Thursday, July 21, 2011

Can Voeckler Win the Tour?

It's looking increasingly as if he can. For all of Andy Schleck's heroics on today's climb up the Col du Galibier (and he certainly was heroic), Voeckler impressed me even more. He could easily have thrown in the towel after yesterday's semi-debacle on the descent from the Primartino, when Voeckler, who has a reputation as a terrific descender, twice misjudged turns and veered off the road. Today, he showed massive guts by keeping up the other "heads of state" (something Alberto Contador couldn't manage to do) on the day's final climb. He finished 2 minutes and 21 seconds behind Schleck to maintain a 15 second lead in the General Classification.

Unless either Schleck brother can remove the yellow jersey from Voeckler's shoulders tomorrow, I don't think they would be able to do it on the final time trial on Saturday. Voeckler may not be the best time-trialist in the world, but he is at least equal to, and probably better than, either Schleck Brother.

Cadel Evans clearly is the top time-trialist of riders still within shouting distance of the top step of the podium. But can he recover a more the one-minute deficit to Voeckler in the time trial? Voeckler is such a motivated rider, and they say that wearing the yellow jersey gives you wings. I may be naive, but I don't see him giving up more than a half-minute to Evans on Saturday, which means that the outcome of this year's Tour de France hinges on tomorrow's mountain finish atop the most famous climb of all: the Alpe-d'Huez. If Evans takes at least a half-minute out of Voeckler tomorrow, I think he will win the GC. If Voeckler can stay near him, and not let either Schleck escape for too great a time advantage, we will have our first French champion of the Tour de France since 1985. And a worthy champion as well.

1 comment:

  1. But did you see how much today took out of Voeckler? Evans has to contend with the Shleck brothers tag team. If either takes off he will have to answer. Contador and Sanchez are acting like teammates. I think Voeckler is wasted and he will only win if the other five can somehow burn each other out on the last mountain. Should be interesting.


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