ALBI, France -- When they sit down late on Saturday afternoon for the ritual they call the "apero" -- meaning nibbles and alcoholic drinks -- the French still wont know who is going to win their beloved Tour de France this year. But they might have a much clearer idea of who wont win it. Riders who dont have the legs to carry them to victory in Paris, who have been bluffing and pretending to be strong in the first third of the 3,404-kilometre Tour, could be cruelly exposed on Saturday when the race sharply gains altitude in the Pyrenees mountains where France and Spain meet. Although the two climbs on the menu arent the most brutal of this 100th Tour, theyre still tough enough to make all but the strongest riders struggle. Just how decisive the ascents prove will depend on how aggressive, ambitious and confident the strongest climbers are feeling. If they want to test overall race favourites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, or if those two want to test each other, then Stage 8 offers the first real opportunity for them to do so. "It depends if people want to hold their cards close to their chests or if they want to come out swinging," said American rider Tejay van Garderen. "I expect for them to come out swinging, so there should probably be some big gaps." Almost certainly, Daryl Impeys second day in the race leaders yellow jersey on Saturday will be his last, at least this year. The first South African to wear that prized shirt doesnt have the uphill bursts of speed to stay with Froome, Contador and other contenders for overall victory should they go at each other like hammer and tongs up to the Col de Pailheres, immediately followed by a slightly less arduous ascent to the Ax 3 Domaines ski station. Impey is convinced Froome will be wearing yellow in Paris on July 21. "The climbing ability hes shown, hes definitely nearly in a league of his own. Hes obviously a different climber to Contador, but I think Chris is going to be hard to beat." On a stage that, with the mountains looming, felt like the calm before a storm, Peter Sagan from Slovakia won the finishing sprint Friday in Albi, an enchanting medieval city on the banks of the Tarn river, dominated by its 13th century fortified brick-built Sainte-Cecile Cathedral and listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO. Impey rode strongly to stay in Sagans bunch and keep the race lead he inherited from teammate Simon Gerrans on Thursday. Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria was tied for 13th overall, 22 seconds off the lead, after finishing the stage in the front pack. Quebec Citys David Veilleux is in 139th overall, 40:26 off the pace, and Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., was 55:26 behind in 178th. Sagan is running away with the Tours chase for the green jersey, awarded to the rider who collects most points from sprints at the end of stages and during them. He won that jersey last year, too. Sagan is known both for his speed and versatility as a rider and an impish sense of humour. He embarrassed himself and quickly apologized earlier this year for pinching the bottom of a podium hostess at the Tour of Flanders, grinning cheekily as he squeezed. He has been all business since the Tour set off from Corsica on June 29. Since he was bloodied in a crash on the first day, Sagan has never finished lower than third in a stage (not including the team time trial on Stage 4) -- with three second places, one third place and now a win on Stage 7. It took the pack up four moderate climbs on a 205.5-kilometre slog in intense heat from Montpellier. Assuming Impey surrenders the race lead on Saturday, the 2012 Tour will get its fifth different wearer of the yellow jersey. The record at a single Tour is eight, which happened in both 1958 and 1987. The 15.3-kilometre long climb to Pailheres, topping out at an altitude of 2,001 metres is tougher than the shorter ascent to Axe. But that last climb might be more decisive because it comes at the very end of the stage, meaning it could turn into an uphill sprint finish. "Well know who has already lost the Tour and the contenders for victory," said Alain Gallopin, a director on the RadioShack-Leopard team. "Therell be no more secrets, no bluff." RadioShack-Leopards main contender for overall victory, 2010 winner Andy Schleck, on Friday lamented the teams decision to cut ties with his brother Frank -- the third-place finisher in 2011 who is absent from this Tour because he is completing a one-year ban for testing positive for a diuretic at last years race. "Im sad and disappointed, and if I tell you what I honestly think they might use it against me and fire me as well," Andy Schleck said. The three-week Tour has now lost 10 of its original 198 starters, with another three dropping out Friday. They included veteran American rider Christian Vande Velde. Riding with back pain and a blood clot in a neck muscle from a crash on Wednesdays Stage 5, the 37-year-old tumbled again, on a bridge. "I was on top and underneath a lot of people," he said. "I wont be back next year. This was my last Grand Tour. Its not a great way to go." The Garmin-Sharp rider last year testified to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he took banned performance-enhancers when he rode with Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team. This Tour is the first since Armstrong was last year stripped of his seven Tour titles from 1999-2005 for serial doping. Youth Lakers Jerseys . - Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is not a fan of his teams use of the wildcat formation, saying "it makes you look like a high school offence. Discount Lakers Jerseys . 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Vettel, who has already clinched his fourth straight F1 title, enters the finale with a chance to equal Michael Schumachers 13 victories in a year and match the record of nine consecutive wins by Alberto Ascari in the 1952 and 1953 seasons.Henrik Stenson believes he’s still in the mix for Arnold Palmer Invitational victory after an impressive finish to his third round at Bay Hill. The 39-year-old looked set to fall three shots off the pace when his approach to the 18th plugged in a greenside bunker, but he produced a superb recovery and holed from eight feet to save par and match leader Jason Days 70.Stenson sits on 13 under alongside Americans Troy Merritt and Kevin Chappell and feels hes in a strong position to win the title for the first time. Speaking about saving par on the 18th, Stenson added: Thats going to make the dinner taste a little bit better and keeps us in contention obviously a bit more for tomorrow. Stenson saved par at the last to stay in a tie for second It was pretty deeply plugged and I had to be very gentle and try to pop it out of the bunker and then I knew it was going to feed down to the hole and it came out just perfect.You cant be more aggressive because youve got water on the other side so, if anything, youve got to almost leave it in the bunker if it doesnt come out right.Stenson has finished second, fifth and eighth in the last three years at Bay Hill and felt he had one hand on the trophy 12 months ago before failing to convert a two-shot lead after 54 holes. Stenson has finished inside the top-10 in his last three visits to Bay Hill I dont think I did too many bad things (in the final round) last year, Stenson said. We got put on the clock on 15 and I felt like I rushed myself on the routine and three-putted that one and that kind of threw me off my rhythm a little bit.Other than that, when youre in contention youve got to go out and play a solid round of golf. I played all right last year but I didnt get itt finished.ddddddddddddopefully were in a different position now. We need to come from behind and play a really good round tomorrow if we want to have a shot at it. Day takes a two-shot lead in to the final round Day recovered from a slow start to hold on to his overnight advantage, keeping the world No 3 on course to become the tournaments fourth wire-to-wire winner. The PGA Champion, searching for an eighth PGA Tour title, bounced back from an early blemish at the second to card two birdies on the front nine and also from finding the water on the 11th to pick up a shot at the 16th. Im very pleased, the US PGA champion told Sky Sports. It was a tough old day. We had a lot of rain out there and at times it was pretty heavy.The wind was swirling around, it was everywhere today and the temperature changed which cost me some strokes here and there but for the most part Im really pleased. Day is looking for a first win of 2016 On a course like this, especially today, it was very hard to make birdies. It was very easy to shoot yourself back to the field and I felt like I did a good job of staying out in front, being as patient as possible and trying to take the birdies when I could.Im not sure what the weather is going to bring us tomorrow. I think its very similar but if it is I have another day of just trying to grind it out being as patient as possible.Watch the Arnold Palmer Invitational live on Sunday on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf Also See: Day holds on to top spot Bay Hill leaderboard Second round highlights Golf live on Sky Sports 4 ' ' '
jj009, 20.06.2019 11:03