Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rouge Report: The ER fills up

Dawn broke on the Pyrenees to shine on a peloton bruised, battered, broken and beat. In the memories of many this has been a Tour shattered with the kind of suffering we haven't seen in years.

Yesterday Juliet Macur, for the NY Times wrote,

"As of Friday afternoon, 22 riders, including Farrar and two of his Garmin-Transitions teammates, have dropped out of the three-week race, which began on July 3 and ends on July 25, in Paris. Christian Vande Velde, the team leader, crashed in Stage 2, then pulled out with broken ribs. Robbie Hunter, a sprinter, quit after breaking his elbow in Stage 10.

Only six of the team’s nine Tour riders remain. And three of those — who rank 148th or lower in the standings now — are competing with injuries.

At their team hotel on Thursday night, the dinner table looked like a hospital waiting room. Hunter had his arm in a sling. David Zabriskie, the five-time United States time trial national champion, had tape around his injured left knee. Julian Dean, a sprinter, moved gingerly because of a deep bruise on his back. David Millar, one of the squad’s veterans, wore a protective girdle, from a Stage 2 crash"

After today's first-of-four forays into the upper atmosphere of the Geants du Pyrenees the peloton needs extra seats in the autobus - nearly 40% of the riders finished 37 minutes back of stage winner Christophe Reblon atop Ax-3 Domaines. Even Phil Liggett commented early on in the stage, while the riders were still on the slopes of the 2,001 meter HC monster of the Port de Pailhères, "we could see another 20 of these go before we leave the Pyrenees."

Well if that many more don't survive through to see Paris we will definitely "celebrate" one of the most destructive Tours in recent memory; as is we may have more bodies broken arriving on the Champs than ever before. But after day one in the Pyrenees, looking at the contenders clustered in the last 15 minutes of the GC we have familiar bedfellows, and Germans now holding three of the last six spots. If current Lanterne Rouge Anthony Roux should succumb to the climbs and one of these three inherit the red lamp then 75 years of abstinence would be broken for Germany. Not since Willi Kutschbach trailed in 7h 40m 39s, in 46th place, in 1935 (the final year founding Director Henri Desgrange would complete his beloved Tour) - has a German finished last in Paris:

169 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 2:45:10
170 Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2:45:28
171 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 2:49:20
172 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team Radioshack 2:50:49
173 Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 2:59:38
174 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia 3:01:39
175 Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux 3:02:36

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