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A Crack in Astana's Armor at Paris-Nice? Sylvain Chavanel Wins Wet Third Stage and Takes GC Lead Over Alberto Contador

I only saw a half hour or a bit more of the third stage of the eight-stage (seven plus short prologue), but it was some of the most fun I've had watching cycling this year. It was a bit mucky out and the roads were less than optimal, and the entourage was more like that of Tour de Georgia or Tour of California. Quaint, compared with Le Tour de France. That alone was fun.

Locations

Orval,
France
46° 43' 30.486" N, 2° 28' 50.8404" E
Vichy,
France
46° 7' 23.0376" N, 3° 25' 20.6292" E
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Spanish Cycling Federation Takes a New Look at Doping, Drugs in Cycling's Operacion Puerto Case

A couple of recent articles say that the Spanish Cycling Federation, Real Federación Española de Ciclismo (RFEC), will be pursuing santions against riders and others involved in blood doping in the Operación Puerto cycling doping case. Most thought that the Spanish federation had let it drop, and some were disappointed in this decision.

Location

Madrid
Spain
40° 25' 0.2676" N, 3° 42' 11.7" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 8: Frank Schleck Outsprints Nibali; Hincapie Third; Leipheimer, Zabriske, Rogers Make Tour Podium

Stage 8 was great for viewing except for the many in number but few in percentage fans, who ran for their own glory and fifteen seconds of fame. At times times these selfans impeded the cyclists, it seemed.

Locations

Rancho Bernardo, California
United States
33° 1' 7.1508" N, 117° 3' 39.2184" W
Escondido, California
United States
33° 7' 17.8752" N, 117° 4' 53.1984" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 7: Nocentini Nips Roulston; Leipheimer Leads; Mancebo Crashes Out

Locations

Santa Clarita, California
United States
34° 25' 59.6928" N, 118° 31' 53.0292" W
Pasadena, California
United States
34° 8' 45.2112" N, 118° 7' 56.4636" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 6: Leipheimer Wins Time Trial Over Zabriske, Larsson, Rogers, Voigt, Hincape, Zirbel, McCartney

The time trial seemed like it might be the only way to shake things up, and that it did, with some doubt by the end of the day whether Levi Leipheimer might be passed in the overall (GC, general classification) by David Zabriske, the USA road Time Trial champ.

Stage 6 Time Trial Top 20

Location

Solvang, California
United States
34° 35' 45.6972" N, 120° 8' 27.8988" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 5: Cavendish Noses Boonen; Leipheimer Still Leads

Stage 5 was another good one, but I wasn't able to catch it all. I did see Cavendish win again, this time just a bit further ahead than the day before, giving him more time to mug for the cams. 

Locations

Visalia, California
United States
36° 19' 48.594" N, 119° 17' 32.5104" W
Paso Robles, California
United States
35° 41' 2.2164" N, 120° 48' 14.2092" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 4: 84 Tie, Cavendish Wins, Leipheimer Leads, Kirchen and Friere Out

Tour of California Stage 4 Merced to Clovis
The sun finally came out on the Tour of California in Stage 4, and so did the idiots. In fact, at one point on the final climb, an imbicile with a sharp implement meant to be some sort of devil's pitchfork too a head full of snow after one of the cyclists (purported to be Lance himself) was close enough to push him and his sharp tipped stick into the bank.

Locations

Merced, California
United States
37° 17' 51.5868" N, 120° 28' 35.1156" W
Clovis, California
United States
36° 49' 35.6556" N, 119° 42' 2.394" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 3: 110 Riders Tie, Levi Falls but Leads; Thor Hushovd Rules With Perfect Cervelo Train

A lead group of four rode out almost all of a wet ride, dwindled to two, then the peloton munched them like a snack before dinner. Earlier in the day, Levi fell, catching Lance's back wheel, but got up for another bike and the Astana team caught up. Most of the day, Astana did the work, but as the end grew near, Team Columbia High Road appeared to be setting up for Mark Cavendish. In the last few turns, Cervelo buzzed through town and to the line with an incredible lead-out. It was not that large of a lead-out, but wow, it seemed perfectly timed and organized.

Locations

San Jose, California
United States
37° 19' 12.1872" N, 121° 52' 39.4896" W
Modesto, California
United States
37° 38' 43.7712" N, 120° 59' 19.5972" W
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Tour of California 2009 Stage 2: 22-year-old Peterson Wins; Leipheimer Leads Rogers, Zabriskie, Armstrong, Horner

Levi Leipheimer took the lead today in another drenched and cold day. He bridged up by himself to catch Barredo. Later on, young rider Thomas Peterson of Garmin took Levi's wheel and sucked, then came in first at the finish (but Leipheimer took the same time). The next group was 21 seconds behind and included Horner, Armstrong (who had an incident with a motorcycle that resulted in some delay), Brajkovic and Rubiera from Levi's Astana teammates for 5 in all in the top 21 seconds for the day. Garmin had 3, and several others had 2 in this group.

Locations

Sausalito, California
United States
37° 51' 22.7916" N, 122° 29' 42.7992" W
Santa Cruz, California
United States
36° 58' 40.458" N, 122° 2' 0.096" W
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Fabian Cancellara Wins Tour of California Prologue: Levi Leipheimer 2nd, David Zabriske 3rd, Armstrong 10th

OK I got back just in time to watch some of the eventual leaders come in. Svein Tuft hung on for 9th, and finished ahead of Lance Armstrong, who finished 10th, by a tenth of a second or so. Something to remember for Tuft, I'm sure. At the front, it's no surprise the Fabian Cancellara was tops. Levi was 2nd, 1.2 seconds behind. It had begun to rain lightly by the time Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer had hit the course, so I wonder if Levi might have done a touch better without that spinkles...but that's racing, as they say.

Location

Sacramento, California
United States
38° 34' 38.946" N, 121° 29' 47.0292" W
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