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How U.S.-based teams Columbia, Garmin-Chipotle fare at Tour

7/27/2008

Team Columbia and Garmin-Chipotle made Tour de France history before they took the road. For the first time, two U.S.-based teams are riding in cycling's biggest race. Now that the Tour has started, here's a stage-by-stage update on both teams:

Stage 21

Kirchen

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Seventh (1:23 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, eighth (6:55 behind).
• Summary: Gerald Ciolek (Germany) finished second in the final sprint after Columbia's typically efficient train helped drive the pace in the late going.

Trend: Columbia has gone a long way toward re-establishing its credibility and upping its competitive ante since losing its title sponsor last year.

Vande Velde

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (2:31:05 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fifth (3:05 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde and David Millar (Great Britain) took hard digs at the front during the final lap around the Champs-Elysees to try to set up the sprint for teammate Julian Dean (New Zealand). It was another close-but-no-cigar for Dean, who finished sixth.

Trend: The team that wasn't even sure it would be invited to this race more than distinguished itself.

Stage 20
TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Seventh (1:23:14 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, eighth (7:02 behind).
• Summary: Gritty Kirchen leapfrogged back into the top 10 by jetting in third behind stage winner Stefan Schumacher of the Gerolsteiner team -- Schumacher also won the first time trial in this edition of the Tour -- and Team CSC's Fabian Cancellara, reigning world champion in the event. George Hincapie and Thomas Lovkvist finished 10th and 11th, respectively, on the day. Kanstantsin Siutsou rode well enough to secure 18th place overall.

Trend: A determined Kirchen met his and the team's goal.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (2:31:12 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fifth (3:12 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde moved up to fifth place overall by notching the best time (1:04:55) of any of the six men contending for the podium. He was fourth in the stage, 1:05 shy of Schumacher, and also got a boost when Frank Schleck, who ran out of gas and lost three minutes to Tour winner Carlos Sastre, dropped to sixth. David Millar logged an impressive fifth-place ride after feeling subpar for much of the past two weeks. Two other Garmin riders, Danny Pate and Ryder Hesjedal, finished 13th and 14th in the stage.

Trend: A top-five finish for Vande Velde more than legitimizes his stature as team leader and validates the team's Tour invitation.

Stage 19

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Eighth (1:23:09 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, 11th (8:35 behind).
• Summary: Columbia's Gerald Ciolek prevailed in the consolation bunch sprint that finished 1:13 behind stage winner Sylvain Chavanel. The team's other significant milestone of the day was Austrian Berhard Eisel's seizure of last place in the race, the campy lanterne rouge (red light) of the Tour, so dubbed after the light on a train caboose. Eisel is in 145th place, almost four hours behind race leader Carlos Sastre.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (2:31:47 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, sixth (4:41 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde finished safely with the lead group, all his teammates rolled in unharmed and Julian Dean took a practice run in the consolation bunch sprint, finishing 10th in the stage and staying tuned up for Sunday's sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Vande Velde will bid for the Tour podium when he rolls down the start ramp at 4:11 p.m. local time Saturday for the 32.9-mile time trial. Rain is predicted to fall on and off all day, which could make things more complicated for the overall contenders.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

Stage 18

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Eighth (1:23:09 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, 11th (8:35 behind).
• Summary: Marcus Burghardt attacked a little over a mile into the 122-mile stage and his breakaway group helped contribute to the fastest first hour (34.6 mph) of the race this year on wide, flat roads. He eventually found himself alone at the front with Carlos Barredo of Spain, who told Burghardt he wouldn't chase because he had no chance in the sprint. Instead, he hung on Burghardt's wheel and Burghardt blasted forward 200 yards from the finish to put another notch in Columbia's belt.

Trend: Five stage wins represent an extraordinary accomplishment.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (2:31:47 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, sixth (4:41 behind).
• Summary: Five of Vande Velde's teammates stayed with him for protection and finished 6:50 behind the stage winners.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same with one more day to go before the decisive individual time trial.

