Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tour 2006 Starts TODAY!!!

Well, as seems to always be the case in cycling, there must be some sort of doping scandal to spice up the season.

And this year, it's totally screwed up the Tour de France!

Before yesterday, my picks for the Tour would have been:
1. Jan Ullrich
2. Ivan Basso
3. Floyd Landis

I wanted so badly for Jan Ullrich to do well this year. He's been playing second-fiddle to Lance Armstrong for so long, I wanted him to really do well this year. He seemed to be in great shape this year and won the Tour de Suisse just a couple of weeks ago, so I was really pulling for him.

And Ivan Basso - He won the Giro d'Italia this year and totally dominated the field, similar to the way Lance did every year in the Tour. However, it's hard to maintain that type of form, so I thought he probably wouldn't be able to win the Tour only a month or so after the Giro.

And then there's Floyd. He's such a hard-working, nice guy. It's hard not to like him. Plus, his team is dedicated to him, so I thought he had a good chance.

Well, everything has changed now. Ullrich and Basso have been kicked out of the Tour. I'm SOOOO disappointed for Ullrich. There's this big doping scandal that has been uncovered in Spain. Operacion Puerto. It sounds pretty bad. I'm still hopeful, though, that Ullrich is innocent of doping and that he's just been "hanging out with the wrong crowd", but I'm guessing we'll never know the truth.

So now, everything has changed in only 24 hours. My husband and I, being huge George Hincapie fans, are hoping that the Discovery Channel team will change their strategy. They've been saying all along that they have three or four members able to challenge for the overall victory. Georgie being one of them. However, Lance has proven seven times that you cannot win the Tour without having a team dedicated to one person. So, this seems to be the perfect time to change their approach and focus on George. He's great at time-trialling, he's strong and fit, and with a team devoted to him, he could really do well in the mountains.

My current picks, then, are:
1. George Hincapie
2. Floyd Landis
3. Alejandro Valverde

In three weeks, we'll find out how good my prediction is. In the meantime, we'll be prompting both kids to yell "Go Georgie!!" at every available opportunity. :)

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