Running In Circles
Saturday, July 26th
I don't have a lot of time to type this out because I want to get to bed. I haven't talked about the tour the last couple of days, mostly because I've been doped up on cold medicine, and, therefore too groggy to be coherent. In fact, on Thursday and Friday I found myself dozing through much of each stage. I was disappointed to miss the racing—although, the stages were a bit snooze-worthy. The only real action (that I saw) was Roman Kreuziger attacking at the end of Stage 18 to try to make up time in the race for the White Jersey. Andy Schleck was all over him, though. Kreuziger was the only rider with anything on the line to attack on either day. He'll be someone to look out for in the future.
The time trial played out like I expected as far as the GC contenders went. Sastre rode a little better than I thought he would, but I always figured he'd fend off Evans. Schumacher surprised me once again by winning the stage. I'd never really thought of him as a time trial specialist. I guess I'll have to revise my opinion. Bernard Kohl was the revelation of the day. His finishing time was far above what anyone expected from him, and he managed to cling onto a podium spot. I thought Menchov would pass him for sure, and I half-expected Vandevelde to springboard over him into fourth. He's cinched the Polka Dots, too. What a break out season for him.
Stage Twenty: Étampes to Paris/Champs Élysées — 143 Kilometers
I'm torn between choosing Thor Hushovd, Oscar Freire, or Robbie McEwen to win tomorrow's stage. Hushovd is a strong, heavy rider who does well on the cobbles, which will make up the majority of the finishing loops. He will have his whole team working for him, too, except his main lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, who is out of the race. Oscar Freire is a tricky rider who always finds the right line through a crowd. That could play to his advantage, as there are a few twists and turns in the final kilometer—it's not the type of finish that suits a lead-out train. Now that Mark Cavendish has left the race, Robbie McEwen has the quickest finishing punch. If he can find the right wheel, he can burst across the line for the victory. He doesn't have much help from his team, though, so he could have trouble getting to the front of the peloton to find a good wheel.
After weighing all my considerations, I've got to go green. I'm picking Oscar Freire, current holder of the Green Jersey for best sprinter, to take the win on the Champs Élysées.