Stage 17

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 10th (1:29:48 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, 11th (8:35 behind).
• Summary: This queen stage, with its three incredibly difficult climbs, wasn't going to be Columbia's cup of tea. Kanstantsin Siutsou stayed with Kirchen to try to preserve his placement, but Kirchen fell out of the top 10, finishing just over six minutes back. George Hincapie had a rough day, crashing in the descent of the Col du Galibier, but he and his other teammates survived.

Trend: Kirchen still has a chance to be among the top 10 in Paris if he has a good time trial Saturday.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (2:31:36 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, sixth (4:41 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde wasn't able to gain time on the other two superior time-trialers jousting for a podium finish -- Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov -- but his ability to stay with the elite group of overall contenders through six hours of relentless climbing in the high Alps, and mount attacks on the final ascent of L'Alpe d'Huez, showed he had rebounded well from his bad day in the previous stage.

Trend: Vande Velde had hoped for a top 10 finish before the race and the fact that he's still in the hunt for a top 3 means everything to him and his team.

Stage 16

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 10th (57:37 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (3:23 behind).
• Summary: George Hincapie (U.S.) rode strongly all day, was part of an aggressive group that nearly caught the breakaway on the lengthy, dangerous final descent and crossed the line in fifth place, just 24 seconds after stage winner Cyril Dessel (France). Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus) was with Hincapie's bunch until the descent and finished 1:32 off the pace. Kirchen was able to stay with the group that included overall leader Frank Schleck well into the late going and finished 19th in the stage, 2:03 behind.

Trend: Hincapie looked to be in better form than he has been all race, and Kirchen fought valiantly to retain his overall placement.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (1:43:30 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, sixth (3:15 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde, who started the day in fifth place, 39 seconds behind, was dropped about halfway up the final climb when CSC-Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck surged ahead in a successful bid to shatter the group and defend his brother's yellow jersey. Ryder Hesjedal ducked out of a breakaway, waited for Vande Velde and pulled him up to the summit. Vande Velde said he was only 35 seconds behind the overall contenders at that point, but he crashed on the descent, avoiding serious injury but losing two more precious minutes.

Trend: Vande Velde still has an outside shot at the podium, but didn't expect to lose this much time to his rivals today.

Stage 15

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 11th (58:02 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (2:48 behind).
• Summary: Kirchen had to freelance on the last climb, as the team had exhausted its resources in helping sprinter Mark Cavendish to his four stage wins and defending Kirchen's yellow jersey last week. He finished 5:34 off the stage winner's pace in a valiant effort. George Hincapie was next-best at nearly 11 minutes back.

Trend: Kirchen's hopes of a top-5 finish took a bit of a beating Sunday, and Cavendish, as expected, didn't start Sunday's stage and is on his way home to prepare for the Olympics.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 15th (1:15:04 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fifth (:39 behind).
• Summary: Danny Pate jumped into the early four-man break and competed gamely for a stage win, finishing just 10 seconds out of the money for the team's second impressive gambit of the race. Vande Velde stayed with the overall contenders on a difficult day marred by rotten weather, crashes that battered most of his teammates, and a dog-eat-dog fight up the final climb. The men to whom he lost time are either equal or lesser time trialers, so his chances at a podium spot remain about the same -- a moral victory of sorts.

Trend: Pate's exploits, and the fact Vande Velde duked it out with the best and only lost a second on the overall, add up to a successful day.

Stage 14

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 11th (47:30 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (1:56 behind).
• Summary: The heat, modest climbing toward the end of the stage and general fatigue culled several top sprinters out of the final herd, including Mark Cavendish, who now faces the Alps with four stage wins in his pocket. The big question is how long he'll continue with the Beijing Olympics looming into view. Kirchen finished safely with the lead pack and will try to hold his own in Sunday's return to the high mountains.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 15th (1:07:24 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:38 behind).
• Summary: Julian Dean had his closest shot at the final sprint, as he swung wide to the left to get around a roadblock of riders and kicked into gear to finish fourth. Vande Velde preserved his position and finished close to the front of the bunch. He'll play Sunday's stage that crosses the border into Italy conservatively, trying to stay with the overall contenders, according to team director Jonathan Vaughters. The aim is to stay within striking distance of the podium and make the final time trial count.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

Stage 13

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 11th (47:30 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (1:56 behind).
• Summary: Perhaps the hot weather and winds common in this part of France at this time of year are creating a mirage. Friday's stage had a distinct déjà vu quality. Mark Cavendish won his fourth stage of the race, outsprinting veteran Australian rider Robbie McEwen.

