I hadn’t initially considered this article to be of much merit. After all, the Texan has been quoted as saying “I’m here to win”. And even then, “ambiguity” isn’t really an asset if two of your riders split the team’s limited support resources attacking each other in the final week.
But then I caught this tweet, in which Christophe LeMevel claims the gap between echelons today started with the ’07 Tour champ. I realize the Spanish reputation in this sport involves having no clue what to do when the wind blows or when the road gets bumpy, but still—it defies credulity that a man capable of the wattage Contador can produce would get left behind like that.
Could it be that Johan gave the order to let Lance get away? If so, what would be the point? To conceal from the other teams who the strongest Astana rider is? To create the illusion of internal discord? To make friends with Columbia, whose watt-heavy flatlanders—including longtime Armstrong associate Hincapie—have the race-controlling ability that Astana is so desperately lacking?
Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe Contador just wasn’t paying attention. Maybe Johan only ordered Lance to go all-in once the writing was on the wall for the group behind, just to create controversy and distract a few precious braincells in the minds of his fellow Directors. Whatever the root cause, Bruyneel’s well-established penchant for trickery makes it pretty much impossible to dismiss any possibility out of hand, for this development and any other that happens over the next few weeks.
That, not the any of its possiblw GC contenders, may be the Kazakh squad’s greatest weapon at this year’s Tour.