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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

getting sucked in ..

Le' Tour has captured my imagination once again. We have yet to have our annual doping scandal ... and until then, i'm going to enjoy this bit of building drama presented to us.

These next 3 stages are a pleasing bit of teasing for us Tour junkies. We've been treated to a couple of beautiful Alpine stages ~ abound with brash individual exploits, team gels and disintegrations, intrigues on form and injury and alliances, and enough bucket loads of suffering poured over emaciated frames to last us through the breakaway stages.

But i love the transition days ... the big fights amongst the non-GC glory hounds. Each day will be 50+km hammerfests until they slot it into a robotic Rabobank pack tow. I don't expect the big men in orange to let the jersey go, but they will definitely want to keep a few fingers off triggers. So, look for the career hardmen to make their claims at being remembered ~ i'm a fan of the breakaway.

Saturday's time trial is growing more and more interesting. At 54km long and with a little kicker cat4 climb stuck in there to beat heads ... this could be a stage where the GC is turned ass over tea kettle.

There are questions hovering over the ability of Valverde, Mayo, and Contador to put up big efforts against the clock ... while under the pressures of the Grand Boucle.

And there will be pressure.

i reckon it has become a universal sentiment that 'der Chicken' will lose gobs o' minutes in the 2 long TT's of this year's edition. And when he makes statements like "this is a climber's Tour" - you have to just scratch your head and wonder if he switched up on his injections.

With well over 100km of time trialing in this tour, this is a race for the all-arounder, the lightweight powerhouse, the endurer. The 3 stages in the Pyrenees will be diabolical ... make no bones about it. And there will be guys cracking. One bad day ~ i mean a REAL bad day (not like the time losses Vino has been swallowing because of his injury ~ and yes, he'll still make the podium in Paris) ... i mean, the BAD days will lose you the tour. 7, 10, 15 minutes can be lost in a matter of kilometers on a hot, blasted climb. But in 100km of flattish TT work ~ you can lose just as much time, and NOT crack. You can lose that much and be riding as well as you can.

At this point in the race the two most dangerous riders to my mind are Kloden and Moreau. Both can time trial and both have huge amounts of experience in grand tour riding to draw upon. Moreau has been Mr. Top-10 for the past, what ... 30 years? I mean, the guy is a nice bookend for the pre-post Lance Era. He was part of the Festina doping affair that busted it all open, and now sweeps up some crumbs of glory now that Armstrong has ridden his one nut off into the money-colored sunset.

If Moreau were to win this race, one big french orgasm would ripple across the Atlantic and send us all into sympathetic spasms of crotch grabbing.

But, the Aussie-Crab Cadel can put together a top-6 TT result ... and he won't crack in the TT. Someone like Mayo might, however. The other spaniard, Valverde, has the best TT of any of the brown-skins ~ but, don't we all expect him to be one of the GC guys who really does blow up spectacularly in the Pryenees?

can't you just see all the Caisse d'Epargne jerseys hovering around Valverde at 4mph, pushing him, willing him to continue pedaling up the lonely mountain road? Or will that be Mayo?

And yet there is confidence amongst these GC hopefuls this year. Is it because ... we are no longer under the shadow of Lance? Perhaps only now are we really getting an appreciation of just how much control the Texan had over the peloton.

Iron Fist.

This year's edition is definitely one for the afficianados ... and hopefully, one of change towards . . . ?


Tripp Goldsberry said...

The Tour hasn't even really gotten going yet. There has been one mountain top finish, and on a Cat. 1 climb at that. Look at those two stages with the HC mountain top finishes. Those stages are nasty. The TT will give us a clue, but until that first HC finish, this race is like an NBA game in the first half.

Someone like Moreau, at 156 pounds or so, is going to have serious trouble with a climb that averages 8%. It's one thing for him to ride well on a stage where they are going fast enough that the draft still matters. Get him on a 12 to 14% ramp and see if he doesn't fall away. Same might go for Kloden.

If Valverde or Contador avoid imploding on one of those Pyrenees stages, they could put enough time into some of the better time trialists to make it very tough to catch them. Mayo is someone who might need 7 or 8 minutes on the remaining mountain stages to offset his TT loses.

Levi might have a shot if he rides the 2nd set of mountains better than he did the 1st, which is something he has done in the past.

Right now it's Valverde, Contador, Evans, Kloden, and Leipheimer. It will be a massive surprise to me if someone other than one of those fives takes out the GC.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

vino could put 4 minutes on all those GC threats per TT (except Klodi).

this Tour is giving us a show.

i'm hoping there are some good old fashioned brawls in these upcoming flat stages.

i want to see some big hits after long breakaways. always fun to watch and rewatch those final 20K.

