Andy and Frank, the invisible brothers.
As many riders have been painfully reminded once again, the first week is all about survival, avoiding crashes and injury.
Losing your chance at a stage win or podium because of a crash in front throws you to the ground is a cruel way to exit Le Tour. Boonen still has headaches, Horner doesn’t even know what country he’s in, Vinokourov is in a Paris hospital, Van Den Broeck is in intensive care in Saint Flour, the list goes on.
But so far, so good, so happy to be alive for the Brothers Schleck, the boy scouts from Luxembourg. They made it through the first 9 stages in good shape. Both are ahead of three time winner Alberto Contador and unlike the Spaniard they’re not complaining about a sore knee. (How’d you like to be headed for the Pyrenees and Alps with a painful knee?)
Contador is acting optimistic but after a death march Giro and a hard luck first week in the Tour, you can’t help but think he’s cooked. If he pulls this out, we are going to the Court of Arbitration in SPort to work for his defense — he’ll deserve to keep the win.
It’s the first rest day in the Tour and they’re starting a new tradition this year. Instead of an easy ride outside Aurillac, the teams are visiting their mates in the hospitals. In fact, given that several people have gone done hard and abandoned the tour every day, even a recovery ride may simply be too dangerous. If you say the headline, “Evans hit by truck on rest day ride” would you really be surprised?
You know things are horrific when Radio Shack comes to France with four possible GC leaders — and it isn’t enough! Brajkovik and Horner are gone, Leipheimer is over four minutes down and Kloden, their best-placed rider and last hope has severe muscle tenseness in his back and hematoma. Tense? Wouldn’t you be with crashes happening all around you every day?
The Giro felt like a war of attrition. Le Tour de France feels like the sequel. Still, Andy and Franck Schleck and Cadel Evans are in one piece.
At least for the moment …