Originally posted by VaBeachNiner:
Originally posted by fzrdave:
Contador put in an outstanding ride today to take the stage victory in the ITT, which really surprised me. His ride almost seemed too good to be true, but maybe he's just really on his game - I hope so. He is now leading Andy Schleck by 4:11; so, if he can keep the rubber side down, then he has essentially wrapped up this year's Tour. Sitting an additional 1:14 seconds back behind Andy Schleck is Lance Armstrong who announced today that he is forming his own team for next year and it's going to be sponsored primarily by Radio Shack with additional sponsorship by Nike, Trek, and probably others. Nonetheless, Armstrong is going to have to really stay on top of his game with just three stages left (really only two competitive stages as the final stage is more of a really fast parade down the Champs-Élysées) because he is only ahead of Bradley Wiggins and Andreas Kloeden by 11 and 13 seconds respectively. And you really can't discount Frank Schleck either because he is only trailing Armstrong by 34 seconds with a penultimate mountain stage coming up on Saturday, his specialty.
So, first and second are pretty much wrapped up, but the final podium spot is still wide open.
I think Lance is using this race to gauge how his body is holding up, and to help Contador. Next year Lance wins his eigth with team Radio Shack.
Yeah, I think he definitely played the good teammate to Contador this year. I also don't think he was anywhere near 100% after breaking his collarbone during the Vuelta Castilla y Leon back at the end of March this year. So, with a team 100% dedicated to him and without a super-team 100% dedicated to Contador, then yeah, he would stand a real good chance.
Today's stage played out as a flat stage, which was slightly unexpected due to the category 2 climb and descent just before the finish, although, I actually expected just such a finish. Thor Hushovd rode up several categorized climbs on Wednesday to snatch sprinter points and extend his Green Jersey lead, so I thought he would do the same thing so he could retain the Green Jersey, and of course Cavendish is still in that race, so he would be there too. As such, Cavendish just outsprinted Hushovd for the victory today. Interestingly, Lance Armstrong was sharp enough to finish with the sprinters and thereby gained 4 seconds on all the GC contenders in the trailing peloton. Say what you want about Armstrong, but his mind is always in the game.
Get ready for tomorrow because it should be an epic battle for third place with an outside chance of a change for second place. There are going to be three category 3 climbs and a category 4 climb, but most excitingly will be the final finish on top of a hors-categorie climb at Mount Ventoux.
[ Edited by fzrdave on Jul 24, 2009 at 12:29:54 ]