During the last rest day of the Tour de France, I made a few comments about the race up to that point and my thoughts going forward. Now that we have reached the second rest day, I thought I would follow up. There is just one problem… not much has changed since last Monday.
Johnny Hoogerland is now beginning to fade from the spotlight. However, he has made his mark on the Tour (as the Tour has on him!) Sure, there was a part of me that was hoping he could recover and hold his jersey. It was another sign of the camaraderie of the peloton that he held it that extra day.
It was good to see the wrecks begin to lose their quantity and magnitude. It took a while, but it seems that the field has gotten pass those first rough days. Other than some painful looking individual and smaller wrecks, last week finally put the focus on the racing… not the crashing.
What about the racing? That is where things are pretty much the same. Will the Alps finally bring what we hoped to see in the Pyrenees?
If the favorites keep racing the way they are, I have to put my money on Cadel Evans. However, his position is tenuous. If he can cut down a few more seconds from Voeckler’s lead while holding Contador at bay, his chances look very good.
The thing is, we aren’t seeing those huge killer attacks that we have become accustomed to with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. We keep expecting to see it… to the point where the favorites are castigated for not doing so. As it is, they are standing toe-to-toe punching each other.
What if it is a matter that there will be no such attack? What if none of them are trying to sandbag? Could it be that we are seeing a cleaner race?
I would like to think that what has happened is that we are now seeing more of what a race should be. There are a number of men who are at the top of their form and they are evenly matched. None of them have eaten tainted beef from Spain.
Sure, we are not seeing what we have become accustomed to, but maybe we are finally seeing what we should. Perhaps we will have this nip-and-tuck battle all the way to the final time trial. Who knows, perhaps Europcar will provide the first French winner in… how long?
Still, I do hope that we see one of the favorites (or two – Andy and Frank) really try to put the hurt on their competition. Surely, Contador can’t just keep following wheels. The winner is either going to be meteoric or consistent (Cadel). Consistency is winning at the moment. It is time for meteoric to step up to the table.
My gut tells me it isn’t going to be close. I hope it is. I can’t help but think that on some mountain top in the Alps, Paris will be decided.