It’s another year and another Tour de France. After some massive crashes, for no apparent reason, in Stage 6, a lot of favorites were out. The course itself wasn’t that hard, but nervous jitters were enough to send most of the peloton sprawling all over the roads.
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For the 2012 model year, Giant tweaked their top-of-the line TCR Advanced SL frameset. It’s by no means drastic, but it follows the same lines and technology that they established with the previous model. Giant tends to work in 3-year product cycles, so the 2012 model is a safe bet for the next few years.
During this year’s Tour de France, we got our first glimpses of Pinarello’s new Dogma 2. It’s stiffer, more aerodynamic, and lighter. Pinarello examined how riders used the Dogma and improved on it. The top tube of the Dogma 2 is slightly off center to the right, allowing the rider more balance. The aerodnyamics and stiffness of the front end were improved. It’s 19% stiffer, so it will allow you to brake more precisely. The sculpted crown integrates seamlessly into the re-shaped down tube.
It was well known that both Schlecks didn’t really perform well in time trials, which turned out to be their Achillles’ Heel today as Evans rode clear of them and into yellow. He didn’t just beat them by a few seconds, he rode clear of Andy Schleck by more than 2′, which was impressive but expected, as Andy Schleck is nowhere near the timetrialist that Evans is. So this year, Evans will win the Tour de France since no one will attach him in Paris tomorrow.
Everyone was expecting big things of this final mountain stage, which includes a mountaintop finish at Alpe d’Huez, but no one thought that Contador would attack so early on. He managed to ride away, get caught, and then ride away again while the Schlecks labored on the final climb of Alpe d’Huez. Sanchez brought Rolland up to the front, within a few hundred meters of the finish, and Rolland promptly made a move to distance himself from both Contador and Sanchez to give the French their first stage victory, and it comes from the Europcar team, a French wildcard team, which had held the Yellow Jersey for the last 10 days.
Unfortunately, Voeckler was also on the attack, and stayed a long time in a chase group by himself, which must have drained his energy, because he lost a lot of time on the other favorites. He’s still in 4th position, and now we are left to see what will happen in the individual time trial in Grenoble. Unless Evans rides a superb time trial, Andy Schleck will win the Tour, at least I hope so. Evans could be better at this, and we saw that last year, Contador and Andy Schleck were almost evenly matched.
It had to happen this week because it was simply the last week for it to happen. Finally, Andy Schleck makes a move, which was cunningly put together. At the time, there were already two Leopard Trek riders in the breakaway. Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady were doing some hard pacing, having taken it up a notch from what Europcar was doing. Contador was in the back and they were climbing the Col d’Izoard. There were 60km to go and Schleck launched his attack. At one time, the lead was up to 4:24. Slowly but surely, he caught up with all of the splintered groups and beat them. His two teammates served as a jumping point. Monfort stayed with him for the longest. In the end, the blistering chase was led by Evans, who managed to get back a lot of time on Schleck, but not enough. It was just enough for Voeckler to remain in the Yellow Jersey by 15″. This will make it an interesting stage tomorrow.