Trend: Even the team's most optimistic projections didn't foretell this.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 15th (1:07:24 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:38 behind).
• Summary: Again, a replay of the day before. No casualties and Vande Velde finished safely near the front of the pack. Julian Dean surged to the front for the final sprint and again finished ninth.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

Stage 12

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 11th (47:30 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (1:56 behind).
• Summary: With sprint-finish opportunities dwindling, brilliant 23-year-old Mark Cavendish, who was caught up in an early crash in the flats during Stage 10 but appears to have recovered, maneuvered his way to the front and catapulted ahead for the narrowest of his three stage victories. Seven of the team's nine riders finished with the main peloton. Cavendish is the first British rider to collect three stage wins in one Tour.

Trend: Another win by a team with an independent anti-doping program was welcome news on a tough day for the race.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 15th (1:07:24 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:38 behind).
• Summary: "I told them you can't win the Tour today, but you can lose it," assistant sports director Matt White said at the team bus after the finish. Same drill as the previous day -- keep Vande Velde from being buffeted by the wind on a hot, gusty day in southern France. Kiwi speedster Julian Dean took a shot at the final sprint and finished ninth. Dean, who will compete for his country in the road race at next month's Beijing Olympics, appears to be riding into form.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

Stage 11

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 12th (47:30 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (1:56 behind).
• Summary: With a Category 1 climb on the course precluding a bunch sprint finish, Columbia stayed compact and didn't send anyone in the breakaway. Kirchen rode to the finish near the front of the peloton with bodyguard George Hincapie nearby. Bernhard Eisel, just eight minutes ahead of the slowest man in the race, is in contention for the coveted lanterne rouge honor that goes to the last-place finisher overall.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 16th (1:07:24 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:38 behind).
• Summary: Wednesday was all about protecting Vande Velde from the wind and keeping him fed and watered while expending as little energy as possible. David Millar, Trent Lowe and Ryder Hesjedal (the latter sporting a new Mohawk haircut with argyle etched into the sides) finished in the main pack, 14:51 off the pace of stage winner Kurt-Asle Arvesen.

Trend: The overall standings remain the same.

Stage 10

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: 10th (37:19 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, seventh (1:56 behind).
• Summary: Kirchen stayed with the best climbers over the Col du Tourmalet but was dropped, inevitably, on the ascent of the Hautacam. Caught between small groups on the climb, he gamely hung in and finished alone, 4:19 off the pace of stage winner Leonardo Piepoli (Italy). George Hincapie (U.S.) was dropped on the first climb and finished with teammate Adam Hansen more than 28 minutes back. Double sprint-stage winner Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) hit a discarded water bottle on the road about 10 miles after the start and crashed, bringing Garmin-Chipotle's Danny Pate with him. Cavendish and teammate Bernhard Eisel, banged up in a crash Sunday, limped in last in the field more than 33 minutes back "in survival mode," according to team owner Bob Stapleton.

Trend: The team's magical run is over for now, although Kirchen still is a player for a top-10 or even top-5 spot. Cavendish's crash, while not serious, might hasten his exit to rest up for the Olympics.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (57:13 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:38 behind).
• Summary: Mission accomplished for Vande Velde, who followed the morning game plan to stay with the lead group and rode smoothly all the way to the finish -- even setting the pace briefly toward the end. He now is a legitimate candidate for the podium, as the more gradual climbs in the Alps later in the race better suit his style, and he is one of the strongest time trialers left near the top. Pate was not seriously injured by his collision with Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish, and everyone else remained intact, although David Millar (Great Britain) had a tough day, hobbling in with the grupetto.

Trend: Vande Velde's stature as a team leader was sealed with Monday's ride, which should give him tremendous confidence.

