Route: Montpellier - Castres
Riders remaining: 168
Distance: 178.5 km
- Côte de Cantagal 1.6 km; 4.3%; 4 category
- Côte du Mas-Rouet 2.4 km; 4.3%; 4 category
- Col du Buis 2.6 km; 4.8%; 4 category
- Montée de la Jeante 10.4 km; 6.1%; 2 category
Today had a little something for everyone, a few inclines to prepare the climbers’ legs for the Pyrenees, two intermediate sprints for the fast men, and several crashes early in the day that eliminated Alberto Ongarato of Team Milram and Stef Clement of Team Bouygues Telecom. A number of early attacks were reeled in quickly by the peloton, until about 50 km of racing had been completed. At that point, the group backed off chasing escapees and allowed Pierrick Fedrigo of Team Bouygues Telecom and Amets Txurruka of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi to move ahead, eventually building a gap of over ten minutes. Sadly, their advantage was eaten away within sight of the finish, making way for the top contenders in the sprint competition to make their run to the line. As is usual these days, Tom Boonen took the stage, with Erik Zabel just inches behind.
Yet, the bigger news from Stage 12 had less to do with the race results and more to do with the ongoing story of cycling as a “dirty sport.” It was reported that German television had decided to cancel their coverage of the Tour de France due to the “non-negative” doping result of Team T-Mobile rider, Patrik Sinkewitz. Even though the doping test was conducted outside of competition in June and even though Mr. Sinkewitz is no longer in the Tour de France due to injuries suffered in a crash after Stage 8, the German broadcast officials terminated their reporting.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Danish Cycling Union announced that it would cut Michael Rasmussen of Team Rabobank (and the current yellow jersey holder in the Tour de France) from the Danish national team, effectively eliminating him from competition in the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Their reason/accusation: Mr. Rasmussen failed to account for his whereabouts during training and, in doing so, made himself unavailable for random out-of-competition drug testing. It is my understanding that under the current doping regulations, if a rider misses three random drug tests in 18 months, he has committed an infraction equal to one positive drug test and will suffer the standard consequences of a financial fine and a two-year suspension. Suffice it to say, this situation will take months to resolve.
Team Discovery Channel status
No breaking news to report from the Discovery Channel camp. Yaroslav Popovych had another great day, accumulating more points in the King of the Mountains competition. With the Pyrenees looming and being only twelve points off the lead in the climbing contest, Mr. Popovych still has a shot at winning the polka-dot jersey by the time the race arrives in Paris. With some exceptional riding in the next mountain range, the entire team is poised for serious contention in every competition, the sprint contest excepted. Wouldn’t it be great if Team Discovery Channel walked away with the overall lead, the best young rider award, the King of the Mountains, and the team title? That would be a coup d’etat. I am praying for that!
Race Withdrawals Stage 12
- Alberto Ongarato (Italy)
- Stef Clement (Netherlands)
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.