Basso will win the Tour

July 1, 2011

Why Basso?  Well, I started with the favorites and started eliminating riders who would not win the tour.  That left Basso as the only man standing. I know that is not really a ringing endorsement but that’s all I have this year.  Here is my thought process.

Contador.  Now that Contador is in, everyone is jumping on the Spaniard’s bandwagon.  I’m not so sure.  I think those bandwagon jumpers will be saying “Where’s the beef?” three weeks from now.   I just don’t think you can win the double (Giro and Tour) in this day and age.  The last rider wo did so was Marco Pantani in 1998 and he had a little help.  Even with pharmacology, he needed a faltering Jan Ulrich to take the jersey.  I’d rather look at more recent examples where riders who fared well at the Giro were spectacularly absent from the Tour.  The most recent example is Ivan Basso who, for the first time in his career, is skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour.  Why should I argue with him.  Bottom line, you can’t have both.

Andy Schleck.  Those who are not falling in behind Contador are going with Andy Schleck.  I fully understand that and I will put Andy on the top of my list of picks from the heart.  My problem is I look at the TTT and the Individual Time Trials and I can’t help but hear the quote from the famous Ty Webb.  “You’re not good Andy, you stink.”  So Andy will play the role of PouPou again this year.

Levi is losing the race against father time.  If he had a couple of years back he could sneak a peek at the podium and maybe even the top step.  I’ll say it flat out, I have never been a believer in Cadel.  The temperamental Aussie is good at most disciplines but not great at any.  I don’t see him even on the podium. Bradley Wiggins is more of a top five finisher, not a real contender.

An unexpected podium visit may come from Rabobank’s Robert Gesink.

So that leaves Basso.  He knows how to win and he is finally focused on this race.  While not a great time trialist, he is good enough not to lose the Tour in the race of truth which should be enough to win the Tour.


39 ticks of the clock.

July 27, 2010

I remember talking to someone who does Marketing for Major League Baseball. He mentioned that one challenge was to keep people talking baseball during the off season. That is why you see MVP and Cy Young awards as well as other activities in the dead of winter. Get people talking about your sport all year round. Well, I’ll give you 39 reasons we will be talking about cycling long after Mother Nature has our bikes up on rollers or trainers. That is the 39 seconds between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

How can you not believe in a higher authority after this year’s tour. That 39 seconds can’t be a random coincidence. It has to be part of someone’s grand plan. That someone has one heck of a sense of humor. Attack, drop chain, replace chain, lose 39 seconds. Have the time trial of your career and lose by….39seconds. If the margin was 38 seconds in Paris then you may have some people griping. Have it be 40 seconds and the other side can say that the Stage 15 decision didn’t matter. But spot on 39 seconds? Both sides have the fuel for a long debate.

Schlecks seek emancipation from father figure

March 5, 2010

La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that the Schleck brothers are looking to break free from Riis cycling and form their own team.  The article is not on their English site and while my Italian is suspect, it looks like the two brothers are trying to poach Fabian Cancellara and have Kim Andersen serve as Director.

On my way home from Sweden, I was reading how Frank Schleck pledged his undying loyalty to Bjarne saying that he would always ride for the Dane.  He also felt that a new sponsor for the team was a mere formality.  So what happened?

Time to check in with my predictions

July 16, 2008

Coming out of the rest day, I looked to take stock in the race leaders to see how they are doing.

Cadel Evans. Wearing yellow at the moment should be a good sign.  My concern here is that his team is showing to be a lot weaker than I thought.  He is easily isolated in the mountains and that in a dangerous situation for the Aussie.  He can afford to give a little time to all his rivals with the exception of Menchov since he is far superior to everyone in the Time Trial.  Watch out though because time lost in the mountains can come in big chunks. I’ll still put him on the top step in Paris but I am less sure of that prediction than I was at the beginning. Chances of victory: Good

Denis Menchov.  Made some mental mistakes that cost him precious seconds.  He sits 57 seconds off Yellow so he’ll need to show some aggression in the Alps.  I would like to see him with a slight lead over Evans heading into the final time trial.  Menchov needs to guard against any aggression creating his signature bad day.  I also don’t think Rabobank can support Denis in yellow too long.  Chances of victory: Fair

Carlos Sastre: CSC is clearly the strongest team among the leading contenders.  Carlos Sastre just can’t seem to deliver a solid blow to the other racers.  I don’t know if he lacks the ability to do it now or the killer instinct.  I don’t see the acceleration he once showed in 2003 on the Plateau de Bonascre.  While he was riding defensively since Frank Schleck was up ahead, he had an opportunity to escape alone and bridge the gap to Schleck where the two could have put serious time into Evans.  He gave what looked like a half hearted try. Time is running out since he will need at least 3 minutes going into the final time trial.  Chances of victory: Poor – Fair

Alejandro Valverde: After completely blowing up on the Tourmalet, Valverde’s chances are slim to none. Time to think of the Vuelta.

As for the long shots, Cunego did not make a peep before being dropped with Valverde on Stage 10.  I expect Damiano to take a shot at redemption on L’Alpe.  Kim Kirchen is really making a name for himself as the best of the rest.  He led in both the points and overall classifications by showing he is a very strong rider.

Frank Schleck is having a great tour.  He showed us his Achilles heel with a very weak time trial losing a huge amount of time ( 2:14) over a short 29km. He will not be given much room to break away in the Alps and I don’t think he has the acceleration to break free on his own.  If CSC decides to dedicate themselves to him, he may stand a chance to get time.  Then he has to ride the TT of his life.  A lot of “ifs” for a real shot at the top step.  He has a very good shot at 3rd.

I’m not going to give much press to Ricardo Rico.  He has shown he has tremendous talent as a climber.  A top eight finish is probable.

Finally, Christian Vande Velde is having an unbelievable Tour.  Garmin is getting paid back their entire investment in just one race.  I hope he can hang on through a tough final week and get a shot at the podium.  Will midnight strike for this Cinderella in the Alps?  Here is someone who is hoping it does not.

I’ve given you five names for three steps.  The fight for each step is going to keep me rivited.