monaco teams presentation
The common tactic is to arrive at stage 1 at maybe 90% peak fitness and build towards week three. Young riders, in particular, seem to have trouble with this, which is why it’s rare to see youth win at le Tour, even if they’ve been dominating everything else (Valverde is a prime example). We generally don’t get a true glimpse at the GC until around stage 10.
This year, however, you could easily lose too much time to make up. The first week has at least three stages where significant time gain be gained or lost. The interesting aspect is that no one seems to be very sure how it will go. Certainly the major players have their private thoughts but it’s all feigned confusion in the press. And this is adding greatly to the fun.
Throw in all the confusion and leadership issues at Astana, the last-minute loss of Dekker, the addition of Boonen, the exclusion of Valverde, the sudden verve of Evans, the mind games of Riis (not to mention Armstrong), the cool of Sastre and the quiet of Menchov and you’ve got intrigue galore. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I with, like my friends Bruce and Alisa, I were there.
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Armstrong’s return means that there is no lack of press in the US. For straight reporting, velonews.com and cyclingnews.com will still rule the day. Cyclingfans.com should not be missed, either, as they grab video feeds from around the world. Livestrong.com is also broadcasting a lot of pro-Lance stuff. If you can get your head around that, it’s pretty cool. I think personal daily reports from any rider doing the Tour is worth a look. Armstrong is more measured, more practiced, and probably cagier than your average rider but he’s still out there racing and suffering. It’s a pretty cool bonus.
As for who will win, who knows? Lance, Evans, and even Andy Schleck seem confident. And they’re all looking at numbers, so they must have some idea because those reflect their chances. Lance tipped Sastre and Menchov, who are certainly in the picture. Menchov looked unbelievably strong at the Giro and Sastre had better be dispatched by the Ventoux because he’s always strong in week three and climbs like an angel. But Lance didn’t mention Contador, who climbs even better and just crushed everyone in the Spanish time trial championships. No matter how I try, I can’t see him losing.