Paul Andrews

Never too early to Talk Tour

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on January 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The Tour de France is just only a mere six months away! Time to start ramping up the Clash of Titans trash talk between Lance and Bert! We’re glad to see Lance’s comments about beating Contador in the Tour this year. This kind of stuff is great for building commercial sponsorship, media attention and the Big Bucks.

Last year we scoffed at any notion Lance might win the Tour — or any other major for that matter. And despite all the overblown yammering about the Great Comeback, we were right. This year things are a bit different, largely because the two are riding for different teams. Lance says he’s being underestimated because of his age. We agree age isn’t the issue. Nor is conditioning, although we feel Lance will take a hit by not doing the Giro this year. The Tour of California, much as we love it, is not in the same class as the Giro. But Lance has the 2009 season still in his legs.

It’s strategy. And because Lance is a master strategist, and he’ll be riding for a team that’s All Lance All the Time, he has a number of weapons that possibly could maybe might undercut Contador’s obvious physical superiority.

Another factor: People love Lance, even the French who at one time despised him as a suspected drug cheat. People don’t particularly care for Contador, who has the charisma of a tethered cobra. Some riders can play off that to their advantage — Bernard Hinault comes to mind. But it’s not a given in Contador’s case. In fact, psychologically Contador is still somewhat of a black box. He’s a climbing God, but no one knows what’s going on behind his grim visage at any given moment.

Our best guess how it will work out: Lance will continue to chat up the rivalry, drawing lots of attention and generating huge interest. Contador will lay low and play his cards close to his vest. And in the race, they’ll jockey through the first week or two, riveting the cycling and sports world. Eventually, Contador will crush Lance in the mountains. But that will come late enough in this 180-day Kabuki dance that we’ll all have a delicious time enjoying the suspense.

Bicycle Net: Rivalry to intensify.

  1. “Charisma of a tethered cobra” – good one!

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