Tripp Goldsberry said...

The problem with Vino is that he is already 5.5 minutes down on Valverde, and 4 minutes down on everyone else. He's 4 minutes down on Kloden, and Kloden sure looks to be riding better than Vino. So how does Vino get over the top of Kloden unless the team orders Kloden to deliberately tank it, which would be a risky thing to do.

These next stages should feature some entertaining breakaways, but I'd love to see some of the GC guys stop playing everything so conservatively and go on the attack. Those GC guys are riding awfully tight, except maybe for Moreau and Contador...

Those two mountaintop stages are going to see some serious punches thrown.

dr-nitro said...

Kloden is in the catbird's seat. You know if Vino gets his groove back, he will be itching to attack, say maybe a little number with the Spanish Condor. Kloden just has to sit back and mark the wheels of the other contenders.

That said, if Levi is really coming on (certainly still a question mark), Contador is an ace in the whole for the Disco squad's intentions. The kid won me over at Paris-Nice. I want to see him go for it.

And why I have a thing for the brown skin boys I don't know, but I'd like to see Valverde go big. I like his style (although I still think he is Fuentes suspect).

Viva Le Tour!

chatterbox said...

ov - I agree with you that Vino still has a chance. Those TTs are long and brutal and he is usually pretty strong.

I also think the steeper climbs of the Pyrenees will shake things up a bit more in the GC contenders. There are some that will shine on those grades and some that will suffer.

I am enjoying watching it again. It is exciting and unpredictable.

Anonymous said...

who trained Levi in the Pyrenees? Lance himself. he hasn't put forth any effort yet; condor is setting them up to follow him while Levi sits in the catbird seat...until he attacks.

Best tour in a long time. Moreau can't handle the big ramps and will lose time.

Of course, just my .02 and I was thinking of this as I rode the Central Valley Classic road race course and it's hills this morning.


Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

edited to correct egregious spelling errors...

Amen! Aaaaaa--men! Vino goes loose cannon now and runs interference for Kloden, just wreaking havoc among the teamless GC contenders....

Valverde will weather it, Sastre too.

But Moreau?

My buddy Schmalz ( says it best by dubbing the current French national champion 'Permatenth'.

Vino still can podium. Lots of punches left in that boy. Lots.

Anonymous said...

Vino is clearly out, and will be a worker or search for a stage win. If you look at the GC Kloden is going to be the overall winner unless he gets dropped big time on the Mtns. and if that happens it will be Valverde, Contador, evans doing the dropping. Maybe Mayo, or Levi. Thats it, except of course Rassmussen can attack more on the uphills.

If someone wins the tour that i have not mentioned then i would be shocked. Moreau might be able to get it done as well, but it looked like today he was struggling on the uphill accelerations.

This is quite the exciting tour, I do hope Sastre does a flyer soon!

Mike said...

OV, look forward to your blog, and the comments, lot of great info !!

WarrenG said...

The picture of the 7-11 boys in the Tour... Davis Phinney wins the sprint in Bordeaux and Jeff Pierce wins solo in Paris. Rare stuff.

Their coach was the same guy who now coaches Levi and Dave Z, Max Testa. Levi's form in the Tour has been according to the plan set 2+ months ago, and he is better in the steeper stuff still to come.

billy obvious said...

a chicken danish could be a fetching treat, only if ground pork was not available

Velo Bella said...

Moreau looks like one of those sardines at the aquarium

Velo Bella said...

or are those anchovies?

Anonymous said...

those are squid!

cycloscott said...

Rasmussen: Won't be able to dictate the pace in the Pyrenees, won't be able to follow every attack, and will lose gobs of time in the TT.

Valverde: Is going to pin it on Plateau de Beille. He'd better because he's going to need to make up the minutes that he gives away in the next two Saturdays.

Moreau: Please. He'll get dropped like a stone on the steeper climbs. His TTs will be solid, but not enough.

Sastre: Dangerous. He'll be solid in both the mountains and TT. I'm not sure he has the mental edge though.

Evans: Very dangerous. He'll be right there on the climbs, and top 5 in the TTs.

Levi: 50-50. Looks like he's ready for the hellish week 3 climbs, and we already know he can TT. Huge advantage with Contador. Send him up the road and make everybody else chase. Pre-tour, I figured him an outside shot at the podium. Now he's definitely a favorite. But does he have the mindset to attack instead of marking riders?

Kloden: Will lose too much time on the climbs to make up on the TTs.

Mayo: Will crack on one of the climbs. Unless his new pharmacist is better than the last one.

Vino: Gawdammit, I wanted to see him stamp his mark all over this tour. Which he's done, but in the wrong way. I've got my fingers crossed that he'll heal up in the next few days and go bat-crazy-ape-shit on Monday or Wednesday. That oughta put the fear of Borat into the rest of the contenders.

