Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Day for Fireworks at the Tour de France

There should be some real fireworks today and through the end of the Tour after the events of yesterday on stage 14 which kept Noncentini in the yellow jersey, for the eight day, by 5 seconds over George Hincapie.

Hincapie, in 14th Tour de France, had been the virtual yellow jersey for most of the 199 Km stage and appeared to have a lead large enough to take the yellow jersey. However, teams Astana (Hincapie was a teammate of Armstrong's in all of his 7 TdF victories) and Garmin-Slipstream did the pacemaking at the front of the peloton to reel back the breakaway in which Hincapie was in. Silence-Lotto was also in the front for a period. To worsen matters Hincapie's own team took some seconds away from him as Columbia-HTC sprinted to the finish line to get Cavendish sprint points.

The result was that Hincapie was out of the yellow jersey by 5 seconds. After the stage, he was too disappointed to speak to reporters. Instead, he called his brother Rich Hincapie to share his frustration.

“He’s certainly super-upset because I think we all saw what went down,” said Rich Hincapie. “I think he’s just kind of hurt over the whole thing because the situation didn’t make any sense.
Anyone involved in pulling back the break, besides AG2R, shouldn’t have been there,” Rich Hincapie said, referring to AG2R La Mondiale, the team defending Rinaldo Nocentini’s overall lead.

Hincapie, who is not in contention for the overall victory because climbing is not his forte, has close friends on Astana and Garmin-Slipstream and those friends knew what wearing the yellow jersey — even for a day — would mean to him, Rich Hincapie said.

The beneficiary of all this was Nocentini who put on his 8th yellow jersey. "It was normal for my team not to work at the beginning. With 25 k's to go, it was a difficult moment; the peloton stopped chasing, but then Columbia started helping out. I don’t know why, but they certainly helped a lot. I also don’t know why the Garmin team helped out; we didn’t speak with them at all. But three riders [from the Garmin team] came up to help in the last 10, 15 kilometres, and that certainly helped out and worked for us."

Top GC after stage 14:
1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R
La Mondiale 58:13:52
2 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC 0:00:05
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
5 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux 0:00:43
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:00:46
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC 0:01:00
9 Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:24
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49

Photo: Nocentini's reaction after realizing he would keep the yellow jersey for another day

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