Riders remaining: 141
Distance: 211 km
- Côte de Salvezou 1.3 kn; 6.5%; 4 category
- Côte de Lavercantière 1.2 km; 5.9%; 4 category
- Côte de Saint-Martial-de-Nabirat 1.5 km; 4.3%; 4 category
- Côte de Saint-Cyprien 2.8 km; 4.9%; 4 category
What a day for redemption! Sandy Casar of Team Francaise de Jeux saved the day for the Tour and for the fans. After being involved in a crash with an unleashed dog and his fellow competitor, Frederik Willems of Team Liquigas, the injured Casar rode to his first ever Tour de France victory. As part of an escape group that went ahead of the peloton at around the 17 km mark, Mr. Casar rode almost 195 km with four other men, every one of them hoping for a stage win: Michael Boogerd of Team Rabobank, Axel Merckx for Team T-Mobile, and Laurent Lefevre of Team Bouygous Telecom. In the end, the day belonged to a Frenchman, but Casar made certain he thanked his comrades for the gentlemanly behavior they demonstrated in slowing up and waiting for him after that little mix-up with the canine.
The crash was quite a sight to see. Sandy Casar must have gone down at a fairly high rate of speed since he slid a bit when he hit the deck. Mr. Willems did the same. The dog, rest assured, was unhurt and appeared to be collected by its owner shortly after the incident. For video of the mishap, visit this page on the Versus Channel, jump to Stage 18, and click on “Casar Crash With Dog.” This is what the cyclist shared with Yahoo! Sports about the episode:
I had a disaster early on, with the fall caused by a dog. At that moment I thought it was finished. I really fell heavily, my bike was broken, my shoulder hurt. But everybody supported me, both in medical cars and the public.This is what he had to say about the stage win:
At the end, when I saw the others coming back, I thought I had blown it. But as I was in front, I had to stay there. I said to myself if you’re going to lose, lose by attacking. I didn’t want to wait for the others attack, as that’s what happened in Marseille where I was beaten. This is the victory I have been waiting for.Congratulations, Mr. Casar for a well-deserved win!
Team Discovery Channel status
Team Discovery Channel was, once again, at the front of the peloton, setting the pace as is customary for the mates of the yellow jersey. Again, the guys looked great and rode smart. Alberto Contador had a bit of trouble at the end when an unexpected acceleration at the line ate three seconds out of his lead over Cadel Evans. Phil Liggett mentioned that allowing even that tiny advantage was a sign of inexperience. Probably so. I might chalk it up to exhaustion after three weeks of racing. However, I will defer to Mr. Liggett on the matter, as he definitely knows more than I about the Tour de France and bicycle racing (among other things).
Looking ahead, my hope for the individual time trial is that Levi Leipheimer can put in the ride of his life and take the yellow jersey off the back of his teammate. I know it isn’t seemly per team moral and all, but I would like the captain of Team Discovery Channel to win the Tour. It would be the crowning achievement to a year that, for him, has already yielded three time trial victories and the championship of the Tour of California. If he can’t (or doesn’t) win the top prize in France, I suppose a podium finish would the next best thing. Once thing is certain, whatever placing Mr. Leipheimer achieves, I am sure he will accomplish it with great class and professionalism, as always.
General Classification standings of individual Discovery Channel riders:
- Alberto Contador 1st place
- Levi Leipheimer 3rd place
- Yaroslav Popovych 8th place
- George Hincapie 24th place
- Valdimir Gusev 38th place
- Egoi Martinez 61st place
- Sergio Paulinho 66th place
- Benjamin Noval 115th place
Clearly, half the team is in the top thirty overall, with a quarter of the team in the top three. See why I love to watch these guys race?
Race Withdrawals Stage 18