Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rouge Report: Mano-a-Mano

And the winner is...
Italy's Adriano Malori, 170th, trailing in Le Tour de France by 4h 27m and 3 secs.

The TT, they call it the race-of-truth. Just you and your bike against the clock, and Saturday, for 52 km from Bordeaux to Pauillac, you shared it with the wind. After surviving three weeks, including one of the Tour's toughest final weeks in the Pyrenees it finally came down to this, the Individual Time Trial.

Mano-a-mano, the race was on the line, one man would walk away victorious, the other only his family and friends would remember the pain and suffering - after 3,642 kilometers the 2010 Lanterne Rouge had come down to this.

Unfortunately for Adriano, a respectable young time trialist with a young palmares full of U23 ITT victories, a bright future and despite trailing the human-rocket Fabian Cancellara by less than seven minutes as well as topping perennial TT strongmen like Andreas Klöden
, Christophe Moreau, Michael Rogers, Jens Voigt, and Cadel Evans, he was up against more than a mere mortal Lanterne Rouge contender, it was the three-time former German National and 2008 UCI ITT Champion Bert Grabsch - he was going to need a tailwind and "no chain", and maybe one of those mysterious motors to hold his 2 minute 1 second "lead" out of the Lanterne Rouge.

It was never to be.
Bert Grabsch, by virtue of the Lanterne Rouge position, was the first rider out of the gate at 10:15 Saturday morning in Bordeaux for the 19th stage. With light winds and his last shot at stage glory dangling like a bottle of fine Bordeaux Rouge 52 kms west along the Garonne River in Pauillac. Grabsch st0pped the clock in a blistering time that would hold up for several hours until HTC-Columbia teammate Tony Martin blew it away by a minute and a half, only to see that time fall to Cancellara.

In the end 11 riders finished within 30 minutes of the Lanterne Rouge. For much of the three weeks several of these guys were fighting, suffering, dangling near the back, and occasionally off the back, precariously close to time cut-offs and the sweeping sounds of the voiture balai as it low geared its way up hill and down dale. But this year many of the autobusers were pedaling broken, battered and bruised. For anyone who has seen a pro bike race in Europe you know that in the mini-convoy that trails the race an ambulance accompanies the broom wagon; for many riders dreaming of Paris in 2010 it must have been an ominously goolish sight many days.

How it all shook out - and names to watch next year:

159 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team 3:57:00
160 Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 3:59:45
161 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 4:00:47
162 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 4:01:02
163 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 4:02:21
164 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 4:02:59
165 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 4:08:28
166 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 4:09:12
167 Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux 4:13:37
168 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 4:17:16
169 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia 4:23:01
170 Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 4:27:03

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