The Tour de Suisse was interesting this year. Not so much because of the battle for general classification, which all but defaulted into Frank Schleck’s hands, but because of the storylines it sprang for the upcoming Tour de France.
Most obvious would have to be that dazzling crash among the sprinters on Stage 4. We rely on the action of the fastmen to carry the Tour through its first week, and of the would-be TdF stage contenders at the race, only Oscar Freire and winner Alessandro Petacchi emerged unscathed.
Haussler was forced to abandon, and seems to be harboring a touch of ill-will over the cause. Tom Boonen, still recuperating from a crash at the Tour of California also suffered a bit as a result.
But Cav—oh Cav. When was your last win again? When was the last time you made it over a reasonably-categorized climb? Let’s take a look at your stage racing this season—Tour of Catalunya: DNF. Tour of Romandie: DNF. Tour of California: DNF. Tour de Suisse: DNF. This does not bode well for your chances at a Green Jersey, my friend. That was win you needed, and likely a win you would have received if you’d only managed to ride in a straight line
And then there’s Lance Armstrong. Opposite end of the spectrum, really. Speculation was rampant that between the crashes and allegations, Armstrong was rapidly running out of time to get ready for this July’s main event. Certainly a lukewarm prologue performance didn’t do much to dispel that impression.
But the Texan then went on to hang with the heads of state on the TdS’s toughest day. True, it wasn’t the all-revealing, gap-forming, trial-by-fire of a summit finish, but still—hanging in on an HC climb is a step up from Armstrong’s previous finishes this season. And his performance in the TT—previously thought to be something of a weak point—was enough to put him on the podium.
Could it be that Jeremy Schaap is secretly the world’s best cycling analyst? Two more weeks until we find out for real.
thoughts on “No Shortage of post-Suisse Storylines”
But the Texan then went on to hang with the heads of state
1. This isn’t the TdF. If he doesn’t leave the TdF due to legal troubles, there are too many riders better than him that will win. A placing? Maybe.
2. Someone with almost no race miles lands on the TdS podium. His lack-of-preparation ‘preparation’ points to doping. Name several riders who are placing well with relatively few racing miles in their legs.
Please, someone prove me wrong on these observations. Seriously. I want to be wrong. Please, no references to the Passport system. It’s UCI condoned-doping version 3.0.
The Armstrong we saw at the TdS was quintssential Armstrong 3.0: able to follow the the best in the mountains, strong/smart enough not to have any truly bad days, and surprisingly flat in the time trial. The base of a great cyclist is all there, but the old extra gear has so far not been in evidence. He’s been accused of sandbagging, but hey, we’ll find out.
Also — and I ask because I didn’t watch this race live — did he beat Kloden and Leipheimer in the mountains because they were weaker, or because they spent all their time working for him?
Contador has fewer racing days than Armstrong this year, yet I don’t see an accusation of doping. Oh, that’s right, he’s just the best and doesn’t need to dope. No, no double standard here.
I find it interesting that just because Lance didn’t stamp his authority all over this race and Luxembourg, everyone is saying he’s a goner for the TDF.
It was a tune-up race.
The TDF will be interesting, regardless.
Cavendish’ lack of results this year makes for a nice selection dilemma at Columbia-HTC – select Greipel? Select Cav? Or take both and let them fight it out with the risk of Cav torpedoeing Greipel and himself out of contention? It’s going to be a fun two weeks…
As long as Cav still wants to ride the TdF, HTC will have to take Cav, not Greipel.
Cav won’t take being replaced, and certainly can’t work with Greipel. Either way, he’d take it personally, hold the grudge, and the team/rider relationship would be fkd.
So HTC wouldn’t do this unless they’d decided to get rid of him permanently, which based on the investment they’ve made in him, they wouldn’t be ready to do at this stage. From an investment point of view, he’s having one bad season now after a magic season last year. Unless he does something really crazy or becomes completely uncontrollable, they’ll likely try to manage their investment back to his winning ways, even if takes longer than this season.
That’s my 2 cents anyway, would love to be proven wrong, and see the big german in france in 2 weeks. Good luck to him if he leaves with Grabsch etc and goes to Omega Pharma Lotto, or any other team for that matter.
No doubt in my mind that Cav’s got the legs to sprint and win. But has his bad season and lack of results thus far forced him into “panic mode” making an already dangerous (IMHO), risk-taking sprinter decide to throw what’s left of his definition of caution to the wind and put it ALL (including other riders safety/health/etc.) on the line for results? The TdS crash was caused (again IMHO) by both riders, but Cav clearly deviated from his line much more than Haussler; and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Cav do this.
While he’s winning he’s a decent guy (ridiculous finish-line celebrations aside), but when he’s not it’s always someone else’s fault. Also, his lack of respect for other riders in general makes me sick. He takes way too many risks, bulls his way around the peloton like he owns it then shoots his mouth off before stopping to consider his words. I know of several 2 – 5 year olds who act this way, but a grown man who is constantly in the limelight really needs to do a better job of representing himself and his team better. HTC needs to quit coddling this guy and lay down the law. But I digress…….
I think Cav will be a force to be reckoned with at the tour and I’m looking forward to see who will be up to the challenge.
Back to the Armstron discussion for a minute: his whole form thing aside, I just read the Radioshack squad on the ES website and I’m really impressed by the team he has got. I hardly see any weak links there, at least not compared to what other teams will line up. Okay, some of them may have seen their best years, but I’m looking forward to see what they can still do.
On the other hand, Saxo Bank’s line up looks more than impressive, too, although it does not seem to be concentrated as much on the GC with Cancellara and Breschel certainly good bets for stage wins in ITT or sprints from small to medium-sized groups. Curious what the other teams’ line-ups will be.
Can’t wait for the Tour to start this year – last year it was a lot different as I couldn’t see Contador not winning, but this year, while he still may be the strongest rider, it might be that his team is just not quite good enough any more as most of his main support now rides for Radioshack. Not saying he won’t win, just that he might have to fight a little harder for it. At least that’s what I hope…