The 2006 Tour: Who will seize the day?
On paper at least, this year?s Tour de France will bestow its favours on those riders who excel at the individual time trial.
of this year?s race is anything but certain.
A second tier of contenders could include Australia?s Cadel Evans, the American Levi Leipheimer, and Damiano Cunego of Italy, a former Giro winner. All can time-trial and climb, and all have teams to support them.
And, if you want to consider an outsider or two, give a thought to someone like Carlos Sastre of Team CSC or his teammate Bobby Julich. Sastre is no great time-trialler. He finished 58th today, 26 seconds behind Hushovd. But he is still a good all-round rider and particularly strong in the mountains. His role this year was to be in support of Ivan Basso. But he can now, like Hincapie, seek his own destiny. He might surprise.
So might Julich who was considerably better than Sastre in today?s Prologue, coming in 29th , 18 seconds behind the winner. Julich might do better in the longer time trials. He can also climb.
Today?s Prologue was a tonic after Friday, quite possibly the worst day in the history of the Tour de France. A lovely sunny day helped, as did a splendid civic setting for the race in Strasbourg. Hushovd was an ecstatic winner. The crowds were large. The Tour de France lives. Long Live the Tour de France.
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