Final GC:
Evans, Leipheimer, Valverde in that order. Sastre and Kloden just missing out.

pedro said...

what are you smokin? didn't you see the tears, even VINO knows he won't be anywhere near the podium.

pedro said...

you fools... it's valverde, evans, or kloden... with the 2 hill top finishes in the pyrenees giving the chicken a shot at it all, despite his loses in the TT's.

the rest are... cooked.

cycloscott said...

Who said anything about Vino being on the podium. I just want to see that Vino grimace as he goes off the front instead of the back. That dude is flat out scary when he gets the bit between the teeth. circa 2003 Amstel Gold

cycloscott said...

smaller link.

dr-nitro said...

The Chicken does not do too well with the mano y mano climbs. They let him get away the other day. That's not going to happen again, and the fragile boy will have a bad day in the hills, in addition to the 110k of him against the clock.

Contador will surprise. If not, he will certainly cause some consternation between the contenders.

pedro said...


Olaf said it,

"The 3 stages in the Pyrenees will be diabolical ... make no bones about it. And there will be guys cracking. One bad day ~ i mean a REAL bad day (not like the time losses Vino has been swallowing because of his injury ~and yes, he'll still make the podium in Paris) ... i mean, the BAD days will lose you the tour. 7, 10, 15 minutes can be lost in a matter of kilometers on a hot, blasted climb."

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

you kids just wait and see ...

Vino is gonna inject some potato-Vodka into his testicles and run ramshod all over this twig n' berry peloton.

but, Sastre is looking more and more like it might be his year to give it a go. i think he'll be stronger than Valverde, Mayo, or Contador in the TTs. And, he should be able to hold his own on the climbs ... maybe even attack since he won't have to waste for Basso this year.

Evans ... i can't believe anyone honestly thinks that guy can win this thing. i mean, have you LOOKED at him when he climbs.


and that pug-nose of his?

i mean, come'ON ... if there were ever a case for rhino-plasty...

Anonymous said...

Evans climbs so much more beautiful then you Olaf! What a joke to even comment about a guy who is so much smoother and better then you could ever be there is no babble words to describe it.
Even if Evans looks like Mancebo taking a dump when he climbs, he still is beyond any criticism from you.

And Vino can attack now, sure, he is 8 minutes back, why follow a move from a guy who is so far off the back.

Bottom line is after saturday Kloden should be wearing Yellow and he has a strong team to back him up. But maybe Rasmussen can hang on?

There is no way Sastre will beat Valverde or Contador in a time trial! NO WAY!

Your on glue when you wrote that! Maybe you were drunk or something, but you need to get your head out of your hole and take a look at the GC.

I am going to hold you to it that you said Sastre will be better then Contador and Valverde in the TT.

Your knowledge of cycling is really sporadic and I think you should stick to rating the female racers, as that is what you are clearly best at.

this is your quote......
"but, Sastre is looking more and more like it might be his year to give it a go. i think he'll be stronger than Valverde, Mayo, or Contador in the TTs."

you better hope for a miracle ride from Sastre to put time into Contador and Valverde. Sorry but it seems to me those 2 guys are the best riders in the race right now. We will have a show down in the TT and see if you really do know what your talking about~~~

Anonymous said...

yes olaf is right, just look at the prolouge results

contador 15th place 33 seconds back

valverde 32 place 43 seconds back

sastre 92 place 56 seconds back

right there proves sastre is stronger then contador and valverde in the TT event and sastre will destroy valverde and contador in saturdays TT race just like olaf says

olaf you really know what your talking about

you remind me of greg lemond

you really know it all

i agree with olaf
sastre will dominate those two

olaf for ncnca president!!!

Anonymous said...

Olaf for USA Cycling President too.

Or at least velo bella Vice President.

Anonymous said...

Olaf knows football.

dr-nitro said...

Let's be honest here, people, Vino is 5 minutes back on the contenders. He'll be having chicken for dinner with his vodka.

Anonymous said...

Vino is toast with jam spread on his wounds.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

after seeing that CSC movie (which i still have to return to Ippoc) ... i will pretty much always have a soft spot for Sastre.

Crush the other brownies Carlos!!!

and i'm sticking with Vino on the podium.

he's harder than any of these boys.

dr-nitro said...

Vino has huge balls, and he used them to bitch slap fish mouth today.

Anonymous said...

Olaf you might be right

but the entire tour will be turned upside down if Vino makes top 3 and Sastre puts time in the TT on his fellow spanish amigos de biscleta hombres Contador and Valverde

it is going to make for some good tv i think

Olaf for Director of the Tou!