Friday, July 25, 2008

Care to Make a Prediction?

Yes, I know this is supposed to be McDuff's Food & Wine Trail, not McDuff's Bike Trail. But what can I say? I'm a nut for the Tour de France and this year's edition has been one of the most exciting, least predictable Tours in recent history. Only three days from the finish in Paris, and with the decisive final time trial looming on Saturday, it's still an open race.

Wednesday's stage, which finished with the legendary, 21-switchback climb up L'Alpe d'Huez, was riveting.

Here's the top ten standings as of this morning:

General classification after stage 18
1. Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC - Saxo Bank, 79.16.14
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC - Saxo Bank, 1.24
3. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.33
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto, 1.34
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.39
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30, 4.41
7. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, 5.35
8. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi, 5.52
9. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.10
10. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale, 8.24

My call for the overall? I hate to say it, but I do think that Cadel Evans will overcome the lead that Carlos Sastre built with his win atop the Alpe d'Huez on Wednesday. I'm going patriotic and predicting that Christian Vande Velde will win Saturday's TT but that he lost too much time in Tuesday's Alpine stage to have a shot at the top three. The final podium as I see it: Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov, in that order.

Care to make your own predictions?

And as to other predictions, I may have been premature in my nomination last week for most spectacular unscathed crash of the tour. Barloworld rider John-Lee Augustyn may just have topped it when he overcooked a turn on the descent of the Col de la Bonette and fell down the side of the mountain. He made it back up unharmed, even if his bike didn't.


Patrick said...

I think it goes to Evans for the win. Menchov is just a tad too far out to close that gap, so I'll take longshots for 2nd and 3rd in Vande Velde and a somewhat fresh looking Schleck hanging on.

Little_Jewford said...

I'm rooting for Evans, first because he once referred to Stacy as his "little stalker" but mainly that he has basically fought off the CSC-Saxo Bank juggernaut single handedly. Maybe Silence-Lotto should have coughed up a little more change for smili' Chris Horner.

I wonder if tellers at Saxo Bank wear Viking Helmets?

David McDuff said...

Okay, it looks like we were all wrong. I've generally held off looking at the race results until I could actually watch the coverage, so as to maintain the element of surprise. Today, though, I couldn't wait.

Sastre rode the TT of his life to keep the yellow, while Cadel did enough to slot into second and -- the biggest surprise, I think -- Bernard Kohl finished in the top ten on the stage to slot into third overall.

Vande Velde was the top finisher on the stage relative to the GC contenders but his time still only put him in fourth on the day, good enough for fifth overall. Schumacher, who I thought would be wasted from his escapades in the alps, rode like a machine (again) to take the stage win.

Anonymous said...

Bummer. I was trying really hard not to look at the TT results until I watched, and now, I know the results. Would you warn us next time if you're going there? Thanks! Love to read the blog.

David McDuff said...

Oops.... Guess I should have thought about that. I just got caught up in the excitement. Didn't mean to be a spoiler. But thanks for reading!

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