Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tour de France 2008 Stage 17: Random

I'm pressed for time, so just a few random thoughts on L'Alpe d'Huez.

Oddly, I think yesterday was more fun. Maybe I'll feel differently after I watch again this evening, without the scattered stress of not knowing what will happen. Fantastic weather again, couldn't ask for a better day. Insane fans - as many crazy days as there's been on d'Huez, I swear I don't remember quite so much risky intermingling with the cyclists as there was today. Maybe it was because it wasn't entirely packed, with some opting for Croix de Fer, gave more room for people to be silly.

I would love Carlos Sastre to win the Tour de France. He's such an unsung hero, it would be fun. And CSC-Saxo Bank buried themselves completely this Tour, the top prize would be a just reward. Unfortunately, it's not likely to happen. Looking at last year's final TT, Cadel Evans took loads of time from Sastre, so it should be no problem to pass him on Saturday. But, never say never, tomorrow's a tough day and anything can happen in a time trial, be it equipment or weather or nerves or yellow wings. I'm also fine with Evans taking it - presuming things go as they have been, he'll have earned it.

I'm not second-guessing, I'm genuinely curious - if by going up the road you're gaining time on Denis Menchov and limiting Sastre's gains, what does it matter if you have a Schleck on your wheel? I mean, if you think you're going to blow up and can't hold a faster pace, fine. But if the only reason you slow down is because the group caught up, I'm not getting it. Who cares who is doing the work or who is going to come around who at the finish, if you're helping your placement? Sastre was clearly going to win the stage, so there's no issue on that. You don't put time into everyone, but if the choice is putting time into two guys or no guys, why not take two?

I don't know, I guess they didn't have much left in the tank anyway. Evans and Christian Vande Velde both finally went for it at different points, not caring who got on their wheel, and still couldn't make big gains. But by then Menchov had caught back on, seems like a big opportunity to crack him was missed, as Vande Velde acknowledged after the finish. You know me, never been a fan of that cat and mouse stuff.

In any case, fabulous stage for CSC, good on Sastre for zooming to the top, good on the Schlecks for sacrificing to cover the moves. Can't wait until it's Andy's turn, he's going to be a fun one to watch as a leader down the road. One thing, Carlos, dear, you had to do the whole salute thing before the line? Those are precious seconds, baby, you'll rue the day if you need them on Saturday!

Fabulous too for Christian Vande Velde, bouncing right back from yesterday to have a strong stage and even put in some attacks. He clearly left it all out there, wobbling after the line, and is rightfully delighted with his ride. Tom Danielson, hope you're watching VeloNewsTV and take VdV's words to heart - keep working from now until next June, so you can be beside him next time!

Team Columbia - love and hugs boys, the road was not kind to you today. Three guys taking nasty spills, including George Hincapie, who had holes in his jersey and shorts, not a happy sight. And Kim Kirchen couldn't hold the lead group as he did yesterday, falling further back. Best wishes to bounce back in the coming days - tomorrow could be a day for Hincapie again, and Kirchen should have a good TT.

And the most random of all - Michael Douglas???


Anonymous said...

I was wondering the exact same thing about why Evans (or others) weren't trying to pull away when Menchov was off the back - Schleck or no Schleck. Maybe they just couldn't do it at that point in the climb. Hooray for Carlos, though! He deserves his yellow jersey for that amazing ride!!

It certainly will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday!

Steve said...

I also have no idea why Carlos was celebrating before the line. It wasn't like the previous stage where you hit the line and then had to make a sharp turn. How will he feel if he rides the ITT of his life and loses by a second or two?