Sunday, July 18, 2004

Wow! Where did this guy come from?

OK...
 
Friday and Saturday brought out things that I would have NEVER predicted!  Tyler is out, Mayo might as well be.  Heras is basically gone, Ullrich, although technically still there, has been broken mentally.
 
But where did Ivan Basso get this strength, climbing ability and tenacity?
 
I'm glad that Lance has some competition, but who would have thought that it would come from this direction? 
 
Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be really interesting.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Injured: Hamilton's back

Today we've heard comments about Tyler Hamilton's bruised back and observations he has been struggling a bit at times to hang with the peleton. It seems hard to assess what this means, although it seems certain from last year's evidence Tyler will not retire due to injury.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and undoubtedly Tyler will be getting his back worked on.

Tyler seems like a real threat to escape on longer, harder days, when and if he reaches for that invisible, extra gear. Now that he is an acknowledged threat, will he get the chance to show us?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Predicting Lance's Attacks - First Attack?

Is is enough to look at course profiles and rest days to predict Lance Armstrong's attacks? Stage 12 looks to me like it might be the first opportunity of interest. It looks like a dynometer and, lets face it, Lance is a strong efficient engine.

Stage 12 has a solid uphill profile, and two major climbs. Better yet, it ends still climbing at 1,700 meters, so there is no chance for the less goat-like peleton to regroup and catch-up. It would be hard for T-Mobile to pace Ullrich, he'll likely be on his own, mano-a-mano with Armstrong. And Lance will be able to pull away on the final climb.

Unless Mayo and the other goats are there as well.

Stage 6 Starts: Two Big Guns Retire and a Crash

Two great names in sprinting did not roll out with the peleton today: Petacchi and Cippolini, the dominant sprinters of current and past times. A bit suprising given they are in the middle of stages made for great sprinters, one might surmise they are retiring simply due to their lack of success. The tour has just begun and there are more sprints than mountains ahead.

Then, our first news is at Km 13, a crash. This one does take down Lance Armstrong and some of his Posties, but we understand he is back up with the peleton, and that no one is seriously injured.

The incident does remind one that anything can happen, and overall we have the impression today that all cyclists are mortal.

And, there is a breakway...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Predictable and in favor of the Posties

Well, as Bob M. Notes, today's break is predictable. Let one of the five take yellow for a while. It obviously benefits USPS as they won't have to defend every day. Plus it brings some (albeit temporary) prestige to one or more of the other teams. Looking over the schedule, I don't see any really interesting stages until Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

But you never know what might happen...

AP

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

EP Predicts (v.4)

Well, Le Tour is still just begun, but it already seems no one is as serious as Lance Armstrong. There will be shifts back and forth in standings, and Lance may lose the jersey at some point, but he'll finish in yellow. No one is really willing to take it off his back.

This despite the fact that the new rules make the race much more competitive. I especially like the rule limiting the benefit of the TTT to an three minute advantage, as it puts more emphasis on individual performance for the individual standings.

There will be carnage in the mountains, but Ivan Mayo's inability to catch up after the crash in Stage 3 shows that the combination of he and his team is not strong enough to take yellow to Paris this year.

The U.S. Postal Team, by leading the peleton onto the cobbles of Stage 3, and by taking Stage 4 outright, have shown they are the far most serious team.

This is not to say that it is not possible for someone other than Lance to win Le Tour; however from what we've seen I feel certain the outcome will be one of the following:

  • Something terrible and catastrophic might happen to Lance, e.g. he's shot, breaks a leg, etc. But is this likely? Lance seems to have no respect for the Fates, he's an insolent mortal, a true Homer. This we love about him (shaking our fists at the sky).

  • Ullrich might dig deeper than ever has before, flames shooting out his ears, and he simply TAKES the yellow jersey off Lance's back, dead or alive.

  • Tyler decides he's had enough of this being Mr. Nice Guy stuff, he decides Lance is a jerk, and he hammers Lance the way I suspect he might be capable of if he reached so deep he pulled out his spleen in the process, neither one certain who would be left standing
  • Lance wins.

  • Anything. Anything is possible, but no one is as serious as Lance.

Stage 4: Lance gets Yellow Jersey after Posties Fly in the Rain | Hamilton Shows Character

The U.S. Postal Team, led by Lance Armstrong, won Stage 4, the team time trial (TTT), in the rain today in Northern France, recording the the third best ever average speed in a Tour de France team time trial at 53.71 kph (nearly 34 miles an hour).

This puts Lance Armstrong, who has been only seconds out of the lead thanks to his fast 2nd place showing in the Prologue, into the yellow jersey. Lance now leads the tour.

Team Phonak, led by American Tyler Hamilton, came in second in today's TTT, one minute 7 seconds back of U.S. Postal. Phonak finished with 5 riders, rather than a full team complement, after losing several riders to the fast pace mid-course.

Surprising and notable on the video feed was Tyler sitting up and making his team wait for the lost riders. This had a huge cost to him personally, perhaps as much as the minute he lost today. Tyler showed true leadership and one might hope his team members saw the sacrifice and appreciate it. Tyler will need them dearly in the coming weeks, if he is to have a chance for a podium.


Monday, July 05, 2004

Le Tour is Underway, and the Blog is Now Open!

This is your invitation to join a group blog on Le Tour 2004. Reporting or commentary on the days stage. Interesting insight. Predictions. Engage fellow cycling afficianados here.

E-mail me @gmail.com for team posting "membership" --- Eric.Pederson