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Le Tour 2012: Anybody's Race?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by pancakeman, Jun 25, 2012. | Replies: 31 | Views: 3234

  1. pancakeman

    pancakeman IncGamers Member

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    Finally, it is late June, and that means the day is nearly upon us! The Grand Depart is only 5 days away and, for the first time in several years, there is no clear favorite. Sure, Bradley Wiggins looks great, and Cadel is consistent as always, but unlike the last few years there isn't an Alberto Contador (doper) or Andy Schleck that everybody knows is the man to beat. We've also got a brace of promising young talent that may finally get a chance to shine, with riders like Pierre Rolland, Robert Gesink, and Vincenzo Nibali all having the teams, the talent, and the maturity to finally take a place of leadership. Considering the caliber of their wins so far this season, we're in for a hell of a challenge to the older guys. Speaking of old guys, there is also a contingent of veterans seeking to secure their place in history before time runs out on their careers. Levi Leipheimer is in the sort of form that saw him dominate the one-week races last year, but this year he comes into that form in July, and with sole leadership of his team he wants to go two better than his third in 2007. Denis Menchov returnss as well, hoping to complete his Grand Tour set with that elusive Tour win. The route this year suits him; the climbs aren't so steep and the time trial miles are long. Remember that he outclassed Fabian Cancellara in the long TT at the 2010 Vuelta, it is a fact that will be bandied about quite a bit if he does a good ride in a couple weeks.

    Besides the overall classification we've got another battle royale for the sprinters, and I predict we'll see Mark Cavendish's stranglehold on stage wins broken. Andre Greipel says he and his new team, Lotto-Belisol, have perfected their lead out, and with 13 wins to his name so far this year, I believe him. Peter Sagan, the second most prolific winner of the season thus far, is also looking dangerous. The Slovakian youngster won 4 stages of 8 in California and was just as dominating in Switzerland. His obstacle is that those victories were against the second and third tier sprinters, so he will be up against a different breed when they set off in Liege. But, for my money, none of these men will do. The man to dominate the flat days is German, and he is huge. And his name is Marcel Kittel. Kittel won 17 races last year, the most of any sprinter, and he is on track to equal that feat this year. He is the biggest man in the peloton, weighing a touch over 190 lbs and standing, at 6' 4", head and shoulders above many of his competitors (literally!), but if he can haul himself over the mountains I think we'll see a lot of him on the podium.

    The key moments of this year's Grand Boucle are not quite the same as years past. There is no Galibier this year, no Alpe d'Huez, no Plateau du Beille or Tourmalet. In their place are a series of lesser mountains, one giant, vile, blood-curdling mountain, and two despicable time trials. The big mountains are stacked toward the end, with the first week featuring just one major climb, coming at the very end of stage 7. This will be the first moment, as the peloton hurtles into La Planche des Belles Filles, that we get an indication of who is feeling good. The climb isn't long, only 6km, but it is steep, and pure climbers like Frank Schleck and Pierre Rolland will be itching to gain any time they can before the first time trial.
    The time trials are being talked up to decide much of this year's edition, and considering they total 100km in two installments, it is easy to see why. The first, the shorter of the two at 43km, takes place the second Monday of the race, and, though a bit lumpy, contains no major climbs. Expect Frankie and his ilk to bleed time here.
    After that, we get a string of sprints and medium mountain days leading up to Stage 10 to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. While the stage does not feature a summit finish, the maiden climbing of the Col du Grand Colombier could well see a GC rider who lost time in the previous stage strike out on the steep ramps in an "Andy Schleck on the Izoard" kind of attack. Those seem to be popular these days.
    The next day is exciting as well. Stage 11 to La Toussuire. It is a short stage but a prototypical day in the mountains for the Tour; four major climbs, up, down, up, down, up, down, up. This is where the true battle begins, and if you are only going to watch one stage of the first two weeks, I would make it this one.
    After that, the peloton gets a rest for a few easier stages, then hits hard after the second rest day with stages 16, 17, and 19 all being critical to overall success. The last weekend, as usual, is stacked, and the final time trial, at 52km and pan-flat, is sure to give us amazing rides of consolidation, advancement, and desperation.

