Christian Vandevelde

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Posted by r2d2 04/17/2009 @ 07:10

Tags : christian vandevelde, riders, cycling, sports

News headlines
Christian Vande Velde Continues to Recover as Additional Injuries ... -
By Gerald Churchill Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Slipstream), who crashed out of the 2009 Giro d'Italia during stage three, continues to undergo medical evaluation and as anticipated, additional imaging studies have revealed the extent of his...
US rider Vande Velde falls and withdraws from Giro - The Associated Press
VALDOBBIADENE, Italy (AP) — American rider Christian Vande Velde has fallen during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia and withdrew from the race. He was taken to a hospital Monday, and his Garmin-Slipstream team said the extent of his injuries were...
Vande Velde update: more tests needed on injuries from Giro crash - Los Angeles Times
Team Garmin-Slipstream's Christian Vande Velde, who crashed out of the Giro d'Italia during stage three (Monday), continues to undergo examinations at home in Girona (Spain). The results so far have confirmed that he sustained one rib fracture,...
The 92nd Giro d'Italia - Garmin/Slipstream Team Preview - Daily Peloton
Last year Christian Vande Velde became the first to wear the Maglia Rosa in the 91st edition when the team took a narrow victory over CSC, and this year they will be looking to repeat the feat and get their team leader into pink for the race's early...
Once a Support Cyclist, Now a Pack Leader - New York Times
Mark Schiefelbein/AP Christian Vande Velde, on his way to winning the 2008 Tour of Missouri, gained notice earlier in the Tour de France. By JULIET MACUR LEMONT, Ill. — When the wind in this Chicago suburb began to whip last winter,...
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage - Daily Peloton
Christian Vande Velde, who crashed out of the Giro d'Italia during stage three, continues to undergo medical evaluation and as anticipated, additional imaging studies have revealed the extent of his injuries. Conclusive results show that he sustained a...
Giro Day 12 News and Notes - Bike World News
American Chris Horner dropped out of the race yesterday. He crashed early in the stage and tore muscles on the back of his leg below the knee. He's headed home to Oregon to consult with doctors and recuperate. Christian Vande Velde, who crashed out of...
live report -
We'd like to wish a happy birthday to Garmin-Slipstream's Christian Vande Velde. He's not in the race anymore having crashed out on stage three. We reported earlier this week that scans found more broken bones - so we also wish him speedy healing!...
Vande Velde is in pain but optimistic about Tour de France - Los Angeles Times
Christian Vande Velde has broken one arm and several ribs and fractured his collarbone more times than he can count in cycling accidents. And he said he has had scarier crashes than the one Monday that knocked him out of the Giro d'Italia....

David Zabriskie

1 Team names given are those prevailing at time of rider beginning association with that team.

David Zabriskie (Born January 12, 1979 in Salt Lake City) is a professional road bicycle racer from the United States who rides for Garmin-Slipstream. His main strength is individual time trials and his career highlights include stage wins in all three Grand Tour stage races and winning the US National Time Trial Championship four times. Zabriskie is known for his quirky nature, including singing before stages and the interviews he does with fellow riders in the professional peloton which are posted on his web site.

In 2005, he became the third American to wear the leader's jersey at the Tour de France, after three-time Tour winner Greg Lemond, and seven-time winner Lance Armstrong. George Hincapie and Floyd Landis became the fourth and fifth Americans in 2006.

Zabriskie made his professional debut with the Colorado Cyclist team in 1999. After displaying his talent for time trials by winning the US National Time Trial Championships (junior and under-23 age categories) and the Grand Prix des Nations (under-23 category), Zabriskie moved on to the US Postal Service cycling team in 2001. Following a year plagued by crashes and injuries, he returned to form in 2004, winning the Elite US National Time Trial Championships. He also won stage 11 of the Vuelta a España in an astonishing 162 km solo breakaway, marking his first Grand Tour stage win -- especially notable among his victories for not being a time trial. In the 2005 season Zabriskie switched to Danish Team CSC, where he racked up another Grand Tour stage victory by winning the 8th stage of the 2005 Giro d'Italia.

Despite success on the international cycling scene, Zabriskie did not receive much attention in his native United States until the 2005 Tour de France, when he won the stage 1 time trial -- making him the first American to win stages in all three Grand Tours. Zabriskie beat Lance Armstrong by two seconds and set the record for the fastest ever time trial in the Tour de France, clocking an average speed of 54.676 km/h. He wore the leader's jersey, the maillot jaune, until the team time trial on stage 4, where he crashed within the final two kilometres, a crash diagnosed as a chain slip though Zabriskie himself didn't know what had happened. After the crash, Zabriskie suffered from his injuries and on stage 8, he arrived last, 51'12" after winner Pieter Weening. Zabriskie abandoned in the 9th stage (from Gérardmer to Mulhouse), after 11 km. Before Zabriskie had fully recovered from his crash in the Tour de France, a swinging glass door at a restaurant shattered on his hand, injuring him badly enough to end his 2005 season. Back home from the Tour de France, Zabriskie was honored in the American state of Utah by the declaration of "Dave Zabriskie Day" by both Salt Lake County mayor Peter Carroon and Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson.

Zabriskie's 2006 season started out well, with a strong 2nd place finish in the February stage race Amgen Tour of California, 29 seconds after the winner, fellow countryman Floyd Landis. He was initially placed 3rd in the April stage race Ford Tour de Georgia, but as he lost time to the favourite riders on the Brasstown Bald mountain stage, he finished 6th place overall. Dave Zabriskie won two time trials in the Dauphiné Libéré in May, beating Floyd Landis in the prologue by two seconds, and winning Stage 3 by 53 seconds, again ahead of Landis, further proving Zabriskie's outstanding time trialing skills. Following several mountain stages, including a ride up the Mont Ventoux, Zabriskie finished the race in 32nd place, behind winner Levi Leipheimer.

Upon completing the 2006 Tour de France in 74th place, Zabriskie became the second American behind Christian Vandevelde to finish all three Grand Tours.

On 1 September 2007, Zabriskie won the US National Time Trial Championship for the third time. He finished The Cliffs South Carolina 18.7 mile course in 39 minutes, 34 seconds (28.4 miles/hour average speed) which was just one second ahead of second place finisher Danny Pate.

After helping his team win the Giro d'Italia first stage team time trial, Zabriskie crashed on 11 May 2008 in the second stage with several riders and had to abandon the race due to a fractured first vertebrae. Zabriskie was selected as one of the five riders for the US Olympic road race team and one of the two for the time trial.

Zabriskie placed 12th at 1:05:17.82, sans moustache, in the men's time trial at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, 3:06 behind race winner Fabian Cancellara.

In 2005, Zabriskie married Randi Reich, a 2005 University of California at Berkeley alumna. In February 2009, thieves entered Zabriskie's home while he was away competing in the Tour of California and stole thousands of dollars of racing equipment and Olympic memorabilia and his Marvel Action Figure collection. Three men were charged in connection with the burglary.

DZ: Could I ask you a question? AP: Yes. DZ: Do you like Star Wars? AP: Star Wars? DZ: The movies. AP: Yes. DZ: Thank you.

To the top

2008 Tour de France, Stage 12 to Stage 21

Stages in 2008

These are the profiles for the individual stages in the 2008 Tour de France, with Stage 12 on 17 July, and Stage 21 on 27 July.

This stage featured one fourth category climb over the Col du Camperié east of Axat after 111 km, before a long rapid descent to Narbonne, which was expected to give the sprinters the chance to demonstrate their skills.

The day began with news of the withdrawal from the Tour of the Saunier Duval-Scott team after their leader Riccardo Riccò, who was top of both the King of the Mountains and Young Riders' categories, had failed a blood test taken at the end of Stage 4.

At the 40 kilometer mark, Samuel Dumoulin and Arnaud Gerard broke away, and attained a maximum advantage of 4 minutes. Juan Jose Oroz joined them at the 113 kilometer mark. The peloton didn't let them get very much of a lead, keeping the time gap at around a minute and a half for most of the race, until the catch occurred with about 9 kilometers to go. A bunched sprint saw Mark Cavendish win his third stage this tour.

