Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mountains of crap

Well, what a kick to the gut for cycling fans. On Tuesday, Alexander Vinokourov, who with his stitched-up and septic knees had won Saturday's individual time trial and Monday's mountain stage in the Pyrenees, was DQ'd from the Tour after testing positive for blood doping. While he's innocent until proven guilty, and while it's a French lab doing all the testing and what not, it's a real shame that it's not just Vinokourov, it's his whole damn team that's been kicked out of the Tour. It's guys who have protected him, Team Astana's best hope for an overall win in the Tour, who as far as we know have done nothing wrong themselves. It's guys like Andreas Kloden, himself in the Top 10 and with a legit shot at a podium finish in Paris with his abilities in the still-to-come individual time trial on Saturday, who are now out of the Tour for something he was not, as far as we know, involved in.

And all of this came a day after the Minister of Kazakhstan (I looked it up this time) announced that Astana would sponsor the team for 10 years. Just go back to 2006 and the STILL unresolved issue with Floyd Landis and his high testosterone levels following the Tour. Team Phonak, Landis' team, completely dissolved after that.

But enough of that, it'll play itself out later.

On Wednesday, there's some high drama to unfold. High as in 2 Cat 1s, a Cat 3 and 2 HC climbs, including the finish up the Col d' Aubisque...16.7 kilometers of climbing to finish the day. It's going to come down to a showdown between Alberto Contador and Michael Rasmussen (in yellow). Rasmussen has a couple of minutes on Contador...but Contador attacked him in the closing pedals of Sunday and Monday's mountains. And you know he will attack him again today. The question is when? Will he save it for the Aubisque and try to gain some time there?

Contador can out time trial Rasmussen on Saturday, so if he can put some time into that lead today and get it down to about a minute or could get real interesting on Saturday. I don't recall a final time trial leader change since Greg Lemond won it by 8 seconds in 1989, and again took the lead in the final time trial the following year.

Levi Leipheimer can out time trial him as well....but I just don't see it for Levi this year. Contador is his teammate and will ride in support of Leipheimer, but Contador is the one who can outduel Rasmussen in the mountains, not Leipheimer.

After Wednesday, it's 2 flat days and we'll be able to pretty clearly sort out the picture for Saturday's time trial.

1 comment:

Red Andrews said...

Man, that Texas Tech Tour de Franch squad is really proving the critics wrong!