Tour de France '07 – Vino's Revival, Valverde's Collapse

Jul 21 2007

You wanna know why I don’t write race previews? I think this little Evans vs. Kloden piece is a good example. Biggest bit of pre-competition vaporware since Dan vs. Dave. Yes, both Evans and Kloden maintained their positions, but the real stories of the day – Vino rebounding and Rasmussen maintaining – had nothing to do with either of them. It may sound strange, but The Chicken’s 3-minutes-back, 11th place finish may go down as one of the great rides in Tour history.

Zero points for you in the office pool if you had three Astana riders in the top four. They’ve stacked the high end of the results sheet in so many TTs this year that I’m not even gonna bother hunting down the links. I might give you a little credit for prognosticating Moreau’s collapse; despite what Carmichael says, you can’t really cite the inconsistency of a rider who hasn’t had chance to be consistent in nearly a decade. For me, Valverde’s utter detonation was the real shocker – yes, his chrono abilities have always been a gynormous question mark, but he was only 19 seconds behind Vino’ at last year’s Vuelta. Today? Over 6 minutes down.

Well, the bright side, for the winners (Vinokourov), losers (Valverde) and fans (allegedly, that’s us) is that lots and lots of people have incentive to attack, and put out or get out time begins tomorrow. I feel like Disco will finally be working for Contador, who, as much as I like Leipheimer, is the squad’s best shot at victory. This is important, because despite his earlier confidence, Johann is hurting for a new sponsor; putting his man in yellow would be a good first step. Although considering that the current yellow jersey shouldn’t have been allowed in the race at all, the allure of that storied garment may be considerably dulled.

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