A series of fourth category climbs took the riders through Languedoc, before the run into Nîmes on this transitional stage before the riders move into the Alps.

This stage was remarkably similar to the one from the day before. An early breakaway, by Niki Terpstra and Florent Brard led almost the entire day until being caught in the final 10 kilometers. Another bunched sprint saw Mark Cavendish win yet again, but beyond that, eight of the top ten placed riders were the same both days, with three (including Cavendish) in the same exact position. Cavendish became the first sprinter to win four stages at a single Tour de France since Alessandro Petacchi did so in 2003, although Lance Armstrong won five of the last eight stages in the 2004 Tour de France including two individual time trials and three mountain stages.

The race approached the Alps through the Vaucluse department crossing two fourth category climbs before dropping down to Digne-les-Bains.

A break of 21 riders, with representatives from all but three of the teams, moved away after 5km. Only four riders remained clear by the 41st kilometer; Bram Tankink, Sandy Casar, William Bonnet and Jose Ivan Gutierrez. They were eventually caught on the last climb, and on the descent there were many splits in the field. Of many attempted breaks on the descent towards the finish, Sylvain Chavanel came closest to success, but the stage again finished in a sprint. Cavendish had been dropped from the peloton on the climb, and green jersey wearer Óscar Freire won the sprint.

The 15th stage was due to start at Digne-les-Bains but due to the risk of rock falls in the climb up the Col de Larche, the organisers decided to modify the itinerary. The stage started instead from Embrun and headed to Prato Nevoso, crossing into Italy via the climb over the Hors Categorie Col Agnel (2,744 m). The finish at Prato Nevoso is rated First Category with a 11.4 km climb at an average of 6.9%.

The road conditions at the start in Embrun were terrible, with consistent rain soaking the road. After several attempts earlier, Egoi Martinez, José Luis Arrieta, Danny Pate, and Simon Gerrans broke away from the peloton at the 12 kilometer mark, just before the first intermediate sprint. The peloton was content to let them go up the Col Agnel well ahead, as their maximum advantage was almost fourteen minutes before the summit. When the peloton's relatively lax pace finally quickened, the autobus formed in back of it on the way up the Col Agnel. Martinez was the first over the top.

The peloton consolidated on the descent, but for an unusual reason - Robert Hunter and Óscar Pereiro clipped wheels and crashed, with Pereiro dramatically tumbling through a barricade from one section of the road down to a lower section. This happened at the front of the main group, and afterwards for several kilometers the peloton slowed nearly to the pace they'd had in the rain-soaked neutral zone. The time gap to the four leaders rose from eleven and a half to over seventeen minutes in this time. Pereiro broke his arm in the crash, and had to abandon. The field similarly slowed, affording more time to the breakaway, after a crash (which involved Christian Vandevelde, Damiano Cunego, Vincenzo Nibali, Sebastian Lang, and others) on both sides of a roundabout at the 60 kilometers to go mark. At that point, it was calculated that the peloton had no chance to catch the break, so the peloton stayed together, with the contenders poising to attack on the climb up to Prato Nevoso.

Team CSC Saxo Bank set a blistering pace on the way up the Colle del Morte and again up to Prato Nevoso, splitting the field and trying to isolate Cadel Evans. The yellow jersey group thinned to ten riders, including the top six in the GC, as the CSC domestiques dropped off. On the way up to Prato Nevoso, Martinez attacked the other leaders and Arrieta was dropped. The favorites traded attacks and split as well on the way up.

Gerrans won the sprint to the line. Bernhard Kohl, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov and Alejandro Valverde came clear of Evans' group on the way to the finish. Fränk Schleck came clear of Evans in the last 100m to claim the yellow jersey, with Kohl narrowly failing to have taken enough time out of them both.

The race returned to France on this short stage, via the Hors Categorie Col de la Lombarde and Col de la Bonette (the highest pass in Europe at over 2,800 m altitude), before a descent of more than 20km.

Five riders, Samuel Dumoulin, Christophe Le Mével, Sebastien Rosseler, and former classification leaders Stefan Schumacher and Thomas Voeckler came clear of the peloton after 42 kilometers. Twenty-four riders also came clear as a chase shortly thereafter, splitting the field well before the climb up the Col de la Lombarde began. Riders were dropped and attacked from the various groups and the field split into numerous fragments, until Schumacher was the only leader left. He stayed well clear of the trailing groups and actually gained time to be the first over the Lombarde. The others from the breakaway, aside from Schumacher, were eventually absorbed by the chases.

The field split even more on the way up the Col de la Bonette, to the point where it was difficult to call any particular group the peloton. Christian Vandevelde was the first GC contender to be dropped from the yellow jersey group, cracked by the pacemaking being done by Andy Schleck. A chase group paced by Cyril Dessel and Yaroslav Popovych caught Schumacher some 3 kilometers before the summit of the Bonette. John-Lee Augustyn, attacked from this group shortly before the summit and was the first to reach the top. He later skidded off the road and tumbled down a steep decline on the dirt beside it, losing his bike. He had no choice but to wait for a service car with a spare machine, and thus lost the chance to rejoin the leading group.

The leading group was whittled to four on the descent - Popovych, Dessel, David Arroyo and Sandy Casar. Denis Menchov was dropped from the yellow jersey group early on in the descent, and lost time. This brought Cadel Evans forward to make the pace in the yellow jersey group, to put as much time as possible between them and Menchov, since Menchov was likely Evans' biggest threat in the individual time trial that was to come and thus in all likelihood, for the Tour title itself. Popovych tried to open the sprint at just over 1 kilometer to go, but the others got him back. Dessel eventually took down the run to the line.

This was the last stage before the race leaves the Alps, with three Hors Categorie climbs of the Col du Galibier (2,645 m.), the Col de la Croix de Fer (2,067 m.) and the final climb up the Alpe d'Huez (1,850 m.).

At the very beginning of the day's racing a breakaway started, with Rémy Di Gregorio, Rubén Pérez and Peter Velits, joined later by Stefan Schumacher. With three major cols, the field inevitably became very fractured, but this group stayed clear of the main contenders for much of the day, with Schumacher first over the Galibier, and Velits taking the Croix de Fer. By the base of the Alpe d'Huez, only Velits and Jérôme Pineau were in front of the elite riders, whose group then numbered about 12. At the bottom of this final ascent of the day Carlos Sastre attacked twice, tagged by Menchov on the 1st go before eventually breaking clear. His fellow Team CSC Saxo Bank members in the group, Andy and Fränk Schleck worked to interrupt any counterattacks on the way up to Alpe d'Huez, and Sastre finished two minutes clear to claim yellow from the older Schleck brother, and establish a lead that he might be able to sustain in the time trial to follow.

The race left the Alps and headed towards central France, with three rated climbs, including the second category Croix de Montvieux (811 m.) at 33 km from the finish.

At 30 kilometers in, Alexandre Botcharov and Damiano Cunego crashed, with Cunego falling face-first into a road obstruction. He lay on the road for seven minutes before remounting his bike, falling ten minutes behind the peloton, with four teammates remaining with him for the rest of the stage. After 68 km, Carlos Barredo made a break, prompting a reaction from Marcus Burghardt and Christophe Le Mével. After 81km, Burghardt caught up with Barredo, meanwhile, Mikel Astarloza and Romain Feillu joined Le Mével, about four minutes behind the leaders. These time gaps held up to the start of the Croix de Montvieux, at which point the breakaway appeared uncatchable.

The four main groups on the road continued up the final climb with time gaps remaining relatively unchanged. Barredo and Burghardt traded several attacks to the top of this climb and after it but Burghardt won a late, tense dash to the line. Feillu lead the next group home for third place, while an attack by Roman Kreuziger, an attempt to gain time on white jersey leader Andy Schleck, resulted in a group of five riders including both Schleck and Kreuziger finishing some 20 seconds in front of the peloton. Cunego and his team-mates finished last, with Cunego dropping six places to twentieth in the general classification.

After two rated climbs in the first 42 km, this was an undulating route through the Allier department.

