Gonchar Wins Stage 19 Time Trial; Landis Takes Yellow Jersey
Sergei Gonchar (T-Mobile) has made a clean sweep of the 2006 Tour?s long time trials.
Sergei Gonchar (T-Mobile) has made a clean sweep of the 2006 Tour?s long time trials. Gonchar, who won the Stage 7 race of truth, took Stage 19, a rolling, 57-km time trial from Le Creusot to Montceau les Mines, in 1:07:45. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) took second at 0:41, and Floyd Landis (Phonak) finished third at 1:11. Landis catapulted from third to first overall and is poised to win the Tour when it concludes tomorrow in Paris.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Bert Grabsch (Phonak) set the early standard. The German rode the course in 1:11:28, but Vyatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery Channel) pipped Grabsch by 0:02. Dave Zabriskie (CSC) posted a 1:11:20 to take the lead, only to see Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) better Zabriskie?s time by 0:17.
These times were child?s play next to Gonchar?s. The Ukrainian demolished Lang?s time. No one would come close to this time, but several riders had things beyond the day?s honor?s to fight for.
The most important of these battles was the one for the yellow jersey. At the beginning of the day, Landis trailed Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d?Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) by 0:30 and 0:18, respectively. Pereiro fought hard, but, as expected, the Spaniard was no match for Landis. He trailed the American by 0:01 at the first checkpoint (16.5 km), 0:57 at the second (34 km), and 1:30 at the third. Pereiro finished the stage 1:29 behind the American.
Sastre was not expected to hold off Landis, but he was expected to remain on the podium. Kloden, however, had the ride of his life. Sastre began the day 2:17 ahead of Kloden overall. The German erased the deficit and ended the day 1:44 ahead of the Spaniard.
Another battle that had an unexpected finish was the one for the white jersey. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) began the day leading Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) by 0:05. Fothen, however, had a reputation as a stronger time trialist than Cunego and was expected to make good the deficit. Cunego, however, rode the best time trial of his career and finished 0:31 ahead of Fothen to pad his lead in the best young rider competition.
In the overall, Landis leads Pereiro by 0:59 and Kloden by 1:29. Stage 20, a 154.5-km ride from Sceaux/Antony to the Champs-Elysees, will begin as a procession for Landis and will end as a field sprint. Who will win it? Robbie McEwen (Davitamon), who has an insurmountable lead in the points competition? Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)? Jimmy Casper (Cofidis)? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!