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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stage 7 – We’re not in Italy/Texas/Aspen anymore are we Denim, Denim??

Breathtaking scenery. Contador powering up the Arcalis away from Armstrong and Fabian’s descent to hook back on to the peloton after a puncture and nature break. I could’ve watched THAT all day. Fabian’s descent of course...ahem... not his nature break.

I watched as Contador ascended the Arcalis and thought "Yep, that’s the 2009 Tour winner. Noone’s going to stop him." I try to be positive and see the wine glass more than one standard glass full and often thought the Armstrong v Contador rivalry was staged as a psychological smokescreen. Boy was I naïve. Coz now Wancey is cwanky.

The team time trial’s over, Zoolander’s gone, and Lance has realised after the first real climb at TDF pace what the whole world already knew, Contador is actually better than him. So no more Mr Nice Guy.

What is he most upset about? That he didn’t play to his….I mean…Johan’s tune? Or that Contador could’ve topped the summit, ridden back down and back up past Lance, smiling – all teeth – and waving. Armstrong now knows this is for keeps and he couldn’t keep up.

Let’s just say Contador didn’t do what was decided on the team bus that morning while Lance was making videos of he and Denim and discovering new Twitter applications. Big deal. Astana was already up the front and he, Contador and Denim helped nullify Evans before Contador took off. If Berty stayed and Evans went, they probably would’ve nullified him again, even if they didn’t really need to. They were expending the same amount if Contador went or stayed. Plus they were joined by a group of other riders. So it can’t have been about "the team."

Armstrong himself said the day before, Contador would attack, so why is he so offended? Was it because he thought, "S*it, Evans and Schleck just need to attack again and I’m spent. I’m barely staying," not worrying about this from a team viewpoint of course. And maybe he started to come over all Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon and thought "I am too old for this shit….I’ve still got two more weeks to go, I’m not in Italy/Aspen/Texas anymore Levi….Levi??"

So now, he’s on message about "the team" despite following his own instinct on Stage 3 to stay with the split. What about this biting comment "We’ll have plenty of days at the end of this Tour when there are only a couple of guys together. The team is good. Levi and Kloden were strong. The team won’t be the problem." Oh dear.

As to Evans, with my full wine glass hopes dashed, I can’t join in with the chorus of Australian press/cycling fans singing from the "How Great Thou Art Cadel for Attacking Today and Because of Today’s Attack He’s Still a Chance" hymn sheet. Were we watching the same race? He got neutered.

Evans’ only chance against Astana is implosion and/or if they don’t carry their current form into the latter stages, leaving Berty a little more isolated. But this will just see another team, like Saxobank, seize their chance and do totally the same thing to him. Contador might sit on his and their wheels and go for it again. Plus it wasn’t just Astana who he couldn’t pull away from, these guys were also in the group that formed: Sanchez, Schleck, Menchov, Sastre, Vande Velde, Wiggins, Martin and Karpets.

I’m not trying to s*it all over his efforts, I love Cadel. But he’s down 3 minutes. Can he really form alliances when none have formed for him before? That’s a real question, I’m not being a rhetorical doubter. And another one: weren’t Saxobank the Astana of last year’s tour? Did alliances form with Cadel then?

But there’s some sediment left in the wine glass – it is the tour and stranger things have happened. And Cadel does try his heart out right until the champagne is poured in Paris that’s for sure.

And who knows about tonight too – sure, there’s a descent to the finish after a category 2 and 1 climb, followed early on in the stage with another Category 1 climb – last year Cadel went ahead on Menchov after a downhill, even if it only gained him seconds. Profile and other details about the stage is at letour.fr


Coverage tonight on SBS Two starts at 8pm – woo hoo, that means I can be off the bike at 10pm not the usual 12 or 1.

Stage 7
You're better off getting a race report by Rupert Guinness at smh.com.au and SBS interviews/GC etc online at sbs.com.au/tdf. Briefly though Feillu won another for France, Noncentini is in yellow with Contador in second and right behind with daggers ready, Armstrong. Evans remains around 3mins behind Contador.

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