I’ve been watching professional sports in general and cycling in particular for a long time. One thing that I have noticed that spearates cycling from all other sports is the elusive nature of form.
The difference between winning a race and finishing well in the pack comes down to a question of how close you are to your peak. How often has a winner floundered in their next race. Remember how unbeatable Gilberto Simoni looked in his Giro wins? Remember how bad he looked 6 weeks later at the Tour de France? Are you sure he is the same guy? Does he have a twin brother? When Ivan Basso won the Giro, you can’t tell me that you did not think about his ability to “hold form” until the Tour.
Why can some hold form for long periods of time? Look at Robbie McEwen. Is it because he times his peaks and valleys well enough to appear as though he is always at top form. Starting at the Tour Down Under in Jan all the way through the World Championships in October.
Today’s example is Levi Leipheimer. Last year, he had a great Tour and kept going through the Tour of Germany. This year, he won the Dauphine Liberie but could not even stay within sight of the GC at the first time trial in the Tour. Continuing down the lost form spiral, he starts off his defence at the D-Tour with a miserable 111th in the prologue!
Will we find the culprit back at the Tour of California? I don’t know.