Sunday, July 03, 2011

July 3, Stage 2: Les Essarts (TTT) 23 km

I love Team Time Trials. There's nothing like them in any sport and, hell, there's nothing else really like them in cycling either. Sure, you have teams that are supposed to work together, but we all know that isn't always the case. But in team time trials, you have to work together and if someone fails or falls/crashes or can't keep up -- especially early on -- then you're screwed. What I also like is a well-oiled TTT. I like the rhythm that some teams establish, where they it's almost like watching a machine as each rider does a turn on the front. Mostly it doesn't work that way, but when it does, it's a thing of beauty.

What about this TTT? Well, for me there was a lot at stake because of the results from the first stage. I like that we had a non traditional yellow jersey leader and I was kind of hoping we'd get more of that, if not Phil (because OPL isn't a strong time trialling team), then someone else. What I didn't want was someone like the Schlecks, Contador or Cancellara getting in yellow. Or, god forbid, one of their teams or Radioshack winning the stage. Luckily things worked out for the best, though for a while it didn't seem like that'd be the case. Saxo Bank was first out of the gate and they did a really fast pace, but as happens with the first team (and rider) of a time trial, they're doomed to lose since everyone's trying to beat the time of the first person.

The results weren't exactly what I wanted, but they would suffice.
1 Team Garmin - Cervelo 0:24:48
2 BMC Racing Team 0:00:04
3 Sky Procycling
4 Team Leopard-Trek
5 HTC - Highroad 0:00:05
6 Team Radioshack 0:00:10
7 Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:12
8 Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:28
9 Pro Team Astana 0:00:32
10 Omega Pharma - Lotto 0:00:39
I wanted Sky first (I can hear you judging me, I know) because I wanted Geraint Thomas in yellow, but that wasn't to be. Then I'd kind of hoped for HTC to win, just because maybe Tony would've been in yellow? I'm not entirely sure. But Garmin definitely was an okay first, even though I'm not over pleased with Thor, I neither dislike or like him (though my mother loves him, so she was happy). What I didn't want was Leopard Trek even close to the top and for a while that's what looked like would happen. Which meant that I cheered BMC on extra super hard, even though I'm not the biggest Cadel fan and, thankfully, I got a suitable, if not ideal, result.

Geraint Thomas got to keep his white jersey and in the end, that's the only thing I cared about. That and Sylvain/his team finished well. They were 14th, which wasn't too shabby. Not great, but again they're not a good TTT team. Apparently, according to an interview with Gerald Ciolek, they started out strong but communication broke down. I'm not surprised, to be honest. Every team excels at different things and TTT isn't always one of them. I'm just glad that Sylvain's still only 56 seconds back (at 44th) so there's still a chance that he can win a stage or two, and maybe even get the yellow jersey for a day.

I did enjoy the stage, including Contador's team not being able to hang onto any sort of lead. I liked to see Cadel Evans (sigh) gaining time on the leaders. What I didn't like to see was how Cadel busted his ass and Andy Schleck barely did anything as Cancellara towed him to the line. I know, he had to ride the same stage, too, but come on. Sometimes TTTs aren't fair, but I suppose neither is life. I also didn't like to see Bernhard Eisel crashing, that looked pretty awful. I will also say that I was totally surprised how the TTT made me root for teams (HTC, Sky and Garmin, as well as BMC) who I never really thought to root for before. I'm not sure I like all their riders, but hey, sometimes the team is more important (SIGH).

Tomorrow will hopefully be a big breakaway, ending in a sprint finish. At least a girl can dream. Right?

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