Another Tour Shakeup
Sorry about the lack of posts - I'll recap later. But for now the story is the result of the Time Trial.
The TT was expected to be the first real test of the Tour, and the sprinters and breakaways of the first week all blow away. What was not expected was for Levi Leipheimer to get blown away, nor for George Hincapie to wind up almost 2 minutes behind Floyd Landis. Less shocking, but still surprising, is T-Mobile with 4 riders in the top 8, 6 in the top 16. So, where do we stand?
Landis - now in second place, behind Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) - has to be considered the clear favorite. He's ridden well every day, and isn't especially threatened in the mountains by the other GC riders. Cadel Evans is looking good, in 11th, but David Zabriskie, the Tour's most natural TTer, needed to gain time today, not lose it. Hincapie is only one mountain victory from yellow, and Team Discovery is looking strong (6 riders in the top 32, plus two more at 42 and 45), but he shouldn't have lost this much time today. Finally, Leipheimer's Tour is over unless he finds a surge; at 96, he's more than halfway down the GC.
What about others who have become contenders today? Well, T-Mobile's Klöden (8), whom I mentioned in preview, looks good. The commenters on OLN said the other day that he's a bit of an enigma, a rider with too much going on in his head. But maybe he's got it straight now. Although T-Mobile is not a team well-known for dealing with multiple potential leaders, so who knows how they'll handle their position. Young Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is sitting at #9, and won the Vuelta á España a couple years ago, so he can handle a Grand Tour. Another Russian, Vladimir Karpets of Caisse Espargna-Baleáres, is right behind Evans, and was the Tour's Best Young Rider in '04, so he bears looking at, but the team is not so strong. Italian Paolo Salvodelli (Discovery) is sitting 5 slots ahead of Hincapie; if he out-climbs George in the Pyrenees, Discovery may become his team.
All in all, an interesting day. Days like this always test my feelings when I'm not sure whom I'm really rooting for. I knew that I liked Hincapie a lot - I had my 2 year old chanting Hin-Ca-Pie on the home stretch of the Prologue - but I thought that I was reasonably pro-Floyd. Instead, he's in the cat-brid's seat, and I'm bummed. Ah, well. Still over a dozen stages to go.
Labels: Tour de France