Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brave Chicken - Mouth of the Mersey

Recent years have seen many Tours de France follow a predictable pattern: Big Mig hangs on in the mountains, then pulverises the opposition in the time trials; Lance wins the first mountain stage and the time trials but spends the rest of the race behind his Jim Jones style dedicated team; Ullrich finishes second; Virenque wins when it no longer matters. But after 2006's welcome return of perspective (too much perspective), 2007's race is continuing a welcome retreat from the formulaic.

This weekend was always going to shuffle the pack with Sunday's mountain top finish for the climbers and Saturday's contre-le-montre for the triallists. Albi's Gothic piles provided the inevitable picturesque backdrop as the riders covered 54km of Tarn's rolling rainy roads. There were a few casualties, but handling the road has always been part of a TdF contender's challenges. None of the GC men hit the road, although Alejandro Valverde could hardly have lost more time had he done so.

The big ride came from Alexander Vinokourov, who is talking up his chances, but his eyes are telling us that it's too late. Chapeau to Vino who showed a competitor's spirit. The other big winners were Cadel Evans (now 1.00 down in second), Alberto Contador (at 2.31) and Andreas Kloden (at 2.34).

But my ride of the day was the Maillot Jaune's. Rasmussen is a notoriously bad time-triallist, especially under pressure in poor conditions and he must have felt the weight of an orgy of drug stories these past few days as he stared at the tarmac from the start house. So it was a brave Chicken indeed who held on to the Jersey and it will take a big ride to wrest it from his shoulders tomorrow.

Bradley Wiggins showed himself to be a stage winner of the future with a very fine ride for fifth place on the day, backed-up with a superbly phlegmatic interview from the team van.

Aussie Evans is the new favourite at 11/4, Rasmussen you can have at 7/2, Vino a very skinny 4/1, Kloden and Contador a handy 5/1. With the race heading towards tens of thousands of Spaniards lining the roads of the Pyrenees, I like the look of the young, but very strong, Contador.


DoctorShoot said...

excellent Mouth
thank you. maintaining Mimi's high standards with the typical trumpet postlinks...
glad I got on Cadell when I did...
interesting race and your commentary is the lifeline...
keep it up

DoctorShoot said...

'spinal tap at gracelands' sounds like a b grade chorus line medical movie...
perspective indeed...

guitougoal said...

I like Contador chances for today's leg too.
Soler also could "se faire la belle au plateau de la belle" -
Thank you for reporting, agree with Doc, "your commentary is the lifeline."

MotM said...

Cheers guys - I've a feeling for Sastre today, but not by sufficient to put him back in with a chance of the GC.

The wild card is Vino. If he goes two-up with Kloden, whoever lives with them will be in a strong position.

Evans is still a good bet, but he looks so tired at stage finishes.

bluedaddy said...

Wont today be one for the lesser lights given the amazing efforts of some of the big guns yesterday (Valverde excepted)? Rasmussen must be shattered.

Watched the highlights in the early hours. These guys are made of steel. I just want to quietly cry if I crash on my bike.

Is Evans' tiredness maybe Chrissy Waddle-esque? Convincing but deceptive.

For all Lance's greatness, the Tour feels alive again without him.

MotM said...

BD - I know what you mean post-Lance and it felt like that post-Big Mig.

Even a big effort like Rasmussen's only lasted for an hour and the top men will only go flat out on the final climb, so I'm expecting a breakaway to get reined in by the big boys 3km from the finish and then an Astana tandem to the top.

Evans - well he needs to instil belief in his team and doing interviews as tired as he looks doesn't help.

guitougoal said...

Contador is there, Soler too, did I called it right or it was just pure luck?

MotM said...

Gitou - You did call it right. I think you and I have more belief in Contador than Contador - I think he could have broken Rasmussen today had he gone earlier.

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