Tour de France Stage 20: Sastre Holds On
Carlos Sastre was expected to lose some of his advantage to Cadel Evans during the final time trial of the 2008 Tour de France. He had a lead of 1’34” after 19 stages and although he did lose 29 seconds in the race from Cerilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond, he didn’t lose his grip on the overall lead. The CSC team leader will become the seventh Spaniard to win the Tour de France after finishing the 53km 20th stage in 12th place. The stage was won by the same man who claimed the yellow jersey after victory in the Cholet time trial in the first week of the 95th Tour, and while Schumacher deserves all the plaudits he received, the real star of the stage was Carlos Sastre who exceeded the expectation of many to retain his yellow jersey.
The Progress Report
The 20th stage of the 2008 Tour de France began at 11.18am with the riders starting the 53km time trial from Cerilly to St-Amand-Montrond at two-minute intervals. Only the final 20 riders would be separated by three minutes. Rain fell before the stage began but by the time Bernhard Eisel departed, it had stopped and the roads started to dry up. The temperature at the start was 22 degrees Celsius and a light breeze of about 10km/h was blowing from the northwest. There were 145 riders still in the race, with three eliminated after finishing outside the time limit in the 19th stage.
Bernhard Eisel (COL) was the first to start the stage, with riders departing in reverse order of their place in the general classification. He was 42” behind Vansevenant (SIL) after 19 stages but the Belgian finished 1’25” behind Eisel to reclaim his place as the ‘Lanterne Rouge’ of the 95th Tour de France: Vansevenant is now destined to become the first rider in history to finish in last place in three Tours de France (2006, 2007 and 2008).
Vansevenant’s team-mate, Leif Hoste (SIL) posted the fastest times at each intermediate check. The Belgian time trial champion is used by his team to get a gauge of the course and offer advice to his leader Cadel Evans. Hostes times were: 22’28” at 18km, 45’16” at 36km, 1h01’33” at 47.5km and 1h07’40” at the finish.
Danny Pate (TSL) then repeated the antics of Hoste: first at every check before finishing 56” ahead of the Belgian. Cancellara then stormed around the course, becoming the first rider to reach the second check at an average speed in excess of 50km/h. He was 1’03” better than Millar at the 36km mark. By the finish, he’d increased his advantage to 1’16”, setting an average speed of 49.5km/h.
The winner of the fourth stage was the first to eclipse the time of Cancellara; Schumacher beat the world champion by 21” after 53km. No one could get near the time set by the German who also won the first time trial of the 2008 Tour de France. His average speed for the stage was 49.817km/h. Cadel Evans finished the stage in seventh place and moved up to second overall. His deficit is 1’05” in the general classification after an impressive ride by the winner of the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez, Carlos Sastre. The Spaniard was 12th in the stage 2’34” behind Schumacher and 29” behind Evans. The leader of the CSC-Saxo Bank team will wear the yellow jersey for the final stage of the 95th Tour de France and hold a lead of 1’05” over the leader of the Silence-Lotto squad.