Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rouge Report: Surviving the Assassins

Legend has it - covered in mud and sweat, and laboring to push his bike up the steep goat-track, he spat, "Assassins"*, at Tour officials. That was eventual 1910 Tour winner Octave Lapize cresting the summit 15 minutes behind first summit winner Gustave Garrigou. Perhaps Lapize's exclamation was really into the thin air at 2115 meters and directed at the silent geant Col du Tourmalet piercing the sky above the surrounding Pyrenees.

Today the only thing piercing the summit's thin air was Andy Schleck's outstretched fist as he crossed the line a wheel length ahead Alberto Contador. The rest of the peloton are still pedaling squares up the foggy face of the mountain's west slope - coming across the line in dribble and drabs. It will be nearly an hour before we know on whom the red light shines in the race for the Lanterne Rouge. Rumor has it that HTC-Columbia has formed a Lanterne Rouge Leadout Train to insure Bert Grabsch get's home under the time cut-off.


Current Lanterne Rouge Bert Grabsch survived Tuesday's "Circle of Death" so took refuge in the company of a trio of his fellow HTC-Columbia riders to seek safety from any final Tourmalet assassins and finished 31:46 back on the day, enough to pry open his rest day margin in the race for rouge by an additional minute and a half over Adriano Malori. With little more than a few speed bumps worth of elevation on the flatish road Friday north to Bordeaux, it looks like we have a two man race for the little lantern with the German rider setting up a 75 year celebratory return to rouge. My only concern is Grabsch forms part of HTC's leadout train for the Manx missile and one twitch of wheels and it could be an Italian celebration in Paris. Here's where the race sits:
169Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux4:14:11
170Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini4:23:14
171Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia4:26:56

(Some report the word was actually "Murderers".)

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