2010 Tour de France – Stage 18 Wrap-Up & Stage 19 Predictions

2010 Tour de France - Cavendish After Stage 18 Win

Fotoreporter Sirotti

It’s funny how our opinion of certain riders changes during the course of the Tour de France.  It makes sense, though, as the Tour is the sport’s grandest stage, the perfect place for riders to reinvent themselves and careers to be resuscitated —or resurrected.

Take today’s sprint for example: Mark Cavendish won Stage 18 with another incredible display of power and speed—and he did it without the world’s fastest lead-out, Mark Renshaw.  Perhaps more importantly, Cavendish has found success in this year’s Tour with nary a quip, wisecrack, or foot in the mouth.  It appears his early season troubles and first week near-misses have given the youngster a better appreciation of all he accomplished.  And perhaps more importantly, by winning with his mouth shut, he’s enabled his one-time critics—myself included—to appreciate his talents without being distracted by his ego.

2010 Tour de France - Petacchi Reclaims Green Jersey After Stage 18

Fotoreporter Sirotti

And then there’s Alessandro Petacchi, a man on the cusp of winning his first green jersey at the ripe “old” age of 36.  If he does, Petacchi will have won the points jersey in all three grand tours, an impressive achievement.  Unfortunately for Alessandro though, the restoration of his image has been damaged by claims that he used illegal methods to prepare for this year’s event.  Should the allegations prove true, it will mean the end of Petacchi’s career—and just at the moment when he seemed to have kick-started it.

As for Thor Hushovd, he’s all but conceded the green jersey this year, maybe just a smoke screen or perhaps an admission that his talents are no longer suited to the rigors of the green jersey contention.  Whatever the case, look for Thor to start next season with a renewed sense of purpose in the classics; and don’t rule out the likelihood that he ends this year with one as well—in Melbourne at Worlds.

You had to love the composition of the day’s main break—it’s too bad we couldn’t see Matti Breschel, Daniel Oss, Jerome Pineau, and Mathieu Ladagnous fight it out for the win.  Breschel and Oss are two classics stars in the making—as to which Oss’ last-gasp attack can attest.  As for Pineau, it would have been nice to see him leave the Tour with something more than the polka dot jerseys he wore for a time during this year’s race.  And Ladagnous?  Well, another French win is always a welcome sight—especially when it comes wearing FDJ’s sensational new kit.

2010 Tour de France - T. Martin in Prologue

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Looking ahead to tomorrow, I see two main contenders for the time trial: Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara.  Both have been rumored to be a bit sick of late and both have done a considerable amount of work for their respective teams over the past two days—but I still see them taking the first two spots on the stage.  (Just to be different, I’ll go against the grain with my pick for the win.) To round out the top-3, look for an American to take the honors—not the one most people have been preoccupied with as of late.

2010 Tour de France - Zabriskie in Prologue

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Here’s my top-5:

1. Tony Martin

2. Fabian Cancellara

3. David Zabriskie

4. Alberto Contador

5. Alexandre Vinokourov

Share your picks and comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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13 Responses to 2010 Tour de France – Stage 18 Wrap-Up & Stage 19 Predictions

  1. Osman says:

    I think your remark re: thor hushovd is incredibly illfounded. Thor would have had a substantial lead in the points competition if it wasn’t for Cancellara cancelling the sprint on, what, stage 2?
    Thor had effectively dropped all other contenders for the green jersey when the sprint was called off. That in itself is a testament to the fact that it is the best sprinter, not the fastest, who wins the green jersey – a title thor hushovd unquestionably deserves IMO, and a fact he showed last year and this year alike.

    • Whit says:

      Good point about Stage 2, Osman. That would certainly have changed the standings. But I guess my statement lies in the fact that Thor now seems incredibly outmatched by the rest in field sprints. Look at it this way, are you happy to have a KOM winner who wears the jersey but then gets dropped on the biggest climbs? No disrespect to Thor, he just doesn’t seem to have it this year.

  2. Osman says:

    I see your point, but I still maintain mine. It is unfortunate that he had his collarbone broken earlier this year, which led to Thor not being able to work on his sprints. But then again, speaking of misfortune, other sprinters, like Boonen, have had greater trials so I guess he can be happy with a stage win and a hell of a show in the mountains…

  3. graeme c says:

    Here’s my top-5 for the ITT:

    1. Alberto Contador
    2. Bradley Wiggens
    3. Lance Armstrong
    4. Roman Kreuziger
    5. Edvald Boasson Hagen

    A mixture of hope and think! Cannot imagine the maillot jaune without a stage win, and the others have cruised a bit lately in preparation.

  4. Tom says:

    I respect Thor. He fell and broke his collarbone this year to avoid hitting a little girl on the road. He’s admitted he can’t sprint at the moment due to that injury. He rode a fine tour and indeed the had stage 2 not been neutralized by saxo, the Tour may have had a different outcome. Let’s not forget that the Schleck bros were down by as much as 2 minutes to Sastre and Menchov on the way to Spa. If Cancellera hadn’t neutralized the stage, I think Menchov would have been on the top step of the podium.

    1. Zabriske
    2. Martin
    3. Contador
    4. Menchov
    5. Leipheimer

  5. paul says:

    I don’t know why people still cling to Zabriskie as a great time trialist. He hasn’t won any TT of consequence since 2006, unless you consider USA TT champs or Missouri significant. Coincidentally, he joined clean-team Garmin in early 2008. DZ will do alright tomorrow, but no better than 10th-ish. Millar is a better bet.

  6. PQ says:

    DZ all the way. I’m gonna jump into a bathtub full of DZ Nutz first thing, then watch him crush.

  7. Tai says:

    Osman said “it is the best sprinter, not the fastest, who wins the green jersey”

    The green jersey actually goes to the most consistent sprinter. Now, you can argue that most consistent is the best. However, I would argue that the best sprinter is the fastest one with the most stage wins–isn’t the ultimate goal to win stages? Whatever you think of him, Cavendish has consistently proven himself to be the fastest sprinter in the bunch. His multiple stage wins are the best evidence of this. Yesterday’s huge win without his leadout proved his class.

  8. Pingback: 2010 Tour de France – Stage 19 Live Blog « Pavé

  9. Touriste-Routier says:

    Please don’t forget that technically the Maillot Vert is not the “sprinters” jersey, but the points jersey. It rewards consistency of finish order as well as placement at designated locations along the road most days.

    Just as the Polka Dot jersey is frequently worn by a rider who get’s his points in breakaways, and isn’t necessarily there at the top of the big climbs, in theory green could be won by a GC contender, if breaks succeed or if the parcours is favorable, though it usually ends up on the back of sprinters.

    “Best” is highly subjective in regards to these special competitions vs what happens on the road.

  10. CR says:

    Nice job Whit! Your picks show why you have the blog and not the rest of us.

    Oh, I completely agree on your Thor take.

  11. Big Mikey says:

    Boy, I’m really starting to wonder about Petacchi. Seemingly comes out of nowhere to win the green jersey. Now the rumors about his preparation methods. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. And when you think about it, he went from really, really good to MIA right as the heat from the CERA doping started to hit. Timing was a bit strange.

    • Whit says:

      I hear ya, Big Mikey. Seems like fishy timing to me too–interestingly, I heard a rumor today that Sarkozy had given strict orders that there be no doping controversy during this year’s Tour. A bit convenient for an Italian to be found positive after the Tour, no?

      Not trying to start anything, just saying….

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