l'Alpe d'Huez

GC after today's first alpine stage starts to shape up. Schleck was a good winner. he's 26 and a real upncomer. Floyd, IMHO, looked dominant. yes, i wish he'd led a little more, but it was a more Indurain-like performance, sitting there grinding a good pace, instead of a 'Lance Attacks!' kind of performance. Kloden was certainly 2nd best of the favs, with Sastre- and to a lesser- Levi looking solid. Menchov and Evans not so good. don't know if it's the mtnbike background, but Cadel looked to be climbing quite a bit out of the saddle. that's usually bad form unless the name is 'Lucho' and you're from Colombia. the team that most impresses me is AG2R. these guys are pretty 2nd-class compared to the Discos and T-Mobiles, but they're all over the final results. not great, mind you, but much better than expected. Here is the top-10 from cyclingnews.com

General classification after stage 15

1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 69.00.05 (41.535 km/h)
2 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.10
3 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 2.02
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.12
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 2.17
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.56
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 5.01
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 6.18
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6.20

I would think this final 10 is pretty well set, although Pereiro and Dessel maybe would drop some. the other names- Menchov, Sastre, Kloden, Evans, Rogers, Leipheimer, and maybe Zubeldia- have been solid so far in the mountains. i can see them all remaining, barring a breakway that slips in a new name. tomorrow is very large, with the next day taking in the Joux-Plane, so there is still lots of room for movement.

Following are results from the first TT with these 10 listed.

2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.00.62
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 1.23.87 (+23)
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 1.43.26 (+43)
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.43.90 (+43)
11 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.49.39 (+49)
18 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 2.10.59 (+1.10)
23 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 2.40.92 (+1.40)
36 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3.31.84 (+2.31)
38 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 3.42.11 (+2.42)
96 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 6.05.46 (+5.05)
**to lazy to round, BTW

These results are somewhat interesting. Floyd could've added another 30sec w/out bike troubles, but these times are not in the least bit dominant. por otro lado, no one was close enough to take the 2 and 3 minutes necessary to take the jersey that they lack now. Zubeldia had a nasty TT, but in the past has ridden better. Sastre will prob be only mediocre at best; he's much more the climber. of course Levi is the big interest. he should've ridden within a minute or so of Floyd, definitely! extrapolate that kind of result and he's in there with Menchov, Kloden group. Wow! what a way to throw away a Tour podium spot. i think Levi will continue to climb pretty well and stay within the top 10, but not well enough to jump on the podium. he was only stronger than Menchov Evans, but not by much. too bad for him that terrible TT. Floyd looks to have enough form that says he will dominate the last TT, but he first must get through the next two days, and rough ones they will be.

oh, and how 'bout those Discos? if i had the time, i would go back and look at Banesto's fall from grace after Indurain retired. from so high to so low. barely two riders in the top 30, with Georgie not near strong enough to back up the earlier break. and Azevedo must've gone straight back. this team has no heart this year. the Basso rumours are interesting, b/c it certainly looks like this bunch- esp. Popo, Azevedo and George- are going to become GCrs any time soon. 'course, he also looks to be a big cheat.

Floyd looks convincing. Vamos a ver.


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