It was a busy and eventful weekend for the cycling world, as the Tour de Swiss wrapped up over in Europe, the final chance for the world to see some of the big Tour de France contenders ahead of the start in Rotterdam. National championships too are upon us, as riders will vie for the right to wear their country's colors on their backs over the next calendar year. Some of the juiciest nuggets from this past weekend . . .
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Lance Armstrong is ready for the Tour. After a strong second place finish at the Tour de Swiss, the American has the fitness to be at least considered an outside favorite for his eighth yellow jersey. He is calm, fit and riding with a full team behind him, arguably the strongest team at the Tour.
Frank Schleck, we never knew thee. The lanky older brother of phenom brother Andy rolled to the overall Tour de Swiss victory behind the time trial of his life. Schleck is already a very dangerous climber, and with his sudden new found time trialing ability, he'll demand respect as an overall threat come Tour time. If he can come close to duplicating his Swiss performance against the clock in France, he could find himself on the overall podium when the Tour arrives in Paris.
Kim Kirchin had a heart attack?!?!?!!!? Weird. Very weird. The Luxembourg all-arounder collapsed this past week and was brought back from the dead by a team doctor. Supposedly he has stabilized, but obviously he will miss the Tour and his career must be considered in jeopardy. All this is a huge shame for one of the nicest pros riding today. May he heal fast and completely, and be back in the peloton for the world championships.
Ivan Basso will be the undisputed leader of the Liquigas team for the Tour after Vincenzo Nibali was left off the team this week. Basso will have Romain Kreuziger on his team as well, but clearly the Italian will lead the team as he tries the mythical Giro/Tour double. Basso certainly has his work cut out for him, but with only one time trial this year's Tour is definitely suited to Basso's style.
Christian Vande Velde, for the second year in a row, comes into the Tour still healing from injuries. He himself claims that his form is improving by the day, and he'll be riding as a part of one of the strongest teams in the Tour, Garmin-Transitions. Vande Velde has little to lose in this year's Tour, he'll ride with no pressure. Expect him to easily go top ten and be a dark horse to surprise the world with a podium placing . . . providing his form continues to improve.
Floyd Landis competed in this past Sunday's Tour of Nevada City Cycling Classic. He was on the call ups list, and was booed lustily when his name was called. The former Bahati Foundation rider donned an Arrogant Bastard Ale jersey and made the final selection of the day. He fell short of making the podium and finished in fourth place. After the race he coasted to the start finish area and stayed around to speak to the crowd and sign autographs. In my 30+ years of watching bike racing, I have never before seen the 4th place finisher in a pro criterium stay around after the race. It was sad to see Floyd seeming to be in such desperate need of attention. It is hoped that the future will be brighter for the embattled former elite cyclist.