Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Le Tour

This Tour de France is very exciting on a lot of levels. I'm not all enamored with Lance as a hero or anything, nor am I counted among the many cycling fans who resent him. I was glad to see him return for the attention that only he can bring to cycling. Like or not, nobody fills up a press room like Lance Armstrong and you've got to admire his ability to remain focused and on-message, both on the road and when facing reporters in the mayhem of post-stage interviews. If you haven't seen this, check out the attitude as the French reporter tries to bait him regarding the stage 3 split.

The reporter implies that Armstrong somehow knew the split was going to occur (.."but you knew about it.."), then tried to frame the move as an outright attempt by Lance to put time into Contador (.."but you're not waiting for Alberto......You're a clever cyclist..... ). What a d**k. The guy has just gotten off the bike after a very tough 5 hour stage, is surrounded by screaming fans and has a dozen microphones shoved in his face and is having words put in his mouth by a hostile journalist. And he handles it very well. Of course, the reporter is doing his job, and if he can pull out anything that can be construed as negative, he has a headline.

What remains to be seen is who can ride in the mountains. Contador still has the advantage in my book, but Leipheimer, Kloden, Vande Velde can't be counted out and if Lance is anywhere close to top form, it will hard to take time on him. That said, we're just getting started and a lot can happen. Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and the Schleck brothers aren't done, but it's damn hard to take 2 minutes on any of the current leaders. Some will falter, but it's very unlikely that the ultimate winner is currently out of the top 5.

Sprinters' Duel?? Playing chicken with Cav.

The sprinters' teams seem to be content with riding on the wheels of Team Columbia and Columbia is tired of it. Today's stage made the point as the deserving Thomas Voeckler took his first Tour stage win on an unlikely break that should have been easily contained. The other teams seem to have decided that they are not going to work if the dominant Mark Cavendish is going to win every sprint. Too bad for Tyler Farrar of Garmin, who is chomping at the bits to have a few more goes against Cavendish. I also wish Robbie McEwen was uninjured and in the race. Lotto has pretty well screwed the pooch on Cadel Evans's GC hopes, but if they had Robbie for the finish, they would have something to ride for and there would be a fight on.

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