Zabriskie certainly was a suprise, especially satisfying as he broke Lemond’s Tour TT speed record. That’s three wins in three consecutive Grand Tours for the 26-year old, and continues CSC unbeaten streak in Grand Tour TTs this season. So maybe this year will be a Tour of suprises.? But, despite unusually loud talk from der Kaiser in the run up to this year’s event, everyone saw Armstrong catching Ullrich from a mile away. So maybe this year won’t be so interesting after all. I guess the only thing that’s clear with three weeks to go is left in the event is uncertainty. (Damn, that was profound. Velonews desk job, here I come!)
Gotta love the post race-banter about whether or not Armstrong eased off at the end to give CSC the burden of yellow. Bruynel must not even have ot try anymore; he can just sit back and let his enemies wonder whether every little thing is a trick of his or not. Cyclingnews reports that Armstrong smashed his (very expensive) helmet to the ground in disgust after the race (and he looked mad pissed at the end of the race), so I’m guessing he lost for real. (As we saw at TdG, Lance hates losing to former teammates.)
One thing is sure, though: pretty much every sprinter is too far back for a shot at yellow. Cancellara (+1:02) has some speed, and might be able to snare enough bonuses to get his piece of the fleece before the TTT puts it permanantly out of reach. After him is Boonen (+1:49) a second ahead of O’Grady, but the Aussie’s penchant for finding the winning break might make him the fast men’s best bet for yellow. Everyone else (even allegedly decent TT rider Thor Hushovd) is over 2 minutes down. Perhaps this is the time for Hincapie (+:57 and no slouch in a break or group kick) to revive his 1998 dream of a Yellow J?
For the Tour Game, the next stage with points is Stage 4 on Monday, and by that point, I should have all the picks on-line. No doubt some of you using the play-in format will be thinking things over carefully this evening. Remember to keep an eye on things tomorrow – an onshore breeze is expected, and sea-spray can do some strange things to bike races. Just ask Alex Zulle.