Garmin’s Hesjedal. Tour de France dark horse gets darker.
We say darker because John Wilcockson, the man who has covered more Tours de France than just about anybody alive, has written in Peloton Magazine that Hesjedal’s odds of winning are 50-1.
If you’re Garmin-Sharp’s Jonathan Vaughters, those odds aren’t too exciting and if you’re Hesjedal, you have to be thinking, “look, I did win the Giro last year — 50 to 1 — really?” Now those odds should improve to 45 to 1 if Vaughters succeeds in his devious plan to slip a tenth Garmin rider into Le Tour.
In fact, the Colombian climber on Movistar, Nairo Quintana rates better than the Canadian at 22 to 1. That’s good news for Quintana who arrives after two months at altitude in his home country. Plus he’s not losing his hair like captain Alejandro Valverde — who by the way has never done anything wrong as far as doping.
The gist of Wilcockson’s thesis is that in the Tour surprise winners simply don’t happen. According to his calculations, there have been only six unexpected winners in Tour history.
What’s worse, in the last 47 years, there are only been two surprise winners — Lucien Aimar in 1966 and Carlos Sastre in 2008. That doesn’t bode well for the GC entertainment value of the the 100th birthday of Le Grand Shindig.
Here’s the scenario we’d like to see: poor bike handling skills by a Euskatel-Euskadi rider takes down Froome in stage three in Corsica. The South African hits the tarmac and comes away with a banged knee and wrist.
Then the jackals attack without mercy as Froome and the Sky medical staff attempt to nurse him through the first week. Froome is a fighter and doggedly — in true Cadel Evans style — he battles on.
The race hits the Pyrenees and Señor 22 to 1 Quintana and Mr. 50 to 1 Hesjedal attack immediately and drop Froome. His buddy Richie Porte drags him along and limits the loses but Froome comes out of the Pyrenees down 2 minutes on those two and 1:30 behind Contador. Sky team manager David Brailsford opening questions if he should switch to Porte for their best shot at the podium.
Hot diggity damn.
Now we have ourselves a race and all the odds are out the window. Froome recovers from his crash by the time he reaches the Alps. Then it’s a massive homicidal throw-down on Ventoux and Alp d’Huez with Quintana and Hesjedal terrifying bookies all over the world.
Can the long shots hang on, will Froome come from behind, can Contador beat them all? And then the next surprise — Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha goes nuts on Ventoux and picks up 3 minutes to put himself back in the hunt.
Here’s hoping Wilcockson is dead wrong for the 100th edition of Le Grand Shindig. No monotonous Sky repeats, s’il vous plait.