Thursday, July 15

The Tour is about to heat up

Image Hosted by With the tour heading to the pyrenees tommorow, the stage 12 finish at La Mongie promises to separate the men from the boys. We will have a much better idea who the likely podium candidates will be. Six Americans presently occupy spots in the top 24 of the overall general classification, Armstrong, Hamilton, Hincapie, Julich, Leipheimer, and Landis. Hincapie is likely to loose time tomorrow for two reasons: He will be charged with working his ass off for Armstrong when they hit the first climb of the day, the Col d'Aspin, and if he has any juice left, on the following climb up Gripp. Landis who will also be charged with the same duties but will probably be held in reserve for the final climb, the charge up La Mongie. Hamilton, Leipheimer, and Julich all serve in the capacity of team leaders, like Armstrong, and will be protected until the action really gets underway.

The biggest jump in the classification should come from Iban Mayo, presently in 51st. The Basque climber finished 6th in last years tour and recently beat Armstrong in the Dauphiné Libéré in mid June. He is a phenominal climber and as he is 15 minutes behind the leaders he may be given the opportunity to escape. Did I mention that he is Bassque and tomorrows stage finishes in the pyrenees, should be good for a couple of minutes. Expect Ulrich, and Hamilton to slide comfortably into the top ten and Armstrong into the top three. I always get the shivers as the tour hits the mountains for the first time-WoooHoooo