Bastille Day – on this day every year, it seems that the French people yearn for a French rider to top the festivities with a win in today’s stage of the Tour de France. Unlikely today, but not impossible. The money’s on Mark Cavendish to win the stage into Issoudun, but a break of four riders, three of whom are French, are staying clear for the time being.
This year’s Tour is the best for years, not least because of the return of Lance Armstrong. If he wins, he’ll be the oldest winner ever. I’m not sure he’s there for the win though. His main rival is his team mate, Alberto Contador who has as prodigious a talent as Armstrong did in his early twenties. All the media talk is about tension between the two, but Armstrong, and his boss Johan Bruyneel are the masters of bluff, most famously on the stage to Alpe D’Huez in 2001.
I wonder if there is a game plan for Contador to win, and for the whole team to bluff on the tension. Armstrong’s payback is that he gets to go for the win on Ventoux. Perhaps I’m being too kind – the most likely reality is that Armstrong and Contador are inveterate winners and the tension is real; in which case my money is still on Contador. Either way, it makes for a cracking Tour – and there’s still nearly two weeks to go!