Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Joost out front

Tour stages are just about unbelievably difficult. They're long, fast, and supremely exhausting even for those who keep themselves protected inside the pack (the peloton). The risks are great, crashes frequent. Still, every stage sees at least one do-or-die attack: a group that pushes off the front to try its luck. Early breaks almost always get caught. The chance of staying away to the finish is always very small. Usually, the peloton will permit an escape to develop a lead only if there are no contenders in it.

The riders in the break benefit from publicity since the race cameras give them a lot of attention. This is sometimes a main reason for attacking. Others include establishing a reputation for aggression (in a positive sense), winning sprint bonuses, winning mountain top bonuses, and fantasizing that the break might lead to a stage win.

Joost was part of a major break today. He was one of 11 riders to jump off the front early in the race. The group established a lead of more than 10 minutes at one point. After three hours out in front, some of the group, including Joost, were swallowed up by the peloton. At the time they were struggling up the second mountain of the day, a very steep long climb.

According to race reports, it was an exciting day of racing and the outcome was not one that could have been predicted since it was one of those rare occasions when riders in an early break stay off the front until the very end (just two of them in this case). The two winners are now top-placed in the general classification. Since it's certain they can't recover from today's stage quickly enough to hold their leads, that will certainly change in coming days. Still, it's a marvelous achievement.

Here's the summary on Joost's web site:

My weak English:
Today, with the tenth stage in the tour the riders got their teeth into the first mountain stage. There were three difficult climbs: the col d'Osquich (third category), the col the Soudet (outside category) and the col Marie-Blanque. A group of 15 riders made a break at the 35 km mark. The group included Joost Posthuma, Voigt, Hushovd and Bennati. After 90 km the group with Posthuma had a lead of about 9 minutes on the peloton. On the climb of Soudet the group split. Dessel came up as a first. In the descent Rinero, Landaluze, Isasi, Rinero and Vasseur found the wheel of the leading duo. But not much later reason Dessel and Mercado again took off from the rest of the break group. In the last kilometres Dessel did most of the work and took the mountain points. Mercado hung on and saved himself for the final sprint, which he won. Dessel came in second, but he was higher placed in the overall general classification and is now perhaps a challenger for the yellow jersey. Joost finish 94th and is now placed at 85in in the general classification.

The original Dutch:
Met de tiende etappe in de Tour kregen de renners vandaag de eerste bergetappe voor hun kiezen. De renners kregen drie hellingen te verwerken: de Col d'Osquich (derde categorie), de Col de Soudet (buiten categorie) en de Col de Marie-Blanque. Een groep van 15 renners, onder wie o.a. Joost Posthuma, Voigt, Hushovd en Bennati reden na 35 km weg. Na 90 km had de groep met Posthuma een voorsprong van zo'n 9 minuten op het peloton. Op de Soudet viel de groep uitelkaar. Dessel kwam als eerste boven. In de afdaling vonden Rinero, Landaluze, Isasi, Rinero en Vasseur weer het wiel van het leidende duo. Maar niet veel later reden Dessel en Mercado opnieuw weg van de rest. In de slotkilometers was het vooral Dessel die het meeste werk opknapte. Mercado focuste zich vrij vroeg op de sprint, en met succes. De Spanjaard toonde zich de snelste in de sprint. Dessel werd tweede, maar is wel de nieuwe drager van de gele trui. De derde plaats was weggelegd voor Landaluze. Joost eindigt op een 94e plaats en staat nu op plaats 85 in het algemeen klassement..

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