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.
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.