Who looks good
Well, after a hard week in the Pyrenees not a lot has changed. All of the main contenders are still there and, as I predicted in the week one wrap, Thomas Voeckler has hung on to the yellow jersey for more time than even he thought he would. So the pointy end of the field looks much the same, with Voeckler, Evans, Basso, Sanchez, Contador and the Schlecks all still in the mix, but the racing was anything but dull. Cavendish has shown he really is the fastest man on two wheels, picking up another two wins. His turn of speed in the last 200 meters is incredible. The sprint finish win by Greipel on stage 10 was also inspiring. The rouleur’s of the peloton (Rojas, Gilbert and Hushovd) all still look great and one of these may pick up a win on stage 16 or 17. There are some young guns like Tom Danielson and Peter Velits that are showing some great form – they will be ones to watch in future grand tours.
Who looks bad
I expected more from Nicholas Roche, Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer in the past week, it was a little disappointing Roche and Martin couldn’t stay with the leaders up the Plateau de Beille. Though, I still think Roche and Martin have long, and prosperous careers ahead of them. Leipheimer is obviously still suffering after a few crashes early on. There are a few teams that have gone missing also, Team Sky have disappeared with the withdrawal of Wiggins, and Ag2r La Mondiale and Cofidis haven’t featured much, though David Moncoutie (Cofidis) is showing some great form.
As Thor Hushovd is one of my favourite cyclists, I loved his emphatic stage win in Lourdes (Stage 13). He destroyed the field with raw power and took out a stage that, on paper, looked like it was meant for a climbing specialist. He continues his incredible season in the rainbow jersey. As far as simple viewing pleasure goes – you couldn’t have gone past Stage 14 up Plateau de Beille. This was a cracker of a finish, Andy Schleck kept attacking and Evans, Voekler, Basso and Contador had answers for him every time.
As well as being a great stage to watch, stage 13’s climb up Plateau de Beille was also my defining moment of the week. The fact that the field could not be split, despite the climbing of a peloton-destroying mountain, will have repercussions for the rest of the Tour. This may trigger a change in tactics from the major protagonists – they know now that short attacks aren’t splitting the field. If no one can pull off a long lung-destroying attack and nothing changes in the Alps, Evans will go into the final time trial in Genoble with a huge advantage. He is arguably the best time trialist of the group and he will easily be able to chip away at the lead that Voeckler and Frank Schleck have over him. It is looking good for Cuddles, the little Aussie battler!
And another thing…
- I know you should never laugh at a cyclist hitting the deck, but Jens Voigt’s two crashes within seconds of each other on Stage 14 was hilarious. He is such a colourful character and when he lost his shit after the second crash I couldn’t help but have a chuckle!
- My heart skips a beat everytime I see a rider pick up his bike and toss it to the side of the road like it was a piece of rubbish. As someone who races on a cheap(ish) aluminium Fuji I would give anything for one of those bikes! And if I had one I would definitely treat it with care – even if it was given to me for free!
- How good is Matty Keenan?! For those of you outside of Australia, he is our homegrown cycling commentator that is the warm-up act for British cycling legends Liggett and Sherwen. I say give him a whole stage to commentate, he’s great!
So have I got it right? What’s your predictions for the last week? Comment below…