and Travis: Did anyone think Millar could win a sprint?
Exactly Neal... Vuelta or the USA races would both be a fine schedule. There is talk of possibly doing Utah and then heading straight back for the Vuelta. we will have to see
Happy to join you all here. I wish I was in the race as well, but I'm also enjoying the chance to have a "quiet" couple weeks
From LeTour.fr: Fedrigo (FDJ) is chasing his fourth Tour stage win: he won stages in 2006 (Gap), Tarbes (2009) and Pau (2010).
This climb will be a good opportunity for non-sprinters, such as Vande Velde, to try to get clear. Might not be steep enough, or long enough, though.
and still quite a ways out from the finish. Will be interesting to see if the french riders conspire together. Fredrigo and Voeckler are similar style riders and former team mates I believe
From LeTour.fr: At the top of the second climb today, Voeckler grabbed another two points. He beat Dumoulin over the line that's 35km from the finish. The peloton is not yet there as it's 9'20" behind the six-man escape group.
The six stage leaders: Sorensen (STB), Vande Velde (GRS), Dumoulin (COF), Voeckler (EUC), Devenyns (OPQ) and Fedrigo (FDJ).
Question for you, Brent: Do you think Cadel is at the same level he was last year, when he won the Tour, and that Sky's Wiggins and Froome are just that much better? Or do you think Cadel may be a half-step off his 2011 race-winning form?
Neal, thats really hard to say. Its a different Tour this year. different course and has obviously played out differently. The last time I rode with Cadel was in Romandie. He didn't have the incredible first part of the year he did last year, that was Wiggins this year
I think it is clear though that Wiggins and Sky are collectively in amazing condition
Speaking of Wiggins and Sky...
I just wrote something up on Froome/Wiggins, etc. The only team that can beat Sky is Sky itself.
From LeTour.fr: The peloton has reached the top of the second climb (35km from the finish) with a deficit of 10'30" to the six leaders Sorensen (STB), Vande Velde (GRS), Dumoulin (COF), Voeckler (EUC), Devenyns (OPQ) and Fedrigo (FDJ). The break is at 25km to go.
Thats a good question. I think a lot of the teams/riders are wondering the same thing! Generally speaking, there is no magic formula or potion for success.... right?
Clearly they have put in the work, done their homework and are all extremely talented guys to begin with
Brian, I'm a big fan of the shorter, more reasonable stages. The riders don't need to be on the bikes for 6 or 7 hours for it to be an exciting, eventful and awe inspiring race
One thing worth remembering: Sky has a very big budget. They are like the NY Yankees of pro cycling. Riders like Porte and Rogers (and obviously Froome) would be leaders on other squads, yet they are super domestiques at Sky.
Brent: The drama that's unfolding between Froome and Wiggins, with Froome's recent comments that he would mark attacks and, in essence, win the Tour if Wiggins faltered? Is this a nightmare for a team like that? Would it ever happen on BMC?
Neal, does that make Cav A-Rod?
Neal: Brailsford said the other day that they had only the 5th largest budget in the pro peloton. I do not know who the top four are.
Matt, this of course "could" complicate matters for a team, but its also a luxury to have 2 riders so capable. I can't see that ever happening at BMC as we have always been a team who is extremely clear about supporting Cadel, and for good reason
Sky has been clear and unified in their support of Wiggins in the same way. You can't blame Froome for having those thoughts, but I think he at the Tour to help Wiggins and I still believe that is what he will do
It's what Froome should do and should say. It's obvious that the second overall rider is going to go with the attacks if the yellow jersey can't follow. The team is for Wiggins, but Sky's goal is to win the Tour with a Briton. Froome qualifies.
We're inside 16km to go. The gap is at 11:27.
I wasn't confident anyone would get away after that first 90 minutes.
The six escapees are Nicki Sorensen (STB), Vande Velde (GRS), Dumoulin (COF), Voeckler (EUC), Devenyns (OPQ) and Fedrigo (FDJ).
Just a bit of random trivia here: Magalie Dumolin, wife of breakaway rider Samuel Dumolin, runs the media operations for ag2r La Mondiale. Her father is ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu.
Voeckler's looking a bit chippy, eyeing up his companions.
Given Vande Velde's style and the run-in to the finish, it's hard to imagine a scenario where he wins the stage, but man will it be interesting to watch.
Brent: Thanks so much for the thorough response. Brailsford said, plainly, that he "supports" Froome's ambitions.
They've all been working pretty equally, but they're starting to play games.
The bunch is under the 20km kite.
Hutarovich has abandoned, meaning FDJ is now down a man.