A four man group, made up of Stefan Schumacher, Egoi Martínez, Alessandro Ballan and Pierrick Fédrigo, moved away from the peloton after 16km and led over the climbs, but never got more than 1'05'' clear, and by 69km the group had been caught. Nine km later, Sylvain Chavanel made an attack, and Jérémy Roy bridged the gap to join him. This pair stayed clear for the rest of the stage, with Chavanel thereby becoming the rider to have spent the greatest distance in this tour as part of a breakaway. The group's maximum advantage of over five minutes was reduced to a little over one by the end of the stage, in which Chavanel held off Roy's sprint to win. The bunched sprint for the minor positions was won by the tour's youngest rider, Gerald Ciolek, but green jersey leader Óscar Freire gained enough points to all but ensure victory in that competition. All the main contenders for Tour victory remained in the peloton all day.

The second and final individual time trial followed rolling roads in the Allier and Cher departments.

Despite the work he had done for his team in the Alps, two-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara had the legs to set the first true time to beat, nearly two minutes clear of early leader Sebastian Lang at the intermediate time checks and the finish. Stefan Schumacher, winner of the first time trial in the Tour, exactly tied Cancellara at the first time check and caught Sylwester Szmyd, who started two minutes before him, after only 18 kilometers. He came 14 seconds clear of Cancellara at the third time check and finished 21 seconds better than the world champion at the line.

Roman Kreuziger took back over a minute from Andy Schleck in the race for the white jersey over the first two time checks, but missed winning the jersey at the end. Fränk Schleck seemed to be in poor form, losing considerable time as well as four places. Cadel Evans was unable to gain the time he needed on Carlos Sastre to regain yellow. Bernhard Kohl rode an unexpectedly good time trial, gaining slightly on Sastre and riding almost identically to Evans at the first two time checks, despite having fallen off the starthouse ramp before his ride began. Sastre was consistent and strong, riding one of his best ever time trials, catching Fränk Schleck and riding well enough to keep his yellow jersey for the ride to Paris.

This was a hilly course to Paris winding through the Chevreuse Valley before the traditional loop on the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde and the Rue de Rivoli. Once again, the strong men among the remaining sprinters fought it out for this prestigious stage win.

In keeping with tradition, the peloton took it easy on the way to the Champs-Élysées, with many riders taking time to smile for the cameras and enjoy some champagne courtesy of the team car of the victorious Team CSC Saxo Bank. Atop bicycles with new yellow handlebars, Team CSC led the field onto Champs-Élysées for the eight circuits over the famous cobblestone way. Beginning at the end of the first circuit, numerous riders tried to break away from the field, but none succeeded, and a classic bunched sprint saw Gert Steegmans win the race to the line. The field split in this final sprint, resulting in shifts of a few seconds in the final general classification.

To the top

2007 Tour de France, Stage 11 to Stage 20

Stages in 2007

These are the profiles for the individual stages in the 2007 Tour de France, with Stage 11 on 19 July, and Stage 20 on 29 July.

This was the first of two transition stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees, with no climbs.

Robbie Hunter took the stage when he powered for the line and held off Fabian Cancellara after a number of sprinters crashed in the final kilometre on a tight corner.

French favourite Christophe Moreau finished more than three minutes after the leaders. He was caught napping when Astana hit the front shortly after going through the feed zone in Arles. Despite the best efforts of his AG2R team Moreau could not bridge the gap, which increased steadily as the leaders set a relentless pace. On a day in which no movement was expected at the top of the General Classification, Moreau, who crashed early in the stage, slipped from sixth to 14th after coming in three minutes 20 seconds back.

Michael Rasmussen kept clear of danger on the 182.5km flat route from Marseille to Montpellier to maintain his hold on the yellow jersey. And it looked as if Tom Boonen would tighten his grip on the green jersey with Erik Zabel off the pace, but the Belgian lost momentum on the fringes of the crash in the final kilometre and eventually came home 37th. New Zealander Julian Dean hit the deck along with Iker Camaño, Sebastien Hinault, Marcel Sieberg and Fränk Schleck.

This was another transition stage heading west to Castres, with a category 2 climb just 40 km from the finish. The terrain was expected to offer some opportunities for the attackers but ending in a sprint at the finish line.

The first attack of the day to get away happened at about the 52 km mark when Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Pierrick Fédrigo of Bouygues Télécom broke away from the peloton. A couple of chases, including a solo effort by T-Mobile's Marcus Burghardt, briefly got away but were soon reeled in by the peloton.

Shortly after the descent from the category 2 climb near the finish, the pace set by Française des Jeux and Lampre-Fondital at the front of the peloton, in an effort to catch Txurruka and Fédrigo, became so blisteringly fast that some riders willingly dropped off the back of the peloton, knowing that by dropping off so close to the finish line they would not risk being disqualified. Among them was Team CSC's Fabian Cancellara, ostensibly saving his legs for the next day's individual time trial.

Txurruka and Fédrigo proved much more difficult to catch than first thought; as the peloton neared them within 10 km to the finish line, it was calculated that the catch would occur between 2 and 3 km to the line. The two valiantly fought on and wound up being caught just as the peloton reached the 1 km to go mark, leading to a classic bunched sprint at the finish, where the top three men in the points classification standings were the first three to the line.

This was the first individual time trial since the prologue and was relatively flat with a twisty downhill finish.

An early downpour of rain saturated the road and made for dangerous conditions for many of the early riders. Reigning world time trial champion (and winner of the Prologue time trial) Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC had extreme difficulty negotiating a right-hand turn around the 30 km mark and lost most of his speed, before eventually crashing and losing a great deal of time. Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych and Vladimir Gusev and Astana's Andreas Klöden also fell when negotiating this turn.

Cofidis' Bradley Wiggins rode through the rain to set the first time to beat, that stood for most of the day. Astana's Alexander Vinokourov set out to prove that he was not yet out of the Tour, leading at every time check and shattering Wiggins' final time by more than two minutes. Notably, Vinokourov slowed down considerably at points where previous riders had fallen, sacrificing seconds but remaining safely in the saddle.

Prior contenders Iban Mayo of Saunier Duval-Prodir and, rather unexpectedly, Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d'Epargne both lost huge chunks of time.

General classification leader Michael Rasmussen, trying to dispel memories of an epically disastrous time trial in the 2005 Tour, rode one of the best time trials of his career, catching Valverde, who started 3 minutes before he did. Defying pre-stage expectations, Rasmussen managed to retain his yellow jersey finishing on 11th place just +2'55" behind the stage winner.

By placing three riders in the top four of the stage (who would all also be in the top ten of the GC following the stage), Astana took over the lead in the team competition.

The rain let up by the time there were about 40 riders left to leave the starthouse, though the course still remained more treacherous than it would have been had the day been completely dry.

Vinokourov originally won the stage in 1h 06'34", but on April 30, 2008 he was officially stripped of the victory due to his subsequent positive test for blood doping.

The race headed into the Pyrenees. This stage started with a category 2 climb out of Mazamet and then followed a relatively calm route via Carcassonne, Limoux and Quillan before taking on the Port de Pailhères (17 km at 7.2%) and a very difficult finish at Plateau-de-Beille (16 km at 7.9%).

A large breakaway early in the day put the first men over the category 2 Côte de Saraille. Among them was Barloworld's Mauricio Soler, second to the line for 9 points, tying him with general classification leader Michael Rasmussen for first in the King of the Mountains classification.

The breakaway, which shortly after the ascent to the Côte de Saraille contained Rasmussen himself, was whittled from its high of 27 riders down to six. The trailing 21 riders, which included Rasmussen and Soler, were quickly caught. The lead of the first six extended to a maximum advantage over the peloton of 11'30" before Rabobank and Saunier Duval-Prodir set out at the front of the peloton to reel them in.

A rather large autobus formed almost immediately as the peloton started the ascent up the Port de Pailhères. The first rider to drop was Quick Step-Innergetic's Gert Steegmans. He was joined by most of the surviving sprinters in the Tour within minutes. Little by little, more and more individual riders dropped off the peloton in face of the blistering pace set by David de la Fuente, David Millar and the rest of the Saunier Duval squad.

