Saturday, 3 July 2010

Prologue 3-7-10

While the Prologue has very little effect on anything much at all, it's all we have, so it is what I have to write about. I am happy about that, since I watched the footie, and must go to bed soon if I am to ride tomorrow morning. To make the prologue results interesting we have to pretend that small gaps 'send messages' and slightly larger gaps might make a 'big difference' in the results. But the time losses here are pretty trivial and make little difference. When the weather is like it was, we need to know exactly how wet the roads were for exactly which riders and when they dried to make 'deep sense' of the results, if there is a deep sense. We can also notice some serious disappointments and begin to wonder what they mean, although without precise weather data we just won't know. It was not raining, then raining hard, then not so hard, the drying up for various riders.

For example, I was trying to explain the very poor performance of my pick for the day, Bradley Wiggins. Maybe it was the rain, but riders near his start time did pretty well. Losing nearly a minute on the winner, and many seconds on nearly every other contender, finishing below guys like Pettachi and 77 other guys is really pathetic. He only beat Frank Schleck by one second, and Frank cannot time trial. I simply have no explanation for it and just have to admit it. The fact that I picked him to win the prologue, and it was not a totally stupid choice, says it all. The fact that three or four so-called contenders, Sastre, Basso and Menchov have also lost nearly a minute on the very first opportunity is also a little bit odd. None of them are well known for time trials, but Basso is not THAT bad.

A little bit further up the ranks, Evans and Kreuziger also did rather poorly, especially Evans who is known to be an excellent TT rider, although maybe not such short courses. I was delighted to see that Tony Martin has now confirmed that on the big occasion he can not only climb, but do a good TT. Seeing Millar up there also warmed my heart. David did a very good interview in his impeccable French immediately after the race. The fact that Cancellara won is only a confirmation of his superb style, fitness and desire to win. He is the best. As for the difference between Contador and Lance, 5 seconds, nothing much need be said. When announcers make a big deal of it, it shows they are not really doing anything but making something out of nothing. Neither rider will make much of it, and neither of them will think it means much. BUT it has to be said that the old guy looks fit and rode well. This bodes well for a bit of action in the rest of the Tour, maybe. Both Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden are clearly in some kind of good shape, ready to see if they can make trouble for the Spaniard. In fact, four of the top seventeen riders were on The Shack. Slightly impressive. The Spaniard has good guys to help him though, both Vinokourov and Grivko seem to be in good shape, and the others are just resting a bit. The only job of every rider on the Astana team is to help Alberto win.

I liked seeing Geraint Thomas up there is his UK jersey. I guess when all is said and done, I have a weak spot for the 'British team', although it is really the team of the empire of death run by Murdoch, so my support is mitigated. On the other hand, I feel a special attachment to young British riders when they make it in the big time. Allez, Geraint. If only I knew how to pronounce the name I would be able to shout it. The other Sky guy I like is Edvald Boasson Hagen, Eddie for short. As I said earlier, no one really knows how good he is, whether he can climb in the high mountains. He can certainly time trial, sprint and climb medium mountains. So seeing him ninth means he is in pretty good shape. With young guys you really don't know how they will last a three week race, so we have to wait and see.

As for the rest, nothing much to note. I would have thought Lars Boom, winner of a recent prologue like this, would have done better. I was also reminded of another young favourite of mine while looking through the results. I am hoping that Rein Taaramae will make a serious move in this Tour. He is Estonian and has shown great promise. My other favourite with hard name to spell is Ryder Hesjedal, a Canadian. Ryder has caught my eye simply by winning the odd stage, especially ones with steep short climbs near the end.

Minor notes. I thought Thor Hushovd would have done better today, much much better. I think something is wrong with him. We should know in a few days. Andy Schleck is gong to have to take nearly a minute out of Contador somewhere, already he is way behind. I know he can do a decent TT, but surely starting out with that deficit is a bummer. His brother did a bit better, but someone should teach them a bit and get them a bit fit for the ITT.

Right that is it, nothing much to report and time to crash out. I guess only one more day of footie interference, so I should be getting down to it more seriously.

All the best.

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