Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tour de update

Well the first 4 stages of this years Tour de France have been run and won.

The opening Time Trial went pretty much to script. Contador managed to pull a little time on Evans, but not a massive amount.

The first big surprise of this year's event came on stage 3 when Armstrong was used his experience and found himself in the front half of a split in the peleton. The 40 odd seconds that group was able to pull out, rocketed him up the leader board. The surprise wasn't that Armstrong was in the group, but that so many of the other GC contenders missed it. Everyone was talking about the likelyhood of a split in the crosswinds and the corner where it happened was the obvious spot, but still plenty of guys got caught out.

The Team Time Trial was a disaster for Cadel. It's not so much that his team let him down, more that his team was never constructed with the TTT in mind. They were never going to set the course on fire and when you throw in a crash and a puncture you end up with a 2 minute + loss and probably throw away any chance at overall victory. I thought both Cancellara and Armstrong did brilliant jobs pulling both their teams through.

So what now? All the talk is about whether Armstrong will work for Contador or whether they will decided team leader after the first mountain stage. I have changed my mind about 30 times, so I decided to inhabit Armstrong's mind and work out what he would do.

So if I was Armstrong I would be thinking ..........

Damn I'm good (I think that even though I am not Lance). 7 time winner, I still have the pace and showed all those idiots on stage 3 what a Grand Tour is all about! "Lance should ride for Contador" they all say. Well screw that, Lance rides for Lance and Lance knows Levi and Popo will ride for Lance as well, all Lance needs to do is ask. The others probably will too. Johan is just waiting for an opportunity to shift things my way without obviously screwing Contador, just so he can shove it up those stupid, mankini wearing Kazaks! There is no way I am riding for that bunch of commies, I 'aint even taking their paychecks so I don't owe 'em nothin'. If that poor man's Mexican wants me to support him, then he is going to have to storm the Alamo! This team is my team no matter what names are written on their jerseys. When I tell 'em to ride they will ride and when I tell 'em to bury themselves for me I better see dirt flying! Screw Astana, screw Contador and screw Johan if he doesn't jump on board the Lance express!

So that's what I think is going to happen. Lance will solicit help from at least Levi and Popo and will ride for himself. If Contador wants his assistance then he is going to have to make it obvious that not only has he got Lance well and truly beaten, but can also get the most out of the team.

Unless Astana make a massive mistake or get thrown out because one of their members gets caught doping then the winner will come from Astana. There is just too much talent there.

Mind you, this is Le Tour so anything is possible!


  1. Here's the thing. Contador has no profile and no experience on the tour. He got lucky in 2007 when every man and his dog was turfed (to be fair the dog was well off-chops and chasing space shuttles at the time.) He didn't run in 2008. I'm yet to see why he's worthy of the hero-worship from the media or the team, or why he's soooo much better than a Sastre or a Pereiro Sio or a Schleck or anyone else of the post-Armstrong generation. He'll need to show it, sharpish, the moment the road starts pointing upwards. If he doesn't, Bruyneel and Armstrong can use it as justification to send Lance in over the top of him. They won't stick the knife in though until someone from another team - a Sastre for instance - starts putting Contador in strife up a big scary hill and carves a bunch of time off him. At that stage the US Postal/Discovery contingent can justifiably wash their hands of Contador and send Lance over the top to win the day, without thumbing their nose too overtly at their Kazakh overlords. As discussed at the World of Bollocks they're getting fired after the tour anyway, but being seen to toe the company line right up to the point where there's no choice but to switch focus to Lance, is the best way to make the pair of them (plus the ex US Postal/Disco staffers) attractive to another team's ownership - presuming they don't have capital to set their own up, which they may do. Problem is I think Bruyneel and Armstrong have a rep for being difficult to ride with among the other pros, which would affect their recruitment ability.

  2. Ok Doc, Contador didn't get lucky in 07. He was dominant in the mountains and only the pin eyed freak could beat him. Take a look at his list of wins which include the Giro, the man is a fair cyclist.

    I think you are right though, nothing much will happen until another team attacks. The good thing for the race is that Astana flogged everyone so badly in the TTT that they will need to attack early. Otherwise everyone would have sat on their hands until the penultimate stage.

  3. Great stuff - I'm severely addicted to the tour - and I don't know shit about it. At first I watched it for the scenery (in 05) an I've pretty much become a worse addict every year since.

    The melodrama potential for this year has epic potential - can't wait to see how it unfolds. I think you are right about the situation vis a vis Armstrong. Astana don't have to attack at all ATM and this would suit Lance. I just can't see how someone with his ego (justifiably - like yours!) could subordinate himself to Contador unless his own chances are dead and buried.

    Fingers crossed for win # 8!

  4. The last Giro winner to amount to anything in the Tour was...



    Bluntly, it's not a marker for Tour success. Admittedly Contador did the Vuelta-Giro double last year, but Menchov did the year before, and he's a serial Tour disappointment. Will be this year as well.

  5. Lerm - can't see Lance grinning and bearing it either - then again Sky NZ's cycling guru John Cardwell, who's usually on the money, reckons Lance will be in mid-peleton obscurity by the middle of next week. Reckons he'll get his doors blown off in the first couple of mountain stages.

  6. Good Tour updates-though Armstrong's on my steroid 'watch list'. There appears to be a whole heap of doping amongst the cycling elite these past few years.

  7. YD - unlike the baseballers or NFL players, cyclists get tested - a LOT. And Armstrong more than most. He's either clean, or so clever that he'll never get caught.

    Sorry Naut I seem to have more to say on your blog than you do.

  8. Lerm - It is like a soap opera conducted by some of the world best atheletes, conducted at high speed with the possibility of extremely violent injuries or death! Hard not to be addicted.

    Doc - Be interested to see if you change your tune once the road goes uphill. That said mentally Armstrong is streets ahead of Contador. Is Cardwell right, Armstrong will only blow up in the mountains if he sacrifices himself for the team.

    YD - I pretty much agree with the Docs answer. He is a freak and the French officials hate an arrogant American winning their race. Funnily enough he is quite popular with the French public.

  9. Well, maybe Armstrong is a one-in-a-million-they do happen. I'm not sure that the steroid makers aren't one step ahead of the testers, though.

    At any rate, if it pisses off the French racing elite that he wins, then I'll pull for him.

    Keep up the good reporting, though.

    Wouldn't we really like to see Tour de Siberia, though? Nine thousand grueling miles through the boreal forests of Russia. I'd pay to watch that!