Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

6.21.2006

T-Minus

Just curious, but did anyone accept the challenge I set for preparing to watch le Tour de France? Well never fear, even if you didn't you can watch OLN's preview show this Sunday afternoon from 4:00 to 5:00. Non-stop coverage begins with the race prologue the following Saturday, July 1st.

I'll offer my own brief preview (with more to follow) for those who can't/won't watch. First, since there is no Lance Armstrong to root for anymore, an introduction to some of the major players:

Italian Ivan Basso, riding for the Dutch Team CSC, will undoubtably be in contention. He's won the white jersey for best young rider in the past, finished 3rd in the tour in 2004, and was 2nd to Lance last year. He's been the only rider able to consistently ride with Lance in the mountains for the past couple of years. And this year he absolutely dominated in the Italy's version of le Tour, the Giro d'Italia, winning by the largest margin in 42 years. No one was able to stay with him on the hard mountain stages, even though he never seemed to be exerting himself too much. It remains to be seen if his body can handle another hard effort or if he peaked for the earlier race.

The other main favorite is German superstar Jan Ullrich, who rides for the German team T-Mobile. He was second in his very first try at the tour then won it in 1997. He was finished second to Lance four times after that. He got the flu heading into the 2004 race and had his worst finish ever: 4th. Last year he was 3rd behind Armstrong and Basso. Everyone agrees Ullrich is the most talented rider of the last ten years, but some have questioned his dedication during the off-season. His season started a bit late this year due to a knee injury, but his form has come on recently as evidenced by his victory in the Tour of Switzerland. He seems set to peak at exactly the right time.

While Lance is gone, the Discovery Channel Team is still one of the strongest in cycling. George Hincapie is the only rider to have supported Armstrong during all seven of his victories, but has slowly been improving each year. If he shows form, he may be declared team leader. Other possibilites for the team include Paola Savoldelli, a two-time winner of the Giro, Yaroslav Popovych, a rising star for the team, and Jose Azevedo, a climber who finished 5th in 2004 riding in support of Lance. No matter who the race shows the leader to be, the strength of the team will make him a contender.

Floyd Landis is another American who should be a contender. He was Lance's top Lieutenant in 2004 before switching to become leader of the Swiss Phonak team. He spent last season gaining the confidence to lead, finishing 9th in the tour. He won three early season tours this year--the Tour of California, Paris-Nice, and the Tour of Georgia--and looks like he's ready to compete.

While Landis has been training and saving himself in recent months--taking it easy to finish well back in his most recent race, the Dauphine Libere--American Levi Leipheimer felt no need to save himself and won that tour, which goes over many of the same mountains as le Tour. Levi leads the German Gerolsteiner team, who have dedicated themselves to helping him win le Tour this year. After his 6th place finish last year, he looks ready to move further up into contention for the win.

Other names that should be near the top include Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Francisco Mancebo, and Alexandre Vinokourov, as well as a host of other possibilities.

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