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

Saturday, July 15, 2006

How the Mighty Have Fallen.

One of the remarkable facts about USPostal, then Team Discovery, during the Lance Years, is that over the course of 7 Tours de France - 161 stages and over 15,000 km - not a single rider retired from the race. Not from illness, injury, nor exhaustion.

Well, yesterday, not only did Benjamin Noval, a low-profile worker, abandon the race, but so did Paolo Salvodelli, who was one of the team's four "co-leaders" at the start of the race. I'm not sure you need to know much more than that about the chances of the team this year.

This, despite the fact that yesterday - Bastille Day, when the French riders are always desperate for glory - Disco got their first stage win of the race. And it wasn't Big George, who took part in a big breakaway that lasted over 50 km, but rather Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych, who was in a late breakaway and then burst away in the final 3 km to win by 0:27. He halved his time to Landis, who remains in yellow, but it seems awfully unlikely that he'll get any closer. He certainly won't be permitted to escape again, although he could conceivably simply take a mountain stage away from Floyd. But even if he does, Floyd would take it back at the time trial in the penultimate stage.

As you may be able to tell, I'm a bit resigned to a Landis victory. Which wouldn't bother me, but I'm not really rooting for it.

Paolo in better times, winning Stage 17 last year:


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