Saturday, July 2, 2011

Le Tour de France Preview: The Short of It Is...

The only way that Alberto Contador can be beat is if all the climbers attack from the earliest mountain stages.

If the climbers do not strike Contador from the start he will only get stronger as the race goes on and pick the spots when to launch his unforgiving attacks.

The monster climbs this year erupt on Stages 12 and 14 in the Pyrenees, with mountaintop finishes on Luz-Ardiden and the Plateau de Beille, respectively. Le Tourmalet in thrown in for good measure on the way to Luz-Ardiden.

The final week includes the heroic and crucial assents up Col du Télégraphe et Cul du Galibier en route the climb to L’Alpe d’Huez. It is an epic stage and it is made for Contador to shine.

The best time trialists among the GC challengers will have to be well-positioned coming out of the Alps if they are to have a chance in the 41km-long individual time trial in Grenoble the next day.

If the GC riders do not keep it close in the mountains, Contador, who has become one of the best in the race against the clock, will easily protect his lead in the ITT on the penultimate day.

When Contador controls the race he cannot be beat. The only way to defeat him is to throw him off his offense. And to do that it will take all the contenders for the general classification to take turns attacking him. Isolating Contador from his Team Saxo Bank domestiques alone will not do it.

So the likes of Levi Liepheimer, Andy Schleck, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Cadel Evans, David Millar and Tom Danielson all must strike, and strike repeatedly, or else they will face the same fate of the field in the Giro d'Italia two months ago, when Contador snatched the Maglia Rosa in the 9th stage and it never came off his back after that.

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