Thursday, July 13, 2006

Now the Tour really begins

The Tour officially hit the mountains yesterday, but today was the first truly exciting mountain stage. So exciting that I ended up being late to work. Not that it mattered, no one really noticed. As a result that's basically what this post is going to be about, and rather than re-hash the same thing I'm going to borrow liberally from an e-mail I sent my Dad. As you'll recall he picked David Zabriskie for his horse, and I picked Yaroslav Popovych (after both of us picked Levi Leipheimer and cancelled one another out). So based on today's stage I’m feeling pretty good. I think as long as Popovych doesn’t abandon that Zabriskie isn’t going to be able to pull back 32 minutes.

In other news I feel better about wanting to pick Levi first, he seems to have recovered fairly dramatically, which once again just illustrates everything I don’t know about elite level fitness and cycling. I’m curious to see how much of that huge deficit he can pull back between now and Paris. When one considers that just yesterday he was still showing some weakness and imagine that he hasn’t peaked yet and that he appears to have a better team than Landis at the moment, who knows what could happen in the Alps. Course this brings up the whole point of Landis’ team, he looks great, but the rest of his team was no where in sight. My tour memory doesn’t go back far enough to have any frame of reference for what happens to the leader if he doesn’t have a decent team behind him (though I guess that’s basically what sort of happened to Postal in 99).

Despite my comfortable lead with the "horses" I’ll still only really feel vindicated if Papovych finishes as the best Discovery rider. My thinking (after Levi got cancelled, to say nothing of Ullrich) was that Discovery was a known quantity and I felt that despite losing Lance that they were still consistent enough to have someone place high, from there it became a question of which of the Discovery riders would ride the best. After picking Popo (as they call him) I immediately regretted it particularly when everyone started talking about Hincapie and Salvodelli, and then of course he didn’t do that great in the time trial. But now that Hincapie and Salvodelli cracked big time it’s only Azevedo who’s in front of him on Discovery. So my hope is that we’ll see some rallying around him and that he’ll just keep getting stronger and do well in the Alps and the final time trial. In any case I feel better about my pick even if he is only 23rd… Frankly I’m more than a little surprised at how poorly Discovery has done this Tour.

As far as the other riders go, I’ve had a soft spot for Cadel Evans ever since I saw his break-out performance in the Giro. I’ve never much liked Sastre, not entirely sure why. As I mentioned I’m a sucker for the break-through performance, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Fothen do well, he’s still ahead of both Leipheimer and Totchnig. It is turning out to be a pretty exciting race, though I think it will get even more exciting once we hit the alps, normally by this time Lance would have three or four minutes on his rivals and it would already be a race for second. At this point the entire top ten are all basically within that range.

I can hardly wait for Tuesday


Anonymous Geshin said...

Hey, wait a minute,
did you just JINX team Discovery?
I hope they can recover from it. :)

1:23 PM  

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