I've been sort of busy these last couple of days, and haven't had a chance to do as thorough updating as usual on this year's Tour de France. Today's stage 8 was a first glimpse of what the mountains might be like--it started with four category 3 climbs, and ended with a category 2 climb. Unfortunately for the Discovery Channel team, the final climb was a bit disappointing. Lance had to go it alone, as the rest of his team was either too tired or just not paying attention to what was going on, and got dropped on the climb. Hopefully, they'll figure out what went wrong today, fix it tomorrow, and get some good rest on Monday, which is the rest day.
Other notes of interest today include:
-Pieter Weening was able to win the stage by an insanely small margin over Andreas Kloden: 0.0002 seconds. A photo finish and computer timing chips on each bike had to be used to determind who won the stage. What is nice about Weening's win is that he was one of the ones who started an early breakaway in today's stage, and for the first time in this TdF, one of the people in the initial breakaway actually captured the stage.
-On a bit of a sad note, David Zabriskie really struggled today, finishing in last place, 51 minutes and 12 seconds behind Weening. This time was within 1 minute of the time he needed to finish by or else be forced to retire/withdrawal. It's obvious that his ribs, injured in the crash during the team time trial and aggravated in one of the stage 6 crashes, are really bothering him. Let's face it, when you have injured ribs, it's hard to breathe as deeply as you need to, and that just saps your energy and ability to do endurance racing. I expect that he'll probably drop out soon (I actually have my doubts as to if he'll even start on Sunday's stage 9). As it stands now, he is 179th out of 180, 1 hour, 1 minute, and 13 seconds behind Lance.
-After today's stage (and the disappearance of most of the Discovery Channel team in the last climb), the top 5 in the GC is a bit different than it's been in the past. Results from the last 2 stages and the GC as of the end of stage 8 are below.
Top 3 Finishers in Stage 7
1. Robbie Mc Ewen (AUS), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:46:00
2. Magnus Backstedt (SWE), Liquigas-Bianchi, +00:00
3. Bernhard Eisel (AUT), Francaise Des Jeux, +00:00
Top 3 Finishers in Stage 8
1. Pieter Weening (NED), Rabobank, 5:03:54
2. Andreas Kloden (GER), T-Mobile, +00:00
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears-Caisse D'Epargne, +00:27
General Classification Top 5 After Stage 8
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 28:06:17
2. Jens Voigt (GER), CSC, +01:00
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, +01:02
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, +01:07
5. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +01:26