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Archive: July 16, 2011

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TDF stage 14 / mountains - Jesse Vanendert wins (!) while contenders play on final climb / Voeckler keeps yellow

Saturday,  07/16/11  08:43 PM

Jelle Vanendert is the surprise climber of this year's tour, winning stage 14 and taking the polka dot jerseyToday's stage 14 was the consummate Pyrenean stage, with six categorized climbs and a finish atop the HC Plateau de Beille.  You would think *this* would be a decisive stage, with a definitive selection, but ... no.  After much jockeying around a solo attack on the last climb by Jelle Vanendert was allowed to succeed (you will remember he finished second two days ago atop Luz-Ardiden, and now finds himself in the polka dot jersey) and despite a series of half-hearted attacks the GC contenders all finished together.  The surprise of the day was Thomas Voeckler, who stayed right there with the leaders and now must be considered a possibility to take his yellow jersey all the way to Paris.  (Nobody is more surprised by Voeckler's success than Voeckler :)

[ Update: John Wilcockson is not impressed by the Tour's seven dwarfs.  As I consider his remarks, we may well look back on this stage as a missed opportunity for the Schlecks. ]

an awesome sculpture celebrates cycling on the Plateau de BeilleSome interesting subplots did emerge: Samuel Sanchez finishes second, a clear 30s ahead of the pack, to move into sixth and declare his candidacy for the podium, as well as King of the Mountains.  Levi Leipheimer was nowhere to be seen, nor was Robert Gesink, nor Tom Danielson.  The GC contenders now (in order of likelihood of victory) are Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador (who looked better but not great), Andy and Frank Schleck, Sanchez, and Voeckler.  Another interesting subplot was Mark Cavendish' bid to hold his green jersey, his team pulled him in over the time limit with just a minute to spare.

Tomorrow is a ho-hum sprint - well it could be exciting, because it's the last of this year's Tour until Paris - and after that we have a rest day, four mountain stages in the Alps including two mountain top finishes, and the final time trial in Grenoble.  So there's a lot left - stay tuned!

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