"Rest" Day, Eh?

Jul 21 2009

haribo!Scattered thoughts following a very busy rest day:

Proponents of the notion that the Tour was at long last “clean” pointed to Contador’s relatively pedestrian ascent of Arcalis. They will take less heart in the young Spaniard’s record-setting performance at Verbier. John Wilcockson, with the prerequisite credulity of a man whose latest book is titled Lance Armstrong: World’s Greatest Champion sees a difference in the wind.

That’s not to say I think Contador is doping—I don’t. While his initial jump was fantastic, and he built his lead all the way to the line, Sunday was far from the knockout blow his wild podium gesticulations suggested. Both Schlecks got clear and gained time on Lance and Kloeden, shortening Astana’s GC leverage, and the Spaniard’s two nearest GC rivals—Brad Wiggins and Lance Armstrong—have an excellent chance of regaining time in the mid-Alps TT.

Lance Armstrong, for his part, had one of the more notable performances on the day. His climbing improvement since the Giro seems believable, given the apparent weight-loss at his waistline and under his cheekbone, and had he not chased down Contador’s earlier escape with the elder Schleck, both he and the team might be better postured on GC.

As much as I personally dislike the Cult of Lance, I respect the skills, and find the pronouncement of his death in the Spanish press entirely premature. If he is truly capable of an “A” level performance, compared to his self-assessed “B-” from Sunday, Contador might not want to breathe easy just yet—especially considering the sudden crowd support the Texan might get. For years, the French have been dying to watch Armstrong struggle; now that the gift has been given, they may feel more a bit more sentimental toward its bearer.

Despite a gutty performance through a jour sans, I think it’s safe to cross Cadel Evans off the list of this year’s contenders—which, ironically, may just save his Tour. The strongest teams will almost certainly have bigger fish to fry should Cadel go wandering again, and there’s plenty of glory still to be had in this year’s race. Just be careful to give the man some space after the stage, even if his shoulder is feeling better this time around.

6 Responses to “"Rest" Day, Eh?”

  1. Sheriff July 21, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    I agree with you tottaly about Cadel but if he gets a chance he will take it big time and with both hands. but something tells me Cadel hasnt given up on himself yet. I hope lance steps up his game and steals yellow from Alberto just so astana has infighting in the team again so Andy can win at the end.

  2. Sophrosune July 21, 2009 at 4:27 am #

    I am surprised you have had made no mention of Frank Schleck chasing down his brother Andy on Verbier stage. What’s up with that? And while you have mentioned it, the the Klodie/Armstrong joint effort to climb the rest of Verbier at their limit seems a little less than being focused on the team getting and keeping the yellow jersey.

    Sastre has it about right: cycling no longer makes any sense. Sastre also alluded to some pretty cheap-shot tactics in the peloton, but didn’t mention anyone in particular. My guess is that he is referring to Saxo Bank pulling as a team at the beginning of the Verbier climb while Sastre was at the back of the group and unable to respond. But if you have a better idea, I’d like to hear it.

    On US-centric cycling sites like VeloNews and Roadbikeaction we see them take every opportunity to demonize Contador, like Andrew Hood’s recent comment that Contador sounded really (overly) confident that he had the race in the bag (was hearing the same things I was?) or Bob Roll’s ramblings, which really defy logic.

    But I really didn’t expect you to fall into the same pattern of thought. The Spanish press is, of course, trying to sell newspapers. The headlines have nothing to do with Contador’s view of the race. Furthermore, outside of ABC the headlines are not that out of line. Contador did bury Armstrong on that climb.

  3. cosmo July 21, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    I’m not sure it would be fair to describe Frank’s late attack as “chasing down” Andy. Initially, he went alone, and one he, Nibali and Wiggins got free, Frank let the others do most of the work.

    I’d say the move was probably ordered from the team car to help Frank move up the GC against Lance and Klöden. These next few days will be very tactical, with the overall contenders so close together, and ever second between team’s top riders could be valuable leverage.

  4. Sophrosune July 21, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    Fair enough. That makes sense. So what do you think Sastre was referring to when he talked about the tactics in the peloton he didn’t like in this year’s tour?

  5. Spino July 21, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    I dunno… I’m doubtful that Contador is clean. This is an interesting article, and it contributes to my doubt in him: http://www.sportsscientists.com/2009/07/tour-2009-contador-climb.html

  6. luc July 22, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Hi everybody,

    More infos here about watts and the Verbier climb:
    http://cyclismag.com/article.php?sid=5184

    luc

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