    Finally, my predictions: It is tough this year, there are just so many riders with a realistic chance, and so many factors that we could never see coming. With the opening stages on the Classics courses of Flanders, the time trials, the coastal winds, the unknown passes... so much to consider. However, even with all that I've got to give it up for my man Bradley Wiggins. He's been very consistent, he's showed that he is without a doubt the best time trialist of the favorites, and he has climbed well enough. That last bit is iffy, though. He hasn't really been tested on a major climb, and neither Paris-Nice nor Romandie nor the Dauphine had the sort of mountains the Tour has this year.
    Cadel Evans is looking good, and while he hasn't won the races he did last year, he has shown his strength with swashbuckling wins in the several races, most recently a stunning display of power in the Dauphine that saw him hold off peloton almost singlehandedly. He is also a great solo rider, and though he lost quite a bit of time to B-wig in the long TT of the Dauphine, there is a fact he will no doubt relish: Last year he lost an almost equal amount of time to Bwiggins in the Dauphine TT, but in the Tour he was but 7 seconds off stage winner - and subsequent World Time Trial Champion - Tony Martin. Third place was a full minute behind him.
    Final spot on the podium is tough. I thought about Pierre Rolland, but I doubt there is enough uphill asphalt to give him the edge. Robert Gesink is a possibility, but his spotty form in Switzerland leaves me underwhelmed. Sammy Sanchez doesn't have it this year. Frank Schleck rode very strong in Switerzland, but I just think there's too much time trialing and not enough mountains. I have thought about it a lot, but I haven't been able to break the tie between several guys:
    Levi Leipheimer - My perpetual favorite, but also an outright favorite for other, non fanboy, prognosticators. Very strong time trialist, climbing with the best just two weeks ago, seems to be peaking for the Tour.
    Denis Menchov - The unassuming Russian is always mentioned but never favored. My question is: Why not? He's been third at the Tour, won three Grand Tours, finished top 10 in four others... Also, a specialist in long, flat time trials and the kind of long, medium-grade mountains they will face in the last weekend.
    Janez Brakjovic - Young, but extremely talented. He defeated Alberto Contador on Alpe d'Huez two years ago at the Dauphine, a feat he has been trying to live down ever since. He looked very good last year before a severe crash took him out of the running. He is now sole GC leader of Astana, and has one of the most powerful teams at his back. He also recently took a very classy win in his home tour in Slovenia, winning ahead of the gravity-defying Domenico Pozzovivo and solidifying that lead in the time trial the next day. He just took the Slovenian national title in that discipline, so his chrono form is good.
    Chris Froome - Possibly the best rider in the peloton that will never get a chance. With Bradley Wiggins as undisputed team leader for GC, Froome will never get the chance to ride for even a stage win, much less for yellow. It's truly a shame, since he is one of the best climbers in the world and, on his day, Wiggins' equal in the time trial. Hell, last year in the Vuelta he defeated his teammate and countrymen in the TT and went on to outride him on the Angliru, a mountain often called the most difficult climb in Europe. The only reason I include him on the dark horse list is as a safety, in case anything happens to Wiggins along the way. Should Wiggins crash, falter, or even just flat at an inopportune time, you can count on seeing Froome taking leadership. His performance in the Dauphine shows that he is on the same level as Wiggins, so seeing them switch places is plausible.

    That was a lot of predicting, let me condense that. If I had to pick a podium right now, Cadel, Wiggins, and Menchov would be on it. I don't know the order, but it would be those three. If I had to pick top four, add Levi to that list.

    So there, that is everything you could ever want to know about the 2012 Tour de France without it actually having started yet. Speaking of starting, it all kicks off this Saturday, June 30th, with a prologue in Liege. Watch it! Post about it! Get all caught up in it! It's fun, I promise!

