Everyone is saying that Andy Schleck’s 31 second lead over Alberto Contador is not enough, given the 52km time trial through the Bordeaux vineywards. I tend to agree but want to give two examples to suggest nothing’s certain.
Final Time Trials
First, let’s go back to 2008. Carlos Sastre held an advantage of 1.34 over Cadel Evans before the penultimate stage, a time trial of 52 km. The result? Sastre only surrendered 32 seconds to Evans and so won the Tour.
It was an exceptional result for Sastre but after three weeks of racing, it’s not just always for the TT specialists, it’s about having the legs fresh enough. Andy Schleck now only has to follow Contador, everything else being equal he is not going to be as tired.
Is Contador a fast time triallist?
Second, Contador won last year’s final TT stage around Lake Annecy. But this year he’s not had the same form against the clock. He was sixth the prologue, a decent result. And in the Dauphiné’s long TT, he was also “only” sixth, losing time to Brajkovic, Van Gaderen and Boasson-Hagen. He might not be the red-hot favourite for Bordeaux.
I think Contador will perform relatively better than Andy Schleck but nothing’s certain. Speaking on the eve of the final time trial in 1989, Greg LeMond famously described his chances of overhauling Laurent Fignon “anything’s possible, if I have a good day and he has a bad day”.