The Verbier X-Ray. The nine kilometer Swiss climbs reveals all.
Kid Contador became King Contador. His savage acceleration when even the elite climbers were suffering at the limit, showed he’s the strongest rider on the strongest team. The yellow jersey is his and it’s doubtful anyone will pry it off. As team manager Johan Bruyneel said, “the race has been decided. It’s Contador.”
Armstrong’s chances for an 8th tour win went out the window. As he admitted in the post race interview, at 37 years of age, he’s missing that high end gear to keep up with the Spanish rider. Armstrong rode well and played the good team-mate to perfection, following the attacks behind but not chasing Contador.
Team Garmin’s Bradley Wiggins is for real. Although his captain Christian Vande Velde faded on the climb, Wiggins stayed with Armstrong and Kloden and even put in a few attacks. Now if he can stop repeating the phase “day by day” — which he used nearly a dozen times with journalists. A strong time trialist, Wiggins is a good bet for the podium. But we’ll take that day by day.
Andy Schleck is the best of the rest. Saxo Bank tried to ripe the peloton apart, setting a brutal tempo at the base of Verbier. But it wasn’t enough to bother Astana. Even with Voigt, Cancellera and his brother Frank turning themselves inside out, Andy still lost another 43 seconds and now sits 2:26 back. Demoralizing for the second best climber in the tour.
Verbier also revealed the invisible men: Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans. Last year’s winner and runner-up made no impact on the Swiss mountain. Perhaps this will finally be the year Evans realizes he needs a strong team. For Sastre, there’s still the possibility of a stage win.
There have been two attacks in this tour, Arcalis and Verbier. Aberto Contador made them both. That’s why he’s on his way to his second tour win.