Blazin' Saddles

  • Red hot PhilGil

    Three days into the Vuelta and Philippe Gilbert is the first
    convincing tenant of the new red leader's jersey after his swashbuckling ride in
    Malaga.

    The Belgian bust a ball-breaking move which culminated in a
    worthy win on the Costa del Sol and thrust the 28-year-old onto the top of the
    GC at the expense of heat-pummelled Brit Mark Cavendish.

    Cav was in red from the first evening of the race after
    leading his team-mates over the line as Columbia-HTC won the opening team time
    trial in Seville
    on Saturday.

    With the last three grand tours - starting with last year's
    Vuelta - kicking off in

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  • Vino killed the RadioShack star

    So ends the second coming of the Tour de France's most successful rider: shafted by bad luck, old age and the Astana team of Alexandre Vinokourov.

    How can Saddles find humour in the fall of one of the sport's all time Titans? What can he say to console all those pained fans who took exception to BS's prediction that Lance would struggle not only to make the top 10 but to make it to Paris at all?

    Only last week, one reader sent Saddles a tweet with the sarcastic rhetorical question: "It's fashionable to write off Armstrong, isn't it?" To which, Saddles replied: "Not so much fashionable as

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  • Don’t mess with Zoncolan

    Two men with two differing styles but with the same trainer fought teeth and nail up the unforgiving Zoncolan - and while Ivan Basso emerged victorious on Sunday, his rival Cadel Evans pulled off a gutsy second place to limit his losses.

    Watching Basso and Evans play cat and mouse up the 10km climb (with an average gradient of almost 12 per cent including some horrific 20 per cent segments) was in a way like witnessing a battle between a 'have' and a 'have not'.

    Basso was at his imperious best en route to winning his first stage on the Giro since his overall win in 2006 - but the way in which

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  • 2010 Tour de France awards

    On July 3, 197 riders set off on a 3,642-kilometre journey from Rotterdam to Paris, via a couple of mountain ranges, some slippery slopes, a few sections of cobbles and a lot of stunning scenery. Over the three weeks, here's what really stood out.

    Best move of the Tour: Andy Schleck's attack on his way to winning at Avoriaz was the only time Alberto Contador was properly distanced in the entire race. But the prize goes to Sylvan Chavanel and Jerome Pineau's combined QuickStep pincer attack on the way to Les Rousses - a move which saw Chavanel take the stage and the yellow jersey, and Pineau

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  • Schleck plots ultimate revenge

    It had to happen, didn't it? Andy Schleck is primed to lose the Tour by the same 39 seconds so cruelly snatched from him by Alberto Contador after last week's infamous 'chaingate' scandal.

    The amusing twist of fate makes a mockery of Contador's claim last Monday that: "I don't believe that 30 seconds at this point in the race is going to decide whether or not you win the Tour de France."

    Well, looks like Alberto overestimated his ability to humble his rival in Saturday's race against the clock, doesn't it? Although if you believe the conspiracy theorists, the whole ITT - like the

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  • Cav in Cruise control

    It was a Diaz to remember as Mark Cavendish proved there's life without Mark Renshaw with an emphatic victory in Bordeaux amongst some of Hollywood's leading film stars.

    Yes, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were inexplicably part of the entourage as the remaining riders eased their way through the flat Landes region and into the swanky boho riverside town of Bordeaux on Friday. (Poor President Sarkozy - the showbiz president sure did choose the wrong day to visit the Tour...).

    Some climatologists had predicted rain, man, while others had said there would be days of thunder, but in the end the

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  • The Nose of Marmande Part II

    It was a case of deja vu for the Tour on Tuesday as Pierrick Fedrigo smelled victory in the Pyrenees yet again after edging out compatriot Sandy Casar by a nose and a half in Pau.

    Last year in Tarbes, Blazin' Saddles threw a big snout out to the Frenchman, nicknamed Le Nez de Marmande due to his quite simply stupendous schnoz, after he crossed the Col d'Aspin and the Col de Tourmalet on his way to a famous second victory on the Tour.

    Well, 12 months on and Fedrigo repeated this feat, crossing the same two legendary beaks - sorry, peaks - as well as the Col d'Aubisque and the Col de Peyresourde

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  • Andy’s poker face

    There were four races being played out on the final ascent to Ax-3 Domaines on Sunday: one between breakaway winner Christophe Riblon and himself, a second between the two best riders vying for yellow, a third between Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez for the final podium position, and a fourth between the rest of the top eight.

    Although it was momentarily rather extraordinary to see Menchov, the Silent Assassin, leave his magnum at home and come out to play with a blunderbuss for a change, the most captivating duel was that between Contador and Schleck - ironically enough, precisely because of

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  • Vino, Vidi, Vici – finally

    When Saddles found out that Alexandre Vinokourov won stage 13 of the Tour he thought he was dreaming. It was as if someone - a rather magnanimous Joachim Rodriguez, perhaps - had turned back the clocks 24 hours and let the Astana road captain win on the Mende airstrip after all.

    You see, Saddles has been out of action celebrating the marriage of his sister Traceycle down in the shires. It's the first time he's missed a stage of the Tour since he graduated from stabilisers all those years back.

    The festivities over and the hangover already beginning to set in, Saddles sloped off to bed and

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  • De Cock fighting for Contador

    What, two savaged and bloodied roosters from the Caribbean squaring off to the death in the name of Spain's twice Tour de France champion? Sounds like Hispanic reality TV gone bad.

    The truth behind the headline is a little more prosaic, but nonetheless still worthy of a few blog inches. Ever since Alberto Contador announced he would see out the last year of his contract at Astana the Spaniard's signature has been the centre of much speculation.

    Earlier this month, QuickStep's chief sponsor, the guffawingly named Frans de Cock, stressed that "Contador will be here next year".

    Of course, De Cock

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