The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Saturday, July 08, 2006

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.



Blogger Orthia said...

Me to man! That is I'm also bummed. I am very pro Hincapie. I was rather shocked that he didn't pull in a better TT as his prolog was so good and he looked in good form on the road. I am hoping that it was just an off day and that he can pull it off in the mountains. I think that if Discovery throw their full support behind him he can win this thing. Landis is looking good in the GC now, but I remember him not doing to well in the mountains last year and I don't know how well the Phonak team is at mountain support these days. The OLN commentator Phil Liggett has said that he doesn't think that Kloden would make a good team leader yet there are several good mountain riders on T-Mobile. I think that this Tour will get very interesting when we hit the mountains in a few days.

By the way sorry to leave such a long comment as you don't know me. I did a search on blogger under Hincapie and found your blog.

3:31 AM

Blogger JRoth said...

No, I appreciate the long comment. Come back any time!

Phonak's strength has had me wondering, too. As Lance showed, you can't do it alone. And T-Mobile got either lucky or brilliant with that breakaway yesterday, making Phonak work all day while their guys got to relax.

I think Big George is one mountain stage away from taking over, but that's certainly easier said than done....

10:23 AM


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