27 July 2007

Tomorrow's Time Trial - NOT A SPOILER

This is being written at 10:28PM Paris time, so it can't tell you who will win tomorrow's 55KM time trial or who will win the 2007 Tour de France.

What it will tell you is who I THINK will take this race because of the conditions forecast and because of the circumstances.

Remember way back in THIS POST, how I said that Levi Leipheimer was likely going to be the 2007 winner of the Tour de France? I still feel that way.

Here's how it will shake out...

Levi goes third to last and puts more than a minute into Cadel Evans effectively taking second place.

Then Contador - in the slippery conditions - plays it too safe and loses a chunk of time in the stage so that Levi ends up wearing the Yellow Jersey to start the final stage in Paris.

Discovery Team said at the beginning of the Tour de France that Levi was their leader. They supported him from the get-go and it's only been Contador's valiant riding and happenstance that has put Contador in yellow.

So, the team management will have to make a decision and they will go with Levi in Yellow and Contador in white, finishing 1-2 on the podium on Sunday.

I'll see you tomorrow night after the time trial is complete.

Nuts and bolts

Today's stage featured a long breakaway and a great sprint finish.

Not much more to say other than here are the standings after Stage 18 of the 2007 Tour de France. My next post will posit on what might happen tomorrow in the time trial...can you say Levi!!??

Here are the top 30...

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 86:04:16.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 86:06:06.000 00:01:50.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 86:07:05.000 00:02:49.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 86:10:18.000 00:06:02.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 86:10:45.000 00:06:29.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 86:14:34.000 00:10:18.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 86:15:52.000 00:11:36.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 86:17:03.000 00:12:47.000
9 219 SOLER HERNANDEZ, Juan Mauricio COL BAR 86:17:47.000 00:13:31.000
10 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 86:17:58.000 00:13:42.000
11 011 PEREIRO SIO, Oscar ESP GCE 86:18:23.000 00:14:07.000
12 012 ARROYO, David ESP GCE 86:22:14.000 00:17:58.000
13 052 BOOGERD, Michael NED RAB 86:23:26.000 00:19:10.000
14 207 MAYO, Iban ESP SDV 86:26:30.000 00:22:14.000
15 044 HORNER, Christopher USA PRL 86:27:28.000 00:23:12.000
16 015 KARPETS, Vladimir RUS GCE 86:28:43.000 00:24:27.000
17 036 SCHLECK, Frank LUX CSC 86:32:54.000 00:28:38.000
18 153 BELTRAN, Manuel ESP LIQ 86:34:04.000 00:29:48.000
19 088 VALJAVEC, Tadej SLO LAM 86:37:37.000 00:33:21.000
20 204 COBO ACEBO, Juan Jose ESP SDV 86:38:48.000 00:34:32.000
21 174 GARATE, Juan Manuel ESP QSI 86:40:29.000 00:36:13.000
22 014 GUTIERREZ, José Ivan ESP GCE 86:49:39.000 00:45:23.000
23 078 TXURRUKA, Amets ESP EUS 86:50:10.000 00:45:54.000
24 106 FOFONOV, Dmitriy KAZ C.A 86:58:21.000 00:54:05.000
25 037 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 86:58:26.000 00:54:10.000
26 114 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 86:58:51.000 00:54:35.000
27 068 GOUBERT, Stephane FRA A2R 87:06:03.000 01:01:47.000
28 089 VILA ERRANDONEA, Patxi ESP LAM 87:09:00.000 01:04:44.000
29 038 VOIGT, Jens GER CSC 87:10:00.000 01:05:44.000
30 107 HALGAND, Patrice FRA C.A 87:12:03.000 01:07:47.000

Poker day

With the 2007 Tour de France all but decided (unless Levi pulls a LeMonde or Cadel blows away the pack), I spent the morning at the Aviation Club of France playing poker. There I spoke with a bunch of Parisians who voiced concern for the sport and disgust for the doping that's going on.

It didn't help that I'm an American and they see us as getting away with one of the the worst dopers in history - Lance Armstrong.

I tried to explain that Lance used EPO to recover from his cancer treaments, but the guys at the club didn't understand. Either it was my French or their English or both, but they don't think that a true winner of the Tour has existed since 1996. That year, Miguel Indurain won his fifth Tour de France.

Since then, Parisians I talked to feel that Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have all been doping winners. The only rider not proven to have doped is Lance, but sports fans in any country can be a little irrational.

This year if it ends with Contador, Evans and Leipheimer, we could be starting a new era of drug-free riders and winners.

By the way - SPOILER ALERT - with 73KM left to go in Stage 17, four riders lead the peloton by more than 16 minutes. None of the leaders are in contention for the Yellow jersey and the Discovery Team is keeping the pace in the peloton high.