TDF Preview: Lance On Track, But Who’s In Back?
With this year’s Dauphinй Libйrй serving as a final preparation for the grand Tour, many of the favorites appeared in the peloton to confirm their status amongst the competitors. David Millar, Lance Armstrong, Iban Mayo and Tyler Hamilton all bared their fitness to the masses.
Just how the Dauphinй Libйrй foreshadows the upcoming Grand Tour is a little questionable as many of Armstrong’s main rivals didn’t sign up to compete. (Yes, I mean you Ullrich and Simoni…)
Yet, the defending champ Armstrong wasted little time showing the field who the dominant factor for the General Classification race was, and with an early stage 3 win showed that he is in top racing form improving from last year’s second place time trial effort and silencing critics of his supposed “slow” start to the season. He was undeniably the strongest man in the field, which must have been a relief for US Postal.
Iban Mayo, on the other hand, was one rider who surprised many with his ferocious efforts against Armstrong, challenging the leader throughout the race starting with his win in the prologue to final stage on the Col du Coq. This young Spanish rider is someone to watch for and has good chances for an outside podium spot in July.
Scot David Millar failed to impress, granted he placed a very respectable third but he fell out of the leaders group on some stages, and his time trial was a minute off Armstrong’s pace. This past week showed that he was good enough to beat off the rest of the pack, but not strong enough to be a threat to those ahead. Millar doesn’t stand much of a chance for a third in the GC at the Tour, but if things go his way he might very well pick up a stage or two in the time trials against the strong Armstrong and Botero.
Others to watch include the dangerous pair of iBanesto’s young Juan Miguel Mercado and fourth place Francisco Mancebo who worked extremely well together, especially for their stage 6 win, and could do some damage together in this year’s Tour.
Sadly, we little of the most winning American of this spring Tyler Hamilton – who pulled out of the race midway with tummy troubles. A lot of us think this will be the “summer of Tyler”, and hope he hits 100% in the next 3 weeks.
The Dauphinй Libйrй revealed that Armstrong (who was recently proven to be human after all, bleeding like a mere mortal after a crash on stage 5) again is the strongest, that Iban Mayo offers an unexpected challenge and neither Millar, Moreau nor the American favorite Levi Leipheimer appear to be threats at all.
Dauphinй Libйrй Overall Results
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 29.31.53
2. Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.12
3. David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, Le Crйdit par Tйlйphone 2.47
4. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com 4.35
5. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crйdit Agricole 4.59
6. Inigo Chaurreau (Spa) AG2r Prйvoyance 5.53
7. Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) iBanesto.com 6.03
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 6.25
9. Cyril Dessel (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems 7.18
10. Alberto Lopez De Munain (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.07