Tour de France Stage 12

Sorry about the delay here. I write these things up on a mailing list based on “watching” the tour live on and, then I come home and watch the race on TV, and then post a cleaned up version here on my blog. But Friday I left for a friend’s house straight from work, so I never got home to watch the race. I’m just home and getting caught after a weekend with no TV and no internet.

For the Discovery Channel team, it was good news and bad news kind of a day.

First the bad news: After the race yesterday, Paulo Salvodelli, two time winner of the Giro d’Italia and one of the better placed members of the team, was riding down from the finish to the bottom of the mountain where the team buses were, and a spectator lurched in front of him. He crashed into him and hit the pavement hard – he needed 5-10 stiches in his eyebrow. He started today, and then soon abandoned. Noval, the young Discovery team rider who had to be left behind during the team time-trail a few years ago, abandoned not long after.

Now the good news: With the bad results on the mountain yesterday, Discovery’s tactic switched to trying to get into break-aways and win stages. After a few attempts by Hincapie to get into a break, Popovych went into one. He was with Oscar Freire, which could have been a bad combination – since Popovych was 9 minutes down from Landis, Phonak would have been motivated to keep the gap down, and since Freire was near the top of the sprint competition McEwan’s Davitamon-Lotto team would have been motivated to close the gap and get McEwan into a final sprint with him. Also if the break stayed together right to the end, Freire is a better sprinter than Popovych. But everybody was too tired or trying to recover or had other plans, so while Phonak did keep the gap down to 4:25, the sprinters teams didn’t reduce it any further.

Popvych attacked with a few km to go and got free from the other three and took the stage. Friere finished 3rd 29 seconds back, and Boonen and McEwan lead in the peleton.

This moves Popovych into 10th overall, 4:15 back of Landis and maybe makes him a contender again. Landis stays in yellow.

Robbie McEwan is still in the lead of the sprinter’s points, but Friere moves into second ahead of Boonen.