Friday Group Ride #223

Friday Group Ride #223

Chris Froome has done us all two immense favors. First, he stirred up the ghost of Tours past by poking his literary finger in teammate Bradley Wiggins’ eye, giving us the opportunity to guess at just what is up at Team Sky now, where management has done a great job at delivering race wins, and a decidedly less good job at getting all their stars to play nicely in the same sand box. As psycho-dramas go, this is a good one, and the affable, though oddly naive, Froome does a nice job of toggling between hero and anti-hero. It keeps us all on our toes.

The second stroke of plot-twisting genius rendered by the lanky Kenyan was not winning the Dauphiné. Because honestly, if he’d won that race, we’d be hear talking about what chance anyone else had of unseating him as Tour champion. Instead, Froomey’s gone and ridden like an actual human, crumbling in the closing stages of the race to allow, and here’s where the story gets really good, not Alberto Contador but Andrew Talansky to with the Dauphiné, which sets us up for a wide-open summer drama on the roads of France.

Add in the debatable form of Froome’s preferred lieutenant Richie Porte, who finished 22nd at the Dauphiné, more than 20 minutes behind the winner, and it’s hard to envision Sky dominating the field at the the Grand Boucle.

Meanwhile, at the Tour de Suisse, the sprinters and time trialists are revving their engines like so many Ferraris on the start line at Monaco. Tony Martin, the race leader, will like his form, but Fabian Cancellara looks a bit off, while riders like Peter Sagan and Sacha Modolo continue to erode Mark Cavendish’s air of invincibility.

So, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali represent the front line GC favorites, but lurking not far beyond are talents like Rigoberto Uran and Talansky. Given the dramatics at both the Giro and the Dauphine, we have a delightfully unpredictable race shaping up. And the same could be said for the green jersey hopefuls, with Cavendish, Sagan, Marcel Kittel and Nacer Bouhani all winning fast finishes in the build up.

This week’s Group Ride asks, who do you like for the yellow jersey? Who for the green? The polka dots are beyond my power of analysis, but if you have some clue you’d like to offer, chuck that in, too.

Image: Fotoreporter Sirotti

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  1. JohnK

    I think it hinges on whether or not Froome’s injury was serious or not. They may be playing a bit of poker, or covering up something more serious, hard to tell. Too bad Wiggins suffered a similar fate in Switzerland or this could be even more interesting. If it was not serious, I think Froome has a slight advantage, given his time trailing form. I was very impressed with Contador’s final stage in the Dauphine. It was pretty heroic how he fought back without any help from anyone one. He does seem to get stronger as races progress and has a powerful will to win. If Froome turns a pedal wrong, I think Contador will take it. I just wonder if Nairo Quintana is thinking he should be there this year, because if he were, he would certainly be on that list of favorites. But it is fun that the Dauphine took the tour from 0 to interesting in the space of three days. And bravo Talansky — there’s a kid who’s been busting his ass for years.

  2. Tai

    I think that Sky is crazy if they don’t take Wiggins on the Tour team. Regardless of the internal discord, Wiggins gives them a much stronger and deeper team, especially in light of Porte’s Dauphine performance. It would certainly force the other GC teams to work more throughout the race.

    Based on the Dauphine, I think the two biggest questions are: can Froome recover and can Contador continue his upward performance trajectory? It looks to be a great open battle, but I would give the nod to Contador right now. His climbing just seemed to progress so nicely as the Dauphine went on. With a stronger team behind him in the Tour, Contador shouldn’t be isolated as much in the mountains.

    Sagan in green—I think he’s just too consistent. Cab should get his wins in though.

    1. Author

      @ Tai – The issue for Wiggins now is that he injured himself at the Tour de Suisse, so he’s not fit to ride the Tour, which makes all the preceding histrionics about whether or not he and Froome could get along moot and a big waste of everyone’s time.

      Does anybody think Nibali has a real shot?

  3. Tai


    I got the impression that Wiggins was as injured as Froome is. I didn’t think that his TDS crash ruled him out, so much as set him back.

    As for Nibali—chance for podium, second step maybe.

  4. Aar

    – Green: Sagan.
    – Most stage wins: Cav (that’s more hope than prediction. True prediction, Kittel)
    – Jaune: I really don’t care. I hope Talansky or Van Garderen, only if they are clean, win it.
    – Polka Dot: Again, don’t care. I hope Van Garderen or Talansky, if clean, wind up with it.

    I would love to see a TdF parcourse that favored Martin or Cancellara for yellow!

  5. Alan

    Not impressed by Nibali this year. Sad to say I am kinda glad El Pistelero is back in fighting form. Goodbye Schlecks. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

    But I wish Tejay hadn’t broken his hip. I want to see more hungry young ones like Talansky and Craddock take the crown. Tired of the usual suspect guys and teams.

