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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
July 20, 2014

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Tour of Qinghai Lake (HC)

The last stage of China's Tour of Qinqhai Lake was held yesterday. Mattia Gavazzi of Amore & Vita won the 91 km stage that started and ended at Lanzhou. Though the race isn't well known, and with its schedule conflict with the Tour de France nor did it attract a stellar field, it is highly rated with an HC ranking.

Final GC:

  1. Ilya Davidenok (Astana Continental) 51hr 39min 58sec
  2. Mykhailo Kononenko (Kolss) @ 42sec
  3. Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) @ 43sec
  4. Oleksandr Polivoda (Kolss) @ 1min 7sec
  5. Frantisek Padour (NetApp-Endura) @ 1min 49sec

Tour de France Stage 15 notes

Was there anyone watching the end of stage 15 finishing in Nîmes that wasn't wishing Jack Bauer down the road, hoping he would cross the line before the rampaging Alexander Kristoff-led pack ran him down?

Bauer and Martin Elmiger had been away from the stage start and had worked together well for more than 220 kilometers. In the final meters Bauer had left Elmiger behind but was turning squares as he was passed in the final 30 meters. Bauer still held on for tenth place, but that is hardly consolation for missing such a victory.

The Garmin-Sharp rider from New Zealand was realistic about the fortunes of sport, "I really gave it absolutely everything and, as you can see from my meltdown at the finish, I was pretty disappointed to come away empty-handed...It was a big disappointment in the first few minutes after the ride, but that's just racing. You have to learn to live with disappointment."

Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer has just finished stage 15. Photo ©Sirotti

Peter Sagan finished third today, further tightening his grip on the green jersey. He said this after the stage, "It was a stressful day, especially because of the weather. When I finish stages like this without problems or crashing, I'm happy.

"I wasn't able to sprint in the best way because there was too much chaos in the finale. I was too far behind and it was too late to sprint. I'm happy that the rest day has arrived. We have only six stages to ride and my lead in in points for the green jersey is good [he has 402 points to Bryan Coquard's 226]. I hope that nothing happens to me so I can bring it to Paris."

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Sky has made an unexpected descent into hell, says cycle racing observer Bertrand Duboux who writes for jeanpaulbrouchon.fr. After two years of domination Sky is reduced (with little success so far) to trying for stage wins.

Sky's Top GC man Chris Froome crashed out in stage 5. Richie Porte tried to step into his shoes, but melted on the hot Alpine roads when he got a stomach bug. Sky tied to set things up for a Mikel Nieve stage win in stage fourteen, but even with Geraint Thomas' suicidally generous help, they couldn't close the deal. Porte remains Sky's highest placed rider, 15th, at 16 minutes 19 seconds.

I don't write this to dwell on Sky's misery. Instead, it shows what remarkable men Louison Bobet, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain were.

Team Sky is a big deal with a 2011 budget of 16,680,000 British Pounds. Let's call that 28 million USD. They can buy the finest riders on Planet Earth. In fact, Sky has won the Tour with two different riders. Yet, they cannot put three sequential successful Tours together.

But Louison Bobet, plagued with painful boils that during the Tour would leave him weeping in agony in his hotel room at night, won three tours in a row (1953, 54, 55). Yet Bobet has outperformed Team Sky. Knowledgable people have argued that Bobet's victories must be given special credit because he won when French and Italian sport was cycling and the Latin world was insane over bicycle racing. A few years later Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault went on to win five Tours, and even more remarkably, Indurain won five in a row.

Those men were giants who walked with seven-league boots.

Louison Bobet

Louison Bobet in the 1953 Tour de France.

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