It Only Hurts A Little
The Tour de France is launched for the year of Our Lord 2007. It pains me that Floyd Landis has not been given his win and will not be riding this year. I may have to gin up the energy to do a post about Floyd and why I think he should be recognized as champion but for now, let's look ahead. I don't think there's a "crowd favorite" in this this year's field, certainly not in the US. But, of course, I have my preferences. I'd like to see Levi Leipheimer who's riding for the Discovery Channel team in yellow on the podium in Paris. But would I put money on it? Not really. George Hincapie is another Murrican riding for Discovery and I certainly wouldn't be upset to see him win. But again, I'm not betting.
Were I to put money on a rider, I would bet on Alexandre Vinokourov, a Kazakh riding for the very strong Asana team. It would make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. His ride in the Tour last year was electrifying.
Today's ride was the second stage (London to Canterbury) which was won by Aussie-born Belgian resident Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) in one of the most blazing final sprints I have ever seen. With five kilometers to go he was at the back of the peleton having suffered a crash earlier in the day. Yet he outsprinted two of the great modern sprinters Tom Boonen (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) in the last hundred meters. If you haven't seen it, the Versus page linked above at the word "launched" has daily videos. The 3 minute "McEwen Amazing!" shows what he did. Amazing isn't quite enough for his feat of grit and determination and shocking speed. Fantastic.
There was another blaze of speed in the individual time trial prologue yesterday in London. Fabian Cancellara (Swiss - Team CSC) nailed the ITT by 13 seconds over the second place Andres Kloden. He rode 7.9 km in 8 minutes 50 seconds for an average speed of over 33 mph. It was a surprise but probably shouldn't have as he is the current world time trial champion, wearing the champion's "rainbow" jersey into the prologue. Now he gets to wear the yellow which he kept today by finishing in 22nd position but, under the strange time rules of the TdF, with the same time as the winner. That'll happen when the peleton finishes in a bunch.
If you have the Versus channel, please take some chance to watch its TdF coverage. They have very possibly the best crew of expert commentators possible in house. And to watch the live video of the vibrantly colored peleton sweeping over the roads is one of the most beautiful things in televised sport. I'm not a Francophile but I love the Tour.