    So, your turn: Give me your predictions, your thoughts, whatever. Let's see if we can't get the party started a few days early. :yes:
     
  2. Jcakes

    Jcakes IncGamers Site Pal

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    I found the thread crepe :) and I even dug up a photo of you on your bike

    [​IMG]

    Now to post on topic, being an Aussie I am of course hoping that Cadel can repeat his efforts of last year.
     
  3. BRKO

    BRKO IncGamers Member

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    May the best doper win :(
     
  4. BobCox2

    BobCox2 IncGamers Member

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    Lance Armstrong is not in this is he?


     
  5. BRKO

    BRKO IncGamers Member

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    TDF is the largest dope event so one has to adapt to win.


     
  6. BobCox2

    BobCox2 IncGamers Member

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    If I can find this
    I will be back
     
  7. Jcakes

    Jcakes IncGamers Site Pal

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    SO Crepe, what did you think about all those riders (including Levi) admitting to doping? (+1)
     
  8. pancakeman

    pancakeman IncGamers Member

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    Right now I am withholding judgment until the story is confirmed by any of the relevant parties. At the moment it is just a story in a newspaper, and while those often turn out to be true they are just as likely to be sourced from "unofficial" parties. Which is code for "made up". USADA released a statement that cleverly says nothing, just that condemning people with no evidence is wrong, which I think is pretty ironic. Jonathan Vaughters, one of the people named, has repeatedly gone on record as saying he knows nothing about it.

    Then again, Lance seems to believe it. He posted an aggressive thing on Facebook about guys "lying about him and "continuing to ride the biggest race in the world". I don't know. I just don't. On the one hand, it could be like the story from 2009 about Lance having surgery to reduce the width of his shoulders, which was total BS, or Radioshack and Saxobank merging after this year, which is almost certainly total crap, but then again it could be true. I will be very disappointed if it is.


    But can we talk about the race? Please? I think the results from today are exciting, and besides the prologue this is the first actual day of racing we have had so far. Any time gaps from before were just from the crashes, which are just as stupid and just as pointless and just as flagrant as last year. When we people learn how to ride their ****ing bikes? I am inclined to side with Thomas Voeckler, who attributes the excessively numerous accidents to team radios, and to team directors giving the same instructions to practically every rider in the peloton. 198 men cannot all be at the front, and when their DS is yelling at them to get there, they do stupid things.
    Anyway, with yesterday's pileup we are now down to 4 or 5 guys that can realistically win this thing. I would have said Frank Schleck or Janez Brakjovic could come back, considering their recent form, but they both lost far too much time today, and stacked on top of what they lost yesterday they are both out of the yellow side of things. Stage wins, maybe. Maybe top 5, maybe podium, but no way they can win it. Levi looked good at first, but he just evaporated early on the climb today, and unless he puts in a great ride Monday and another in the mountains he is done for.
    Menchov is still looking good, though, and now Nibali has moved up, which I didn't expect. He seemed the most comfortable of the top riders today, and I doubt he will mourn the loss of a couple seconds at the end. In fact, he appeared more comfortable than Wiggins to me, and it seemed like his letting go in the last 500m was planned. Nibali is not one for an explosive effort, he can do steep climbs but only when they are long enough to get his rhythm going. Cadel is a much more explosive rider, as is Froome, and Wiggins was running on pure determination at that point. I think Nibali was saving a bit of that top-level energy for tomorrow, which really suits him. He is an unparalleled descender among GC riders, even Cadel can't keep his wheel, so tomorrow really suits him. Wiggins isn't bad at it, but if Nibali does to Sky what Sky did to everyone else today? And especially on the second to last climb? I think we may see an Italian in yellow by tomorrow night.
     
  9. Stevinator

    Stevinator IncGamers Member

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    boring sport. it's like nascar, but sweatier, with creepy spandex and the crashes don't explode. The fact that everyone is cheating doesn't help.
     
  10. pancakeman

    pancakeman IncGamers Member

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    Care to tell me why you decided to post in the thread then? Or was it just to say stupid ****? Because that is alright, I just want to establish that that was indeed your motive.
     
