At 12:57 10/07/2005, Joost Dantuma wrote:

excellent excel and commentary fella!

Thanks Joost. I’ve been relaxing at home on holiday this week so have time to do it. Will try to keep up.

– Update stage 8 –
The official site updated some time today, thankfully the results I announced yesterday are correct. Worthy of note is that Francis Lee’s 41 points made him 7th overall in that stage so it really was fine stuff in that pipe. Clearly a number of people favour both leaders in the general classification and sprinters, so stages with few big guns in the top ten can cause interesting low scoring results. Yours truly even made joint 20th place with 39.

– Stage 9 –
On to today’s action, here are the standings (provisional) :

180(+15) Simon White (France)
168(+14) Joost Dantuma (UK)
148(+11) Paul Evans (France)
116(+14) Francis Lee (France)
52 (+0) Keir Mitchell (UK)

A brave Rasmussen went for it after 5km and stayed out there all day, coming in 6’04” in front of the peloton. Could he be the climber of the tour that we should all have picked, and Virenque’s successor? A following group seven or eight riders strong couldn’t keep up with him, but two survivors Voigt and Moreau kept pedalling and managed to chase in second and third, at 3’04” behind Rasmussen and 3′ ahead of the peloton. The rest of the following group were pulled nearer and nearer to the chasing peloton. Cofidis realised that O’Grady was still in the bunch and that valuable green jersey points were still available, so they guided him home to a sprint for fourth. I was jumping up and down in my chair (well, not quite) because O’Grady is fourth in my team, until I noticed that Franco also had him fourth, and Joost Dantuma had him in second, and we’d all be on 14 points.

However… O’Grady was not the only rider in the top ten to figure in a team somewhere. My random pick Frenchman Jérôme Pineau, in 15th place in my team, pulled in ninth and got me a point to take it by a tyre. The good news for other riders on the Fella’s tour is that I was rather relying on Kirsipuu to do something (7th in my team), and he abandoned today. Other notable abandonment today, although he’s in no team on the Fella’s tour, was Zabriskie the initial yellow jersey holder…

All in all, a quiet day in terms of the Fella’s tour. Franco is at a pace which may be sufficient to pull back, especially with less reliance on sprint in the top and middle order of his team as Joost correctly noted. He’ll be needing some of the names of previous tours (Basso, Mayo, Botero, Leipheimer, Armstrong…) to start getting top ten places. He’ll have to time his pushes though, all other teams include combinations of some of these riders, bar Keir Mitchell’s flatlining bunch. If you watch carefully though, I think Keir will wake up from time to time and get a few points here and there.

Rest day tomorrow. Then the alps where the men will really be sorted from the boys and Lance Armstrong may have to start to do something as Voigt’s chase gave him the yellow jersey today. None of the top riders can be allowed to breakaway from the Discovery Channel team without it inflicting initial damage to Lance Armstrong’s chances of a seventh tour win.