July 03, 2011
Garmin takes narrow TTT win, puts Hushovd in yellow
Garmin's riders have been no stranger to the podium since the team debuted in the Tour in 2008, but the team has never taken the top step. Sunday, in a nail-biter team time trial in Les Essarts, Garmin-Cervelo got the monkey off their back, taking a 4-second stage win and putting world champion Thor Hushovd in yellow.
Alberto Contador, the overall race favorite, saw his chances take another blow, as his Saxo Bank team lost time against many of his rivals, notably both Schlecks, Cadel Evans, Brad Wiggins, Robert Gesink, and Radio Shack's Four Horsemen of the Cyclopalypse, Andreas Klöden, Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer.
On the other hand, Cadel Evans again took advantage of a chance to make some time, leading his BMC squad to a smooth and surprising 2nd on the day, and missing the yellow jersey by just one second.
Team Leopard-Trek had a rainbow-striped lion among its smaller cats, and world TT champion Fabian Cancellara looked strong enough to drag 4 men and their bikes to the finish. Leopard-Trek was 4th on the day, one of 3 teams (with BMC and Wiggins' Team Sky) to finish 4 seconds back of Garmin.
HTC-High Road was just one further second off the win, likely on Bernhard Eisel's fall in the first turn that left them one rider down for the stage.
Hushovd becomes the first Garmin rider in yellow.
Even before the stage started, there was controversy, as the UCI decided to interpret its geometry regulations to mean that all riders had to race with their saddles level to the ground, apparently a change to how rules were enforced at the recent Tour de Suisse and Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré. Saxo Bank director Bradley McGee and Radio Shack director Johan Bruyneel were fined for “improper conduct” toward officials in the bike check area. Even recreational riders will notice a change to normal saddle position, and take some time to adjust to a new position.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2011 in 2011 Stage 2, Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Stage 2 TTT preview
Today's Stage 2 features the team time trial. The TTT seems simple enough -- line up all your team's riders, and get them as quickly as possible to the finish line, with all riders who finish together getting the time of the 5th man across the line.
In practice, winning the TTT requires strong riders, careful coordination, and a bit of strategy. Teams can't afford to drop their GC hopes, and will usually try to keep even their weaker TT riders in the group as long as possible by varying the length of their riders' pulls. Teams that are comfortable with the TTT will do this by smoothly rotating through a paceline, while teams that aren't will look like 9 guys on your local club ride. Strong riders will speed up as they pull through, causing gaps and extra effort for their teammates.
The Tour itself seems to be minimizing the role of the time trial, and especially the team time trial. This year's edition is only 23 kilometers, down from 67 a few years back, limiting the potential damage. Alberto Contador's Saxo Bank team is first out of the blocks, at 8:30 Eastern, Garmin's at 9:26, Radio Shack at 10:29, HTC-High Road at 10:36, Leopard-Trek at 10:43, BMC at 10:50, and Omega Pharma at 10:57.
The US-based teams tend to be strong in the discipline, and I've seen Radio Shack, HTC-High Road, and Garmin-Cervelo picked to take today's win. Personally, I'm expecting HTC-High Road, and rooting for Garmin-Cervelo.