With the Prologue to the 2010 Tour de France in the books, its time to play everyone’s favorite game: Win, Lose, or Draw.
Let’s begin with today’s winners:
1. Fabian Cancellara won the Prologue with a time 10-seconds faster than Tony Martin. Cancellara’s win is far from a surprise; if he can hold onto it during the tough Stage 2, he’ll carry it across his cherished pavé in Stage 3. Fabian’s won a road stage while wearing yellow before—can he do it again?
2. Tyler Farrar rode a fantastic Prologue to finish seventh—he must like racing in Holland. While taking yellow tomorrow might be a tough undertaking, I wonder if Farrar and Garmin (David Miller finished third today) are thinking about Stage 3, a day in which several of their men might force the issue to create a select leading group. That might be Tyler’s best chance for yellow—if he doesn’t lose too much time in the Ardennes. Otherwise, the solid time trial ride goes to further my belief that Tyler is a true classics rider in the making—look for him to challenge for victory in the cobbled classics soon.
3. Lance Armstrong accomplished his first mission in the 2010 Tour de France by beating Alberto Contador. Considering that Lance lost time to Contador in last year’s Prologue, this has to be considered an improvement. Better still, Lance’s teammates Levi Leipheimer, Janez Brajkovic, Andreas Kloden all posted times within the first 20 riders. I bet they’re wishing the Tour had included a team time trial this year.
4. Brent Bookwalter followed his second-place in the first stage of the Giro with a respectable 11th-place ride today. He dropped nine places, but it’s progress.
5. Roman Kreuziger finished 20th, 16-seconds behind Armstrong. More importantly, he finished 17-seconds ahead of teammate and co-captain Ivan Basso. Kreuziger’s motivated to make a name for himself in this year’s race—look for him to go for yellow in the Ardennes during Stage 2.
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Robert Gesink finished 46th and 56th respectively, but the Benelux riders finished ahead of several contenders including Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, Denis Menchov, Samuel Sanchez, Bradley Wiggins, Christian Vande Velde, and Frank and Andy Schleck. For VDB2, it’s confirmation that he’s a true top-10 contender. For Gesink, it makes me wonder why he couldn’t do it in the Tour de Suisse.
And the Losers?
1. Andy Schleck fared the worst of the GC men, conceding 42-seconds to Contador. For a man who couldn’t shake the Spaniard in the mountains last year, this is a bad way to start the Tour.
2. Bradley Wiggins rode to a mediocre 77th-place, behind poor time trialists such as Robert Gesink and Carlos Sastre. Rumors are circulating that the British favorite is not handling the pressure of being a Tour contender. While I won’t say “I told you so” just yet, I might be saying it soon.
3. If we’re going to slam Bradley Wiggins, it’s only fair to slam Christian Vande Velde as well. He’s admitted that his form’s not quite where he wants it to be, but 92nd is hardly what we expect from a contender for the top-10.
4. With this being the third consecutive Tour with no time bonuses, it’s easy to see why the majority of the sprinters took it easy today—there’s virtually no chance for them to take yellow. While I can see why the ASO made the decision to abolish the bonuses; I can’t help but think the time bonuses would have gone a long way toward making the first week a bit more interesting. Thank heavens for the Ardennes and the pavé!
5. David Zabriskie might have departed when the roads were wet, but we still expected more from the former Prologue-winner.
6. Matthias Frank and Manuel Cardoso both crashed heavily, losing minutes—and blood. Both required post-ride stitches—Frank’s in his face. Luckily there’s no time cut in the Prologue, otherwise they might have made an early exit.
7. The viewers at home might have been the biggest losers of the day. We spent more time watching commentators and commercials than actual racing. I hope this trend doesn’t continue. There’s some exciting racing to come—we want to see it!
These men get a “Draw” for the day:
1. Tony Martin might easily have been the big winner of today’s Prologue—had he won. While I can’t take anything away from his ride, he gets the draw simply by virtue of the torture he must have faced while waiting for the final riders to finish. Great ride, Tony. You’ll get’em next time.
2. Alberto Contador lost the battle, but there’s still a lot of war left. Still, I bet he’s upset he couldn’t defeat Armstrong in their first head-to-head battle since last year’s race. The parcours favors Contador—I think he’s timed his best fitness for the third week—but he gets only a “draw” today.
3. Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, and Denis Menchov had respectable rides, conceding a reasonable amount of time to the better time trialists. The race favors climbers—these three have placed themselves well within striking distance. Their next challenge: surviving the first week.
4. With a terrible finish way down in 140th, Damiano Cunego confirmed my belief that he’s not here for the overall—the smartest choice he’s made in years. With the Ardennes in two days time, I suspect he’s keeping himself fresh to go for a stage win in some of his favorite terrain. Here’s hoping he delivers–otherwise this draw becomes a loss.
And there you have it. There’s still a long way to Paris, but every little bit counts.
Share your comments below—and don’t forget to join me as I blog for Bicycling Magazine during the next few stages. Hope to see you!