When de la Fuente and Millar dropped, Rasmussen's teammates Michael Boogerd and Thomas Dekker took over the pacemaking and brought a group clear of the peloton. Mauricio Soler sprinted to the summit well ahead of Rasmussen's group, good for sixth place on the climb and took over the outright lead on the road in the King of the Mountains. At the bottom of the descent, some of the groups consolidated into one large peloton of some 45 riders.

Popovych and George Hincapie then took over the pacemaking, right up to the bottom of the Plateau de Beille. Rasmussen attacked on the ascent, and only Discovery's Alberto Contador could stay with him. They caught every member of the leading break. Rasmussen retook the King of the Mountains lead by beating Soler to the summit of the Plateau-de-Beille, but Contador outsprinted Rasmussen to the finish line.

This was thought to be one of the major stages of the Tour, with no fewer than five major mountain passes - including the Col de Port, the Col de Portet d'Aspet (5.7 km climb at 6.9%), the Col de Menté (7.0 km climb at 8.1%), the Port de Balès (19.5 km at 6.2%), (the first time this climb was featured in the Tour), and finally the Col de Peyresourde (9.7 km climb at 7.8%) with a downhill finish in Loudenvielle.

The first attack of the day to get away featured Bernhard Kohl of Gerolsteiner and Johann Tschopp of Bouygues Télécom. With Tschopp and Kohl about 3'00" clear of the peloton, a 23-man chase group formed, which the peloton allowed to get away. Notables in this group included Alexander Vinokourov, George Hincapie, Denis Menchov, and Haimar Zubeldia, the best-placed man in the group at 13th in the general classification, 12'15" behind Michael Rasmussen. They quickly caught Tschopp and Kohl, on the descent of the Col de Port. This formed a 25-man break that represented 17 teams. Astana, however, had three men in the break, constituting a clear threat to Discovery's lead in the team classification as they had only Hincapie in the break. They pushed their advantage over the Rabobank-led peloton as it attempted to reel them in. Their lead extended to 9'20" as the peloton reached the foot of the Col de Portet d'Aspet.

Astana's Serguei Ivanov attacked the leading group on the descent. However, nobody followed him, so he quickly rejoined the break, unwilling to work on his own. From that point onward, the break seemed content to work together. After the short incline before the official beginning of the ascent of the Port de Balès, five men attacked the leading break and got away, quickly gaining a minute on them. Iñigo Landaluze, Arroyo, Ivanov, and the two men who first got away from the peloton, Kohl and Tschopp, constituted the new leading group. They maintained a lead of eight minutes over the peloton as they ascended the Port. Menchov decided to chase after a few minutes of the climb and quickly caught the leading five.

The leading group of six dropped Ivanov on the way up the Port. Menchov took over the pacemaking for the leading group of now five, trying to put pressure on the other twenty that had a lead on the peloton. Arroyo set the pace for the group of twenty; Christian Vandevelde was the first man in that group to drop off. Surprisingly, as soon as Ivanov found Vinokourov, he paced him back into the Menchov group before bonking and falling back to the larger group. The leading group at this point contained eight riders, being joined by Vinokourov, Juan José Cobo of Saunier Duval-Prodir, and Rubén Pérez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. Tschopp attacked the leading group almost as soon as Vinokourov joined it, and shortly took a lead on them.

By this time, only one man from Rabobank, aside from Rasmussen, remained at the front of the peloton. Andrey Kashechkin attacked the peloton and briefly got away, chasing the remnants of the large leading group. Rasmussen's group, which broke away from the largest peloton, soon had him in view, and tracked him down a few minutes later. The Rasmussen group contained just one of his teammates, Michael Boogerd, along with three men from Discovery, including Levi Leipheimer and the white jersey Alberto Contador.

Kim Kirchen attacked from the Menchov group to try to reach Tschopp before the summit of the Port. He caught him about 3 km before the top. The Rasmussen group began slowly to reel in the Menchov group near the top of the Port. Kirchen outsprinted Tschopp to the summit of the Port. Arroyo successfully attacked from the Menchov group as well and joined Kirchen and Tschopp on the descent from the Port. Some of the groups consolidated on the descent, with Kirchen, Arroyo, and Tschopp still clear. As they began the ascent of the Col de Peyresourde, Tschopp was dropped. Menchov left his chase group and joined up with the Rasmussen group, as Boogerd was getting fatigued from pacing the Rasmussen group all the way up the Port.

Vinokourov attacked his group near the summit of the Col, taking a 15 second lead almost immediately and a 30 second lead as he hit the summit of the Peyresourde, a lead which proved to be insurmountable. Contador attacked the Rasmussen group as it neared the summit of the Peyresourde, and only Rasmussen himself was able to answer, reminiscent of the previous day's stage when Contador answered an attack from Rasmussen. Contador attacked a second time, and Rasmussen stayed with him again. Contador attacked again and again, but Rasmussen managed to stay with him. The two of them passed Tschopp within view of the summit of the Peyresourde. They found Hincapie as they reached the banner indicating the summit, and he paced the three-man group on the descent. Rasmussen and Contador gained time over Cadel Evans, Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, and Carlos Sastre, left in the remnants of the group they had left.

Vinokourov originally won the stage in 5h 34'28", but on April 30, 2008, he was formally stripped of the victory due to his positive test for blood doping the next day.

News of a failed blood doping test by Astana rider Alexander Vinokourov after Stage 15 filtered through late on Monday evening. On Tuesday, the rest day, Marc Biver announced that the entire Astana squad remaining in the Tour would be withdrawn. Two of their riders, Andreas Klöden (5th) and Andrey Kashechkin (8th) were in the top 10. This altered the general classification standings.

After a rest day, the riders took in the Tour’s hardest stage, and the last chance for the climbers to make the time gains they’d need before the final time trial. The race was thought to split up somewhat on the brutal Port de Larrau (14.7 km climb at 8.1%), despite the fact that its summit came just 79km into the stage. The race dipped into Spain for some 50 kilometres at the summit, the fourth country visited in this year’s Tour. From there, there was little reprieve for the riders, hitting the Alto Laza and the Col de la Pierre St Martin (14.2 km climb at 5.2%) before descending to the start of the difficult, and very steep, first-category Col de Marie-Blanque (9.3 km climb at 7.4%). The riders then climbed the infamous Col d'Aubisque (16.7 km climb at 7%), which rewarded out-and-out climbing ability and punish the legs of all the major contenders.

The Basque separatist group ETA carried out at least 1 explosion along the route near the town of Belagua. However the riders had already gone past that point and no one was hurt.

An early attack by Cofidis' Stéphane Augé, one-time holder of the polka-dot jersey during this Tour, was answered by José Vicente García of Caisse d'Epargne, Gorka Verdugo of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Christophe Rinero of Saunier Duval-Prodir. As Verdugo, 67th and more than 90 minutes behind Michael Rasmussen, was the best-placed man in this break the peloton was more than happy to let them go. Barloworld set to pacing the peloton after the escape, with Rabobank staying close behind them.

On the start of the climb up the Port de Larrau, Mauricio Soler attacked and got free of the peloton, paving the way to gain the polka-dot jersey outright from Rasmussen. Soler was soon joined by a chase, including Team CSC's leader Carlos Sastre, Saunier-Duval's Iban Mayo, with Discovery's Sergio Paulinho and Yaroslav Popovych a little ways back. Sastre breaking free, as he was fifth in the GC, surprisingly prompted no response from the peloton. Near the summit of the Port, the four leaders splintered, with García and Verdugo going ahead. Sastre joined Soler's group in a brief dip during the last few kilometeres before the top, closing the gap to the two duos of leaders. García outsprinted Verdugo to the top for maximum King of the Mountains points. Soler attacked his group at the summit and faced no opposition, gaining fifth place points and the outright lead on the road in the King of the Mountains classification.

Most of the riders that were dropped on the way up the Port de Larrau gradually rejoined the Rasmussen peloton on the descent and the brief climb up the Alto Laza, as the race dipped briefly into Spanish soil. García again outsprinted Verdugo to the Alto Laza. Soler again attacked his group to get to the line first, despite the fact that there were no KOM points available for fifth place on a third category climb. On the descent from Alto Laza, the Soler group absorbed Augé and Rinero.