  11. BobCox2

    BobCox2 IncGamers Member

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    Cheaters don't make the best performance anything but what it is.

    IMHO

    They just fool the public
     
  12. Stevinator

    Stevinator IncGamers Member

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    Um, that's basically my modus operandi. Don't be mad. Since my feeble brain is incapable of understanding the nuance of "Le Tour", you're a clearly superior being and I'm an unwashed heathen. See, now you're happy I posted in your thread. Who knew that my asinine behavior could be so uplifting?

    :)




    Besides, in the soccer thread people mocked soccer. What makes "Le Tour" exempt?



     
  13. Tymbark

    Tymbark IncGamers Member

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    Voeckler in polka dot jersey, sporting furiously green helmet somehow reminds me of Crazy Frog (http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/crazy_frog.jpg), despite the fact that colours are completely different.
    He proves to be a decent climber, nonetheless.
    :p
     
  14. BobCox2

    BobCox2 IncGamers Member

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    Well it is a crazy frog race.
     
  15. pancakeman

    pancakeman IncGamers Member

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    I've never understood Voeckler. He is a capable climber, yet he never feels at home unless he's in a suicidal breakaway. Then again, Moncoutie only feels at home on the back of the peloton, so those Frenchman all seem to have their oddities.

    I'm disappointed by this year's race. While the individual stages were often exciting, the GC race was boring, like they were just following the script. The script, in this case, is Wiggins taking the yellow during, or just before, the first TT and holding it until Paris. And when Cadel blew in the Pyrenees it just made it worse, since it seemed he was the only one who could take on Wiggins. Bah. But at least the sprints were great!
     
  16. BRKO

    BRKO IncGamers Member

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    He is. And the whole race. And the whole sport.
    Feel sorry for the cycling fans.
     
  17. krischan

    krischan Europe Trade Moderator

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    That was a pathetic appearance he made. So he did it to give everybody a fair chance? And then he wins the tour 6 times? I guess he meant that they are all equal, but he is more equal than the others. Or did he mean that he did it because the others did it as well? Both ways of reasoning could be applied by every drug dealer when being caught.

    Apart from his cheating, it seems he also defrauded his financiers of large amounts of money. I think that qualifies as criminal activity, correct? What are the changes for getting convicted for that? And what about a conviction for the alleged involvement in selling and distributing illegal drugs? He should be happy if he just has to pay back the money. He probably can't, however.

    There will always be doping in sports of that kind, but street cycling is a dung heap full of criminal extrements, with Armstrong just being at the end of the dung beetle food chain. For me there is no street cycling, as long as that Augean stable isn't cleared out in full.
     
  18. nurman

    nurman IncGamers Member

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    It seems like doping is soft-banned in cycling.
     
  19. BobCox2

    BobCox2 IncGamers Member

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    I like Trials riding not Road races.
     
  20. KrimLjubljana

    KrimLjubljana Banned

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    Armstrong was probably going to jail due to USADA's report. A report which was based on the testimony from people who'd to give a testimony to avoid jail themselves. Now he escapes jail and can press for bankruptcy, finally being out of the media's pursuit to destroy him.At this rate, it looks like it'll soon be the expected norm that any cycling champion, independent of guilt, is to admit a doping use, or ultimately be sued and face jail time. Everyone "knew" Armstrong was guilty. Like it was the case with former 'admitters'. When you end in a situation where it's favorable to admit guilt, independent of truth, it's difficult to believe such testimony.As Belkar (comic below) expresses it, "I don't trust you enough to believe you lied".[​IMG]If the img-coding doesn't work, here's an url: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/images/oots0179.gif.
    The guy has helped achieving billions in donations for the better of humanity, and you wish him the worst for cheating in sport? Get your priorities straight, please.Give me a positive A and B doping test, and I'll believe he cheated in sport. He'd still be a hero for what he did with the positive media attention, never for winning a biking race, clean or not.
     

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