A Tale Of The Tune-Ups

Jun 7 2010

Lance Armstrong’s Hater-tots Served with HatersauceI’m finally getting back on my feet here. Internet connection and home network are squared away. I’ve found some good roads into and out of town, and finally renewed my USAC license. I’m even done unpacking, though I seem to have misplaced both my (latest) HRM strap and USB mic—this is why I can’t have nice things.

Anyway—the Tour of Luxembourg Skøda Tour. Lance Armstrong finished third overall, and to be fair, that’s pretty impressive, given that his last serious European work was Tour of Flanders—hardly great tune-up for a hilly stage race. Not that the Skøda Tour was particularly hilly, or even particularly stage-y, since bad weather neutralized the GC race on the final stage, but I am trying to avoid eating the hater-tots (above left).

At any rate, the Texan hasn’t been in need of any hassling. Alberto Contador, who you may remember from such soap operas as last year’s Tour, won the prologue of the significantly higher profile (reference the Periodic Table) Dauphine Libere Criterium du Dauphine. Again, in fairness to Armstrong, not much can be inferred from a prologue; however, I feel confident in saying that the Dauphine featured a better field—including a second place Tejay Van Garderen, stepping up two levels (again, see chart) from his strong multi-day performance in Turkey earlier this season.

In more news that Armstrong probably didn’t want to hear, the first road stage of the Dauphine (somewhat unusual in its own right, as a fairly select group won what is usually the token sprinters’ day of a murderous mountain week), resulted in perennially useful climber and Armstrong teammate Haimar Zubeldia breaking his wrist and suddenly looking iffy for the Tour de France.

Conventional wisdom is that this puts pressure on Armstrong for some big finish or other at the Tour de Suisse—which thankfully hasn’t changed it’s name, though could rightly be called the Tour de Convalescents for all the injured riders and adjusted schedules packing its roster. However, while Armstrong’s Tour prep is legendary, he’s also no stranger to the soft-launch/playing possum approach. Speculation is fun, but I’m not putting out any predictions for Lance’s performances until he rolls out of the start gate come July.

It’s also interesting to note that Ivan Basso will be gunning at the Tour this summer with essentially no racing between the two events. Liquigas was convincingly the best team at this year’s Giro, and I think, should Contador come to grief, Basso might just be the TdF favorite. Carlos Sastre, while out of contention for the bis on account of not winning the Giro, also looks like he’ll be making a shot at the Tour—he’s either racing or has been asked to race, depending on who you listen to.

One guy you won’t be seeing in Rotterdam? Skøda Tour winner Matteo Carrara, whose Vacansoleil squad continues to blow smoke in the eyes of the TdF selection committee—and the UCI clowns who put such also-rans as Footon-Servetto and Francais de Jeux in their ProTour “rump”—for not getting a starting slot at this year’s Tour.

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