With the autobus a mere seven minutes behind Rasmussen's peloton and eleven behind the leading group of five, a number of riders dropped off the back on the way up this Col, including Kirchen for the second time of the stage. Soler sprinted around Sastre to gain maximum Mountains classification points at the top of the Col. Sastre, at this point, was second in the Tour on the road with this group's advantage over the peloton. Once over the summit of this Col, the riders went back into French territory. The peloton absorbed Rinero and Augé on the descent, as most of the riders who were dropped on the way up made it back in. The gap between the five leaders and the peloton finally began to descend more regularly as the leaders approached the beginning of the climb up the Col de Marie-Blanque. Soler took over some of the workload from Sastre to try to stay away at least until the summit of this Col, to gain more Mountains points.

When García rejoined the Rasmussen group, he helped the Rabobank riders with the pacemaking, likely indicating that Alejandro Valverde was planning to attack on the Col d'Aubisque for the stage win. Rasmussen's group caught the five-man break just after the official beginning of the Col d'Aubisque. Sastre and Mayo dropped Soler on the way up the Aubisque. Sastre attacked several times on the way up, but Mayo answered each time. All the while, the Rasmussen group was closing in. Despite his most valiant efforts, Soler was absorbed about 11 km from the finish. Yaroslav Popovych paced the group up the climb, with Contador, Rasmussen, and Levi Leipheimer directly behind him. With about 10 km to go, Sastre and Mayo were absorbed.

As the elite group came out of a tunnel about 9 km from the line, Contador attacked and Rasmussen responded. Contador sat up and rejoined the group, sitting on Rasmussen's wheel. Leipheimer attacked and Rasmussen chased him down. Contador attacked, and the group dropped Leipheimer. As Rasmussen and Cadel Evans tracked Contador down, Rasmussen and Contador traded jabs, much as they had in previous stages. Rasmussen and Contador dropped Evans, while Leipheimer caught back up to him, and passed him, rejoining Rasmussen and Contador. Soler made a huge rebound on the climb, reaching and passing Sastre to get into fifth position on the road, cementing his takeover of the lead in the Mountains classification. In the last 750m Rasmussen attacked and opened up a 25 second advantage to which Contador could not respond.

Following stage 16, Cofidis rider Cristian Moreni was arrested by French police, after admitting usage of testosterone, which is a banned substance from most sports. The rest of his team-mates remaining in the Tour, were withdrawn, and the team left the Tour immediately. But, this was only the prequel to a far greater story, in importance to the 2007 Tour. Overall leader Michael Rasmussen was sacked by Rabobank, and removed from the Tour, after allegedly lying to his team management about his whereabouts. This allowed Spanish rider Alberto Contador to take the overall lead. However, as this occurred after the presentations of Stage 16, there would be no maillot jaune wearer on Stage 17.

The race left the mountains behind and turned north towards Paris. This stage had a series of small climbs, but was expected to give those sprinters who had survived the chance to earn some points.

At the 9 km mark and after a few attempted escapes, an eight man break, including team leaders David Millar and Daniele Bennati, got away, but their lead was restricted for a long time to about two minutes by the peloton. The pace was being made by the "virtual" leader's team Discovery and Predictor-Lotto, despite the fact that no threat to the GC was posed: Jens Voigt, 34th overall and over an hour behind Alberto Contador, was the best placed man in the break. Crédit Agricole and Caisse d'Epargne also helped with the pacemaking to keep the break close. Caisse d'Epargne went on to make the pace in earnest when Discovery and Crédit Agricole dropped off. It was thought at the time that they wanted to try to keep their second position in the team classification, but their directeur sportif said the next day that they simply wanted to try to win the stage. The move was extremely unpopular within the peloton, with riders like Tom Boonen and Cadel Evans speaking up about it.

Denis Menchov abandoned the Tour two hours into the stage. The Caisse d'Epargne riders dropped when the break extended to four minutes over the peloton, and Discovery retook the workload. The lead of the break extended more and more; essentially Discovery was content to let them go. When the lead ballooned to eight minutes (given the flat course), it was calculated the peloton could not make the gap up even if they wanted to. A bunched sprint for ninth place and the 17 green jersey points it afforded was still expected.

With about 18 km, Daniele Righi and Manuel Quinziato were dropped by the leading group after an attack from Bennati; not long after, Millar and Matteo Tosatto were also dropped, leaving a leading group of four - Voigt, Bennati, Markus Fothen, and Martin Elmiger. Voigt took almost all of the workload. At just under 4 km to go, Voigt attacked the group, but Bennati bridged the gap. They tried to break away from Fothen and Elmiger but could not.

Bennati, easily the strongest sprinter in the break, got to the line first. Tom Boonen, holder of the green jersey, made it to the line ahead of his rivals Robert Hunter and Erik Zabel.

This was a long stage, with a few small climbs near the start, and was regarded as the last chance for any surprises.

Around 17 km into the stage, Michael Boogerd and Laurent Lefevre launched the first successful attack of the day. They distanced themselves from the Discovery-led peloton that again seemed content to let the break get away, opting instead to protect Alberto Contador for the next day's individual time trial. The teams of the green jersey contenders also seemed fine with competing merely for fifth place rather than the 35 points given to the stage winner.

The two were quickly joined by a counter attack from Axel Merckx and Sandy Casar; Boogerd and Lefevre sat up and allowed those two to join them. Casar struck a dog on the road when he and Frederick Willems were chasing Boogerd and Lefevre, and both of them went down. Casar got up quickly, but Willems was slower and wound up being absorbed by the peloton. The crash resulted in Casar tearing his gear and having to ride with a nasty wound on his exposed buttocks, since dropping off to change and have the wound treated would cost him his position. Later, the race doctor's car made it up to the leading group to tend to Casar's hip and right elbow, as well as a bee sting sustained by Boogerd.

After the sprint point and the end of the four small cat four climbs, the break's lead was over twelve minutes, and it continued to grow. Boogerd was the best-placed man, 28 minutes back of Contador. By the time the advantage reached sixteen minutes, it was the biggest defecit faced by the peloton in the 2007 Tour. It continued to increase from that point. The maximum advantage was 17'30"; after that point, it very slowly began to come down.

With Boogerd challenging the top-ten GC places of Haimar Zubeldia and Mikel Astarloza on the road, Euskaltel-Euskadi came to the front of the peloton to take the workload when the leaders were around 28 km to the line. The gap more steadily fell from that point on, successfully knocking Boogerd out of the top ten. Quick Step-Innergetic came up as well and settled in behind Discovery and the Basques, preparing to get Tom Boonen to the line in fifth place.

When Boogerd suffered a wheel puncture, necessitating a switch, the other three riders in the leading break waited for him to rejoin them. Lefevre attacked at the 6 km to go mark, and stayed away for a full kilometer before being caught. Casar attacked at 3 km to go on the inside of a road obstruction, quickly gaining a sizeable lead. Boogerd counter-attacked and got the other three back into Casar's slipstream within the last kilometer; however, no one ever opened up the sprint to the line. Thus, Casar remained in first position across the line, thanks to a short final closing kick.

Boonen's Quick Step team came forward in the final two kilometers to lead him out, with Robert Hunter and Erik Zabel right in the mix. Boonen again made it to the line ahead of his rivals, essentially clinching the green jersey win. The peloton split on the way up the slight uphill finish, giving Cadel Evans and Yaroslav Popovych, among others, three seconds back on Contador.

This was the second time trial stage, with long straight stretches, some beautiful sections of unbending road and some slight inclines (with one located about 600 m to finish line). It was clear that time-trial specialists would be the center of attention. After an impressive performance during the Pyrenees crossing and the capture of Yellow Jersey due to Michael Rasmussen's dismissal, Alberto Contador expressed his concerns about being beaten in the final Time Trial of the competition. Before riders located above the 20th place started, Belgian Leif Hoste set a time of 1h 05' 32", making him the 1st ranked rider of the stage for a long period of time. Nonetheless, with the start of the favourites for the stage, he gradually went down through the standings, finishing in 9th position.

