Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stage 17 Update: The Stained Green Jersey

At the 37 km to go mark, just before the final Col de la Colombiere, Quick Step rider, Barredo caught up with Hushovd and passed him.

In the mean time, there is more to be said about the flyer that Thor Hushovd of the Cervelo team had been taking in front of this stage.

In stage 8, Hushovd and Mark Cavendish of Columbia HTC were sprinting for the finish, and Cavendish went ahead in front of Hushovd, a move that cost him dearly. Hushovd filed a formal complaint, saying that the Manx man had given him the elbow and cut him off, Cavendish lost 15 points, and the rest is history.

But words were exchanged yesterday. Cavendish told Hushovd that the Green Jersey now has a stain on it. He also said, “And anyway, I am going to beat you on the Champs Elysees.”

Today Hushovd is not only putting as much time between himself and the “fastest man in the world” to assure his win: he is proving a point. And the point is? He’ll double the amount of time and points between them so that the points he made up to gain the Green Jersey could easily be erased, but he would still be the winner.

But does that really count? Some could say it doesn’t. What’s more important, to have the Green Jersey, or to be the fastest man on earth? So far, including the 15 he got by filing a complaint, Hushovd now has 30 points over his competitor. And that means exactly 15 points more than he gained with the formal action.

At 44.7 km to go, Hushovd is still ahead by 55 seconds of the chase group that includes Pellizotti, Van Den, Kern, Casar, Rolland, Txurruka, Chavanel, Gerdemann. Verdugo Menchov, Bruseghin, Monfort, Arrieta, Uran, Pauriol, Lequatre, Van den Broeck, Martiniz, Hincapie, Barredo, and Voeckler,

But the peleton is gaining quickly at 2 minutes and 39 seconds behind the lead. The last climb is about to be breached at the Col de Romme, 8.9 km long with an 8.9 percent grade. You can be sure it will be very fast both in the ascent and the descent. The rain has ended, but the roads are still wet. Several crashes have taken place, none too grave.

In the peleton, Saxo Bank the team of the Schleck brothers is at the front forcing the pace before the last ascent. We can be sure of an attack on the last climb.

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