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Michael Rasmussen took the initiative in what is seen as an annual break to gain the Polka Dot climbers jersey. The difference this year is that he was also able to snatch the Yellow Jersey. The wiry Dane dominated an early breakaway with Michael Rogers. It looked like Rogers would take over the Yellow Jersey from his young teammate Linus Gerdemann. Rogers at that point was the team leader for T-Mobile and he took an early opportunity to flex his muscles and make a claim for the Yellow. But cycling is a ver unforgiving sport. Going down the Col de Roseland descent Rogers crashed with breakaway companion David Arroyo of Caisse D’Epargne. Arroyo went over the guard rail and into the trees while Rogers crashed on the road. Arroyo looked OK, but Rogers never recovered and had to retire from the race.
AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski
On a similar descent Stuart O’Grady crashed hard and had to be taken to hospital where it was determined that he had cracked ribs but no spinal damage. Robbie McEwen came in outside the time limit and was eliminated. Any remaining Aussies in the race should count their lucky stars. The elimination happened in threes so other Aussies should theoretically be OK to keep riding.
Ivan Basso may have sparked the latest trend in cycling of racing both the Giro and Tour de France. Basso was unable to ride the double last year due to some doping investigation, but with the Giro win in his pocket he was able to get some trophies from the adoring Italian press by the end of the year. Since then many other pros have looked at doing the double themselves. Paolo Salvodelli announced he is going for the Giro-Tour double as is Iban Mayo. Fresh into his new Sauunier Duval team kit the enigmatic Spanish cyclist is full of hope for 2007.
(pic from Yahoo Sports)
Iban Mayo has yet again abandoned the Tour de France on the first serious mountain stage. The Basque rider was once thought to be the one to beat Lance Armstrong. In 2003 he putthe hurt on Armstrong and won the stage to L’Alpe D’Huez. Ever since then, Mayo has not been anywhere near that form and has struggled when the roads went vertical. Is this the end of Iban Mayo as Tour contender?
Levi Leipheimer sealed one of his career best victories today in the Dauphine Libere. This year’s victory made up for losing the race last year as Euskatel Euskadi’s Landaluze took the win. Leipheimer was ready for a “do over” this year and his form helped him leave nothing to chance. The victory is one for Leipheimer to savor as he did what a GC rider should do, perform well in the time trials and drop everyone in the mountains. Now everyone will be pointing to Leipheimer as another strong Tour De France contender. He does have all of the skills and he whooped Ullrich’s rear in the Tour of Germany a win that T-Mobile desperately wanted. This victory should put Leipheimer as one of the favorites come July.
The Dauphine however is a mysterious race as it comes about a month to three weeks before the Tour de France putting the winners in an odd position. Peform well at the Dauphine and you show that you have fine form, but you have to keep that form going, or try to improve for the next few weeks.
Perform poorly, you still have time before the Tour. Plus, you won’t run the risk peaking too early. A poor performance at the Dauphine does not translate into a poor performance in the Tour de France as Lance Armstrong has shown.
Floyd Landis performed poorly at the Dauphine, but it seemed like he was trying to stay out of the red zone and not overcook his form rather than simply a poor performance.
Ivan Basso was spotted during stage 6 of the Dauphine. Basso was more cyclotourist than competitor on the day as he was scoping out the Tour de France stage like day.
Iban Mayo performed well in what seems to be his favorite race. L’Alpe D’Huez is back on the map for the Tour this year, will he be able to defend his title from 2004? He certainly won’t deal with the other guy that declared he would like to win L’Alpe D’ Huez Gilberto Simoni who will possibly deal with some sort of suspension for his story about money and promises of stage wins.
Time Trails seem to be the domain of American riders as David Zabriske took both the prologue and the stage 3 time trial. DZ was followed by three other American riders who all have Tour GC ambitions. Landis, Hincapie and Leipheimer must like the 100km of TTs that the Tour de France has in store. This will give the USA something to cheer about as Americans go into the post Lance era.