Stage 9

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Sixth (8:02 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, first (:06 ahead).
• Summary: Kirchen, not considered among the best climbers in the high mountains, did well to hang in there with the lead group that trailed stage winner Ricardo Ricco by 1:17. That gave Columbia one more day -- in all likelihood, its last -- at the top of the standings. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) struggled on the last climb but was shepherded in just six minutes off Ricco's pace by veteran George Hincapie (U.S.). Bernhard Eisel (Germany) crashed but still managed to finish the stage more than 31 minutes behind the leaders.

Trend: It wasn't certain Kirchen would be able to stay in yellow another day.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (14:56 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, third (:44 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde, who moved up to third when Stefan Schumacher (Germany) couldn't stay with the lead group of 38 riders, remained safely tucked in with overall contenders Denis Menchov (Russia), Cadel Evans (Australia), Alejandro Valverde and Carlos Sastre (Spain) on a day when it didn't make sense for any of them to attack. Trent Lowe (Australia) performed domestique duties yet still came in just 1:57 off the pace, and David Millar (Great Britain) finished strongly in a small group 4:34 back.

Trend: Vande Velde is well positioned for Monday's uphill finish, and the two other riders besides Lowe without Grand Tour experience -- Will Frischkorn (U.S.) and Martijn Maaskant (Netherlands) -- got through their first day of serious ascending.

Stage 8

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Second (2:58 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, first (:06 ahead).
• Summary: The team worked hard at the front to ensure Kirchen would wear the yellow jersey for a third straight day and looked particularly impressive entering the heart of Toulouse, as the riders formed a flying wedge for the dual purpose of shielding their leader from harm and setting up the sprint for Mark Cavendish, who won his second Tour stage with a terrific late kick. His teammate and lead-out man Gerald Ciolek (Germany) was second.

Trend: The hits just keep on coming for Columbia, which has made the absolute most of the stages before the high mountains.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (10:59 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fourth (:44 behind).
• Summary: Will Frischkorn (U.S.), described in the official Tour stage recap as "effervescent," went with an early breakaway that didn't stick. After that, the Garmin crew settled in for a long day in the rain and stayed risk-averse. Speedster Julian Dean (New Zealand), now escorted by Martijn Maaskant (Netherlands) after Magnus Backstedt finished outside the time cut Friday, moved toward the front in the late going, but didn't contest the sprint. Vande Velde rolled in with the peloton.

Trend: The team protected Vande Velde and avoided trouble in the slick conditions.

Stage 7

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Second (2:52 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, first (:06 ahead).
• Summary: The team did a tremendous amount of work at the front of the peloton, much of it by Tour de Georgia winner Kanstantsin Sivtsov of Belarus, and kept Kirchen protected; he even contested the final small bunch sprint and finished fifth in the stage. Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist retained the Best Young Rider's white jersey.

Trend: Team Columbia has been the most consistent outfit in the Tour over the first week, showing poise and grit during what is usually the most nervous part of the race. Can it keep this up?

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: 14th (10:59 behind). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fourth (:44 behind).
• Summary: David Millar made an assertive move early on, but a flat tire prevented him from making hay in a breakaway. The attempt may not have worked anyway as the peloton controlled early moves. After the climbing and pace split the peloton, Vande Velde and Millar stayed in the lead group the rest of the day, but Millar lost some time and is now seventh overall, 1:14 off the leader's pace. He told reporters Thursday's Stage 6 probably represented his last chance at the yellow jersey and he will now focus on a stage win. Magnus Backstedt (Sweden) felt his legs lock up about 35 miles into the stage and limped in outside the daily time cut (about 28 minutes) and will abandon the race.

Trend: Backstedt will be missed for his experience and calm. Lead-out duties for sprinter Julian Dean may fall to young Dutch talent Martijn Maaskant.

