Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sparticus, Sky, & a 12 year Old. Prologue Recap/Stg 1 Preview

Aside from the first winner of this year's Tour, Fabian Cancellara, the clear winner was Team sky who sent the message to anyone concerned, that they were here to win this thing.

Looking like a sleek black bull in his Radio-Shack/Nissan skinsuit, Cancellara charged through the streets of Liege to best the best riders in the world by seven seconds. It shouldn't have been much of a surprise that Cancellara won, now the Tour's only five time winner of the opener, but the day was not without some unexpected moments and results.

Team sky won the team competition with strong performances from of course Bradley Wiggins (2nd +:07), but from Bosson-Hagen (5th +:11), and Dark Horse Froome (11th, +16) as well. Not much of a surprise here either.

Hometown favorite Phillippe Gilbert had a fantastic ride and was clearly spurred on by the huge crowds lining the course, finishing just 13 seconds off the winning pace of Cancellara. However, it was Sylvain Chavanel who arguably had the ride of the day, finishing third behind Wiggins and 'Spartacus'. He held the 'hot' seat for quite a while today before he had to give it up, but he's surely not disappointed his ride.

Tejay van Garderen wears the White jersey of the best young rider and it appears that the American is starting to grow into his expectations.

Eventhough he is wearing the legendary 'Number 51' Vincent Nibali didn't gain any extra strength from the assignment finishing within ten seconds +/- or so of the other contenders, and now resides in the same standings neighborhood of Evans, Menchov, and Gesink.

Big disappointing performances of the day belonged to Frank "I told you so" Schleck and David "I like to make jokes when I lose" Zabriske. Zabriske, sounding like a 12 year old boy tweeting "I'm 69 ing this race to death", referring to his placing (69) and race number (#69) I'm sure. Mechanicals marred a couple of stellar rides by some TT favorites (Martin, tire; Sagan, pedals) that might have shaken up the results had everything been working properly.

Stage 1 Preview

A relatively long first stage winds through the Ardennes tomorrow. The profile shows a nice little bump at the end that might favor local boy Gilbert who is only :13 seconds away from the yellow jersey and who surely knows these roads well enough to time one of his explosive attacks. Everyone else might have their eyes on Peter Sagan who could use his power to pull away from a surely charging field into Seraing. Keep your eyes on Samuel Sanchez as well. He's a bit down in the standings, and might be off everyone's radar just enough to 'pop' a Stage 1 surprise.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Tour de France Preview - Prologue


The 2012 edition of the Tour de France brings back the prologue after a one year absence and the man to watch will be Fabian Cancellara who won the last Tour prologue in 2010. Tomorrow's 6.4km circuit favors the Swiss Champion that won on this exact course in 2004. With only 5 turns this circuit is not very technical and will favor a rider who is willing to take some risks on the first day. For that reason, don't expect any of the overall contenders, Wiggins, Evans, Nibali, et al., to rip through the corners to try for the wind. Prudence is key. "Sparticus", as Cancellara is known, hasn't had a terrific year and I'm sure he is very much focused on making a statement that he is still one to contend with. He's worn the Yellow jersey before and expect it to be on his shoulders when the Tour starts its short tour of the Ardennes the following day for Stage 1. Look for the man who once accused of having a motor in his bicycle to power through for the win.

  •  Toni Martin might be the one to 'put it out there' as the German rider has shown he can win a Time Trial of almost any length.
  • Bradley Wiggins just might want to see if his fellow contenders are ready to race and start the over 100km of total time trials in this year's Tour as the man to beat.
  • Peter Sagan is as strong as they come, but still relatively unknown outside of cyling circles and may want to announce his arrival to the big time with a prologue win.
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