The Tour is well on it's way now and boy has it been exciting. I followed yesterday's events on VeloNews' live coverage feed and found myself breathing heavy for that finish; and that was just reading the updates!No matter what you think about the condition of pro cycling or Lance Armstrong, you'll have to admit this is and will continue to be an exciting year for this race!
Most estimations I've read about this year's tour, and more importantly the Astana team including Lance, race favorite Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer AND Andreas Kloden pit Lance and Contador against each other with the likely end result of an implosion of epic proportions. They paint Contador as a brooding angry child who, when he does not get his way will throw a tantrum and recklessly fight against his own teammates. Lance on the other hand is just the same old Lance who won't lay down for nobody and will never give up his fight for total domination.
One theory I haven't really seen is that the TEAM Astana really has some things figured out here. They're playing up the rivalry by not playing it up, allowing the rest of the world to grow the speculation into the frenzy that it has become. Yesterday's break and tact full or lucky (whichever you prefer) riding by Lance therefore is suddenly a balls out attack on Contador. The world sees the pot beginning to boil.
Now how about what's happening within Astana for real? Well they've got 4 guys in the top 10 going into a team time trial they are likely to win, possibly to win big. Bump up times 4.
Then, here come the mountains and Astana has 4, count 'em 4 GC contenders lets say all stacked up right in the top 7 or 8. All 4 can climb, all 4 can attack, especially if the teams hopes aren't resting on their shoulders for the remainder of the tour. Bruyneel can send whomever he likes up the road and the rest of the contenders will be forced to react. They can't chance giving Levi a free shot up the mountain, even if he isn't the strongest rider on Astana. The team has enough fire power to make things work.
Maybe I'm naive but maybe they're playing this stacked set of cards a bit closer to their chests then people really realize. I'm not saying Contador would be happy to give up the overall on the strength of his team, but when the rest of the big boys have to respect your 4th big boy as an honest threat, it seems to me you should be sitting in a pretty sweet little bit of comfort.
I can't WAIT to watch this thing unfold. Be it I'm completely wrong and Lance and Alberto fight it out to the end or the two play to team to thie finish, taking 1-2 with Levi and Andreas sitting prety just behind within the top 10.