Stage 6

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Third (:20 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, first (:06 ahead).
• Summary: Kirchen continued his trend of being in the right place at the right time. He was set up for the final, small-group, uphill sprint and moved into first due to Stefan Schumacher's unlucky crash a little more than 300 yards from the finish line. Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist, who was with Kirchen until almost the end of the climb, remains in the white (best young rider) jersey. Kirchen would have held onto the green (sprint) jersey as well, but race rules prohibit one rider from having two colored jerseys. As Tour media liaison Christophe Marchadier told Team Columbia owner Bob Stapleton at the finish line, "Now all you need is the polka-dot [king of the mountains] jersey to finish your collection."

Trend: Earning the yellow jersey is a huge accomplishment for an organization that has had tremendous ups and downs over the past couple of years.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: First (:19 ahead). Top rider: Christian Vande Velde, fourth (:44 behind).
• Summary: Vande Velde lost a few seconds but moved up in overall placement thanks to his attack with three miles to go, which fragmented the lead group. He and Italy's Leonardo Piepoli of the Saunier Duval team opened an 18-second gap, but the overall contenders marked the move and they were caught. Garmin remains atop the team classification, which wasn't easy given the upheaval in the overall.

Trend: The team still has two men in the top five, Vande Velde and David Millar (fifth, :47 back), even though they were unable to take advantage of the chaotic finish. Watch for Garmin to stay aggressive in the next two stages, which feature similar terrain.

Stage 5

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Second (1:44 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, second (tied with one rider at :12 behind)
• Summary: Great Britain's Mark Cavendish got the biggest win of his short career the hard way -- jumping before he ideally wanted to. Cavendish said he followed a move by Credit Agricole's Mark Renshaw, who was leading out Thor Hushovd. "My form was good enough that I was able to hold it to the line,'' said Cavendish, who is also a member of his country's Olympic track cycling team. Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist remained in the Best Young Rider's white jersey for the second day in a row, although Kirchen yielded the green (sprint) jersey lead to Hushovd, who won it in 2005.

Trend: The team did exactly what it set out to do -- position one of its young sprinters to win a stage and set up Thursday's battle for the yellow jersey.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: First (1:44 ahead). Top rider: David Millar, third (tied with one rider at :12 behind)
• Summary: The team's day started with a photo op at the sign-in podium, where the squad that finishes first in the team classification is awarded a prize -- digital photo frames, in this case. Julian Dean (New Zealand) placed 10th in the bunch sprint. All eight of his teammates finished safely in the main pack.

Trend: Dean is still looking for the right sprint opportunity, but the team's main goal was to survive the longest stage of the race without mishaps, in anticipation of Thursday's stage that could upend the overall standings.

Stage 4

Kirchen

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Second (1:44 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, second (tied with one rider at :12 behind)
• Summary: Kirchen's performance lifted him from fifth place into the top three overall and he also remained in the green (sprint) jersey. George Hincapie (U.S.) finished ninth in the stage, 41 seconds back, and stands in seventh overall. Young Swedish talent Thomas Lovkvist, who came in 47 seconds off Stefan Schumacher's pace, donned the Best Young Rider's white jersey on the podium.

Trend: The team will try to position one of its sprinters for a win in what promises to be a bunch finish in Wednesday's stage, and go all out for the race lead Thursday.

Millar

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: First (1:44 ahead). Top rider: David Millar, third (tied with one rider at :12 behind)
• Summary: Millar's time tied Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen for second-best of the day, 36 minutes, 2 seconds over the undulating 18.3-mile course. Christian Vande Velde (U.S.) also logged an impressive ride, finishing another 37 seconds back to take sixth place overall. Danny Pate (U.S.) was tops on the leaderboard until midafternoon and wound up 14th in the stage.

Trend: Millar and Vande Velde are well-placed in the overall standings now. With good support, either could make a run at the yellow jersey Thursday in the uphill finish of a hilly but not pure climbing stage.

Stage 3

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Sixth (2:03 behind). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, fifth (1:46 behind)
• Summary: The team worked hard at the front as the peloton tried to reel in the breakaway, but the windy conditions, and a crash that split the group with about 16 miles to go, helped thwart that effort. Kirchen and sprinter Mark Cavendish finished in the front of the pack, enabling Kirchen to stay in the green (sprint) jersey another day.

