24
3. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner at 01:33
4. Cadel Evans, Silence – Lotto at 01:34
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank at 02:39
6. Christian Vandevelde, Garmin Chipotle at 04:41
7. Alejandro Valverde, Caisse D’epargne at 05:35
8. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel – Euskadi at 05:52
9. Tadej Valjavec, Ag2r-La Mondiale at 08:10
10. Vladimir Efimkin, Ag2r-La Mondiale at 08:24
11. Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia at 08:35
12. Andy Schleck, Team Csc Saxo Bank at 10:04
13. Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas at 12:02
14. Sandy Casar, Francaise Des Jeux at 17:08
15. Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel – Euskadi at 20:07