Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hors Categorie

Just like last year, Team Sky seem to be in a different league from the other teams in the Tour de France. That became abundantly apparent today in the first big mountain stage of the race, when Chris Froome, Richie Porte & Co. blew away the other GC contenders in a display of utter domination. Before today's stage, time differences were measured in seconds; after today's stage, Chris Froome leads his teammate Porte by nearly a minute, and holds the following leads over his main rivals: Alejandro Valverde (1:25); Alberto Contador (1:51); Andy Schleck (4:00); and Cadel Evans (4:36). Unless something truly dramatic happens (e.g., a crash or a positive doping result), Schleck and Evans are toast. Valverde and Contador still could make the GC contest interesting, but as of now Team Sky look set to repeat last year's one two finish. Instead of a Wiggins-Froome podium; it could well be a Froome-Porte podium.

With just over a week of racing behind us, there doesn't seem much drama left in the green jersey (points) competition either. Given the sizable lead he has built already, and his ability to get over the hills that relegate other sprinters to the gruppetto, Peter Sagan looks to have that contest all but locked up. Sorry Cav.

That leaves the polka dot jersey (mountain) and white jersey (young rider) competition as the only two left to be seriously contested. But even if there's not much doubt about the ultimate outcomes of the GC and points competitions, there's still plenty of drama left in this year's race, starting with tomorrow's stage, which features four first category climbs. Look for Contador and Valverde to try to regain some of the time they lost today. Look for Team Sky to blunt those efforts (probably with success).

Finally, with Schleck and Kloden out of the GC race for Team Radio Shack, look for Jensy to be given the freedom to fly, starting with tomorrow's stage and not ending until the race reaches Paris.

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