Le Tour Diary | Stage 19 – And Then There Were Three

by CyclingTips


We were expecting fireworks yesterday and what we got was a nuclear explosion! I’ve never seen anything like the spectacle of the crowds up on Alpe d’Huez. I was torn between taking photos, watching the race, and getting into the thick of it with the Dutch.

It was only a 109.5km stage but there was action right from the beginning. A combination of time running out for the GC contenders and being a short stage made it one of the most exciting races I’ve seen in a long time. From the top of Alpe d’Huez you could hear the roar of the crowds from kilometers down the mountain as the riders approached.

I’m off to watch the final time trial in Grenoble now. There won’t be fireworks – just the race of truth against the final three: Frank, Andy and Cadel. The Schlecks didn’t race the Dauphiné time trial (which is exactly the same as today’s course), so it’s difficult to make any comparisons. Cadel is known to be the better time trialist, but not as much as many people think. In the 2009 Annecy time trial which was 40km, Cadel beat Andy by only 31 seconds. However, Cadel knows what it’s like to lose the Tour after coming so close so many times, and will bury himself deeper than he ever has before. This could be reminiscent of the LeMond and Hinault showdown in 1986.

In a few hours we will know who will be crowned the winner of the 2011 Tour de France.

Dutch Corner

Alpe d’Huez is also known to many as the Dutch Mountain. The Dutch have had much success on the Alpe having won 8 of the first 14 finishes. Since the Dutch have no mountains, they’ve adopted Alpe d’Huez as their own.

On corner number 7 of Alpe d’Huez you’ll find thousands of Dutch cycling fans and party animals camped out on the side of the road. They come many days before the Tour (I’ve been told that some come 2 weeks before) and camp out across from the church. From what I understand, it all started back in the 60’s where a Dutch preist named Father Reuten helped build the church was also a mad cycling fan. He would be out there cheering on the riders and attracted many of the Dutch to do the same.

I’d welcome it if anyone could add to the history of Dutch corner. Trying to carry on this conversation and dig a little deeper with a bunch of drunk Dutchmen last night about this wasn’t overly productive…

Photos

courtesy of Veeral Patel, Mike Hone and myself

Stage 19 Profile

Stage 19 Results

1 ROLLAND, Pierre (EUROPCAR) 3h 13′ 25″
2 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, Samuel (EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI) + 00′ 14″
3 CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (SAXO BANK SUNGARD) + 00′ 23″
4 VELITS, Peter (HTC-HIGHROAD) + 00′ 57″
5 EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING)
6 DE GENDT, Thomas (VACANSOLEIL-DCM)
7 CUNEGO, Damiano (LAMPRE – ISD)
8 SCHLECK, Frank (LEOPARD-TREK)
9 SCHLECK, Andy (LEOPARD-TREK)
10 HESJEDAL, Ryder (GARMIN-CERVELO) + 01′ 15″
11 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN-CERVELO)
12 PERAUD, Jean-Christophe (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 01′ 27″
13 DUPONT, Hubert (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 02′ 06″
14 TAARAMAE, Rein (COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE)
15 BASSO, Ivan (LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE)
16 LEIPHEIMER, Levi (RADIOSHACK)
17 COPPEL, Jerome (SAUR – SOJASUN) + 02′ 31″
18 DE WEERT, Kevin (QUICKSTEP) + 02′ 46″
19 VANDEVELDE, Christian (GARMIN-CERVELO) + 03′ 22″
20 VOECKLER, Thomas (EUROPCAR)

General Classification after Stage 19

1 SCHLECK, Andy (LEOPARD-TREK) 82h 48′ 43″
2 SCHLECK, Frank (LEOPARD-TREK) + 00′ 53″
3 EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING) + 00′ 57″
4 VOECKLER, Thomas (EUROPCAR) + 02′ 10″
5 CUNEGO, Damiano (LAMPRE – ISD) + 03′ 31″
6 CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (SAXO BANK SUNGARD) + 03′ 55″
7 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, Samuel (EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI) + 04′ 22″
8 BASSO, Ivan (LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE) + 04′ 40″
9 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN-CERVELO) + 07′ 11″
10 ROLLAND, Pierre (EUROPCAR) + 08′ 57″

Alpe d’Huez Times
via www.inring.com

Compare with other times here and on Strava.

Stage 20 Preview

Editors' Picks