Jul 3, 2005

tdf - stage 2

The next few days of the tour should be relatively quiet. They are all flat runs. This means Lance will stay in the peloton and conserve energy and get his legs warmed up for the mountains ahead. Non-contenders for the maillot jaune will be allowed to go off the front of the peloton to win either hill points or sprint points along the way. Only a crash and debilitating injury can change the tone of the tour significantly.

So while this goes on I've been thinking about the individual time trial of stage 1. Part of winning the tour is strategy. And Lance is about the cagiest damn rider I've ever seen. From previous tours when he faked a bad ride day to demoralize his opponents after he perked up an won that stage to his look back at Ullrich on a particularly hard climb to say, 'catch me if you can', Lance always keeps his opponents guessing.

So it occurred to me today that the best outcome of the stage 1 race is for Lance to come in second. Why is this? Well Lance always wants to demoralize his opponents in the time trial. Given that he ended up about a minute faster than any other contender, he accomplished this in spades. So why give up the stage win? Well like I said the next few days are flat runs. Whichever team has the yellow jersey is duty bound by tradition to defend the jersey and to lead the peloton. This is a pain in the ass because it forces your team to be up front and take the brunt of the wind. It's much better to have another team do this. And since Lance came in second, Zabriskie's team CSC has the honor of that task. It's really the perfect place for Lance and the Discovery team to be.

There's no way of knowing of course if Lance pulled that last few seconds off his time but it is a possibility. And this is exactly the damn kind of thing Lance does. If you are Ullrich or Basso you must be thinking, 'Did he pull up? Does he have more in him?' That possibility can weigh heavy on a rider. And only Lance knows the answer which is just how he likes it.

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