Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tour de France Projections after 4 Stages

GC Contenders:

2. Lance Armstrong 10:38:07
3. Alberto Contador :19
4. Andreas Kloden :23
5. Levi Leipheimer :31

Now, I know it’s a long race. It’s a grand tour, but seriously, is this not total domination thus far? 4 out of the top 5. For anybody who even thinks this abundance of talent is a “problem” or may cause “issues” for Astana should seriously rethink that view. Johan Bruyneel has so many options (and tricks up his sleeve) the other Director Sportif’s must be having nightmares about when or how Astana will shred their GC contenders to pieces. I can see Bjarne now, that blank, shocked, helpless look on his face.
Further, what is Cadel Evens (aka Cuddles, seriously that is his nickname) or Carlos Sastre (aka Sastrisk) going to do when they find themselves trying to cover acceleration after acceleration from Astana's henchmen, while Lance, Levi, and Contador put it in cruise control and play a game of travel othello while their competition will work like dogs to stay in the pack?

Projection: Reserve two spots on the podium for the Astana men. And don’t be too quick to give the other spot to another rider. Could it be an Astana sweep? Not if Garmin-Slipstream has a say….

12. Christian Vande Velde 1:16
This is difficult to assess. He has a decent team. He proved he can hang with the GC contenders last year and just barely missed a podium spot. See previous post. However, he crashed hard earlier this year, his fitness is questionable (argueably), and why was his team trying to sign Contador just before the race? And what about the rumors that Millar wanted to bail from the team? Do they know he won’t contend this year….or is it all a ruse?
Projection: Unable to forecast, we’ll find out in the first really tough mountain stage, Stage 7 on Friday. If he is still contending through Stage 10, he will have a legit shot at top 5, podium might be pushing it. So, will he be there or will he dropped like an anchor? Could it be an all American podium?

20. Andy Schleck 1:41 & 25. Frank Schleck 2:17
These bros are no joke. Andy was best young rider and finished 12th in his first Tour. Frank finished 6th last year. And that was when they were working hard for Sastre. What can they accomplish as the leaders? One thing is for sure, if they want to get on the podium, they are going to have to improve their Time Trialing, Andy finished 1:00 and Frank 1:36 behind Cancellara in Stage 1, whearas Contador was only :18 back, Kloden :22, Leipheimer :30, and Lance :40…and that was only 15.5km…what are they going to lose on Stage 18 which is 40km…and are they tired helping to pointlessly defend Cancellara’s Yellow jersey?
Projection: 6th and 12th last year was good, but Lance, Levi, Kloden, and Contador were watching the Tour on TV….which means Frank will just barely slide into the top 10 and Andy will be happy with a top 20.

29. Carlos Sastre 2:44
While he rode well in the 2008 Tour, as noted in my previous post, he is a pretender. Anytime we refer to the 2008 Tour we have to remember that Contador and Leipheimer were excluded, clearly they both can handle Sastre.
Projection: Forget it, he’ll be lucky to get a stage win.

35. Cadel Evans 2:59 (aka Cuddles)
He is the modern day equivalent of Joop Zoetemelk who won in 1980 and
finished 2nd in 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1979…except for one thing, this is not Cadel’s 1980, he can not win with a less than adequate team. Period.
Projection: Lucky to see the podium this year.

40. Oscar Pereiro 3:03
Eventually was declared 2006 TDF Champion after Landis’ appeal to USADA was found to prove he was guilty of doping.
Projection: Sorry he’s just not at the top level. I’m not sure why I even included him?

72. Denis Menchov 3:52
3:52 back is not a good way to start the tour. In all likelihood, he’ll be heading into the mountains on Friday with the same margin. Now, tell me how Menchov plans on making up 3:52 on Contador….don’t bother thinking about it, it won’t happen.

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