Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tour de France: SPOLIER ALERT

Today's demolition derby Time Trial showed everyone a lesson in how to crash on wet roads. It didn't seem like anyone got seriously hurt, but I'm under the impression that someone oil-slicked a few of the corners, just for sport. Either that, or maybe ripped-up skinsuits are just the fashion these days, I'm not sure. World time trial champ Fabian Cancellara crashed early, nixing his hopes of taking a fourth stage. I guess you can't be too greedy! Two days ago he got pipped at the line by Robbie Hunter, so it looks like he'll be stuck on three for a while. Astana and Discovery channel dominated the top-10, with CSC noticably absent from the top of the leaderboard.

After Cancellara's crash, he didn't continue at full gas, leaving Carlos Sastre as their top finisher in 26th!

Astana's Ripped Jersey party included Andrey Kashechkin and Andreas Klöden, both of whom crashed but continued their hard efforts. For Disco, Vladimir Guzev looked to be on a good ride before belly-sliding on the asphalt, and, for good measure, Yaroslav Popovych crashed near the end of his otherwise good ride. I think he wanted the ripped skinsuit effect, too. Who DIDN'T crash is Michael Rasmussen, who seems to have gotten that out of his system two years ago.
But I got pretty bike geeky watching everybody's fancy equipment crashing all over the place. Here's what I noticed:
  • Astana's BMC Time Machines are the coolest-named TT bike in the peloton. The Kazakh contenders, Vino and Kasheckin, sported some spiffy blue and yellow disc-and-trispoke wheels that just looked cool.
  • Klöden, though, had black wheels, and he used a spoked front wheel instead of a trispoke.
  • Also, Klöden didn't have the whacky time trial crankset that I've seen on Astana's bike's before, but the Kazakh riders did.
  • Both of the Rabobank riders on camera, Denis Mencov and Rasmussen, elected to use shallow-profile front wheels, I think the custom dura-ace ones we've seen on previous stages. Everything I read about time trials suggests that front wheel aerodynamics are pretty important, but I can only assume that they figured the shallow wheel would aid control on the touchy course, and as far as I know, neither crashed.
  • Rasmussen didn't use shoe covers, which have become de rigeur in time trials, and are supposed to be worth at least a handful of seconds. In the biggest bike race in the world, I wonder what prompted that call?
  • Moreau's weak time trial performance blew him out of the water. He also did that "this is not a time trial bike" handlebar setup, with no shifters on the extension, and, instead, normal Campy ergopower levers, flipped down, on the outer wings of the bars. What, can Moreau not operate barends?

Shock of the Race was Rasmussen catching Alejandro Valverde for three minutes. Considering that "El Imbatido" was considered one of the pre-race favorites for the overall, what happened there? I didn't see a crash, and he just sucked it at every checkpoint. Forty-seventh?

What now?

Rasmussen hangs onto yellow by a minute exactly, with Cadel Evans breathing down his neck. With two more mountaintop finishes to go, Razzy had better, drop evans, or else he's going to lose that minute and more in the last TT. He should be able to hold off Contador for the 2:30 he's got now, since the two were separated by only 37 seconds today.

And, of course, the big question, how friggin' crazy is Vino going to go to make up those five minutes?

This is going to be interesting.

2 Comments:

  • At 2:38 PM , Anonymous cruzer said...

    vino?

    I say he should try a beer and testosterone. That should be good for 7 minutes.

     
  • At 3:42 PM , Anonymous hobgoblin said...

    I agree with you completely--"Time Machine" is the best name ever for a TT bike. I'm biased, though, since I ride a BMC.

     

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