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Freeman Cebu Sports

2011 Tour de France

- Jose Vicente 'JV' Araneta -

CEBU, Philippines - During the second climb of the day, on the Col de Tourmalet, a 17km climb, Team Leopard went to work.I didn't really understand what they were up to since there was still a final climb to Luz Ardiden, 13.1km and a 7% gradient average but the acceleration ended the hope of Christian VandeVelde (Garmin) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).

On the final climb, Leopard again took over and isolated Contador who had no teammate alongside him. I think that looking back, isolating the Spaniard was one of Leopard's objectives on the second climb.

With brothers Frank and Andy alternately attacking Contador inside the 5km mark, Frank Schleck was let go in the last 2.5km with brother Andy glued to Contador's wheel. Contador would lose 33sec to Frank and in the run in to the line, cough up another 13sec to Andy, Ivan Basso, and Cadel Evans and 10sec to Damiano Cunego.

Clearly, Contador wasn't his old self. He says his knee is bothering him and I say that physical fatigue from his exertions in the Girod'Italia last May and mental fatigue from his doping caseis finally catching up. I wouldn't say that Contador is kaput, but the next two stages will have a lot to tell.

Tommy Voeckler

I wasn't surprised that yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler, was able to keep the overall lead, despite being, "the pigeon among the cats". Voeckler is a feisty rider and surrender isn't in his vocabulary.This makes him a very popular rider in France, a country starving for a winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

Tom Danielson

Another surprise was Danielson. Labeled as the next Lance nine years ago, he showed flashes of brilliance but was generally labeled as a bust (I thought so, too). A great climber and an exceptional time triallist, he seemed lost when he signed for an Italian team when he went to Europe in 2003. Sickness and bikehandling were a problem early on but in fairness, he has won a stage in the Vuelta a Espana and finished top 10 in the same race.

With Garmin giving him his opportunity to ride his first TdF at 33yo, he didn't flub it. He stayed upright in the first 11 days and during his first mountain test, he aced it with flying colors.

Stage 13 predictions

The finishing run is a 47km descent from the top of the1600m Col d'Aubisque to the city of Lourdes is not for the weak of hearts. I'm not very confident with the descending skills of the Schlecks so this is a chance for Cadel Evans and Contador to gain time if ever they crest the together. Evans is my man for this stage. (FREEMAN)

ANDY

BERNARD HINAULT

CADEL EVANS

CADEL EVANS AND CONTADOR

CONTADOR

DAMIANO CUNEGO

FRANK AND ANDY

FRANK SCHLECK

IVAN BASSO

LUZ ARDIDEN

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