Quick Tour de France Thoughts

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Just some brief lines before I’m off to bed…

Seems as though Astana has already squeezed the competition out from the race. It’s already down to pretty much two guys (or Kloden or Leipheimer, lol).

Lance has his armada of coaches and finger prickers, analyzing every watt of data and watching every morsel that passes his lips since March. He trained in his protected haven in Aspen, where he built a home and safe sanctuary (if you feel what I’m saying) and could train comfortably at altitude… He’s never done this before, lived at altitude. Had slept in oxygen chambers before, but has never actually stayed at altitude for so long…

In 2001, his strongest Tour by FAR, he seemingly used May as a heavy, heavy month of training… He seemed to enter the Tour de Suisse (same time as Dauphine) VERY fresh. He put heavy time into the rivals during short 7-minute prologue, then cruised during mountain stages, then RIPPED the uphill TT, just clocked everyone heavily… Seemingly easy win, then had a lunatic performance at the Tour (great Tour to own, just a ridiculous clinic!!!)… He has heavy April, culminating with 2nd at Amstel Gold, then a heavy May training in the shadows, then emerged in mid-June very fresh and ready to go… Perhaps he was prepping for something similar here…

I really think, regardless of March crash, he was looking at the Giro to get solid files and climbing efforts, see how the body would respond 14 days into a Grand Tour, get several tests on the climbs. Not there to win or even place but to get concrete data and priceless training stress… Would be great barometers… He most likely was going to prepare for this 100% so he could actually gain the ultimate taper pre-Tour… Just my thoughts…

But he’s here now. Everyone was saying he was going to kill in the TTs and limit damage in the mountains. But you prepare for your goals and your competition. He’s never had to deal with an explosive climber who can time trial. Contador looks borderline unbeatable. When you can beat the specialists in prologues at Paris-Nice, Dauphine, and now the Tour, that’s scary… Lance knows this, and perhaps he’s looked to really maximize his climbing. He’s been living at altitude in Aspen FOR A REASON…

We shall see. Lance ain’t no dummy. He knows he can’t let Contador out of his sights, and that’s a HUGE ask… Armstrong’s been prepping for this since last June — don’t be fooled how much effort has gone into this comeback… Made public in October, but months of Foundation work I’m 100% certain laid down prior… He could’ve reconned in France during June but chose not to — instead stayed safely stateside and most likely climbed repeatedly like a lunatic… He knows EXACTLY where he needs his power and weight to be. I really don’t think he’s showing up for 2nd place, not an alpha-male like this… He’s already tried to pry things away by making that late break with the Columbia squad…

I really loved watching Contador’s tenacity in the 2007 Tour. He attacked Rasmussen, and attacked and attacked and attacked. It was amazing to watch. Just watching Contador ride, feeling that tenacity, you immediately respect him. He’s a killer on a bike, and you can’t teach that. When the Tour banned his team from racing in 2008, Contador the Killer basically said F U and won the other two Tours. A MONSTER. And he’s not afraid of Armstrong — he seems to be licking his lips, can’t wait to get him on a finishing climb. Just as important as the physical part, Contador appears to be mentally there, no push-over, no slouch. He’s a killer, and he knows he’s gotta take Armstrong apart…

But Lance ain’t no dummy. When they asked him about the leadership, what’s going on, Lance said bluntly, “We’ll find out on the first summit finish. We will then find out who’s strongest.”

Not speculation. Not a challenge. The Texan is confident, ready to throw down hard, and I can’t wait to see the battle. I’m rooting for Contador (in a HUGE way!), but something tells me Armstrong is going to reach down and find something special.

We’ll find out Saturday. Time to get the knives out. Who needs movies or TV shows when we have TRUE reality TV?!

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Thursday, July 9th, 2009 | | |