Three teams dominated the time trial: Discovery, Caisse d'Epargne and Predictor-Lotto. Vladimir Karpets, current Spanish time trial champion Iván Gutiérrez and Óscar Pereiro secured 3rd, 6th and 8th positions respectively for Caisse d'Epargne. On the other hand, Discovery Channel and Predictor-Lotto set up a fierce fight for the overall standings, primarily involving Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Cadel Evans. David Millar, who was expected to be a contender for victory, experienced mechanical trouble, needing to change bikes twice within the first kilometer.

The grand finale, as the race entered Paris to complete the eight laps of the traditional circuit around the Champs-Élysées.

The ride to and on the Champs-Élysées is traditionally free of attacks, save for a final bunched sprint to the line, and the GC standings from the previous stage usually stand as the final result. However, with only 31 seconds separating the top three men, there was much speculation that that would not be the case during this final stage.

However, the peloton proved to stay together all the way until the Champs-Élysées, except for brief escapes to nab the final intermediate sprint and two small climbs. 54 km in, just before the second small climb, a "break" of seven riders formed that very quickly was re-absorbed into the peloton. Discovery was taking no chances, though, being sure to place Yaroslav Popovych into this group. Gert Steegmans sprinted out ahead of the field to claim the two small cat four climbs and met no resistance. From that point on, Discovery settled in at the front of the field, which had previously seen riders from all teams sharing the extremely light workload.

Tradition held up; Discovery successfully led Contador onto the famous street before the sprinting began. Freddy Bichot of Agritubel briefly got away on the second circuit. Chris Horner of Cadel Evans' Predictor-Lotto team tried to get away soon after, but the peloton was much less willing to let him leave. When Alejandro Valverde and Axel Merckx counter-attacked Bichot to bring him back into the field, Discovery faded back.

A ten-man group formed a measurable break over the peloton during the third circuit. Barloworld came to the front of the peloton to try to bring the break back. The catch occurred on the final circuit.

Daniele Bennati won the last sprint to the line.

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2008 in road cycling

In 2008, for the first time in ten years, two Grand Tours were won by one rider, the Spanish Alberto Contador. Alessandro Ballan succeeded fellow Italian Paolo Bettini as World Champion, winning the road race in his home country, where Varese hosted the World Championships for the second time in history. Bettini and German sprinter Erik Zabel were among the most prominent riders to quit after this season, while Mario Cipollini made a brief comeback in the early months of the year.

Despite even tighter controls and warnings concerning doping, and the introduction of the blood passport by the UCI, several major races, including the Giro and Tour were faced with positive tests. In addition, the ongoing feud between the UCI and the race organizations almost came to a definite break in March, when the UCI threatened to suspend riders participating in ASO's Paris-Nice. The cycling federation's ProTour seemed bankrupt halfway through the year when all remaining licensed teams announced their withdrawal. However, at the start of 2009, 16 teams saw their ProTour license renewed and two new teams joined the elite division of cycling. Crédit Agricole and Gerolsteiner stopped sponsorship of a team, and were not succeeded by new sponsors. Other than Gerolsteiner, many German companies who participated in cycling sponsorship in recent years drew back their financial backing after this years latest of doping cases related to German cycling. As a result, fewer professional teams and races, among them the Deutschland Tour, will be part of the 2009 season.

Among professional riders, Mark Cavendish was the most successful with 17 victories, including 4 in the Tour de France and two in the Giro d'Italia. His team, Team High Road (which got a new sponsor midway through the season, ever since going by the name Team Columbia), was by far the most succesfull with 77 victories. Alejandro Valverde was the most successful allround rider of the year based on the CQ ranking.

After the end of the season, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced his comeback to competitive road cycling for 2009, with the Astana Team.

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Cycling at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Men's road race

2008 Olympic cycling road race men.JPG

The men's road race, a part of the cycling events at the 2008 Summer Olympics, took place on August 9 at the Urban Road Cycling Course in Beijing. It started at 11:00 China Standard Time (UTC+8), and was scheduled to last until 17:30 later that day. The 245.4-kilometre (152.5 mi) course ran north across the heart of the Beijing metropolitan area, passing such landmarks as the Temple of Heaven, the Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square and the Beijing National Stadium. After rolling over relatively flat terrain for 78.8 km (49.0 mi) north of the Beijing city center, the route entered a decisive circuit encompassing seven loops on a 23.8 km (14.8 mi) section up and down the Badaling Pass, including ramps as steep as a 10 percent gradient.

The race was won by the Spanish rider Samuel Sánchez in 6 hours, 23 minutes, 49 seconds, after a six-man breakaway group contested a sprint finish. Davide Rebellin of Italy and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, finishing second and third place with the same time as Sánchez, received silver and bronze medals respectively for the event. The hot and humid conditions were in sharp contrast to the heavy rain weathered in the women's road race the following day.

The event was one of the earliest to be concluded at the 2008 Summer Olympics, taking place on the first day of competition. Concerns were raised before the Olympics about the threat of pollution in endurance sports, but no major problems were apparent in the race.

Qualification for the race was restricted to five athletes per National Olympic Committee (NOC), providing that these athletes qualified through the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rankings, with the UCI ProTour considered to be superior to the UCI Continental Circuits. The number of qualification places allocated varied among the different UCI tours, which all maintain their own ranking system. Any NOC unable to fill its quota of athletes from the ProTour was permitted to enter athletes from one of the continental tours, and if that was not feasible, from the "B" World Championship. The number of places allocated to each tour were thus (in descending order): 70 riders from the ProTour, 38 from the Europe tour, 15 from the America tour, nine from the Asia tour, five from the Africa tour, and three from the Oceania tour. Five entrants qualified through the "B" World Championships.

The final number of competitors was set to be 145, but only 143 athletes started the race. Four cyclists were scratched from the race shortly before it took place. Damiano Cunego of Italy had not yet recovered from the injuries he sustained in the 2008 Tour de France, so he was replaced by Vincenzo Nibali. Portugal's Sérgio Paulinho, the silver medalist at the 2004 event, was said to be in insufficient shape to race. After Russian Vladimir Gusev was fired by his professional team Astana for failing an internal doping check, he was replaced in this event by Denis Menchov, who later competed in the time trial. While training earlier in the week before the race, Switzerland's Michael Albasini crashed and broke his collarbone; there was not sufficient time to find a replacement for him.

Prior to the opening of the Games, the International Olympic Committee was keen to play down the risk that athletes faced from pollution; however, the organizing body considered re-scheduling of endurance events (such as the cycling road race) if the pollution levels were too high. Athletes partaking in these events can consume 20 times the amount of oxygen as a sedentary person. A higher level of pollution in the air could adversely affect performance, damage or irritate an athlete's lungs, or exacerbate respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Independent sources showed that pollution levels were above the limit deemed safe by the World Health Organization on August 9. However, the cycling event went ahead as scheduled with no objections from the athletes. Fifty-three of the 143 cyclists pulled out during the race; however, this is not unusual (over half withdrew mid-race at the 2004 Summer Olympics). Post-race, a number of riders highlighted the punishing conditions, in particular the heat (26 °C/79 °F) and humidity (90%), which were much higher than in Europe, where the majority of UCI ProTour races are held. Pollution, however, was not widely cited as a problem, though Stefan Schumacher of Germany, who had been considered an outside favorite for victory in the event, said the elements and the pollution played a role in his withdrawal.

Among the pre-race favorites was the entire Spanish contingent of riders. It included two winners of Grand Tours in Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre, along with highly regarded countrymen Alejandro Valverde, winner of the 2008 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and the reigning Spanish national road race champion, and Samuel Sánchez, who had won three stages in the 2007 Vuelta a España. They also had 2008 Tour de France points classification winner and three-time world champion Óscar Freire available to work on their behalf. Valverde was seen as the strongest threat among the Spaniards. Other medal hopefuls included the defending Olympic champion Paolo Bettini of Italy, Germany's Stefan Schumacher, and Australian Cadel Evans, twice a runner-up in the Tour de France (2007 and 2008). It was thought that members of the overall strong squads from Germany and Luxembourg could also contend for victory. The German team contained Schumacher and many veterans of Grand Tours such as Jens Voigt to work in support, while Luxembourg had the Schleck brothers Andy and Fränk, along with Kim Kirchen, all of whom had worn leader's jerseys during the 2008 Tour de France.

