Saturday, July 02, 2005

So, who's gonna win the 2006 Tour de France?

Unless you know something about cycling, you may not realize what happened this afternoon in France. What happened was, for all practical purposes, the first-ever one day TdF.

Lots of things can still go wrong for Armstrong, of course. But unless a few of them do, it is so over. He could ride a conservative and, for him, leisurely Tour and win easily now. He won't, but he could.

Armstrong didn't take the yellow jersey in today's time trial, but only because he didn't want it yet. But he took close to a minute out of all of the pretenders to the throne, and served notice that he is in top form.

Lance's minute man (riders start a time trial of this length one minute apart; the guy who starts the time trial just ahead of you is your minute man) was German Jan Ulrich, one of the best time trialists in the history of the sport. One top cyclist riding 19 km a minute faster than another top cyclist is somewhat unusual. Ulrich had never been passed in a time trial before, some of which are 3 or more times the length of today's. Lance caught Ulrich within about 12 kilometers. That's kinda like a baseball team batting around twice in the first inning; a comeback is a mathematical possibilty, but you wouldn't bet on it. The pyschological damage alone should be sufficient to undermine his would-be competitors (perhaps better known as his prey).

There's always next year, guys. He says he isn't coming back; for everyone else's sake, hope he means it.


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