2009 Tour de France - Latest Thoughts II

by Jack  

The 2009 Tour de France is about 2 weeks old and I have one word in my mind - action! It has been both fast action and then lack of action. The first week was full of action, second week, not-so-much. In fact, I can't remember the last Tour having such an exciting and unpredictable first week. But barely a week later, everyone's wondering where the action is. Sure, we had one decent day in the Pyrenees thanks to Alberto Contador (Astana) attacking and the subsequent tension in the team between him and Lance Armstrong. But that was it. Please say thanks to the Tour organizers for making the last climbs of the final 2 days in the Pyrenees so far away from the finish that Versus even had to have their "half hour commercial free" segment come almost an hour before the actual finish. Needless to say, those 30 minutes of commercial free coverage didn't produce a single worthy hint of action that I would have rather watched commercials selling male enhancements!

So now the Tour heads into the 3rd and final week and have the Alps looming. This is where the organizers wanted all of the action and this is where we are going to get it. At least I hope. One thing's for sure, there will at least be fireworks between Armstrong and Contador but I am not convinced the other challengers will even come out and have a worthy fight. Astana's tactics might change a little because of the crash and withdrawal of Levi Leipheimer, but I think this will affect Lance more than Alberto as he was one of the trusted riders in Armstrong's circle. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) has pretty much already conceded that he will not defend this title thanks to Astana and Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) has remarked that his job is extremely difficult thanks to a poor team time trial. The only people that look ready to fight is Team Saxo Bank. Andy Schleck has already put in a few accelerations while in the Pyrenees to test the legs of his rivals and look poised to strike again. Andy and his older brother Frank are some talent. They are very exciting to watch.

Tomorrow is the 2nd uphill finish for the Tour at Verbier. Action is sure to return, if for no other reason but because it is an uphill finish. Will it just be a battle between the 2 Astana riders or will the Schlecks provide some drama? Evans will surely try something but will it be enough to gain back 3 minutes?

In the mean time, Lance or Alberto? Vote at the top right of the page.

A full moon at the tour just before the Alps. Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP

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