The Urban Road Cycling Course (one of Beijing's nine temporary venues) was 102.6 km (63.8 mi) in its entirety, and the men's race was a distance of 245.4 km (152.5 mi), the longest in Olympic history. The race's starting line was located at the Yongdingmen Gate, a remnant of Beijing's old city wall, which is a part of the Chongwen District of northern Beijing. The course ended at the Juyong Pass in the Changping District.

The route passed through a total of eight districts: Chongwen, Xuanwu, Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Changping, and Yanqing. The course's scenery, described by The Guardian newspaper (UK) as "visually sumptuous", included landmarks such as the Temple of Heaven, the Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square, the Yonghe Temple, and sections of the Great Wall of China, which were passed through as the course journeyed from urban Beijing into the countryside. It also passed the architecture of the 2008 Olympics, including the Beijing National Stadium and Beijing National Aquatics Center (known colloquially as the "Bird's Nest" and "Water Cube").

The men's race layout, which differed most significantly from the women's in that it was over double its length, saw the riders make seven loops back-and-forth between the Badaling and Juyong Passes. The early sections of the race took place within central Beijing; consequently, the gradient of this part of the race was relatively flat. At approximately the 78.8 km (49.0 mi) point in the race the riders reached the Badaling section of the Great Wall, and began their first of seven 23.8 km (14.8 mi) loops. The riders encountered an increase in the gradient at this point, with the Badaling Pass gaining 338.2 metres (1,110 ft) in elevation over a distance of 12.4 km (7.7 mi) from the start of the circuit to the highest point. From there the cyclists rode over a false flat before descending a highway towards the Juyong Pass. The final 350 m (1,100 ft) of the race gave the riders a moderately steep climb to contend with, which was designed to ensure an exciting finale should several riders have been grouped together at the end of the race, as there were.

Due to security regulations put in place by the Olympic organizers, no spectators were permitted to stand roadside along the course. This decision proved to be controversial: several prominent figures in cycling, including UCI president Pat McQuaid and riders Stuart O'Grady and Cadel Evans (both Australia), spoke out against it. McQuaid and O'Grady both felt that the absence of people along the course deprived the race of the atmosphere present at other cycling events, and said that it failed to take supporters' wishes into consideration. Cycling Australia's reaction to the cyclists' complaints was to request that security restrictions be eased for the time trial to follow, but they were not.

The men's road race began at 11:00 local time (UTC+8) and within 3 km (1.9 mi) of the start, Horacio Gallardo (Bolivia) and Patricio Almonacid (Chile) formed a two-man breakaway. They held a maximum advantage of 15 minutes, but were never really seen as a threat, and in fact neither went on to finish the race. With no single team willing to force the pace, a 26-man breakaway formed at the 60 km (37 mi) mark, including Carlos Sastre (Spain), Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), Jens Voigt (Germany), Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic) and Simon Gerrans (Australia). Shortly after the race reached the finish line to begin the first of seven 23.8 km (14.8 mi) loops, Gallardo was dropped by Almonacid. The lone Chilean leader was then caught by the now 24-man chase group at the summit on the second loop, after riding solo ahead of the pack for over an hour and a half.

Under the impetus of Sastre and Kreuziger in particular, the 24-strong breakaway group built their lead to over six minutes at the half-way point of the race, after four of the seven circuits. At that point, the Italian-paced main field increased its speed in order to bring them back. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Belarus) and Ruslan Pidgornyy (Ukraine) went clear of the leading group afterward and gained an advantage of a minute and 40 seconds over the Sastre group and 2 minutes, 45 seconds over the main field by the start of the fifth lap over the hilly circuit. The Sastre group was absorbed by the main field at the 60 km (37 mi) to go mark, leaving just Kuschynski and Pidgornyy out front. Not long after, shortly before the end of the fifth circuit, Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden), Rigoberto Urán (Colombia) and Johan Van Summeren (Belgium) attacked from the peloton and reeled in Kuschynski and Pidgornyy.

The next attack, one that would later be described as "audacious" and "brave", came from Christian Pfannberger (Austria), who went free of the main field toward the end of the sixth lap. His maximum advantage never grew to more than a minute, but he did stay away until well into the seventh and final lap, being caught with 20 km (12 mi) to go. Within five minutes of fierce attacks, fewer than 20 riders were left in the front group, a group that included Cadel Evans (Australia), Levi Leipheimer (United States), Santiago Botero (Colombia), and Jérôme Pineau (France), with Valverde and Bettini left behind them. Five riders, Samuel Sánchez (Spain), Michael Rogers (Australia), Davide Rebellin (Italy), Andy Schleck (Luxembourg), and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia), came further clear from the group of now 13 due to repeated attacks from Schleck. Sánchez, Rebellin, and Schleck reached the summit of the Badaling climb, with 12.7 km (7.9 mi) to race, 10 seconds ahead of Rogers and Kolobnev, and 26 seconds ahead of the Evans group. Bettini, Valverde and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) attacked from the main peloton and joined the Evans group at the top of the climb. The leading group's advantage over the two-man chase was 15 seconds with 10 km (6.2 mi) to go.

With 5 km (3.1 mi) left, Cancellara attacked from the Evans group and caught up with the chasers that the group of three had left behind, Kolobnev and Rogers. The three of them successfully bridged the gap to the leaders with about 1 km (0.62 mi) to go, and there were six riders contesting the final sprint. Sánchez won the gold medal, Rebellin the silver, and Cancellara the bronze.

Many riders are not expected to finish one-day races, having worked in support for their teams (in this case, nations) to place their riders with better climbing skills in good positions once the mountainous part of a course begins. Many of these riders also sought to conserve themselves for the time trial that was to come. Additionally, if a rider was lapped by the race leader on the Badaling circuit, he would be forced to stop.

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2007 Tour of California

Map of the 2007 Tour of California.

The Amgen Tour of California 2007 is the second edition of an eight-day, 650-mile (1,045 km) stage race that races through the California redwoods, wine country and the Pacific Coast. The road bicycle racing event was held February 17 through 25, 2007. The 2007 Tour of California is part of the 2006-2007 UCI America Tour and the inaugural 2007 USA Cycling Professional Tour.

On November 28, 2006, the UCI upgraded the multi-day event from 2.1 (category 1) to 2.HC (French: Hors Categorie; English: beyond categorization).

Held Sunday, February 18, 2007, the prologue is an individual time trial held in San Francisco. Native Californian and last year's prologue champion Levi Leipheimer edged out Colorado's Jason Donald from Team Slipstream and former NCAA Road Champion Benjamin Jacques-Maynes.

Held Monday, February 19, 2007. A breakaway of four riders including Adam Hansen of T-Mobile was reeled in shortly before the finish in Santa Rosa. During the second of the three finishing laps in Santa Rosa, a crash took down most of the peloton, including leader Levi Leipheimer. Those not involved in the crash fought for the stage victory, taken by Graeme Brown by mere millimetres.

Riders involved in the crash lost several minutes, but the race officials decided to credit most of them with the winner's time, meaning that Leipheimer retained the leader's jersey. This decision, which meant extending the "safety zone" to 6 miles (10 km) before the end, was criticised by some riders and team staff.

Held Tuesday, February 20, 2007.

Held Wednesday, February 21, 2007.

Held Thursday, February 22, 2007, reigning Olympic and World Champion Paolo Bettini captured Stage 4, the event's longest stage, by just edging Gerald Ciolek, Juan José Haedo and Thor Hushovd in a sprint finish after the peloton reeled in a seven-man breakaway consisting of Hilton Clarke (Navigators Insurance), Aaron Olson (T-Mobile Team), Kirk O'Bee (Health Net), Alejandro Acton (Colavita Sutter Home), Christophe Laurent (Credit Agricole), Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream), and Sean Sullivan (Toyota-United Pro).

