July 20, 2007
       
 

By Graham Jones and Barry Boyce
CyclingRevealed Historians

 

 

Tour de France Champions Living and Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

CyclingRevealed's First Impressions '07

Stage12 - July 20th, Montpellier to Castres, 178.5 km

Alas Poor Yorik

To take a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet, “something is rotten in the State of Denmark”. This, in essence, is what Tour Director Christian Prudhomme said of the news of Michael Rasmussen's removal from the Danish national team for the World's and the Olympics. According to the Danish Cycling Federation Rasmussen failed on two occasions to comply with drug testing protocol. Whether or not this is the case, or in fact if there is more to this story, has yet to be revealed. What is “rotten” to Prudhomme is the timing if the announcement during the middle of the Tour. As he says, the information that has just been released is nothing that was not known by the Danish authorities before the Tour started. In fact in June Rasmussen was even cleared following numerous routine drug tests to participate in the Danish RR Championship.


Sir John Gielgud 1944: Alas poor Yorik, the Yellow Jersey Prince of Denmark is under siege!

So lacking any further information, Rasmussen was allowed to start the race today. Unfortunately he now not only carries the burden of defending his Yellow Jersey but also the thought that he will now be obliged to defend his errant drug testing protocol actions. Again in the cycling world we have all the makings of another Shakespearean style comedy/drama.


Race Leader Michael Rasmussen deals with the press [ Photo: AP ]

Tour director Christian Prudhomme press statement [ Photo: AP ]

Unfazed by this latest revelation the peloton set about the task at hand. Today they faced a hilly day on many small winding back roads with four categorized climbs: Cat 4 Cote de Cantagal (at 27kms); Cat 4, Cote du Mas-Rouet (at 58km); Cat 4 Col du Buis (at 74.5km); Cat 2 Montée de la Jeante (at 130.5km). With the much anticipated individual time trial coming tomorrow the GC contenders and TT specialists were harboring their energy for the ‘race of truth'. Sadly one of the best riders in the world against the watch, David Zabriskie (CSC) could not beat the clock yesterday and was eliminated from the Tour.

Various promising escape efforts were brought to heel until at 50kms Euskaltel's Amets Txurruka and Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom, managed to pull ahead by 30 seconds. Together these two worked diligently to build on their advantage which reached its maximum of 11m 30s with 85kms to go. As always it looked for the longest time that the two leaders would carry the day. But ice cold calculations by team managers back in the team cars had the destiny of the break pegged.


Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouygues Telecom and Euskaltel's Amets Txurruka

The chase [ Photos: AP ]

Behind the hard working escapees each climb saw a spirited battle for the minor climbing points. Very much in the picture were Popovych (Discovery), Soler (Barloworld) and Chavanel (Cofidis) who are all looking to ‘steal' the Polka Dot Jersey from Rasmussen.

Smelling a sprint finish, the peloton turned on the afterburners over the final 20kms. Riders started to slip out of the back and amongst them was Fabian Cancellara clearly not interested in contesting today's finale. The World Time trial Champion has more important fish to fry tomorrow!

With 4kms to go to two leaders still had about 20 seconds on the flying peloton. Bravely they resisted to the bitter end but it was not to be and heart-break corner was reached with just 800 tantalizing meters to go. Boonen's henchmen led out a tremendous charge for the line which the boss duly nailed. Right on his wheel was Erik Zabel and yesterday's winner Robbie Hunter. With stage win number two in this Tour, Boonen further solidified his leadership in the Green Jersey competition.


Stage winner Tom Boonen [ Images ©: www.gazzetta.it ]

For Rasmussen he may well heed the famous words of Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?

By opposing his sea of troubles honestly and quickly Rasmussen should soon ‘end them'. But alas poor Yorik the Tour, it seems, will forever bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

 

 

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Tour de France 07 (Click to enlarge)

 

Stage 12 Profile (Click to enlarge)