Today is the first rest day of the '09 Tour so let us take a few moments to reflect on what we have witnessed over the past 9 days of racing and look forward to what we can expect over the next two weeks.
- Armstrong is back! Any doubts about his form or how his body would respond have been answered during the first week. He was able to stay with everyone on all the climbs and has even chased down a breakaway on his own.
- Cav is unbeatable in the final 200m of a sprint. 2 stage wins already and a stint in the Green Jersey. I expect at least one more win this week with a couple of flattish stages on the menu.
- The Tour is pretty much over for Evans, Sastre, and Menchov. Their teams really let them down in the TTT and it has buried them so deep that barring a catastrophic occurance by Astana and Garmin they basically have no shot at even being on the podium.
- Astana really is as good as advertised, now can they keep the internal power struggle from imploding the entire team. The way I see it Contador's bush league attack on Stage 7 only helped to solidify the team behind Armstrong. Going in you could divide the team into Lance, Levi, and Popo on one side and Contador, Pauhlino, and possibly Zubeldia on the other side with Kloden, Murayev, and Rast being Neutral. Now I honestly don't know if anyone other than Pauhlino is on Contador's side. If push comes to shove it will be interesting to see how things work.
- Christian Vande Velde and Brad Wiggins are having great rides and I really hope that it continues for them both. Garmin is a great team and it is good to see them doing well.
- The French have to be ecstatic about how the Tour has gone for them so far, 3 stage wins, a KOM jersey and a Maillot Jaune (albeit an Italian rider on a French team).
- I am still sticking by my prediction that Levi will end up on the podium and could possibly still win the Tour. If Lance and Alberto are marking each other don't be surprised if Levi goes up the road and steals some time.
- Week 1 is in the books and no doping scandals (I hope I didn't just jinx it).
What to look forward to next week
- The semi mountain stages on Thursday and Friday (Stages 12 and 13). If Evans, Sastre or Menchov want to get back into the Tour these stages could be fun to watch. Also you could see Armstrong or Contador for that matter launch an attack to steal some time before the Alps start this weekend.
- More Cav wins. Tuesday and Wednesday should be bunch sprints.
- Stage 15...the Alps...mountain top finish...Verbier. Nuff Said!
- Another week of clean racing (could we be so fortunate?)
Thanks for reading my posts over this first week of the Tour, I have really enjoyed writing each of them and I hope that you come back for what is sure to be an exciting Week 2.