Sunday, July 08, 2012

Expect the unexpected in Le Tour. Sagan gets the bell, Kloden can't be coaxed and Froome sprints

Given what has happened so far, I expect anything and everything will happen from here on in. (But I will pin hopes on Nibali and Evans attacking downhill at the first opportunity - which will be real soon now.)

RadioShack-Nissan has been hanging on grimly, desperately hoping that Cancellara could stay close enough to Wiggo and co. that he could recover his lead in the ITT. That looks like a forlorn hope, but he'll probably get 30secs back, maybe. As for their GC riders, well falling at speed always hurts and Frank Schleck will take a few days to recover. By then his Tour hopes may be over. And Kloden? Well just plain old "bad legs" apparently. It happens. He wasn't the only one to have bad legs or bad luck on stage 7. It seemed that every one of the GC hopefuls bar Evans, Wiggo and Nibali can't take a trick this year. Cross fingers things improve. 

Meanwhile the ever-interesting Sagan will apparently ring his new bell when he sees an imminent fall... or will he ring it in hope that the others will think "another lap to go!".

And what about Froome? Does the last pull up the mountain, barely recovers and gaps both Wiggens and Evans. Wish I could do that.

RadioShack-Nissan Fighting Without A Leader |
Stage seven didn't go to plan for the RadioShack-Nissan team. As expected Cancellara lost contact with the Sky-lead group on the final climb but it was the performance of the team's key riders that was disappointing. Schleck waited for Andreas Klöden when the two were dropped on the final climb but Schleck could not coax the German into holding his pace. The Luxembourger then continued at his own tempo but couldn’t catch his two teammates Haimar Zubeldia and Maxime Monfort who were clearly riding much stronger than the trailing duo. Klöden ended the day 2:19 back on the winner and nearly a minute behind Schleck while Zubeldia and Monfort finished inside the top-ten.

"I had bad legs and have no real explanation for it, I had felt it in the early part of the stage," said Klöden on his team website.

Tour Shorts: Ice Cream, Sagan's City Bike Bell, Abandoning The Tour |
The current wearer of the green jersey also relies on quite traditional bike components in order to prevent him from crashing. After having his chances annihilated by a fall in the finale of Thursday's stage five, the Slovakian asked his mechanic to mount a bell on his handlebar - indeed, an ordinary, black city bike bell.

Tour Shorts: Ice Cream, Sagan's City Bike Bell, Abandoning The Tour |
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) came in behind his teammate Mollema and although Laurens Ten Dam was there to pace him, he conceded 2:53 at the finish.

"The GC is shattered. I can’t say much more about it. It was a difficult day and the speed was high. Luis León [Sánchez] kept up really well. I myself rode at the utmost speed and it wasn’t enough. We all know how I was before this, how good I was in California and Suisse. You don’t lose that just like that. But you know, yesterday I landed on the tarmac. You’re not supposed to do that, but it happened. Today didn’t turn out as I had expected." AM