Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuffy's Tour de France Pool Picks!

[photo caption] Team CSC's Dave Zabriskie announces to the world that he will defeat David Millar of Saunier-Duval by four seconds in the Tour de France Prologue. (photo courtesy PezCyclingNews.com)

Smithers has a sizable Tour de France pool going over at his site. With his industry connections and "partnership" with Banjo Brothers, Smithers was able to put together a nice little package of prizes for pool winners.

According to Smithers, he had 38 entries.

Here was my fourth(!) and final entry, along with some explanatory commentary. Enjoy!

Tuffy's Picks (Version 4.0)

1st Place Final GC, 100 points: Ivan Basso (CSC)
Ivan Basso is on the form of his life right now, having stomped all-comers at the Giro d'Italia. He is clearly the odds on favorite for the maillot jaune this year, having risen a step on the final GC podium each of the past two years.

2nd Place Final GC, 50 points: Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
In what will most likely be Jan Ullrich's final season in the pro peloton, "Der Kaiser" will undoubtedly make a huge push for his second Tour win this year. Unfortunately for Jan, he didn't start a professional race this season until April 25th, and though he looked strong at times in the Giro, Ullrich rode only to condition himself for the Tour. The guess is that Ullrich waited too long to get on form. Again.

3rd Place Final GC, 25 points: Floyd Landis (Phonak)
For me, this was one of the hardest selections to make. One could easily see Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D'Epargne), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), or possibly even Andreas Kloden (in a contract year with T-Mobile) getting the final spot on the podium this year. However, the selection here is former U.S. Postal rider Floyd Landis. In his second year as Phonak leader, Landis has already won Paris-Nice, the Tour of California, and the Tour of Georgia this season. Floyd has improved his already formidable time-trialing skills, and can climb with the best of them. 3rd place for Landis seems like a good fit.

Green Points Jersey Final, 30 points: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step)
Reigning World Champion Tom Boonen has established himself this season as both the top sprinter and the best Classics rider in the world today. With the absence due to injury of Milram's Alessandro "Ale-Jet" Petacchi, Boonen's only threats for the green jersey will be an older and more brittle Robbie McEwan (Davitamon-Lotto) and Thor Hushovd (Credit-Agricole), who always seems a step slow. Erik Zabel of Milram would like to contest Boonen, but his best years are at least four years in the past.

Mountains Jersey Final, 30 points: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Michael Rasmussen is the reigning champion of the polka-dot jersey, and there's really no reason to think anything will change following his strong Tours of the past two seasons. Keep in mind that one time-trial was all that stood between Rasmussen and a podium position last year makes this a relatively easy selection.

Team Final, 10 points: CSC
This selection was a little more tricky than it would appear on the surface. Why? Because the team whose rider wins the Tour is not typically the team that wins the Tour's "team classification." However, Directeur Sportif Bjarne Riis has crafted one of the strongest teams to enter the Tour in years, and the prediction here is for a CSC GC/Team sweep.

Prologue Stage Winner, 15 points: Dave Zabriskie (CSC)
American Dave Zabriskie has made an artform of time-trialing, and the Tour's Prologue in particular, becoming perhaps the best TT rider in the world in the absence of David Millar (Saunier-Duval) the past two seasons. Zabriskie is the pick here to repeat as Prologue winner. The fly in the ointment could in fact be Millar, however, who returns to competitive racing on July 1 from a two year doping suspension.

L'Alpe D'Huez Stage Winner, 15 points: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
I actually don't think that Rasmussen will win this stage, but seeing as he is the odds-on favorite to repeat his polka-dot jersey win makes him the safe choice here. It should be a battle to the top of D'Huez, especially if the overall GC is still in doubt -- a Basso v. Ullrich duel to the line would be one for the ages.

Champs-Elysées Stage 20 Winner, 20 points: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step)
Aside from being the best sprinter and one-day rider in the world, Boonen also seems to have a clear understanding of his place in cycling history. If he should completely trample the competition for the green jersey -- which I believe that he will -- look for Boonen to put an exclamation point on his past 12 months of professional riding by going all out on the Champs-Elysees for the win...and a esteemed place in the annals of professional cycling.

Yellow Jersey on Rest Day July 10th, 10 points: Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
The person wearing the yellow jersey on the first rest day is usually a sprinter, and rightfully so. The first week of the Tour de France is almost always pancake flat to provide the best possible stage for the sprinters to shine. This year, however, Stage 7 is a long (52km) individual time-trial. Look for Ullrich to do everything he can to put a decent amount of time in between he and Basso before the Tour enters the mountains of the Pyrenees days later, and to take the yellow jersey into the rest day. Another significant possibility, though, is that Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) will have earned enough time bonuses before the first rest day to be the leader of both the yellow and green jerseys.

Yellow Jersey on Rest Day July 17th, 10 points: Ivan Basso (CSC)
The second rest day comes after the Tour has passed through the Pyrenees and immediately follows the first day of the Alps. Basso will have begun to take control of the Tour and should be able to wear the maillot jaune all the way from here to the victory podium in Paris less than a week later.

Again, keep track of how my picks stack up with the rest of Smithers' expert panel over at www.SmithersMPLS.com!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are exactly my picks except that I think Ullrich will still be hanging onto his TT leads by the 2nd rest day and that Floyd is over-hyped.

-adam "plan b"

Thu Jun 29, 06:42:00 AM 2006


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