Saturday, 5 July 2008

From L'Equipe, the first day

L’Equipe – The First Day

I doubt I shall do this every day, but here are some bits from the paper this morning. I suppose you could find them yourself on the web, but who will bother. Already this year I have to miss the frist stage on account of a social event scheduled with no respect for the tour. I think this might happen more this year than ever before. Still, I can video it and watch it a bit later.

The potential winners according to the paper. Three stars, Evans. Two stars, Valverde, A. Schleck, Menchov. One star Ricco, F. Schleck, Cunego, Sastre, Kirchen, Devolder.

They say Cavendish can’t do well unless it is flat. So he only has three chances before the Pyrenees, on account of all the other stages finish on a slight incline or a plain and simple climb. So look for our young lad at Nantes, Chรขteauroux or Toulouse. They go more for guys like Hushovd and McEwen for today and other finishes uphill.

The finish today is a hill of 1700 metres at 6.5%, so it actually is a little hill. Apparently there is a narrow bridge near the finish and the local commentator reckons anyone not in the first twenty will not win the stage, so check out that bridge. They mention guys like Steegmans, Freire, Hunter, Ciolek, Chicchi (whom I have never heard of) and Seb Chavanel who might be well placed. Me, I am hoping for my favourite sprinter, Eric Zabel to crown his last tour with a victory today and a day in the yellow jersey.

The paper also claims it is a Tour for climbers, which I tend to agree with. They repeat the idea that there might be several ways to win the climbers jersey. The Virenque strategy (one huge long breakaway and sit on it) or being a yellow jersey candidate and accidentally getting the polka dot jersey. While on the subject of jerseys they seem to think that it’s a battle between young Schleck, Soler, Ricco and Kreuziger. It surely would be nice to see the young guys high on the GC, but I doubt it.

It has been over forty years since the race began with a regular stage.

Some have wondered why Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) is riding since he got caught with amphetamines in his blood last December, after a car accident. Boonen got caught and he is out.

Long shot for the stage today, the young French sprinter Feillu.

Saunier Duval has changed their jersey so it is not so yellow, that way there is no confusion with the actual maillot jaune.

Rabobank has hired two guys to move the nine mattresses of their riders from hotel to hotel so as to avoid the possibility of getting soft useless sleeping surfaces for their lads.

Stephane Goubert, who is from Montpellier, is the oldest guy on the Tour at 38. The oldest guy in the Pro Teams is Fabio Baldato at 40.

So that took me an hour or more to read and type, I doubt it will happen again. Still, you can see what fun the paper is for an obsessive.

Allez Eric!