Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Aussies take yellow and the TTT

2 July 2013
Stage 4

I am heaving a sigh of relief, as the bizarre happenings of the last few days are now over. We have had our share of surprises, and I want some regular racing now. I will give you an example. I picked a team in one of my leagues, a serious team. I thought about it long and hard. I have three good sprinters, Cav, Greipel and Bouhanni. I thought there would be fair number of sprint stages, 6-7 and it was worth having guys who would finish well, no matter who actually won. None of the three have scored a point, not one single point. Whatever the reason, this is not normal. I do not approve. I want normality to get back to work. I want some sprint points.

The TTT is summed up by the times. Thankfully, no team has had a crash or another disaster. Let's quickly go over the expectations and the surprises, as some of you might not know who was meant to do well or poorly. I am basing this evaluation on the choices for the top five in L'Equipe and the choices of my forum for the day. Biggest disappointment was probably Garmin, who finished sixth, when in fact, they were a big favourite. I thought I might see Daveed in yellow, but somehow they blew it. Daveed said he had a bad day and that is where they lost the twelve seconds. Maybe he is right. Neither Team Saxo nor Lotto were picked by anyone on my forum, nor by the paper as a top five. So overall they must be quite happy. Whoever did well or poorly, the gaps are quite small, so none of this really matters anyway. Omega is the World Champion, so them doing well was expected. Except for being beaten by less than a second by Orica. they did do well. As Millar said, any team with Tony Martin in it, much less Sylvain Chavanel must be good. Their good performance is not a surprise. Similarly Sky in the top three is no surprise, they are meant to be a team of powerful riders in all terrain. Some of their best climbers are also amongst the best time triallists. What we can say is that one lucky guy in our forum and the fifth pick of the paper was Orica, so them finishing first was a minor surprise, although a fifth or fourth place finish would have been normal. So they did very well, and beat the big fellows. The paper picked Radio Shack as the fourth team, and got that wrong, not fourth but eleventh. Even then, Schleck, if he is indeed their best hope for GC, only lost 26 seconds on Froome. Contador only lost 3 seconds on Froome, so his team really did very well indeed. Saxo was picked by no one, and not mentioned by the paper, so finishing fourth was brilliant. It was noticeable that Contador rode very well and might well be over much of the damage he suffered in the crash. One might say that Movistar and BMC could have done better, but in fact, they only lost 20 seconds on the other leading teams, so no big deal.

Although an interesting event to watch, very appealing in some ways, it looks like the influence of the TTT on the race will be approximately zero. Although I didn’t really think Orica would win, and that Gerrans would be in yellow, I am actually quite happy about that. First, it means a change of jersey, so possibly there will be more. I doubt if Gerrans can keep up with the winner in the first mountain stage, but I reckon he could keep it for three days anyway. Poor Orica has their work cut out though, as with a gap of almost nothing, they can't let any of about 50 guys get too far ahead assuming they are serious about keeping the jersey. Mind you, in the next few days, Omega and Lotto will be so desperate to get Greipel and Cav in a position to actually sprint that I doubt any break can get away. Orica might be able to loaf for two days.

Not much more to say. Looking forward to seeing the Tour live rather than on the box. And looking forward to my fantasy team scoring some points. In case you wondered which of my riders actually scored on that team it was Cadel Evans. I am hoping he has a good Tour.