Just before the Tour began in Monaco, we published 5 Indefensible Claims about this year's race. Outrageous, unfounded, and perhaps politically incorrect, they were an interesting way to generate some conversation about the events to come.
So let's take advantage of today's rest day in Limoges to see how we're doing.
Here we go:
1. This year’s Tour will be free of any doping controversy.
So far, so good. Today is an important day though, as doping scandals seem to come-out during rest days. But up to now, we’re riding a clean race. Let’s stop talking so we don’t jinx it.
2. Mark Cavendish will win one individual stage and one stage only.
Okay my Union Jack friends, you got me here. Cavendish quickly won two stages, immediately making me eat my words. And with Cavvie still in the race, and three flat stages to come this week, he looks to add to his total. Time to give respect where it’s due.
3. French riders or riders on French teams will win more stages than any other country, making it a banner year for the “home équipe”.
I’m most proud of this claim, not only because it feels good to be right (so far), but because it’s good for the race itself. As it stands, the French tally includes 3 stage wins, 2 days in the yellow jersey (and counting), and several days in the polka-dot jersey as well. For weeks we’ve been touting Voeckler and Fedrigo to win stages; so no surprises there. But Brice Feillu? We never saw that one coming, particularly on the first summit finish of the race. Hopefully he can continue to ride well as the race progresses; it would be fantastic to have a new French hope for the mountains and perhaps the GC. Allez!
4. Lance Armstrong Won’t Finish the Race.
This looks like it will turn-out to be incorrect as Lance currently sits in 3rd place overall, only a handful of seconds away from the yellow jersey. And while misfortune is always possible, it just isn’t sporting to wish it on a rider simply for the sake of having an indefensible claim turn-out correct.
So bad luck aside, it looks like Lance has only the weight of his own ego to contend with. Clearly he considers himself to be a top favorite for his 8th title, but what happens if he cracks? How will his ego respond? Will he dutifully assume the role of domestique, content in helping a teammate go for the win? Or will he implode, leaving the race early to go home and pout?
I still think he’s a step below Contador; lacking the acceleration necessary to follow the sharpest mountain attacks. We’ll have to wait until next Sunday when the race climbs to Verbier to get our first look.
5. Roman Kreuziger will win the Tour de France.
The jury’s still out on this one. Right now Kreuziger sits in 14th, 2:40 behind the maillot jaune. He lost a bit of time on Stage 3, when wind (and Columbia) split the group, and he lost a minute on Arcalis. He and his teammate, Vincenzo Nibali, are still riders to be reckoned with; if they are given a bit of latitude they could pull-off a shock. However, at this point, it seems both are content to follow wheels to as high a placing as possible, unwilling to attack lest it hurt their overall chances.
As the race evolves though, Kreuziger will improve. He enjoys riding in the Alps and has had success in the Swiss stage races the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. Does he face a monumental task in going for the win? Yes. Have crazier things happened? Yes. Let’s see where things stand a week from now.
So overall, as it stands right now we'll give ourselves a 2 out of 5. Solid, but not great.
What about you? Any indefensible or outrageous claims for the second week? The rest of the race?
Share your predictions below.