The Tour de Romandie used to be a race where you got clues for the Giro but this time we saw a glimpse of July through the icy clouds. The last two winners of the Tour de Romandie have gone on to win the Tour de France. It’s a neat stat that doesn’t guarantee anything but right now Chris Froome is the obvious pick to win the Tour de France.
Has Froome Peaked too soon?
As the cliché goes anything can happen. But last year some wondered if Bradley Wiggins had peaked too early when he won Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné. We can use hindsight now but I had him as my pick for July too.
Along the way Wiggins got lessons in how to lead a team and more. When the TV coverage ends the work for a rider is not over. There’s the daily media work each day for the race leader, attending the press conference and arriving late to the team hotel. Now Froome gets lessons in this too. If anything he’s getting extra lessons than Wiggins. He started early with the win in the Tour of Oman and got a lesson in defeat courtesy of Vincenzo Nibali in Tirreno-Adriatico but took the Tour de Romandie.
There are tactical lessons for observers too. Froome is not the same as Wiggins. Watching Froome ride away from his rivals with 8km to go in the mountain stage of Romandie showed a rider willing to take risks. Nothing wild, but enough to make the racing more exciting when arguably he could have stayed put to defend his overall lead.
Froome’s French Lessons
Froome lead the race from start to finish and this will have been useful experience for him, learning to head a team and handling all the extra-sporting duties like attending the press conferences and TV interviews. Like Wiggins last year Froome’s good level of French will be a bonus for the Tour de France as he can get the French media on his side, nothing pleases them more than a foreigner able to speak French on live TV. His next race will be the Dauphiné on 2 June.
Still, Froome’s microphone style is not the same as Bradley Wiggins…
If Ivan Basso was cold after Saturday’s snowy mountain stage, reading the Gazzetta Dello Sport on Sunday will have left him colder. The newspaper was critical of him and perhaps rightly so because the Cannondale rider came in almost 20 minutes down on Simon Spilak and Froome. Perhaps he eased up in the cold but told La Gazzetta there was “no alarm, no problem” only he didn’t start the final time trial stage.
It looks like Italian hopes rest solely on Vincenzo Nibali’s shoulders whilst Michele Scarponi and Mauro Santambrogio could be better bets than Basso the blueberry farmer.
Turkish Delight Turns Sour
Talking of pleasing the locals, a home winner for the Tour of Turkey should be cause for celebration. But last year Ivailo Grabovski soared up the hills only to get brought back down to earth by a positive doping test. The dissatisfaction in the peloton was obvious at the time, suspicion was on everyone’s lips and many people’s tweets. Sadly this year’s edition has the same feel with the relatively unknown Mustafa Sayar winning the race. But what if Mustafa Sayar’s innocent, in fact shouldn’t the principle of innocence apply? Last year’s sorry mess still casts a shadow over this year’s event. Many are praising the race but doubting the winner and it’s not healthy for anyone.
Contador On The Move
From home winners to domestic arrangements. Spanish website elconfidencial.com reports Alberto Contador is swapping Pinto, the Madrid suburb, for Lugano in Switzerland. Now personal housing arrangements are rarely of interest nor importance but reports say it’s a sign that the Spaniard is trying to change his surroundings. He might have won the Vuelta last year but El Pistolero is not hitting his targets in races this year. Away from daily media demands he could find a fresh start and team manager Bjarne Riis is nearby. And a lower tax rate?
Red Bull Road Rage
Finally entries are open for the Red Bull Road Rage event on Mont Ventoux. The legendary climb will be used for a mountain time trial… only downhill. The video below is from the 2009 edition held in the Pyrenees and won by Fred Moncassin, a former pro and winner of sprint stages in the Tour de France.