Casual cycling fans can stop watching the Tour de France now

Stick a fork in Lance.

He’s done for what he says will be his final Tour.

On Saturday’s stage of the Tour de France, Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel reclaimed the yellow jersey after an all-day breakaway, just 11 weeks after fracturing his skull during the Liège-Bastogne- Liège classic. Lance Armstrong lost time but moved up to 14th in the General Classification, while Levi Leipheimer broke into the top 20.

One day later, Levi was in the top 10. And Armstrong’s chances of winning were finished, just 8 stages into the Tour.

After several climbs, Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck outsprinted Samuel Sanchez to cross the finish line in first place, just 10 seconds ahead of a group that included Leipheimer, Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre, along with new leader Cadel Evans, aka Cuddles.

Notably missing was Armstrong, following two crashes and just missing a third, which resulted in numerous cuts and a sore hip and back. After gamely trying to catch up with the leaders, he was spent before he hit the last climb — and his chances of contending virtually finished, nearly 12 minutes back in 61st place.

According to RadioShack Team Manager Bruyneel, “It’s the end of Lance’s aspirations to win the Tour. Everything went wrong.”

Or as Lance himself put it on Twitter,

When it rains it pours I guess. Today was not my day needless to say. Quite banged but gonna hang in here and enjoy my last 2 weeks.

So now Levi is the new flag bearer for RadioShack. And Lance is the Tour’s most overqualified domestique.

In other TdF news, Bicycling interviews the man behind the tour, and Bradley Wiggins’ secret weapon is between his legs.

Meanwhile, fallout from Floyd Landis’ accusations against Lance Armstrong continues to spread, as investigators look to talk with more riders, including close Armstrong associates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie.

But despite the bad news, some of us still love it.

………

Even in bike friendly Colorado, a backlash seems to be building against cyclists. And on the heels of the Black Hawk bike ban, a county in rural Missouri considers banning bikes from any two-lane highway without shoulders; Thanks to Jim Lyle for the link.

………

GT gets back on his bike, barely two weeks after suffering a heart attack. The Claremont Cyclist offers a photo tour of the San Gabriel River Trail from the Sante Fe Dam to Seal Beach and back; the upper section looks beautiful, though I could do without the concrete on the lower stretch. The RAAM rider critically injured when he was hit by a distracted driver plans to return to Spain this weekend, despite continued paralysis from the waist down; doctors say he will never recover 100%. A Chicago library on wheels is ordered to stop peddling. A Florida cyclist is killed while chasing after a getaway car carrying thieves who tried to rob his brother. The Wall Street Journal looks at stripped down bikes for rough city rides, and takes a break from covering Landis’ doping allegations to visit the Mecca of bike polo in NYC; thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding the second link. A British group calls London Mayor Boris Johnson’s strategy to increase cycling fundamentally flawed and lacking in ambition; just weeks before his new bike share program kicks off, it faces a new lawsuit. As London removes guard rails, bike parking disappears too. A cyclist says London’s Critical Mass is just a critical mess these days. Thousands of Brits turn out to celebrate cycling. A tabloid style look at staying fit and feminine by biking. A look at how Flying Pigeon — the one in China, not NELA — is leading that country’s cycling comeback. Seven Singapore cyclists have been killed in just the first 5 months of this year. Two Kiwi cyclists are forced off the road and assaulted by a woman driver and her passenger, who drive off with a $12,000 bike.

Finally, proof some things never change. Consider this photo from Norwalk’s 1952 Bicycle Safety Week; thanks to Brent Bigler for the heads-up.

2 comments

  1. danceralamode says:

    I will be really impressed with Lance if he steps up and does his duty by Levi. It sucks that luck just totally raped him yesterday, but I will have a lot of respect for him if he starts to carry his load like the young’uns.

    I was also really impressed with Daniel Navarro of Astana. And I’m rooting for Pineau (sp? cyclist with the red-spotted jersey). I’ve never watched the tour before, but I think I’ve been watching it for 48 straight hours, completely transfixed.

  2. The Trickster says:

    Pfft, Cuddles will own all!

    Antipodean pride right here (They did after all claim Australiasia 1 – Slovakia 1 after our WC draw – dirty Aussies, always stealing our thunder).

    In reality though I can’t see him holding on until Paris.

    Funny thought – how angry must Cadel be to be nicknamed Cuddles – for a particularly angry bloke like him, it must grate just a little.

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