Monday, July 9, 2012

Thoughts on TdF Stage 9

1. Cancellara set the pace, as expected. But, contrary to expectations, he did not win the stage. I underestimated Wiggo's motivation, and was absolutely shocked at Chris Froome's ride. Could Team Sky come to Paris with the top two finishers?

3. The real interest today was in the head-to-head contest between the final two riders to leave the start house, Brad Wiggins and Cadel Evans. Wiggins started with a 10-second advantage, gained in the initial Prologue time trial. Both riders are excellent against the clock. Evans no doubt was focused on bettering Cancellara's time (which he was unable to do), while Wiggins was focused on matching or beating Evans' time, which he accomplished, and in the process won the stage. Wiggins now has a 1 minute, 53 second advantage over Evans, who is now only 14 seconds ahead of third-place Chris Froome.

4. The always overrated (especially by himself) Vicenzo Nibali, who started the day in third place only 16 seconds behind the yellow jersey, did a decent time trial, but still lost time on the other leaders. He now sits in fourth, 2.:23 seconds behind the yellow jersey, and 16 seconds behind Froome in third place.

5. One of the most pleasant surprises of the day came from young American Teejay van Garderen. After losing the white jersey (for best young rider) in the previous two days' mountain stages, he regained it today with a storming ride in the time trial. At the first two time checks, he actually bettered Cancellara's time by a few seconds. He faded only slightly coming into the finale, but still managed to finish in second, just 9 seconds behind Cancellara in fourth place.

6. Team RadioShack's Andreas Kloden and Haimar Zubeldia also had good time trials today, finishing in 10th and 13th positions respectively. Zubeldia current sits in sixth place in the overall standings, and must be counted as having an outside chance of gaining a podium spot in Paris.

7. World Champion Tony Martin's bad luck continued, as he flatted again, just as he did in the Prologue. It must have cost him around a half minute, which is to say he wouldn't have beaten Cancellara, let alone Wiggins, in any case.

8. Finally, kudos to personal favorite Jens Voigt, who, at age 40, and a day after attacking from kilometer zero, managed to finish 16th in today's time trial.

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