Past halfway

You can almost see the Eiffel Tower

With Stage 10 done, the race is now past its halfway point. It almost makes you sad, the longer the race goes on the better it can get, you look in awe at the landscapes, get into the racing and follow a multi-layered drama of different contests, some race for stages, others for yellow, others simply want to survive the race.

On paper today’s stage looks like a sprint finish. But you never know, a lot of teams are lacking a stage win and having missed out yesterday*, they will keen to try a breakaway. Even if the chances of success are one in ten, those are the sort of odds that several teams will seize.

Looking ahead, here’s a quick summary of the different standings:

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 49:00:56
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:41
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:45
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:02:58
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:03:31
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:03:59
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:22
8 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:04:41
9 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:05:08
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:09

So far the race looks like a battle between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador. But it’s not fixed yet. Schleck will want more time ahead of the 51km time trial but in attacking, he leaves himself open to fatigue. Next, several riders are in contention for the third spot and Samuel Sanchez will be keen to take more time for the same reasons as Andy Schleck. I wonder if we’ll see Rabobank’s Robert Gesink riding for Menchov, or if he can be given a free reign to attack.

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 138 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 131
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 116
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 98
5 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 97

Hushovd looks to be building up a commanding lead. Whilst there’s talk of Cavendish making a challenge by virtue of stage wins, Hushovd just needs to keep plugging away at the intermediate sprints and then finishing in the top-10 and he could hold on. I suspect the contest could become a mixture of fatigue, survival and luck. Crossing the Pyrenees will prove a test for all of the top-5, although J-J Rojas should pass with flying colours.

1 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 91 pts
2 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 90
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne 62
4 Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 58
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 56

Pineau and Charteau look set to continue their battle. I wonder if we’ll see Christophe Moreau take part in the challenge? Moreau can be exceptional fragile mentally and only seems to work when things are on the up, the smallest setback can often make him sit up. For example if he starts to take points then he could use his big engine and excellent descending skills to advantage. But if he found himself getting outsprinted by Pineau then the “humiliation” of coming second might prove too much. Whilst some riders function on energy bars and water, he also needs a constant supply of allez Christophe.

  • * Cofidis tried new bikes for Bastille Day, only they were plagued by a series of mechanicals at the start of Stage 10. Was it a mistake to ride brand new bikes without trying them before?

1 thought on “Past halfway”

  1. Well, Moreau stated before the race that he was aiming for KOM. So he may be a contender for polka dot jersey…
    I doubt, by the way, about if he could handle that goal

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