Where is Lance? Why isn't he attacking? Why did he get dropped on the
two mountain stages in the first week? Will he finish the Giro? Will he
ride the Tour?
Armstrong never said he was coming to the Giro to win. The tabloid press did that.
When you ask the GC favourites in this race, such as Danilo Di Luca, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre,
it's unanimous: for someone who's been off the race bike three years,
for someone who hasn't ridden a Grand Tour since his seventh and last
Tourde France victory in 2006, for someone who broke their collarbone
less than seven weeks out from the race start on May 9, Lance Armstrong
is riding exceptionally well.
He's putting in a massive effort
to be there. When he's climbing, that high-cadence pedalling style he
mastered after learning from another Tourde France great, Miguel Indurain, resembles Ã¢â¬â though not yet quite matches Ã¢â¬â the Armstrong of old in the Alps and PyrÃ©nÃ©es.
Armstrong, the first week was about survival. In the second, you will
see his form lift: expect him to test himself on Thursday's Stage 12
individual time trial inCinque Terre.
As for the third week, you might even see Armstrong win. But not at the expense of his team-mate and fellow American Levi Leipheimer,
who will need to make time on Di Luca in that monster 60.6 kilometre
race against the clock if he's to stand any chance of winning overall,
as its unlikely the 2007 Giro champion will crack in the mountains.
Now, what about Michael Rogers?
So far, his team-mate Thomas LÃ¶vkvist is trumping him. Rogers is the stronger time-trialist, but the Swede has shown better form in the high mountains. Out of the two, Di Luca says he fears more for LÃ¶vkvist than Rogers Ã¢â¬â the only question mark is the formers ability to stay as good as he's been for three weeks.
that's a question mark for Rogers, too. His best overall result at
Grand Tour level was three years ago, where he finished 10th at the 2006 Tour de France behind Oscar Pereiro or Floyd Landis, depending which side of the fence you sit on.
I feel the Tour suits Rogers better than the Giro. The mountains in
Italy are steeper, the racing less controlled, and the race is less
weighted towards time trials Ã¢â¬â although this year, theCinque Terre TT suits Rogers down to a T.
In many ways, Rogers is like Indurain
Ã¢â¬â a fantastic time trial specialist that can also climb, but does
respond well to accelerations; what will be interesting to see is
whether the improvement in his climbing has come at the expense of his
ability to ride against the clock.
I also need to get this off my chest: that Silence-Lotto couldn't come up with a few extra Euros to renew Chris Horner's contract two years ago has Ã¢â¬â and will Ã¢â¬â most likely cost Cadel Evans any chance of winning the Tour de France.
The American was happy in the team, he was more than happy riding for Cadel Ã¢â¬â but with a guy like Horner, a rare breed indeed, you need to pay him what he's worth.
He was Evans' right-hand man in the 2007 Tour, and Cadel desperately needed a guy like Horner in 2008 Grande Boucle, where for much of the time, he was left to fend on his own against the combined might of Saxo Bank (formerly CSC).
He should have beaten Sastre by a mile in the penultimate stage's 53km time trial to Saint Amand Montrond and won his first Tour, but Evans had been attacked so much that last week and a half, his legs had nothing left.
Now look at Horner, and what he's doing for Leipheimer at the Centenary Giro. Six weeks from now, he'll do that for Contador at the Tour.
But every time I see him riding his guts out for his leaders, I can't help thinking he should be riding for Cadel.