I’m writing this early Saturday morning just before the Stage 20 individual time trial. Lance locked the top podium spot long ago and the real competitive action has been the battle for top ten placings in the GC (overall cumulative time). Here’s how I handicap the final top ten (eleven, actually), all the position changes will be due to today’s ITT:
11. Oscar Pereiro will slip from 10th to 11th
10. Christophe Moreau will nip past Pereiro to move into the top ten and claim the top Frenchie slot
9. Cadel Evans, who’s had a strong week, will see Landis & Vino out-TT him dropping two spots
8. Francisco Mancebo will TT like a climber and plummet from 5th to 8th, top Spaniard
7. Landis has had an OK first tour as a team leader and gut out a strong TT to jump two spots
6. ‘Chicken’ Rasmussen, another climber who can’t TT, will plummet off the podium to 6th
5. Vino, he of the kamikaze racing style, will leapfrog from 8th to 5th
4. Levi, who gets a little better every year, will just miss the podium, moving from 6th to 4th
3. Basso, said to a much improved TTer, will lose 2nd by a narrow margin to a blitzkrieg from Der Kaiser, my pick for 2006’s TdF champion
2. Ullrich will charge through the TT course pushing a huge gear and reclaim some of his pride
1. Armstrong will win the ITT and push his final GC margin over 5 minutes, he has completely controlled the tour and was never once challenged seriously over 3 arduous weeks
Three Americans in the Top Ten in Paris! American cycling has arrived, literally.
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