Saturday, July 02, 2005

Stage 1 - Saturday, July 2: Fromentine - Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile ITT, 19 km

Well, it's started and that boy proved that he isn't just a fluke. The only person (besides the casual cycling fan) who should have been surprised by his win today was David Zabriskie himself. Earlier this year, he won the Stage 8 time trial of the Giro d'Italia (in addition, after recovering from broken leg, in 2004, he won a stage of the Vuelta and became the US national TT champ). But it seemed that everyone from cyclingnews to OLN was surprised at Dave's win (except for Phil, I believe, who picked Dave to win the stage).

OLN's coverage was definitely lacking, it didn't start until 11:30 EST and while the "big names" didn't start until after noon eastern time, we missed a lot of riders I would have liked to see. And, honestly, as much as I like to learn about cyclists, everything seemed to be a repeat of last year as well as all of the Cyclism Sunday tour profiles. I would have enjoyed at least a few more views of the opening time trial.

And what a time trial it was, and not just because Zabriskie chalked up another win for the states (I will confess I was rooting for the boy), but because it was along the Atlantic coast. Because there was a slight descent up onto the bridge. Because the view was beautiful and well, it was the tour. But also because instead of a prologue, we were treated to 20+ minutes (give or take a few minutes) per rider of amazing cycling. There were several amazing catches. And some great riding, like that of Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished third over all.

But, of course, the one thing every one will be talking about will be the amazing catch by Lance Armstrong. At first, we really couldn't believe it. Was Lance really going to go all out? After all, hadn't he just slipped out of his pedal (insert your clever Speed Play/Floyd Landis jokes here -- my mother even made one) and lost a few seconds? Wasn't this just the opening time trial, just a test of the waters? And yet there Lance was, six-time Tour de France winner (how else would he be known, really?), riding as hard -- or what seemed to be as hard -- as he good. And suddenly the camera flipped to Jan Ullrich and slowly pulled back and that's when we all saw (and perhaps held our collective breath) how close Lance was to catching Ullrich.

Of course he was going to catch Ullrich. After all, this is Lance Armstrong we're talking about. And yet no one else, not any of the national time trial champions (Thor, Sylvain and Michael for example) or the World Time Trial Champion Mick Rogers, clocked times even close to that of Zabriskie, how could Lance, how could Jan? But as we watched, the camera slide back to Lance and again we saw how close it was. Then, suddenly, Lance rode by Ullrich and the same thought crossed everyone's mind. Was this it?

Would it end the day it began? Would Lance be able to catch Zabriskie? Was Jan Ullrich just another man to fall by the wayside? The answer to all of those questions is not simple. Lance did not, if by choice or because he couldn't, catch Dave. He did pass Ullrich and put time between him, and many of his riders (though Vino ended up third). But it isn't the end, it's only the first stage. And, well, time is relative on the tour because everything changes in the mountains.

Here are the top 15 for stage one:

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 20.51 (54.67 km/h)
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 0.02
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 0.53
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.57
5 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole 0.59
6 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.02
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo
8 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 1.04
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 1.05
10 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) Liberty Seguros-W├╝rth 1.06
11 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 1.07
12 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 1.08
13 Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.12
14 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.13
15 Michael Rich (Ger) Gerolsteiner

Not bad, really. Nice to see Hincapie up there. Even nicer to see Floyd. And, of course, Brad McGee wasn't far behind in 18th. I don't know what will happen. Part of me hopes Lance will win his seventh and part of me wants an all T-Mobile podium. I'm torn, but then again, Lance is retiring, the rest (most likely) aren't. It was exciting today and tomorrow promises to bring out the sprinters in full force.

Well, here we are. Way to go Dave. I can't wait to see what the rest of the tour has in store for us.

(all photos from yahoo)

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