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Obviously, he has great form at the Dauphine and is going well right now. But, its more than that. I like the way he has geared his season towards the Tour and he is seeing great results. I have a feeling he is going to do it this year. I would love to see him hammer the Aussie Wheel Sucker.
 

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zphogan said:
Obviously, he has great form at the Dauphine and is going well right now. But, its more than that. I like the way he has geared his season towards the Tour and he is seeing great results. I have a feeling he is going to do it this year. I would love to see him hammer the Aussie Wheel Sucker.
I hope so. I would hate to see Evans win.
 

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zphogan said:
Obviously, he has great form at the Dauphine and is going well right now. But, its more than that. I like the way he has geared his season towards the Tour and he is seeing great results. I have a feeling he is going to do it this year. I would love to see him hammer the Aussie Wheel Sucker.
Does he have a strong enough team?
 

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Well he will have a former tour winner as a domestique. By the way did you see Gesink had a top ten in the Dauphine TT today? He could be a contender for a podium this year if they let him run and dont hold him up working for Menchov.
 

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I'm still hoping Cunego pulls a shocker.
 

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Einstruzende said:
Yea, he has Periero and Vladimir Karpets. Both have very good finishes in GTs. I just hope this isn't a case of 2004 Iban Mayo though (world beater in the Dauphine, anonymous in the Tour)
Well, Valverde certainly has the palmares to suggest he'd do better than Mayo. Now, whether he's peaked to early, that is another question entirely. Throwing down in a TT three weeks prior the start of the TdF may not be the best idea.

JR
 

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mosca
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menchov or sastre

cunego is a flash that can't race for three weeks. valverde can't TT or ride consistently well in the high mountains. gesink is way too young to win the Tour without being a super prodigy(which he isn't). evans has this tendonitis injury which may affect his form or reappear during the Tour. (I remember a certain German rider being sidelined for a similar injury, probably because he was a Soviet-style gear masher).
my money is on Menchov or Sastre. both have the experience and low key build up and team to win. the classic all-rounder vs. the climber.
 

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bnoojin said:
cunego is a flash that can't race for three weeks. valverde can't TT or ride consistently well in the high mountains. gesink is way too young to win the Tour without being a super prodigy(which he isn't). evans has this tendonitis injury which may affect his form or reappear during the Tour. (I remember a certain German rider being sidelined for a similar injury, probably because he was a Soviet-style gear masher).
my money is on Menchov or Sastre. both have the experience and low key build up and team to win. the classic all-rounder vs. the climber.
Menchov and Sastre are guys that I like, but they have the same weaknesses that you ascribe to Valverde - Menchov can TT, but always has a bad day in the mountains - his leadup isn't so ideal in my view, he rode a very intense Giro - I certainly wouldn't call it low-key. Sastre is consistent in the mountains and TTs but not good enough at either to win and he may not even be the team's leader with the Schleck's both there.

Valverde showed today that he CAN time trial. Does that make him a definitive tour winner, no, but beating Leipheimer and Evans in a reasonably long TT shows that he has the capacity to be one of the contenders.
 

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Einstruzende said:
I just hope this isn't a case of 2004 Iban Mayo though (world beater in the Dauphine, anonymous in the Tour)
If they actually have the doping under reasonable control I think this pattern over recent years of guys form coming or going dramatically between the Dauphine and Tour is likely to become much less common since a significant part of it probably had to do with who and when blood was coming out and going in.
 

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bnoojin said:
cunego is a flash that can't race for three weeks.
Didn't he win the Giro and the Tour's white jersey?
 

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mosca
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gray8110 said:
Menchov and Sastre are guys that I like, but they have the same weaknesses that you ascribe to Valverde - Menchov can TT, but always has a bad day in the mountains - his leadup isn't so ideal in my view, he rode a very intense Giro. Sastre is consistent in the mountains and TTs but not good enough at either to win and he may not even be the team's leader with the Schleck's both there.

Valverde showed today that he CAN time trial. Does that make him a definitive tour winner, no, but beating Leipheimer and Evans in a reasonably long TT shows that he has the capacity to be one of the contenders.

ah, but remember the very mountainous Vuelta Menchov just won. he held off all the Spanish climbers. although, I would agree his riding a very intense Giro may have a negative effect on his Tour form. I would say Sastre is more than consistent in the mountains, he usually has one very good day and then stays for the rest. If his really good day is well-timed. . . The Schleck's may be more talented but in the Tour I believe experience is still the trump. Andy's finishing second in the Giro last year is impressive but I would argue the Tour is still a cut above the other grand tours and requires a higher level of nerve and verve.

While I wouldn't dismiss out of hand Valverde's TT performance today, it is still only the Dauphine. To use your own argument Levi just came from a grueling Giro defending the pink and I don't believe is at peak form. also, remember Evans is trying to recover from his injury and is nowhere near a top form. I would definitely call Valverde a contender for the podium and personally, I like his attacking style, I just can't see him winning the Tour. Last year, the only year he's finished, he was dragging by the last week to finish 6th I believe.
 

