Great racing today to Morzine-Avoriaz, and whatever Astana pay Paolo Tiralongo (Italia) and Daniel Navarro (Espana), it’s not enough. Tiralongo has been around a long time, third in the Baby Giro in 1998 he turned pro in 2000 and arrived at Astana this year after three years with Fassa, three with Panaria and four with Lampre.
The talk has been all about whether Bert’s team is up the job; that was answered today as Vino turned descender and domestique deluxe with Tiralongo and then Navarro riding like demons on the climbs.
Navarro was a Liberty Seguros man in ’05 and ’06 (I didn’t say he was perfect) and has been riding in the name of Kazakhstan’s capital city since ’06 when Liberty morphed into Astana – he has a Dauphine stage to his name this year and has carried that form into the Tour.
I heard a lot being said about Schleck this afternoon, indicating that now ‘he’s the man,’ but fine though his win was, it was Contador who was never more that fourth or fifth from the front and who’s team lit the race up – not Schleck, who was totally isolated when the chips were down.
However, respect for a good win and on top of his performance on the pavé, he does look like a genuine contender for the win; but probably not this year – unless he’s three minutes clear of Bert going into that final time trial.
Lance – ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ sums it up; his body language said it all when he had to step off due to the feeding station tangle in front of him.
He looked weary and there was simply no urgency as he pulled his Trek out of the pile and remounted.
Hindsight is 20/20 but he didn’t look good yesterday and it’s that dreaded ‘one season too many’ I fear.
That shot of him glugging Coke as the chase group he was in fanned across the road said it all – ‘capitulation.’
But like Vik says’ ‘what motivates a man who’s a multi-millionaire and who owns a private jet to put himself through that?’
It’s what the Tour does to you, Vik, it’s so hard to let go.
Bradley had us puzzled; we don’t understand why he committed Flecha, Thomas and Lövkvist so early – it wasn’t up to Sky to carry the race and there was a long, long way to go.
Apparently, the rationale was; ‘We rode because we knew that if we didn’t do it, someone else would and we wanted to be at the front end of it.‘
We won’t say that the podium is impossible for him now – but it’s going to be much harder than it was on Saturday night.
He ‘popped’ at 3.6 K to go and in that distance lost 1:45 – disconcerting.
Encouraging, if you’re a Tour fan is the number of quality riders still in the mix: Evans, Schleck, Contador, Van Den Broeck, Menchov, Kreuziger, Basso, Leipheimer, Gesink, Sastre – and if I’ve missed your favourite, apologies.
Big respect has to go to Lotto’s Mario Aerts; failure, but a glorious one and massive TV exposure for the classy Belgian climber – the 2,000 euros ‘plus combatif’ prize will help, no doubt.
And best not forget the papers – when I opened The Observer this morning, I had to do a double-take; a lovely shot of Chava taking the stage dominated the front page of the sports section – nice!
There’ll be no L’Equipe today, I haven’t been able to figure out how delivery of the hallowed sheets of newsprint works up at the International Newsagents, so Monday will be a wee surprise for us.
And finally spare a thought for Roger Kluge (Milram and Germany) last rider to finish today @ 32:52 – and that’s a man who can ride round a Six Day track all night at 55 kph.
Rest day tomorrow, but we’ll be ranting right here!