Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paris Already?

Time Trial Recap
Is it time for Paris already? I'm not ready for this year's Tour to be over. It has been absolutely fantastic! Except for a few days when the big guns spent the day watching each other, this race has brought the unexpected every day. Crashes, multiple breakaway successes, new names, old rivalries, and good old fashioned racing. Just one more week...please?

Cadel Evans looked spectacular today, then got to put on the yellow shirt for his extraordinary effort. Prior to the stage, there was serious speculation as to whether or not Evans could overtake Andy Schleck's:57 second advantage in the overall standings. It was a valid concern, as no one has ever came back from more than :50 seconds down to win the maillot jaune and stand atop the podium in Paris. Evans had a couple of things going for him though. 1. He rode this exact same course in June's Dauphine Criterium. 2. Andy Schleck, eventhough he could draw on the power of the yellow jersey, seemed to be having an utter lack of self confidence in 18 of the previous 19 stages. Even up the L'Alpe d'Huez yesterday, Schleck was constantly looking around nervously and tried to talk his competitors into working with him on the stage.

No one however, expected Cadel to challenge for the stage win. Yet that's exactly what he did, improving his June time by over a minute (1:07) and capitalized on his Mtb descending skills to crush the last 15 km of the time trial and missing the stage win by a scant :07 seconds. An emotional Evans, kissed the LCL stuffed bear and launched the bouquet into the crowd, standing with his arms raised in what is surely a Tour victory, long after the podium girls left. "Chapeau" said Bernard Hinault to Evans on the podium's periphery. Chapeau indeed!

The Run into Paris
A tribute to French Champion Laurent Fignon will begin the shortest stage (58-ish miles) in the Tour since 1988, when cyclocross and road star, Dutch rider Andri Van Der Poel won a stage. Shortly after the champagne is shared and the BMC team lead the peloton onto the Champs Elysees, the pleasantries will end, and a full on race will erupt. Mark Cavendish will be looking for his third consecutive win in the inevitable Paris sprint, but Tyler Farrar and Andre Greipel have their own ideas.

By the way who is a better Tour de France teammate than George Hincapie? If you want to win the Tour, you need him on your team. Nine victories attached to his name! Amazing!


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