Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour de France: Etapes 4 through 9!

The breakdown for the first week of the Tour is so: Armstrong takes a bite out of his closest rival (and teammate) Contador with a cunning technical move during a windy stage. Closest rival and teammate Contador is non-plussed and takes first opportunity (Stage 7) to take the time back from Lance and put himself into second place. He attacks on the final climb of Stage 7 into Arcalis and takes back the 20+ seconds Armstrong stole with the help of Team Columbia. So now after Stages 8 and 9, an Italian Rinaldo Nocentini wears the maillot jaune and leads the race by a scant 2 seconds. For Stages 10-12, watch as the sprinters teams try to reel back breakaways consisting of one to 6 riders and create opportunities for the fast men of the Tour while Nocentini tries to keep the yellow jersey. Mark Cavendish will try to take back the maillot vert (green sprinters jersey) from Thor Hushovd and go all the way to Paris for his first green jersey win of his career. The next week should be fairly pedestrian, some stages will be for the sprinters while some breakaways will survive. Stage 14 should start the fireworks anew as contenders and would-bes will try to erase margins and vie for the podium, if not the win. I am undecided about the race this year. Is Contador the leader of his own team? Is this whole rivalry thing a ruse for publicity? Could Armstrong win again? One thing is for certain, look for a selection to happen on Stages 13, 16, 17, 18, and definitely Stage 20. It has been a while since the final stage before the ceremonial ride through Paris pitted man against man instead man against clock. Likely Stage 17 will prove whether Armstrong's aging form will wither under the power of younger foes or not. Keep watching and enjoying! Don't worry about the green, white, or polka dot jerseys as much as the yellow. Pay attention to overall time and the following names: Armstrong, Contador, Vandevelde, and Wiggins. The first two are the only ones left that can realistically contend for the overall; Vandevelde (an American and my personal favorite) has been quiet thus far and could make a stir; Wiggins (a Brit) is having the Tour of his life and could supplant Leipheimer from his spot on the podium, if he plays his cards right.


Ryan said...

Is there a team agreement that they will fall behind Armstrong or Contador? Will they be mad at eachotehr. Aren't teams suppose to be friendly towards you?

ridgeandjenny said...

It depends on the team. Astana (Armstrong and Contadors team) has not really stated who the clear leader is. They are clearly waiting to see if Lance has the form to win. If he is "supplesse" (a French way of saying awesome) then he will be the leader and a mountain of cash will be made stateside by his sponsors and himself. If not, then Contador will go down in history as the first rider to beat Lance at the Tour post cancer. The stage races are complicated and the team will typically go with the strongest rider. Since that is undetermined, they will wait and see who will look the best in les Alpes. If you want to read about an incredibly dramatic case of "isn't your team supposed to be friendly to you?" then Google "La Vie Claire 1985 and 1986". Fun stuff!!