Ride the Puddles

Tour de France 2010: Stage 17: Menchov and Sanchez Blow It #tdf

Posted by bikezilla on July 22, 2010

Last year when Alberto Contador (Astana) unleashed his blazing, climbing attack Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) could match it. But, then Alberto just kept on and on and on and no one, not even Andy could hang with him.

Now Alberto seems a little weaker and Andy a little stronger than last year.

Alberto still has the amazingly fast jump, and Andy can still match it. But Alberto isn’t able to keep up the acceleration this time around. Which leaves the two of them dead even in the climbs.

All Alberto had to do today was stick with Andy and except for one failed attempt to surge ahead that’s what he did. He was the new Cadel Evans (except fast), sucking Andy’s wheel like a ramora.

And who says that Alberto is a total no class jerk (not me, I would never confuse Alberto with Lance)? He didn’t bother contesting the final sprint, allowing Andy to take the stage, as acknowledgement that Andy did nearly all the work pulling the two of them up the Tourmaline.

And, there’s no limit to Andy Schleck’s coolness.

But with the last day of climbing over I have to ask, what the hell were Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel – Euskadi) and Denis Menchov (RaboBank) thinking all Tour? Especially Menchov.

Denis made a point, a big point, of letting the world know that winning this year’s Tour was his entire goal for the season, not finishing it, not making the podium, but winning it.

He and RaboBank have sat back, as if waiting in ambush, the entire damned Tour, and in the end all they did was jump out and yell, “Psych! Fooled ya!”.

Sanchez put it out there. He tried. But come on, neither he nor Denis were gonna best Alberto and Andy, at least not alone.

And today Sanchez and Menchov both lost all the time they’d gained over the past few stages, plus some more.

What if they’d worked together? What if they had alternated climbs or climbing days jumping Alberto and Andy? Only one of them ever had to go, meaning the other could have a relative rest, each day or each climb, while Alberto and Andy would both have to cover the break each and every time.

They could have worn the two superior riders down while suffering minimized wear and tear themselves and each might have had a chance at the overall. But no.

Really, guys, did you both come into this thing aiming for a 3rd place finish? Or were you too untrusting and paranoid of each other to attempt joining forces?

So now what?

If things play as it seems they should, all Alberto has to do is perform to expectations during the Stage 19 51km timetrial (TT) on Saturday.

Where does that leave Andy? Will he surprise us all and blow Alberto away during the TT? Will he attempt a break during Stage 18 tomorrow (Friday)? Will he contest the “ceremonial” final stage into Paris on Sunday? Or will he just sit on his hands and hope that God / Fate / The Universe has something nice, like an ice cream cone only faster, fated on his behalf (kind of like Menchov seems to have done all Tour).


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