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July 18, Stage 14: Revel - Ax-3 Domaines 184.5km
1 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 4:52:42
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:00:54
3 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:08
45 Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank 0:09:11
The Pyrenees are here!
Chris had plenty of work to do today with the HC climb Port de Pailheres and then the final finish of Aix-3 Domaines as well.
The Port de Pailheres is a beast in and of itself. The lower slopes are still climbing and it's an hour long gradual climb before the real climbing begins. Luckily for Chris these lower slopes weren't too hard and he averaged 282 watts normalized on this lower section, which puts this solidly in his upper endurance training level, which he can handle for hours. When the Pailheres 'proper' climb began, Chris was right at the front with Nicki Sorenson and Jakob Fuglsang setting the pace for the peloton. Chris rode just below his FTP for 50 minutes setting a hard tempo so that only the top climbers would be able to follow. The pace that Chris, Nicki and Jakob set was solid enough that only about 25 riders were in the main field at the top of the climb.
Chris' power for this was 365 watts normalized or 5.7 w/kg for the 49 minutes. Chris has continued his quick cadence even though he has fatigued over the Tour, and he averaged 87 rpm on the climb which is very quick considering that the climb averaged 7.6% for the 9.6 miles.
Once over the Pailheres with Andy Schleck safely in the group and taken care of his job was nearly done. At the base of the Aix-3 Domaines climb, he rode at a very hard tempo again, but this only lasted less than 5 minutes at about 370 watts. That's when the attacks started to come and now it was up to Andy Schleck to follow the moves up the final climb.
None of Chris' personal best power numbers were broken today, but he did match his best 60 minutes normalized power for this years Tour with 358 watts, which he did on Friday in Stage 12. He scored 304 TSS for the day which climbed over 10,350 feet!