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mosca
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yes, he won the Giro 4 years ago. how many Grand Tours has he even had a podium spot since? and the Giro is not the Tour. ask Gilberto Simoni about the difference.
how many white jersey winners have won the Tour?
 

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I agree re Valverde. Not sure why others say he can't ride consistently in the mountains-about the only guy I can recall who beat Armstrong in a mountain stage finish. This makes the outing of Astana so frustrating-would make for great drama to see top Spanish riders going head to head.

+1 on him beating Evans. Personally I'm a big ABE guy (anybody but Evans- a sourpuss who makes Levi look excitng by comparison).
 

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bnoojin said:
I would say Sastre is more than consistent in the mountains, he usually has one very good day and then stays for the rest.
Last year's mountain stage results:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour078
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour079
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0714
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0715
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0716

Sastre lost time to the GC rivals for this year's tour on every stage... if you do that and don't make it up in the TTs, you don't win the tour. Sastre is one of my favorite riders, I'm not discounting him, I just don't believe he is a tour winner.

Menchov has won the tour of Spain twice - very nice wins and you can't take that away from him, but you can't discount Cunego's win in the Giro and not discount Menchov's win in the Vuelta. The competition just isn't the same, especially in the Vuelta.

The truth is, the Tour is wide open, there is no dominant rider going in. All of the guys named have the talent to be there at the end and it should be exciting.
 

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mosca
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gray8110 said:
Last year's mountain stage results:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour078
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour079
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0714
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0715
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=results/tour0716

Sastre lost time to the GC rivals for this year's tour on every stage... if you do that and don't make it up in the TTs, you don't win the tour. Sastre is one of my favorite riders, I'm not discounting him, I just don't believe he is a tour winner.

Menchov has won the tour of Spain twice - very nice wins and you can't take that away from him, but you can't discount Cunego's win in the Giro and not discount Menchov's win in the Vuelta. The competition just isn't the same, especially in the Vuelta.

The truth is, the Tour is wide open, there is no dominant rider going in. All of the guys named have the talent to be there at the end and it should be exciting.
actually, I would argue that Menchov's wins have more merit. Menchov entered the race as a favorite and had to ride against the nationality thing where they want a home rider to win and will often gang up against a foreign rider, it happens a lot in the Giro and Vuelta but not in the Tour. Cunego entered the 04 Giro as Simoni's lieutenant for a super strong Saeco team. Cunego was given leeway by Saeco and the other teams because of this and then Simoni felt backstabbed by him. remember the "bastardo" comment.
but, I would agree with you on it being an open Tour once again with no Astana.
 

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So far Valverde has proven that he could win individual stages and one day races. Only time will tell if he can hold on to his form for a 3 week race. The only other 3 week race we can think of where he performed admirably is the Vuelta 2 years ago against both Festana boys (Vino and Kash).

Sastre in my opinion made an excellent 1st lieutenant for Ivan Basso. I just don't think he's got the so called "whole package" for that elusive top podium spot at a grand tour. I really hope I'm wrong on this one.

Menchov IMO has the "whole package". He can climb and he can TT. Has to be considered as a top favorite.

No one can discount Cadel Evans. Another "whole package" rider. The only thing that can stop him is his injury.

Damiano Cunego is a case of "what have you done for me lately". Amstel Gold was impressive but that's a 1 day race.

Someone mentioned the Schlecks. Well Frank just doesn't have it for a 3 week race. That leaves young Andy with the better chance IMO. However if Sastre is doing well, both will be working for him.

Pereiro? No one is ever going to give him a 30 minute head start, ever again. 'Nuff said about that. Karpets has to be Caisse d'Epargne's backup plan if Valv blows.

Gesink right now has the stuff to win 1 week races. But a 3 week grand tour? Not quite there yet.

Another one with an outside chance is Soler. He may pull a Rasmussen out of his hat and we'll see a pure climber in yellow for a few days. If I were him I'd fight for yellow. I just find that polka dot jersey downright ugly.

Bottom line is this year's tour will be very exciting partly due to Disctana's exclusion. With them in the race everyone else would've been fighting for 2nd.
 

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gray8110 said:
Menchov and Sastre are guys that I like, but they have the same weaknesses that you ascribe to Valverde - Menchov can TT, but always has a bad day in the mountains - his leadup isn't so ideal in my view, he rode a very intense Giro - I certainly wouldn't call it low-key. Sastre is consistent in the mountains and TTs but not good enough at either to win and he may not even be the team's leader with the Schleck's both there.

Valverde showed today that he CAN time trial. Does that make him a definitive tour winner, no, but beating Leipheimer and Evans in a reasonably long TT shows that he has the capacity to be one of the contenders.
That was on purpose. Both times Menchov has won the Vuelta, he rode the Tour beforehand. His team put him in the Giro because they concluded that his preparation worked best when he did a hard three-week tour in advance of the objective. We'll see whether they're right, but given his previous Vuelta performances, I'm not sure we should be counting his participation in the Giro against him.
 
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