Another sunny day and another posting from the exam room. Today (well last night) we moved to the Rhone Alps region for a rather hilly time trial. The day was won by the untidy looking Colombian Santiago Botero, who looked his usual ragged self BUT was well ahead at our point about halfway. Lance Armstrong looked much slower than Vinokourov (who looked good on the hill too) and Leipheimer and certainly lost time on the climb of the day. He must have nailed the second half of the course.
We started the day by riding the course (rude not to really) and we found that the organisers had set out a testing test for the riders. The run out of Roanne was really rough although the bigger pot holes had been filled you still battered your way out of town. Then the road swept towards the Lake at Villerest. After this came the the 4 kilometre climb began and it was no easy task. Lastly the predominantly downhill run-in back to Roanne. It was a perfect course for time trialling, a bit of everything.
Much of the technical sections were fast and very tricky, they gave you little time to adjust your position on the road. The descent from the Cote was incredibly fast with banked cambers in the corners, riders would have been touching 100kmh+. But the better descenders didn’t make up time on the faster climbers. Armstrong, however, was down on the climb and made up on the run in, so don’t be too alarmed to see him blistering the Tour, he likes to hold his cards close to his chest…
The French enjoyed their day in Yellow and Samuel Dumoulin did his best to cling onto the yellow jersey. Sadly he dropped to 12th place on GC but is still the highest placed rider. How amazing for American cycling? they could easily have three riders in the top five by the finish ojn Sunday as they are all good climbers and will want to get one over on you know who. Could Armstrong be ‘bluffing’ his form?
1. Santiago Botero (PHO – COL) 1:00:06.55
2. Levi Leipheimer (GST – USA) @ 1 sec
3. Lance Armstrong (DSC – USA) @ 26 secs
4. Floyd Landis (PHO – USA) @
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (TMO – KAZ) @ 1:00
1. Levi Leipheimer (GST – USA) 11:11:20
2. Santiago Botero (PHO – COL) @ 12 secs
3. Lance Armstrong (DSC – USA) @ 30 secs
4. Frederic Bessey (COF – FRA ) @ 42 secs
5. George Hincapie (DSC – USA) @ 1:09
So now we are off to the Giant of Provence. Should get a chance to ride it in the morning and then wait for the big showdown… my money’s on Leipheimer. Check back for more tomorrow…
We meet this bloke (below) Emanuel who is riding the stages everyday after the rider and picking up their bidons… we’re not really sure why but he also has a megaphone and shouts at all the french riders (and us when we rode past earlier today). I think he’s doing it for charity and we ended up giving him a lift, will find out more for tomorrow…
More pictures in the Gallery