Trend: The bizarre way the stage unfolded prevented Cavendish from contesting the finish, but Kirchen didn't lose time on any of the top overall contenders.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: First (:41 ahead). Top rider: Will Frischkorn, third (1:42 behind)
• Summary: In a completely unexpected scenario, a stage set up for a sprint finish instead fell into the hands of four men who jumped into a breakaway in the first mile of the 129.2-mile stage. With Frischkorn in the group, the team didn't need to worry about working in the chase, and focused on staying safe. Frischkorn, riding his first Tour, did his best to challenge at the finish, but Samuel Dumoulin of France outmaneuvered him and the other two men.

Trend: The fact Frischkorn was able to duel for a stage win out of a breakaway, and make a podium appearance after being named Most Aggressive Rider, gives the team momentum going into Tuesday's time trial, where David Millar and Christian Vande Velde hope to excel.

Stage 2

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Second (tied with four teams). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, second (one second; tied with 11 riders)
• Summary: Kirchen charged to the front of a who's who lead group at the finish with the help of German teammate Gerald Ciolek, but couldn't hold off the late kick of Norway's Thor Hushovd, who won his sixth career Tour stage. Nonetheless, Kirchen, who finished second in the stage, now sits atop the green jersey (sprint) standings with 54 points to Stage 1 winner Alejandro Valverde's 49. Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist, one of the team's four under-25 riders in the hunt for Best Young Rider honors, is among seven tied for second in that category, six seconds back.

Trend: Kirchen's assertiveness in the first two stages has been striking. The team's brand-new sponsor has to be happy with the exposure.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: Fourth (tied with four teams). Top rider: David Millar, seventh (one second; tied with 11 riders)
• Summary: Danny Pate was the first to attack out of the peloton, but opted not to stay with the breakaway group that was swallowed up close to the finish. The team remained intact -- a major goal -- but missed out on one opportunity when veteran Kiwi speedster Julian Dean crashed into the barriers with about a mile to go and couldn't contest the final sprint. He was not seriously hurt. Aussie Trent Lowe is among a group of seven under-25 riders tied for second in the Best Young Rider classification.

Trend: Key riders Millar, Lowe and Christian Vande Velde stayed upright and didn't lose any time in the overall.

Stage 1

TEAM COLUMBIA
• Team placement: Third (one second off lead). Top rider: Kim Kirchen, fourth (one second)
• Summary: Kirchen, who finished seventh in last year's Tour, is a dark horse candidate for the 2008 title. He made a move with a little more than 400 yards to go on the short final climb and fleetingly appeared to have gotten clear, but was passed by eventual stage winner Alejandro Valverde of Spain and two other riders in the final seconds. Three more Team Columbia riders -- American George Hincapie, Belarus' Kanstantsin Siutsou and Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist -- finished within seven seconds of the leaders. Their teammates all came in safely, although Silence-Lotto rider Johan Van Summeren of Belgium took a header through the back window of a Team Columbia car in a feed zone. He was able to continue racing.

Trend: Getting through the day intact and protecting Kirchen was the most crucial mission of the day for this young team, making Kirchen's bid a bonus.

GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
• Team placement: Fourth. Top rider: David Millar, 11th (four seconds)
• Summary: Assistant director Matt White said the team was intent on protecting Millar and team leader Christian Vande Velde of the United States, who hope to excel in Tuesday's individual time trial. White added that young Australian climbing specialist Trent Lowe, the smallest and lightest rider on the team, also was a concern in the gusty crosswinds, but was able to handle the conditions. Millar was part of a small group that was just one second off Valverde's pace, and Vande Velde and Lowe rolled in with a larger pack at seven seconds back. The only Garmin rider to finish more than two minutes back was Swedish veteran Magnus Backstedt, who was caught behind a crash involving stellar Columbian climber Juan Mauricio Soler of the Barloworld team in the late going. Backstedt was slowed down but otherwise unaffected.

Trend: With five riders making their Tour debuts, survival -- and supporting Millar and Vande Velde -- were the main orders of the day.

Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. E-mail her at bonniedford@aol.com.