Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tour Report; Stage 4- Team Time Trial

67.5Km in 1:10:39... that's 57.324Kph (35.541Mph) people. In lay terms; that's freakin' fast!

So my picks for top ten were pretty close, only 2 teams I hadn't picked made it into the group- Fassa Bortolo and Liquigas-Bianchi. I feel terrible for Dave Zabriskie who lost his yellow jersey to a crash in the closing kilometers of the race. Prior to that, it looked like he was on his way to another few days in yellow. From what I saw and from what everybody has had to say about it, Dave's crash is still without a cause. Personally, with the way a TT bike handles and those speeds and the level of fatigue he was experiencing, I have a feeling he either hit a small rock/ pebble or just managed to twitch his arm and down he went.

Now Big Tex is in yellow again and Hincapie is another 55 seconds back in second place. Now, I'm not the smartest fella in the world, but I have a feeling Lance et al at Discovery will work to put George in yellow and keep Lance rested... or maybe even let Jens Voigt move into yellow and let CSC defend the jersey a bit longer. If I had money riding on tomorrow, I'd be thinking that CSC is going to send Voigt and/ or Julich on the attack and try to get them into yellow and Discovery will just barely let them do exactly that. I think the next couple of days are going to provide some pretty cool racing to watch. The sprinter's teams will want their sprinters winning and CSC is going to be hell-bent for leather to get that yellow jersey back on one of their riders.

The German uber-team T-Mobile managed an impressive third and Ulrich is alleged to be feeling much better about life now. Vinokourov is higher placed on the GC still and I would bet he has plenty of motivation to do well. However, from a tactical position, T-Mobile has a great thing going; Vino is way too close to the GC for Discovery to let him get an inch up the road and that is precisely his specialty. This puts the "Disco Boys" (somebody else has been using that nickname, but I like it) in the position of having to chase him down all the time... and leaves Jan in the position of being able to get a free ride and rest for the mountains. Hmm...

Liberty rode a lot better than I thought they would, even with Manolo Saiz as the director of the team (and TTT mastermind), it is still a team largely comprised of little Spanish climbers. Beloki looked like a better rider than he has since his horrible crash.

Phonak? I don't know what happened to them, but I really thought they would do a lot better than they did. Landis has to be a little disappointed after all the work they've done to make this a go-fast team.

Gerolsteiner rode well enough to not get embarrassed, but much slower than I anticipated. Michael Rich is one of the very finest TT riders in the world and Leipheimer ain't bad, but they were still 2:05 down. Levi lives to fight another day, but how he will make up his time deficit remains to be seen with the team Discovery has brought to the race.

Iban Mayo of Euskaltel has to be wondering what the hell he has to do to get a break at the Tour. 3:59 down today... even with that pretty new TT rig he has (would've been faster on a Masi).

Tomorrow is a day for the sprinters... unless CSC really seeks revenge for their misfortune today (and I think they do). I think Bjarne Riis is going to have the CSC team put the hurt on people, especially when they hit the one category 4 climb near the finish. It isn't much of a climb, but it's enough to stretch some people farther than they want to be stretched.

We'll see...


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