Sympathy For The Badger

Apr 27 2010

I’m not a petty man. I disagree with Bernard Hinault on a number of issues, but I’ve still got a tremendous amount of respect for the former rider, who, to quote another blogger, has been “taking people to the pain cave since 1977“.

So it’s nice to finally find some common ground with the Breton—even if it is fleeting and a bit less emphatic. Hinault has said (among other sweeping, uncompromising statements) that Contador can hand over five minutes to his rivals before the Alps and still win the Tour.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I would like to double-down on my statements from earlier this year that Astana is a better team than they’ve been given credit for. This classics season, Contador’s potential TdF domestiques chalked up wins in two fairly brutal one-day contests against top-flight competition—and let’s not forget the reign champ still has the ’06 “winner” by his side as well.

While Armstrong’s RadioShack squad didn’t exactly perform poorly, representing the sole Belgian win on the cobbles and taking a week-long stage race against some Tour-level opponents, Armstrong himself has been a bit of a dud (you can check out Hinault’s interview for the details).

Now we all know that through immaculate (or, as some have suggested, extremely maculate) preparation, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel always come to the Tour with their A-Games prepared, and despite a lackluster spring, there’s still no reason to assume that 2010 will be any different.

But I do think, after Astana’s performance this spring, we can safely take another potential weapon out of the seven-time Tour champ’s quiver.

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