To the uneducated eye, today might have looked like the Disco boys tapping out the old Postal Two-Step (step 1: go really fast, drop everyone else; step 2: Lance attacks.) But careful analysts will note that Lance was forced to ride on his own in a small group for over 10k on the final climb of Courchevel today, outnumbered the entire time by Illes Balears. Not only that, but dropped riders were constantly clawing back on, and both Leipheimer and Basso were able to limit their losses due to Lance’s isolation over the final kilometers.
Sure, the end result was still excellent, but this squad, no matter how much Lance tries to talk it up, is nowhere near as strong as it was at its peak in 2002. With a teammate in the final group, like he used to have in Heras, Landis or Azevedo, Lance would have had at least a shot at a stage win against Valverde. Where was Azevedo today? The spritely climber from Portugal was one of the first riders shelled on the final ascent. Soon after, Triki Beltran cashed his check. In fact, the last two riders with Lance today weren’t pure climbers but the unflappable George Hincapie and the all-arounder Popovich; these two aren’t pancakes (as Lance would put it), but they lack the burning uphill speed to shred a 12-man heads-of-state group.
So what happened to the climbers? Simple: DC simply doesn’t have enough fat men. Pavel Padernos can crank like a mofo, but he can’t do it for 3 weeks. The squad needs hard dudes like Eki, Benoit Joachim and the recently departed Victor Hugo Pena to keep the skinnies fresh for the climbs. As the race goes on, I think this shortcoming will continue to become more and more obvious.
Anyway, sweet stage. I love recalling the little things you forget about Tour climbs, like Mancebo’s O-face or the French cameras constantly cutting back to Christophe Moreau, so that the entire country can see how badly their best rider sucks. Valverde is the man for cranking big fat gears; I consider today a victory for opponents of compact cranksets everywhere. Nice also to finally see the King of the Mountains fighting it out with the leaders at the end of a mountain stage. Big Tex might have his hands full with Skinny Denmark over the next couple of stages. It’s just a shame Rassmussen can’t TT his way out of a wet paper bag.
thoughts on “Same Old Two-Step? – News”
interestingly Sandy Casar finished 29th on the day beating notables such as Heras…
29th again today. He is by far FdJ’s best placed GC rider
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 4.47.38
2 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.01
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 1.15
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
6 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner
11 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne
12 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel
13 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC
14 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step
15 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team
16 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne
17 JÃ¶rg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros-WÃ¼rth
18 Andrei Kashechkin (Kaz) Credit Agricole
19 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
20 Andreas KlÃ¶den (Ger) T-Mobile Team
21 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
22 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
23 Jose Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel
24 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
25 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne
26 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
5 discovery riders finished together today. unclear if the team is “nowhere near as strong” as it used to be.
You don’t win the tour by putting 5 riders in a chase pack of thirty. You win the tour by putting 2 racers in a lead group of 3.