Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chapeau!

In a true edge-of-the-seat performance, today's stage was one of the most electrifying in years. Hats off to Christophe Moreau for showing more aggression and heart than any frenchman since Thomas Voeckler held the maillot jaune. You can definitely see who is a contender and who is a pretender at this point. Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde did not acquit themselves like men who think they can win the tour. Their insistence on merely following wheels and looking to others to do the dirty work does not bode well for them. A true contender has got to have the wherewithal to lay it out on the line and hammer a move home. By marking Moreau and working against each other in a potentially dangerous move, they showed a timidity that speaks volumes about their chances for the overall.

Hats off to Linus Gerdemann who rode with aplomb to lose the Maillot jaune by only 10 seconds or so to a positively unstoppable Michael Rasmussen. Linus must have cuddled his blanket last night because he truly rode beyond his years, especially given the soul crushing fall suffered by T-Mobile team leader Michael Rogers, who went from the virtual yellow to DNF in a blindingly quick flash.

Vino' lost time, but limited his losses and made it to the rest day. The bigger story was how Kloden worked so hard to keep Vino' in contention and even waited for him. Remember how much promise they showed together (along with Jan Ullrich) on T-Mobile? How could that team not utilize those 3 weapons against Armstrong? With three big guns like that, they should have blown Armstrong away...

Last but not least: Rasmussen has asserted himself as a danger man, but the big question is his time-trialing ability. Another big scary wild card is Alberto Contador. That guy was climbing like a scalded dog after his wheel change. Just remember the old adage: good days in the Alps mean bad days in the Pyrenees; bad days in the Alps mean good days in the Pyrenees. The one thing that is for sure now is that the shadowboxing is over. It's put up or shut up time.
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