Saturday, July 8, 2006
First big battle today of 2006 Tour
52km "Race of truth" from Saint-Grégoire to Rennes
Some of the favorites for top placings today:
Today's first big individual time trial, a 52km "race of truth" from Saint-Grégoire to Rennes, is also the first day of the 2006 Tour where the top candidates for overall victory need to put in big rides. Though today will also be a battle between specialists such as Dave Zabriskie and riders aiming for overall victory such as Floyd Landis, we are more interested in how riders in the latter category do against each other. Today should also begin to provide answers to some of the sub-plots, such as who may be best able to reach the podium, or win, for Discovery Channel. There is no hiding in a test like this and we should know today whether Yaroslav Popovych, for example, is aiming high in the overall. We will also see how teams T-Mobile and CSC are able to respond to the loss of their team leaders, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, respectively. Can American Bobby Julich, for example, an excellent time trialer who expected to be riding for Basso in this Tour, and who trained accordingly, turn in a big ride and announce himself as a G.C. contender? We'll have answers to a lot of questions today.
Climbers such as Gilberto Simoni, Damiano Cunego (riding his first Tour and likely to be shelled today), Iban Mayo, and Michael "Bike Acrobat" Rasmussen (aka "Chicken"), will do what they can to limit the damage.
Friday, July 7, 2006
Note: Big individual time trial tomorrow (Saturday) to Rennes. And with the absence of Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, suddenly a lot of very good time trialists would appear ready to emerge from their shadows. The real race for the yellow jersey begins. Will the time trial be won by a specialist like David Zabriskie or a podium contender like Floyd Landis? It should be a great battle.
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Valverde crashes out
Dekker, Rodriguez also injured, out of Tour
Alejandro Valverde on Mont Ventoux, 2006 Dauphiné Libéré
Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), a serious contender for the podium and, according to some, for overall victory, crashed out of the Tour de France in yesterday's stage 3 to Valkenburg in The Netherlands. The rising star has now had to withdraw from both Tours (he first rode the race in 2005, where he won a stage) in which he has started.
Rabobank's Erik Dekker of The Netherlands and Davitamon Lotto's Fred Rodriguez of the United States also were forced to withdraw after crashes.
American showdown for the Tour win?
Leipheimer (2006 Dauphiné), Hincapie (2006 Tour as well as 2005 Dauphiné)
and Landis (2006 Paris-Nice) have all had a taste of yellow since Lance Armstrong retired
With Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo suspended because they are under investigation in the "Operacion Puerto" doping scandal in Spain, Alexandre Vinokourov unable to start because too many of his teammates are under investigation, and now Alejandro Valverde out of the race due to injury, is the Tour now a battle of the Americans for overall victory? It would seem that way as Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) and Floyd Landis (Phonak), all of whom have had yellow on their backs at one time or another in the past 12+ months and who have made no secret of their desire to go for the Tour win, now seem to have a fairly clear path ahead of them, at least to the podium. But Aussie Cadel Evans of Davitamon-Lotto may have something to say about that and Discovery Channel has a few other riders (Popovych, Savoldelli and Azevedo) who can figure in the overall as well.
Leipheimer, Landis and Hincapie finished the 2005 Tour in 6th, 9th and 14th place, respectively. Hincapie's placing, however, was due in part to a breakaway accorded a non leader and might be more properly evaluated as roughly equivalent to a 20th placing overall. Still very good, especially in the service of his team leader, Lance Armstrong. And he has earned the right to be a co-leader at Discovery Channel to see what he can do on his own in the Tour. But it is not at all certain that Hincapie will be strong enough day in, day out in the mountains, to reach the podium, even with all the favorites out of the race.
Leipheimer is known for his consistency and barring some incident would seem a sure bet for the podium. And he may win the race outright.
Landis is, well, Landis and he could blow the race apart and win or have one bad day that puts him out of contention. He doesn't have the strongest team, however, and may have to count on the final time trial to win the race.
Evans is a rider who could be extremely dangerous in this race. Then guys like Spaniard Iban Mayo, strong in last month's Dauphiné but weak in long time trials, could blow the race apart in the mountains.
Discovery Channel, as a team with multiple cards to play and with the experience of controlling the race the past seven years, on paper would seem to be in the best position to win this race. But with which of its riders? And at what point do they make that decision? It's not necessarily going to be easy to sort out and the team could, understandably, be set for an "ego moment" or two sometime next week...
This race could still be won by anyone, including a support rider who gets an insurmountable lead in a breakaway...
2006 Giro d'Italia
(photo Pete Geyer)
- Discovery Channel's Viatcheslav Ekimov and Egoi Martinez are among the riders whose bikes are fitted today with GPRS modems to transmit data (including heart rate, pedaling frequency, speed and power) in real-time. This information is communicated on the air in TV broadcasts and is also available online. We've got the link for you below, as we've done with other races in the past year where T-Mobile live SRM telemetry has been available. Note that the website has links for both plain HTML display of data as well as data graphed over time, the latter may require you to get a Java update from Sun's website. (You'll find the link to that on the page our link takes you to.) It's interesting to watch this data change depending on where the riders are on the race profile, whether on the flats, on the climbs or on the descents. Some of the tickers below show you dynamic race profiles to assist in interpreting or verifying what you're seeing from the live SRM telemetry. Enjoy.