Held Friday, February 23, 2007, Stage 5 is an individual time trial. Yellow jersey holder Levi Leipheimer extended his lead over second place Jens Voigt and the rest of the field.

Held Sunday, February 25, 2007.

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2008 Tour de France

Tour de France 2008 - Course Outline

The 2008 Tour de France was the 95th Tour de France. The event took place from July 5 to July 27, 2008. Starting in the French city of Brest, the tour entered Italy on the 15th stage and returned to France during the 16th, heading for Paris, its regular final destination, which was reached in the 21st stage. The race was won by Carlos Sastre.

Unlike previous years, time bonuses were no longer awarded for intermediate sprints and for high placement on each stage. This altered the way the General Classification was awarded in comparison to previous seasons.

Long running disputes between the event organisers, the ASO and the UCI reached a head when the race organisers insisted upon the right to invite, or exclude, whichever teams it chose for the event. Under UCI rules, any ProTour event must be open to all member teams of the UCI's top level. The ASO made it clear that, despite changes in team management and personnel, it intended to exclude Astana from the event as a result its involvement in the doping scandals that marred the 2007 Tour and its links to the 2006 Operación Puerto doping case. This meant that the champion (Alberto Contador) and third-place finisher (Levi Leipheimer) from 2007, both of whom had since signed with Astana, could not compete in the 2008 Tour.

The ASO announced on March 20, 2008 that all ProTour teams except Astana would be invited, along with three "wildcard" teams: Agritubel, Barloworld, and Team Slipstream-Chipotle (subsequently renamed as Garmin-Chipotle).

Because Astana was not invited to the 2008 Tour de France, the winner of the 2007 Tour de France, Alberto Contador, the 3rd place finisher Levi Leipheimer and the 2004 and 2006 Tour de France runner up Andreas Klöden did not compete. Ten days before the start of the tour, Contador picked Cadel Evans as the likely winner for 2008. Shown in the table below are the riders that, according to the bookmakers in the months before the start of the 2008 Tour de France, had a chance of winning the 2008 Tour better than or equal to 25/1. The odds shown are the odds in July 2008, directly before the start of the race. Thomas Dekker and Michael Rogers were also given odds in this range, but were not included in the Tour de France.

In previous years, the Tour started with a prologue, followed by a week of flat stages. The flat stages were dominated by the sprinters' teams, and the yellow jersey was worn by a sprinter who had a good prologue. At the presentation of the Tour de France 2008 schedule, Tour Director Christian Prudhomme announced that the 2008 Tour would be different: "We have wanted a first week of racing with much more rhythm. With no prologue, an uphill finish that will suit different types of sprinters at the end of stage one, with a short time trial on stage four and the first mountain at Super-Besse only 48 hours later, we have decided to change the scenario." The time bonuses at the end of each stage were removed, and there was 82 kilometres (51 mi) of time trials, less than usual.

The 2008 Tour de France was almost entirely in France, with only a small part in Italy.

The light blue background indicates the wearer of the white jersey.

A total prize fund of approximately €3.25 million was awarded throughout the tour. In addition, each team received €51,243 towards expenses of participation, with an additional €1,600 per rider who completed the race, provided that at least seven did so.

By tradition, a team's winnings were pooled and shared among the riders and support team. Team CSC, the team of Tour winner Sastre, won the most prize money, more than €600,000. Saunier Duval's prize money was not awarded after the positive tests of Riccardo Riccò.

35 riders withdrew or were disqualified.

Three teams, Team CSC Saxo Bank, Team Milram, and Euskaltel-Euskadi, had all nine members reach the end of the race.

On May 26, 2008, the 2007 green jersey (points) winner Tom Boonen tested positive for cocaine. Since this was outside competition, Boonen was not sanctioned by the UCI or WADA, but he was nevertheless barred from the 2008 Tour de France.

Following protracted disagreement between the organisers of the Tour de France (ASO) and the UCI, the race was sanctioned by the French cycling federation (FFC), as was the 2008 Paris-Nice in March. Thus the FFC were in charge of the doping controls before and during the race, and rather than increasing the number of doping controls during the Tour, they applied a more targeted approach on suspect riders. The anti-doping agency AFLD carried out approximately 60 random and targeted tests in the weeks leading up to the Tour. They took blood samples from all the 180 riders in a two-day period just before the first stage, and during the race took samples from up to 14 riders a day shortly after the stage was finished, 250 tests being run in total. The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) also performed unannounced doping tests of riders at the finish of stage 15, which ended at the ski resort of Prato Nevoso, Italy. On July 3, 2008, France enacted a law criminalizing using or trafficking in doping substances.

On July 11 news broke that Spanish rider Manuel Beltrán tested positive for erythropoietin after the first stage of the tour. Blood abnormalities before the tour start had led AFLD to target the rider. Beltrán's team Liquigas withdrew him from the tour with immediate effect. French law enforcement authorities questioned Beltrán over possible offences and searched his hotel room, but he claimed his innocence. The B-Sample has not yet been tested.

On July 13, prior to the ninth stage, it was revealed that AFLD had informed team doctors that five riders had unusually high hematocrit levels. The Italian press reported that Riccardo Riccò, who won the stage later that day, had been selected for testing several times during the first week, which led to a suspicion that he was among those whose teams had been notified. Riccò has for some time been known to have a naturally high hematocrit level of 51%, above the 50%-level which usually is taken to be an indicator of possible blood manipulation. Riccò stated that he has a license confirming that this is a natural, long-term condition, which he gave to the doping agencies before the start of the race, but he later admitted to the offence at a hearing of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

On July 16 Barloworld started the 11th stage without Moisés Dueñas, who had been withdrawn from the team after being tested positive for EPO at the end of the time trial fourth stage. Barloworld Ltd, two days later, announced that they were withdrawing from sponsorship after this year's Tour de France, but on October 28, they announced that they would sponsor the team for another year.

On July 17, shortly before the start of stage 12, Ricardo Riccò and the rest of the Saunier Duval-Scott team, withdrew from the race after the announcement that he had tested positive for MIRCERA, a new type of EPO, at the end of stage 4. Leonardo Piepoli, winner of stage 10, was sacked by his team for "violation of the team's ethics code" the following day, though no positive test was reported at that time. Almost 3 months later his tests came back positive for samples taken one day prior to the start of the Tour, on July 4, and also on July 15, on the rest day in Pau.

On the last day of the race, but after the end of the stage, Dmitry Fofonov was announced to have tested positive for the banned stimulant heptaminol after Stage 18. He was asked for a medical exemption to use the stimulant, but did not produce one. He was subsequently fired by his team Crédit Agricole.

After the race ended, French cyclist Jimmy Casper was suspended from Agritubel because he tested positive after the stage to Super Besse for glucocorticoids, an asthma drug that is banned unless the user has a medical exemption for its use. Casper, an asthmatic, carried a therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for the last twelve years but failed to renew this exemption. His authorisation expired on May 29 and was not renewed before the 2008 Tour de France. The French cycling federation's disciplinary commission exonerated Casper.

In late September it was announced that several Tour de France riders were to have their blood samples retested for traces of EPO. Pierre Bordry, the head of AFLD, claimed the testing involved riders who were already under scrutiny for suspicious urine samples. AFLD had suspicion that there was MIRCERA in some samples but the laboratory could not say definitively. The urine tests were somewhat unreliable at giving definitive results, so the AFLD decided to order the blood samples taken before and during the Tour for additional testing with a newly developed CERA blood test.

As a result of this additional testing, both Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher tested positive for the same substance which Riccò used, MIRCERA. The riders were declared positive by AFLD.

On 13 October, 2008, the AFLD announced that Bernhard Kohl, who finished in third place overall and winner of the climbers' competition, had also tested positive for MIRCERA on July 3 and 15, before and during the Tour de France. Should initial results be verified, the third-place finish in the 2008 Tour will go to Denis Menchov of Rabobank, while Carlos Sastre of Team CSC Saxo Bank, overall winner of the Tour, will receive the polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains competition.

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Source : Wikipedia