Friday, July 03, 2009

Le Tour '09

Since I’ve been asked, I guess I’ll write a Tour preview. Interesting year, for sure, and I’m not even going to mention doping. The return of the Texan is the major headline but the course is very strange. There are more “easy” stages than normal, and the hard bits happen during the first and last week. This means that someone could be peaking in week one and fade by week three. The result is that no lead will be considered safe. This should make the drama higher than usual.

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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the texan perspective

Armstrong’s return means that there is no lack of press in the US. For straight reporting, and will still rule the day. should not be missed, either, as they grab video feeds from around the world. 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.


Kevin said...

Kevin McClure at 1:13pm July 3
Does anyone know a good bar that is showing the tour during the evening. I'd love to watch some stages and drink beer.

Kevin McClure at 1:14pm July 3
I'm assuming its still on vs.

Bruce said...

I'll be posting lots of pics. Gonna ride the Tourmalet and Ventoux

John Keenan said...

With a long prologue the contenders will be at the front from day one....not sure any team wants to control the race for the entire Tour.
My bet, Contador wins the prologue then Astana lets a long break go Sun. to "loan" out the yellow for a few days.
In the end Contador wins with Schleck and Evans on the podium as well.

Steve Edwards said...

Blue Star coffee has it, but no beer, and they aren't open at night. Last year Fiddler's showed it. Let me know if you want to grab a beer.

Steve Edwards said...

Techie, hilly, whatever. I'm going to have to go with Cancellara tomorrow. What did he put, 1:40 on EVERYONE in the last tour de swiss TT?

paul said...

as far as a preview goes, the interesting stages certainly are ventoux coming right before the last day, and from a purist's standpoint, the 2 stages where radios are banned. how that affects the riders' strategies could be interesting.

evans change in tactics will not do him any good. the media will like him more, but unfortunately he has never had a team capable of defending. great talent.

team time trial should bring astana to the front. ... Read More

hard to bet against contador for the win, although a mistake on ventoux could be costly.

hope the tour is exciting this year. wish i could be there with you bruce.

Steve Edwards said...

love no radios! everyone should ride chromoly bikes too.

heather said...

watching the tour, hoping Cavi takes it today.

Steve Edwards said...

that was impressive, dropping farrar who was in his draft. renshaw's leadout was really fast.

paul said...

the tour is over already. contador - yellow, cav - green... who knows who gets the polka dot.

it will be interesting to see if lance rides for contador. when he is out of it and the time trial in annecy comes around, will he take it easy saving himself to help his team leader for the final 3 stages including ventoux; or will he go all out still trying to win the stage.

it was year's ago that lance and johann got upset at landis when floyd rode too hard during an ITT.

John Keenan said...

Could tomorrow be the first time someone attacks a TTT?? LA and a few loyal cronies attack Contador to gain time?? Or two pacelines...

Steve Edwards said...

awesome! yeah, i think you nailed it. who gets the odd man for the official time, lance or alberto?

paul said...

2.35 - poor cadel evans. another nightmare for him. great rider, poor team...

astana with the domination. the race is now only within the team. what does astana make/do? does anyone care?

still think it's contador. have to wait for the pyranees to sort this one out.