  6. SusanJane

    Froome: for all my comments about Wiggins I must add that Froome is not bullet proof in the psych department; his crash was icky looking but he was still having to work for it before that, and I’m underwhelmed with his season so far; this will not be an easy win for him and I fear a zillion Wiggins and dope questions may knock him back more then they did before; SO I can see Froome not winning but I think he will anyway.

    Contador: here’s psych damage in bloody truth, Contador has suffered and it was a long recovery; I’m not sure he’s 100% and certainly not the old pre-suspension rider, he has learned to wait because he just can’t attack/attack/attack like he once could; he’s a smart man, he’s got Riis on his side, he won the Velta with one god’s truth attack not a zillion of them; Contador might win but there are some younger guys with loads of talent just below him.

    Nibali: uh, no, just no; the Giro is Nibali’s race; it seems to me that he’s not going all in for the Tour; he could win a string of Giros alas he will never win the Tour.

    Uran: not so sure about him this year; seems squishy or something (highly technical analysis); I’ll believe it when I see it.

    The “Kids”: please, please, cycling spirits of all good things, give these guys wings and guts and miracles! Like Qintana last year — make me cheer and be stupid as I shout at the t.v. (which my elderly mother heard from the next room inspire of crappy hearing aids). This set is why I’m going to watch the Tour.

    1. SusanJane

      By the way, anyone know what’s with Porte? He just sank like a stone. Froome’s in bigger trouble without him.

    2. Full Monte

      I’ve read Richie took to a new diet this off-season and spring. No carbs, no gluten. It’s messed with his stomach and his endurance and strength. Not sure if this was on doctor’s orders or not. Or if it’s even true or not. But that’s been the speculation on several cycling blogs and sites as the reason he’s had a disappointing season thus far.

      Without a strong Richie, who, let’s face it, had to drag an exploding Froome during several critical moments last year, Chris’ chances of success at this year’s Tour are greatly diminished.

  7. John Kopp

    As a long shot, I would suggest Chris Horner. He appears ready to ride, and he is coming off an injury as he did last year to win the Vuelta, when no one thought he had a serious chance.

    Is anyone else bothered by Froome’s use of an inhaler during the last race? It seems that the UCI fast tracked a TUE for him and WADA said he did nothing wrong. Froome is a British citizen on an English team with the UCI headed by an British president and the WADA also has a British president in charge. This is exactly the kind of BS that got Armstrong a lifetime ban. I see no real change in cycling or the war on PEDs.

  8. Fireman Dan

    Surprised no one mentioned the potential effects of the Pave sectors during week 1. They could ruin the hopes of more than a few….

  9. SusanJane

    Foome’s under a microscope for good reason but this thing is silly. Is anyone this worried about the other possible winners this year? Does anyone even know if they use inhalers? How about those Columbians? If the doubters are so up on outing Froom’s TUEs be real and go after everyone at the top. The yellow jersey has never been the only one who doped, people. This whole thing is powered by fear and anger at Lance, not rationality. Take a deep breath. Let the system work. Go ride your bike.

    1. Aar

      The system does work. It effectively legitimizes doped performances just as effectively today as it has for ages.

    2. Full Monte

      I have asthma. Had it since I was a kid. I played HS sports with my inhaler in my sock. When I ride my bike, I don’t go out without an inhaler in my jersey pocket. Don’t always need it, but when my chest starts to tighten, I have to take a puff. It doesn’t enhance me as an athlete. It doesn’t make me a doper. Heck, on bad days, it doesn’t even get me back to par, let alone close to the VO2 of my riding buddies. Froome’s use of a rescue inhaler is no more “cheating” than it was for Jackie Joyner Kersee, Amy Van Dyken, Paula Radcliffe…

      The fact that Froome, and other athletes who’ve risen to world-class status, can compete at such levels with asthma deserves our admiration, not suspicion.

  10. spiff

    The way Alberto Contador raced was perfect, except for waiting too long to chase the winning break. But he put up a great ride to try and get his time back. It was him (solo) vs Team Sky and he won that part of the race.

  11. B.S.

    With Horner being a “Co-Leader” for Lampre, I would hate to rule him out- he has the tenacity to fight with the best………

  12. MattC

    I was distressed to hear that Froome’s TUE was dated April 29th, 2014. He claims he’s had asthma and using inhalers since he was a kid…so how come he just NOW got his TUE? Smells fishy to me….

  13. Author

    UPDATE – Sergio Henao out for Team Sky. Nacer Bouhani not selected by FDJ. Reshuffle your cards everybody.

  14. leo_d

    El Pistolero has a score to settle with the TDF.
    And Alberto seems to be currently firing on all cylinders.

    A talented N American in the the top 5 would be great, if not likely in the Big One.

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