Thursday, July 26, 2007

Le Tour de France 2007 - Stage 16 - Chicken flies coop

I don't know how I feel about this. Uneasy? Disturbed? Queasy? I can accept that riders improve, their fitness and abilities change over time and their knowledge and execution of tactics increase. But Michael Rasmussen made it look just too easy. I'm sure it was tough. Evans looked cooked. Sastre obviously had a red hot go; and Contador was clearly motivated. Yet Rasmussen seemed effortless at times. He's obviously biologically superior on these long steep inclines. Even the lamented Pantani looked as they he was making an effort when he made his presumably EPO-fueled ascents. Yet I know that whatever grade of racing you do there is always someone who has saved a bit more at the end; someone who has trained a bit smarter, or harder; someone who just wants it more. Rasmussen is just one of those guys.

So good on him, great win. Yet somehow I feel better about Evans clinging to third place. He looked as if he was trying and he clearly was outnumbered. What could he do when Rabo had a great team behind the Chicken and Contador had super-domestique Leipheimer? Attack them both and somehow match their counter-attacks? I know that doesn't work, or work for long.

So there you have it. 2 road stages left to play with, one of which offers a chance of some breakaways but little hope of a big escape. It will be locked down tight as a drum by Rabo and Disco. And Lotto will hang tough. And then the TT, where some change will occur. Evans has a shot at winning the stage but so do several others. Will Evans gain or lose time to Leipheimer? Will someone do something extra-ordinary? Or maybe extra-terrestrial?