Thursday, July 07, 2011

Hitting For ThE Cycle

Anyone who spends even a short time on this blog knows I'm in the tank for bicycle races.
This year's Tour de France is shaping up to be one of the most exciting since, well, certainly last year's but perhaps as far back as Lance Armstrong's first win.
Defending drug abuser...I mean, champion...Alberto Contador has had major casualties befall him over the first four stages, yet he's managed to stay within two minutes of the overall lead, currently held by Thor Hushovd, who has been known to be a power sprinter but seems to have developed his climbing skills sufficiently to a) win the world championship last year and b) hold his own in other grand tours this season. Contador has never lost a grand tour that he's entered (the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana.)
Andy Schleck, Contador's main rival last year and the heir-apparent to last year's yellow jersey once Contador is bounced out on appeal later this summer, has had his share of problems but along with his brother Frank (who fell and had to withdraw last year, or I can guarantee you Contador would have lost) are within seconds of the lead themselves.
And then there's Cadel Evans, former world champion in his own right who held a short stay in the yellow during last year's race. He's just one second behind Hushovd. Evans won the Tour of Romandie earlier this year and placed second in the Dauphine, a week long race in France that includes many of the obstacles the Tour de France will pass along.
Of course, there are riders like Jurgrn Van Den Broeck who stand an outside chance of upsetting the field and stealing the jersey.