Friday, July 23, 2010

Tour de France - Contador Winner with a Caveat?

I've enjoyed nigh on 3 weeks of sleep deprived nights watching the Tour de France. The race isn't over yet, but after the sparring on Stage 17 up the Tourmalet, it seems a foregone conclusion that Alberto Contador will win the Yellow Jersey.

The question is whether Alberto's win will be marred by what happened on Stage 15 when Andy Schleck, wearing the Yellow Jersey with a 31 second lead over Alberto, dropped his chain on the climb up Port de Bales and Alberto in turn attacked. By the end of the stage, Andy lost the Yellow Jersey to Alberto by 8 seconds. That 8 second deficit still remains as they crossed the finish line on the Tourmalet.

There is but one final challenge to determine this years ultimate winner of the Yellow Jersey. The 51 km time trial on the penultimate stage of the race. If Alberto beats Andy by more than 31 seconds, then he will be the winner of the Yellow Jersey. If Alberto beats Andy by less than 31 seconds, the he will be the winner of the Yellow Jersey with a "BUT".

Personally, I'm pulling for one of two scenarios:

1. Andy Schleck wins the Yellow Jersey. He has ridden an awesome tour. He is a pleasure to watch both on and off the bike. He would be a great champion and if not this year, I have a feeling that in the years to come he will be just that.

2. Alberto Contador wins the Yellow Jersey by more than 31 seconds. He is an awesome, well rounded rider and is undeniably the best stage racer in the professional peloton today and arguably the best ever. Did he make a mistake on Stage 15? I think he did and I think he regrets it. However, it was a split second decision made in the heat of battle. Since then, he has apologized. If that were not enough to redeem himself, then what he did on the summit of the Tourmalet on Stage 17 should remove all doubt. He was on Andy's wheel, he had yet to win a stage, he could have easily gone around and taken the win, but he let Andy have it. That was really big of Alberto and in my humble opinion, more than made up for his questionable move on the Port de Bales.

"Andy" or "Alberto by +31 seconds". That would be a fitting end to an awesome Tour.

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