Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tour de France: Rest Day Round Up


So, 10 days down and here we are at our first rest day. The riders will be hoping to get a good day today and for many a rest day usually consists of breakfast, a couple of hours steady paced riding to keep the legs moving, plenty of films, games and sleep. After yesterdays time trial however, I suspect Cadel Evans will not be resting easy today...

When Bradley Wiggins beat Cadel Evans in the Dauphine Time Trial by 100 seconds a few weeks ago, we all assumed that either Wiggins was peaking early, or Evans was yet to fire on all cylinders. Yesterday Wiggins beat Evans by a similar margin which is more than a little worrying for Cadel Evans, not least because yesterdays TT was 10km shorter than the one in the Dauphine, yet the time gap between the two riders slightly bigger. With another 53km Time Trial still to come in this years Tour de France and Cadel Evans already close to 2 minutes down on Wiggins, he's going to have to go back to the drawing board. Early estimates would be that Evans needs to take 5 minutes out of Wiggins in the Alps and Pyrenees before the final TT to stand any chance of winning. It's not impossible, but with similar pedigree to Wiggins in the climbing department, its certainly looking unlikely...

Another surprise yesterday was Christopher Froome cruising to second behind team-mate Wiggins to take a Sky 1-2 in the Time Trial, a whole 22 seconds ahead of powerhouse Fabian Cancellara. We new Froome could Time Trial, we didn't expect him to destroy Cancellara's time. Thanks to that performance Froom pushed his way into third on the overall classification, knocking Vincenzo Nibali out of his podium place. In fact if Froome hadn't suffered a puncture and lost over a minute and twenty seconds getting a replacement, he and Bradley would both be leading Cadel Evans in the GC. Talking of Cadel Evans taking time out of Wiggins, he's going to struggle to get on the podium at his rate!

Is the Tour de France effectively over? Well, no. There's two weeks left and we haven't even hit the mountains yet (not properly anyway). Anything can happen in two weeks, crashes, mechanical failures, a single bad day could change things all over again. Realistically though, barring major disasters, Wiggins certainly looks in the driving seat. There are few pure climbers left in the GC as it is, for anybody to claw 5-10 minutes out of Wiggins in the mountains, in this day and age is going to be pretty impossible though. At least this should make for some exciting battles in the mountains...

A rest day isn't a rest day without a bit of drama and this time it comes in the form of the Cofidis team hotel being raided by the Police (I know, doping raids are so last year, and the year before, and the year before that...) at the end of a 12 month doping investigation, resulting in the arrest of French Climber Rémy Di Grégorio. Two other suspects have been arrested and held in Marseille. It looks as though the investigation goes back to when Di Gregorio rode with Astana last year, so this might not be a Cofidis thing. This time.

In other doping news to hit the headlines today, the USADA has banned Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari, and Jose "Pepe" Martí for Life as the result of their anti-doping rule violations in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy in what the USADA described as: "aggravating circumstances including involvement in multiple anti-doping rule violations as well as trafficking, administration and/or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method". It looks as though the three remaining suspects,  Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Dr. Pedro Celaya, have either asked for arbitration to go forward or have been given five-day extensions. It was reported yesterday that Lance Armstrong had filled a Federal Lawsuit against the USADA, though this as promptly thrown out by the Texan Judge. The saga continues...

For now though, riders will be looking ahead to tomorrow as the race finally heads into the Alps for the next couple of days. Riders like Cadel, Van Den Broeck and Nibali will need to consider attacking here to put some time into Wiggins, whether this happens though is another story. Wiggins Sky team looked very strong on the final 6km summit finish last week, and though the Alps are bigger, longer and higher the form of the whole team has been there to see for everyone in the bunch. Any effort to drop Sky will need to be substantial. All riders react differently after a rest day though, some even struggle the day after and would prefer not to have a rest day, many teams tomorrow will be hoping Bradley Wiggins is one of these...

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