Tour de France 2012 - The Drama Continues
The Tour de France hasn't been exciting from a sporting standpoint, but we still have drama.
It was getting late in the afternoon here States-side and all seemed quiet at the Tour de France for the second rest day. I was reading about teams doing short training rides and press conferences - the usual. Then Twitter blew up with reports that RadioShack-Nissan's Frank Schleck had an adverse analytical finding in his A sample on July 14th - that's fancy talk for, "he got popped for a specific drug - Xipamide."
Schleck went to the police station to give a statement on how Xipamide, a diuretic, got into his urine. The result was Schleck wisely left the Tour, although according to the UCI's own rules, he could have stayed until his B sample was also analyzed. But it has been very rare that a B sample test result is different than the A sample test result. Regardless, it was best that Schleck left the Tour as his presence would have been a huge distraction to both the team and the race.
Stage 16 was the Queen stage of this year's Tour de France. The day's ride contained two hors category and two category one climbs. And yes we had the breakaway. And because none of the escapees were a threat to the G.C. they were allowed to go.
As the break chugged over the cols it appeared that Cadel Evans was not having a good day. On the Aspin the Australian was dropped. He was dragged back to the yellow jersey group, but with the climb of the Peyresourde remaining it didn't look good for the Australian.
Sure enough on the Peyresourde, Evans was dropped for good. But ahead the break had been reduced to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) riding solo to the finish line for his second Tour stage win. Just a reminder, Voeckler was complaining of a knee injury prior to the start of the Tour and now he had notched this second stage win. Not only did he get the podium but the Frenchman had accumulated enough King of the Mountain points to take over the mountain jersey.
While France went crazy over Voeckler, Evans trailed in behind Wiggins' group - almost five minutes back. His Tour de France dreams were over.
Stage 17 was the last stand for Vincenzo Nibali and his Liquigas-Cannondale team. The stage was a grab bag of category climbs. The stage started with a category 1 climb (Col de Mente), followed by a category 2 (Col de Ares), then category 3 climb (Cote de Burs). The second half of the stage was a hors category (Port de Bales) climb and then finishing on the category 1 Peyragudes climb.
Another strong solo ride resulted in a stage win. Movistar's Alejandro Valverde escaped from his breakaway and beat second place finisher Froome and Wiggins by 19 seconds.
Honestly a Valverde victory doesn't do anything for me. DNA-testing linked Valverde to the infamous Operation Puerto police investigation. As a result he was suspended for two years starting from 2010 - 2012 was his return back.
I don't have a problem with riders returning after a