In a dramatic two-up track style sprint in the grimy industrial bourg of Saint-Étienne, Columbia’s tall, skinny German Marcus Burghardt won Stage 18 ahead of Quick.Step’s Spanish climber Carlos Barredo. On a transitional stage, it was game on for the also rans and big Burghardt, who won Ghent-Wevelghem in 2007 but ran into knee problems. Burghardt had an operation this spring and returned to racing on 1 May at the GP Frankfurt Henniger Turm race. The 25 year old from Zschopau was born in the old DDR and came up in the East German youth cycling system like Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt and Erik Zabel.
Burghardt talked about his first career Tour stage win, the fifth in this Tour for Team Columbia: “It’s amazing because we have had such success already in this team and now I can’t believe it that I have also taken a victory in the Tour de France. The first attack came at kilometer zero and I was in the first group with seven riders that was caught after the first hour of racing. I didn’t give up and attacked again and was pleased to be able to make the selection
Burghardt explained the tactic in the finale that brought him the win, saying “Near the end of the stage, Carlos [Barredo] and I exchanged a few words and he said that he wouldn’t work anymore because he thought that I am faster in the sprint and it turns out that I had better legs in the end.” Often seen pulling on the front during this Tour, big Boogie Burghardt said “It was important that, in the first two weeks that I helped Kim [Kirchen] and Mark [Cavendish] and maybe that was also the reason that we had so much success in the first days. We have a really nice team and a great spirit in our group and I think that’s the key to how we’ve achieved the success we have at this year’s Tour de France. We came here knowing that we could be strong but I’m very happy to have contributed to success in the early stages and to get a win for myself is something I’ll remember for a long time.”photo: Roberto Bettini
Feeling mellow in yellow, CSC-Saxo Bank’s Carlos Sastre was happy with his first day in the Maillot Jaune. “It was a nice day. It’s the first time I’ve worn the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and I spent the day where I want to be: in a race with my team-mates. They controlled the pace very well and there were no problems. I have once worn the leader’s jersey in the Vuelta a Espana and that was a nice time but the Tour de France is special, it’s different. I’m happy. I got a lot of congratulations from the guys in the peloton and it was something that helped make it seem real. No longer is leading the Tour just part of my dreams.”
Sastre spoke of his first day at the office with a promotion, saying “The beginning of the stage was really fast and it was not easy because my legs were a bit heavy after the last couple of days in the mountain but later it was okay. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ll think about the time trial on Saturday. We’ll see the course and I’ll do what I can. All I can do is to be my best. That’s what I have and I’ll try with what I’ve got.”How It Happened
Stage 18th stage of the 2008 Tour de France, a 196.5km journey from Bourg d’Oisans to St-Etienne, began on a warm, sunny lunchtime at 12.28pm with were 150 riders in the race. Argitubel’s Jimmy Casper was eliminated yesterday for finishing outside the time limit on L’Alpe de Huez. Stage 18th featured three climbs: Cat. 3 col de Parmenie after 78km), Cat. 2 Croix de Montvieux after 163km and Cat. 4 cote de Sorbiers after 188km, with two intermediate sprints; in Grenoble after 43km and St-Chamond 181.5km.
It was bang they’re off in Bourg d’Oisans as Burghardt (COL), Pozzato (LIQ), Lang (GST), Bichot (AGR), Schroder (MRM), Auge and Monfort (COF) attacked right away and eventually got 55” after but Quickstep and Bouygues, who had missed the move, chasing the break down. At 28km point in Vizille, Cunego (LAM) crashed hard and five teammates waited for him and by Grenoble he was 7’30” behind. Freddy Bichot took the sprint and in Grenoble and the others were eventually absorbed after 49km on the outskirts of Grenoble, as the average speed for the first hour was the fastest so far this year at the Tour De France, 55.7km/hr! photo Roberto Betttini
After 10km of quiet, Barredo (QST) attacked at after 68km, and two riders set off in pursuit of the Spanish rider. Big Boogie Burghardt and little Romain Feillu (AGR) were chasing and atop the Col de Parmenie, Barredo led Burghardt by 10” and Feillu by 1’30”, with Astarloza (EUS) and Le Mevel (C.A) coming up fast. After 85km, Barredo and Burghardt were 3’ in front of Feillu, Astarloza and Le Mevel with the peloton at 7’45” and the average speed for the second hour had slowed to 41.5km/h.
At 96km, the peloton was 10’20” behind the first break, the maximum lead for the front duo and Caisse d’Epargne been leading but at the 100km. CSC took control. At 133km, the two leaders were ahead of the three chasers by 4’20”, the peloton by 10’20” and Cunego by 23’20”, while the average speed for the third hour was 43.7km/h. As the afternoon shadows lengthend and the temperature hit the high 80’s
Barredo and Burghardt passed over the summit of the Cat.2 Croix de Montvieux, 4’15” ahead of Astarloza’s chase, 10’10” ahead of the CSC-led peloton. In the finale, Barredo and Burghardt played cat and mouse over the last 18km of the run-in, to Saint-Étienne, eventually riding a match sprint style final kilometer, but the big German just had more power than the little Spaniard and took the win from the front. The front duo finished 3’33” ahead of the counter-attackers, 6’39” ahead of another counter-attack with Andy Schleck and Roman Kreuziger, and 6’50” ahead of the peloton. Maillot Jaune Carlos Sastre finished 37th in the stage and will wear the yellow jersey Friday on Stage 19. Cunego and his 4 Lampre teammates finished 20"12" behind Barredo and the 26 year old Veronese was tranasported to a local hospital for a medical check
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Friday 25 July
Stage 19: Roanne-Montluçon: 163km
On this fast, rolling stage from famed gastronomic center Roanne, home of some of the best restaurants in the world, Stage 19 heads across the Allier farmland to Montluçon, where opportunistic riders looking for a stage win will try to get home free, but the rolling trains of the sprinters’ teams will gobble up any escapees before the finish. Time for Oscarito Friere again?