Hesjedal, Wiggins and GC fortunes
I wonder if the defending champion Ryder Hesjedal will find some time for a bit of gentle pedalo during the next rest day? I know it's unlikely given the circumstances but if the hotel is near a lake next Monday, you never know. Obviously he needs some form of relaxation because being blasted out the back and out of contention for a GC placing on the first big mountain of this year’s race means he hasn't recovered from the opening week efforts .The second week won't allow much respite either.
Everyone expected a Pinarello to win Saturday's time trial but not many would have thought it would be Alex Dowsett pedalling it though. Just goes to show that much like Mark Cavendish, there can be life after Sky if you are a Brit that dares to leave.
Daring isn't something that came to Bradley Wiggins on the wet roads to Florence the next day - poor Wiggo has taken a bit of a pasting from every corner of the intertwit for that display . I won't add any more pain to that subject than has been already said though I have read some excellent exchanges, such as this gem:
If it hadn't been wet and raining then Brad wouldn't have been dropped
And the response was:
shit Sherlock no …..............try re-arranging them if you want a qualification in the bleeding obvious.
I can't be the only one tiring of the whole what are Wiggins and Sky going to do now questions. The answer was there on slippy Sunday when Henao and Uran weren't told to wait for their team leader. That's the plan now.
When Sky started work on the front of the bunch en route to Montasio it looked like normal service would be resumed with Brad being the chosen one and the Colombians being at his disposal. I even half-suspected that by sending Uran on the attack on the final hill, it was meant to be so Brad could bridge up to him and then they could do some TTT-ing to the line. It's a pity the fierce pace that Siutsou, Cataldo and Zandio imposed at the bottom of the climb hurt their team leader as much as it hurt the others. There are shades of the Froome / Vuelta 2011 beginning to show through in their team tactics though and if Uran is on the way out of the team it won't look too smart if he finishes in front of Wiggins. More tricky questions for Dave Brailsford are coming.
So the first big sort out has happened and it's proved Hesjedal’s chances are gone, Henao's almost gone too but Gesink survived the first major selection by the skin of his teeth. He always looks like he's at 110% and ready to blow. Finally the two tiny AG2r climbers, Pozzovivio and Betancourt lived up to expectations and performed a bit of a one-two on the lead group though they are a category apart given their time losses already. I doubt Nibali and Astana are scared by them scuttling off on a few stage finishes.
I thought Michele Scarponi had looked good but cracking along with Wiggins on the steepest part of Montasio was a bit of a surprise. I'd have thought he would have been with Evans and Nibali but it wasn't to be.
Former Maglia Rosa Benat Intxausti showed he still has ambitions by opening up the hostilities on the steepest slope but then probably regretted it almost immediately. His good idea to sneak off before the GC war commenced was the right train of thought it's just the others had a similar plan. Bradley Wiggins could really have done without the action starting when it did because it showed he still can't get out of the saddle when he needs to. Despite saying the numbers are good and his climbing hasn't been better he didn't look that comfortable even before the crucial part.
I've been impressed by Tanel Kangert of Astana; he could be a new version of Kiryienka and Pellizotti looks like he's getting better, considering he was on the attack before the last climb he did more than well to still be present in the finale. Majka, Santambrogio and Kiserlovski could become some new names to follow next time the road goes up, if they can survive the first sort out they ought to be okay for the following days. And spare a thought for the gruppetto as they won't have enjoyed the last few days racing at all.
But for the win it looks like it's down to Nibali versus Evans with maybe Uran trying an ambush. If Ryder does get the chance to go for that pedalo trip I'd suggest that he doesn't invite Wiggo to accompany him because when the man shouts ‘come in number one your time is up’ there may be a bit of confusion.
- Robert Millar
Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey. Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.
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