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« A Perfect Result | Main | Each Generation has its Ruination »

Who’s watching Sammy?

While all the big named favorites in this year’s Tour de France are watching each other and doing little else it seems; no one is watching Eusketel’s Samuel Sanchez.

Andy and Frank Schleck, Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador, and the French Yelow Jersey wearer Thomas Voeckler are the main players in this year’s Tour, but not any single one of them it appears want to take the initiative and attack. Not yet anyway as we go into the final week of the Tour.

Go all the way back to Stage 6 and Contador, after being caught behind crashes and other misfortunes, was way down in the General Classification (GC) at 34. Behind him at 48 was a young Spanish rider named Samuel Sanchez.

As Contador slowly inched his way up the GC, a few places each day, Alberto’s young countryman also moved up at a slightly faster rate.

Then came Stage 9 a day marred by horrible crashes and a serious breakaway that changed the GC. The stage was won by a different Sanchez, namely Luis Sanchez of the Rabobank Team. This stage also put Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (2nd on the day.) in the Yellow Jersey and Lius Sanchez in second spot in the GC.

That same Stage 9 saw Alberto Contador 16th in the GC, and Samuel Sanchez now not so far behind in 20th position. The two pretty much held these positions until the first real mountain stage, Stage 12; as expected it sorted out the men from the boys, the climbers from the non-climbers.

Thomas Voeckler held onto the Yellow, but 2nd place Luis Sanchez lost over 18 minutes and plunged all the way down to 37th in the GC. Contador as expected moved into the top ten for the first time in 7th place.

Sammy Sanchez ended the day just 11 seconds behind Alberto in the GC in 8th position. He managed this with an impressive stage win; his first in the TDF. Sanchez had been allowed to escape at the bottom of the final climb with Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma – Lotto.) (Picture below.)

While the big names in the GC half heartedly attacked and counter attacked each other, up ahead Sanchez got the better of Vandendert to win the stage. (Above.)

Stage 13 saw a great win by World Champion Thor Hushovd; Sanchez finished at the same time as Contador and the top ten of the GC pretty much remained unchanged.

However, on Stage 14, another serious mountain stage, the exact same two riders who had slipped away on Stage 12, were allowed to go again. First Jelle Vandendert who was not a GC threat was allowed to go on his own.

But what were the GC contenders thinking, or rather not thinking, when the let Samuel Sanchez go off in a lone pursuit of Vandendert?

Sanchez had proved that he could climb and was now in the top ten of the GC. He was closing fast on Vandendert but failed to reach him by the finish, and he took second place. Andy Schleck made a late token attack to take third in the stage. His effort only netted him a scant 2 seconds over Evans.

Sanchez however, scored big; he switched places in the GC with Alberto Contador and is now in 6th place, sitting right between Contador (7th.) and Basso (5th.) 

When racing starts again tomorrow after today’s rest day, it will be interesting to see who is watching Sammy Sanchez?


General Classification after Stage 15
1  VOECKLER, Thomas (EUROPCAR)                                  65h 24' 33"
2  SCHLECK, Frank (LEOPARD-TREK)                                 + 01' 49"
3  EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING)                                         + 02' 06"
4  SCHLECK, Andy (LEOPARD-TREK)                                   + 02' 15"
5  BASSO, Ivan (LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE)                         + 03' 16"
8  CUNEGO, Damiano (LAMPRE - ISD)                                 + 04' 01"
9  DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN-CERVELO)                       + 05' 46"
10 DE WEERT, Kevin (QUICKSTEP)                                      + 06' 18"



Reader Comments (7)

Agree Dave. Sammy looks the most dangerous. Vanendert (love the way everyone seems to struggle with the pronounciation of hs name!) is a great climber but 12 minutes back. Next year he will challenge. His team leader Van Den Broeck crashed out and he is now GC leader for Lotto.
My money is on Evans to win and Basso second with a Schleck third (not sure which one) but Sanchez could take the third place.

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

I agree. Looking forward to seeing what Sanchez will do in the coming week.. What do you mean by young spanish rider? I believe Sammy is 33?

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJAW

Trust me, when you are as old as I am, 33 is young.

July 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I'm with you Dave, SS is the smokey in this year's race.

He's been running a race of centimetres, and any slip-ups at the top will see him capitalise in a flash. I'm not a gambler, but if I were, a few dollars in his direction for podium would be a canny investment.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervia collins


Hehe, I was thinking relatively compared to other riders. But ok :)

I'm betting on Evans no by the way,

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJAW

I believe the favorites aren't racing but rather are waiting for the race to be handed to them on a silver platter. The only one who has borne a leader's mantle has been Voeckler and while I don't envision him holding onto yellow through the end, I would be tickled to see just that. He has shown a lot of heart and has certainly grown into the jersey. If team Leopard Trek refocused on Frank, I would put all my marbles on him for the win but as it stands now, he and LT are racing for Andy. Sunday's podium? Let me close my eyes and throw a dart.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim

CRIKEY CADEL! This must be the sign to end ALL signs! BUT WELL DONE CADEL, Always attacking trying 100% CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN! Contado, what happened? Riding CLEAN IS hard isnt it! Looking forward to the results of your hearing next month.

July 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

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