The Pyrenees stages of the Tour have whittled down the list of contenders for the 2007 Tour de France to two names. Michael Rasmussen is still in Yellow but has a relentless Contador ready to pounce into the lead. After yesterday’s well played out win on Plateau de Beille, Contador and Discovery Channel have a leader they feel could win the Tour de France. Contador has launched several blistering attacks to take out almost every rival except for Rasmussen.
Six blistering attacks on the Col de Peyresourde were matched barely by a tough to shake Rasmussen. Contador’s attacks were so viscous that leading motorcycles could not get out of the way. One attack was neutralized since they caught up to remnants of the earlier breakaway. One could see that Contador was pulling out attack after attack to try and shake the Dane who was hanging back on. By the top of the Peyresourde Contador and Rasmussen caught up to a duo that contained Discovery Channel teammate George Hincapie and an Astana racer. Hincapie worked for Contador on the descent pushing the groups advantage and trying to keep Rasmussen on edge. On the final run in to the finish Contador tried more attacks, but was not able to shave any more time.
The steady stream of attacks did put the pressure on Rasmussen who was able to hang on but just barely.
“I was really on the verge of giving up,” Rasmussen said. “I think he got an advantage of getting behind [the slipstream of] a motor bike, but still, he probably has the best acceleration of anybody in the peloton. I’m happy I managed to stay with him.”
Contador will not give up, after a rest day tomorrow comes one more mountain stage in the Pyrennes.
“I attacked Rasmussen to try to challenge him,” said Contador. “I saw that he was a little worse than yesterday, but he was able to follow me. On Wednesday, I am going to play for it all. Second place doesn’t matter. I am going to risk all to win. If I end up in sixth, it doesn’t matter.”
After the recent doping revelations about Rasmussen many are weary of a new Tour winner with doping issues. I for one would rather not see Rasmussen win and then get dogged by constant dopign allegations. It would be too much for the sport to take especially since the Landis verdict has yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the mercurial Alexandre Vinokourov did his best phoenix imitation by rising up from the ashes of a 29 minute loss on Sunday to take the win today. Vino may have overextended himself or succumbed to pressure, but whatever it is, the 29 minute loss helped him get into a large breakaway group. Vino shattered the break with a fearsome pace and was by himself at the finish. Two stage wins in three days is a good consolation prize for the man who was planning on wearing Yellow into Paris.