The Sprint in
First thing. Beltran used epo. Some other rider might be using drugs.
The rest of the news. Everyone predicted a sprint in
The second massive print of the Tour brought the same victor, Mark Cavendish. Although you would think that the English would be happy to see a winner at last, they moa about his personality on the Bike forums. Check it out here. There are now few that can argue that he is not the fastest in the world. When you come to the Tour and beat everyone at the Tour, then you are the fastest, even if you don’t win every time for the rest of your life. In any case he seems to win only when the finish is flat. In addition he has one of the finest lead-out teams you could imagine, from five kilometres out. It is true that Cippolini had a great lead-out team (the Red Train), but all they could do was lead him out. None of them could ever wear the yellow jersey, win stages, the green jersey or the best young rider jersey. This
I thought about doing a little story on whether CSC acted badly when they sent all their men to the front and pulled hard, just after the wind changed and when they knew Cunego was trapped behind. Some think it was tasteless and others think it was good tactics. No doubt some bitterness will remain for a bit. But in the end they all got back together. And in the end, I really don’t want to talk about it. I want to make is short tonight.
Down here in the South of France we would never go out when it rains. Watching today, I remembered why. It really is dangerous, white lines are slippery, roundabouts are terrible, and tension mounts. However, they get paid to ride in the rain and cold and heat. It really is a drag. I remember going to the meeting point of our club, one Sunday morning a few years ago, at the appointed hour. It had been lightly misting. No one turned up. Why ride in the rain when if you wait a few hours, or one day, it most likely will stop? I saw the dirty backs of the shorts where the spray goes up and could almost feel that wet, cold feeling under your bum, and thought “I am glad not to do that”. Some rider(s) will get a cold in two days on account of all that. Especially when they do descents from high, colder mountains in the next two days.
Looking at the stage for tomorrow it is not really all that bad, even if it is a “mountain stage”. It is mostly flat until the Peyresourde and Aspin passes, and it does not finish at altitude. I have climbed both of those cols and they are not THAT hard. Even the Tour rates them at “first category” as opposed to Monday’s “hors categorie” (beyond categories). On the other hand, the speed will be high, some climbers will want to go for the jersey, someone will want to win the stage and no one will want to lose time on the GC. So it will be fast, and as a result, rather hard. The next day,
Incidentally, 7,500 amateur riders rode the stage to Hautacam on 6 July. It was the route of the annual “Etape du Tour”. The roads were closed just like in the real Tour and everyone had a go. It really is a cyclosportif’s dream. You can check out the details and compare the times of the amateurs with the pros here.
Not all that much to say on the jerseys. None of them changed hands, except the green one. Oscar Freire was wearing it today even though Kirchen had more points. However Kirchen could not wear yellow and green at the same time. Today Freire earned enough points (fourth place, 24 points) to draw exactly even with Kirchen. In that case, the jersey goes to the guy who has finished ahead in the intermediate sprints. Freire takes that contest, and therefore is entitled to the jersey in his own right. The green jersey will go back to Kirchen in the next two days if he just finishes in the top 20 once or twice. Freire will never earn a point in the mountains. I think Kirchen will almost certainly earn points at the finish. It looks to me like McEwen is no longer in the green jersey competition. Too many good sprinters are too far ahead of him. If Hunter, Freire, Hushovd, Cavendish and Zabel all fall apart or abandon, McEwen might have a chance. I think the old generation of sprinters has to give way to the new. Slowly. Maybe not this year. Allez Eric!
I predict, fearlessly, that the yellow jersey will change tomorrow, that will make five different guys. We approach the record, as Evans has not yet worn it yet. I think that Evans might pick it up a bit earlier than he would like. He is only six seconds from Kirchen, and seems likely to gain that much on the
The white jersey should change as Lovkvist is not that far ahead. Tomorrow or Monday. But the nice thing is that I have no idea which young rider might try to gain time in the mountains on the first mountain stage, and therefore take the jersey. Also, to be frank, I am not sure how good Lovkvist is in the high mountains. I know he is not bad, but is he better than all the others? Of course, I predict that Schleck will stay with the leaders for sure and gain some time. But I also know that Kreuziger, Nibali and Ricco can climb. I have to learn about Sanchez (who is way behind and has to help Valverde), Monfort and Trofimov, none of whom I know well. I hear that Trent Lowe is good, but he will never win the jersey, way too far behind.
Although I am not THAT good at predicting? I can predict that Remy di Gregorio and Cyril Dessel will make a move on Monday. And for tomorrow, let’s see. OK, Egoi
The polka dot jersey might start to become interesting. Anyone who is a real climber and who tries to get over the Peyresourde first will be interested in the jersey. But it won’t become clear until the
Wish I could say “Vive