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July 19, Stage 15: Pamiers - Bagneres-de-Luchon 187.5km
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 4:44:51
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:20
3 Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto
4 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:50
54 Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank 0:13:04
"What could have been...."
Cycling. What. A. Hard. Sport. The whole Saxo Bank team works for one rider, Andy Schleck, keeps him out of the wind and sets the pace for him on the climb. Gives him bottles and food and makes sure he's set. His faithful lieutenant, Chris Anker Sorenson paves the way for him on the last climb by setting a pace so fast that only 15 riders are left..... Andy attacks and attacks again and then his chain comes off... 15 seconds lost and a chase for the rest of the stage.... and a lost Yellow jersey...
A solid days work in the mountains for Chris. If you saw the TV coverage you saw Chris setting a tremendous tempo at the front. He was suffering by the look on his face and pushing right at his FTP. 21 minutes right at the front and drilling it for all he was worht. When Nicky Sorenson and Jakob were on the front, there were about 30-40 riders in the front group. After Chris got done riding at the front for 21 minutes at 6.0 w/kg then there were only 12 guys left! That effort set up Andy Schleck for the attack and once Andy went, then only the top 5 riders in the Tour were left.
90 rpm average cadence for that final climb really goes to show how Chris uses his cardiovascular system more than his muscles. He is a small guy and just can't push the big gear and in the mountains today, he spun up the climb with the best of the riders.
Once his job was done at the front, Chris had 18 more minutes of climbing to be done which he did at a casual 270 watts(normalized) which is still 4.2 w/kg. I am sure Chris is very bummed about what happened near the top of the climb and he's probably beating himself up a little bit, since maybe he could have done something if he had been there to help Andy. In reality, there's probably nothing he could have done, since Schleck had attacked when he dropped his chain and Chris would not have been with him when he attacked.
Similar to yesterday in overall Training Stress, he scored 302 TSS today and his normalized power for the entire stage was 299watts with 9200 feet of climbing. A much tougher stage in some ways because of the number of climbs that were on the books for the day and how hard the last climb was. Chris did have a new best 20 minutes power today at 385 watts, which he did in that final climb. Chris has another big day tomorrow and I would suspect that Andy Schleck will be out for blood tomorrow! Should be exciting!