Friday, July 22, 2011

Schleck or Evans?

Well, it looks like Voeckler's out of the race for yellow. He finally cracked today on the famed Alpe d'Huez, falling into fourth place, with little or no chance of recouping time in tomorrow's time trial or Sunday's stately promenade into Paris (which may not be so gentile, or gentle, for the green jersey contenders).

Today's stage was animated by the controversial Alberto Contador, who looked so miserably yesterday on the climb up the Galibier. Amazing that he could recover so quickly and thoroughly from his extreme fatigue and inflamed knee to attack on the Alpe d'Huez just 24 hours later. If he hadn't faded towards the end of today's climb - he was overtaken before the finish by Pierre Rolland, the impressive young French climber from Europcar - I would be even more suspicious.

Meanwhile, Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans are the two riders left to fight for the GC. Evans is by far the better time-trialist, and must be favored going into the final stage of real competition for the GC. He should be able to take at least one minute out of Schleck, who currently leads him by 57 seconds. We should not underestimate, however, Schleck's desire or the effect of wearing the yellow jersey. Who knows, he may ride the TT of his life tomorrow. And his disadvantage to Evans won't be so great on the hilly terrain around Grenoble as it would have been on a flatter TT course. So, even though Evans should be favored, no one should write off Schleck before he starts down the ramp.

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