Saturday, July 03, 2010

TDF 2010: Rotterdam TT Sets the Stage for Tour

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara of the Saxo Bank team won this 8.9 km race in Rotterdam with a 10 second lead over strong second place finisher Tony Martin of HTC-Columbia in the opening day of the Tour de France.

Fabian Cancellara's first place finish with 22 seconds over Armstrong, shows that the Saxo Bank rider is still number one in the time trial event. Does that mean Saxo Bank, team of Andy and Frank Schleck, two dominant climbers, will ride at the front for the Yellow Jersey? Most likely they will, tiring out the two Luxembourg favorites before they reach the mountains.

Tony Martin's second place finish in the rainy conditions that dominated during the start of the event could foretell a strong performance from this HTC Columbia rider.

But we've seen this kind of scenario before, and it won't  be long before the HTC Columbia team tries to grab the Yellow away, or make a win for teammate Mark Cavendish, perhaps the fastest man in the world in a sprint.

If anything the prologue will be a good indicator of what is to play out in this year's Tour de France--minus the surprises that will come along in the way of crashes, drug use, crosswinds and peleton splits, and other unknowns.

Halfway through his ride, Lance Armstrong riding for RadioShack had made it to the halfway point with a third place time, while Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank was in first position. The excitement started to build when it became clear that he was going to beat Alberto Contador who dominated in the second time trial in last year's Tour at Annecy.

David Milar's third place finish was a strong one, even though he rode when the roads were wet, and Thomas of the Sky Team in his second TDF showing a strong fifth place finish for a young rider.

For those GC riders like Armstrong and Contador, a fast finish in the prologue is a preview of the battle to come, while time trial specialists like Cancellara may not make it to the top ten by the time the Tour is over.

But Armstrong's time at 10:22 in fourth position beat Contador by two positions, promising some real skirmishes as the Tour continues.

Andy and Frank Schleck both lost a little time on today's stage, beaten out by Armstrong (4th), Contador (6th), Leipheimer (7th), and Farrar (8th).

Tomorrow's stage, 223.5 km from Rotterdam  to Brussels, Belgium, will celebrate the 65th birthday or Eddy Merckx. The mostly flat stage will have sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd battling it out with eachother and the crosswinds. But as we said, the wild card will come in the form of the Saxo Bank team and how hard they will be willing to work at the front of the peleton to keep the yellow jersey.

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