Cycling isn’t the easiest sport to follow. Even with the biggest cycling race in the world there are plenty of moments when less than die-hard fans will doze off and channel surf. Yesterday was however a complete contrast. If you were wanting to get into the TDF yesterday’s stage would have being the one to watch (with exception to possibly tonight and tomorrow night).
Schleck’s attack was gutsy for sure. Basically betting on the whole tour in one go. If he was caught it would be hard for him to match the pace of the other GC after spending all that energy in the breakaway. Still, it was a measured risk and having a big HC at the finish helps it. Having 2 man waiting for you up ahead is also helpful. Very nicely done by LEOH PARD as they have shown a mix of braveness + smarts + panache.
Contador was pretty badly off today and unless he suddenly recovers a great deal and makes a “andy schleck” type of attack early on it will be hard for him. Basically his chances of winning this tour has greatly diminished after yesterdays stage. Still, lets not forget the way he absolutely dominated the climbs in the giro. If he had that form here it will be a completely different story i feel. Pretty sure that his giro efforts have a say here and some people might say the lack of steak has had an effect too? lol
Cadel. Poor poor Cadel. When Schleck gained his max advantage of 4 minutes my heart sank a little. Cadel’s good at TTing but not 4 minutes good. Still, he worked hard to claw his way back to a time deficit of 1 minutes and something and that is still very manageable with his tting. At one point Cadel looked pretty frantic but i do agree with the commentators. It isn’t because Cadel didn’t have friends in the peloton, it is more because no one could have helped him more. No one except Frank perhaps. He showed great determination on the last climb and helped out Voeckler too in securing his yellow jersey for one more day. Well done.
Tonight’s stage should be interesting. We might see a last minute scramble by people like Contador and Sanchez to mimic a Schleck breakaway to gain valuable minutes. To me though, the element of surprise is already gone. The peloton and in particular Cadel would be foolish to let a second breakaway go. Andy spent a great deal of energy last night so the dangerousness lies in Frank. He is the one to look out for tonight. I hope Contador or Sanchez tries for an early breakaway to spice up the race tonight. Maybe even a Contador + Sanchez breakaway? Imagine that. They know they are in trouble and the most viable way of wining this tour for them is to gamble it all on the TT. Chip away at the Schleck time and bring it down to sub 1:30 minutes and they might have a chance.
Popcorn ready for tonight that’s for sure. Good luck to Cadel and really everyone still in contention for the yellow. At one point up a 10% gradient i saw an average speed of 34.7km/h. That is absolutely insane. Insane in that they are hitting that speed after the 150+kms already in their legs on the day and not to mention the 17 previous stages of effort too. They are gods amongst mere mortals.