Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France.
BMC’s Cadel Evans had the ride of his life in Grenoble Saturday.
Beginning the day in third place (some 0:57 behind Andy Schleck), the Aussie destroyed the individual time trial course after receiving credible threats that someone intended to stand on his dog. Buoyed by Australia’s online “Yell for Cadel” campaign, Evans took second place on the stage, finishing just 0:07 behind HTC-Highroad’s Tony Martin and seizing the maillot jaune in advance of Sunday’s Paris finale.
Luxembourg’s somewhat less effective slogan — “What the heck, just pick a Schleck” —clearly failed to achieve its desired result. Despite beginning the day in yellow, brother Andy rode the 42km TT with surprising conservatism — losing 0:34 by braking down the starting ramp. Within a matter of kilometers it was clear that Schleck — whose legendary fear of heights has long been a hindrance to his podium hopes — had again set his sights on the more comfortable second step. The rider finished 17th on the day, 2:31 behind Evans.
Elder brother Frank, known to time trial like a bag of rocks, put in a personally outstanding/thoroughly average effort — finishing the stage in 20th place (but retaining a sufficient margin over Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler to lock down the podium’s final position).
2011 will be remembered as the second consecutive Tour in which the brothers’ poor time trialing abilities have set back their chances of victory. Determined to ensure this is never again the case, the pair resolved Saturday to devote the off-season to learning to climb mountains slightly faster.
Sunday’s largely ceremonial Stage 21 will see the riders conclude on the Champs-Élysées. Though GC racing is traditionally neutralized for the Parisian victory lap, look for a heated final sprint between HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish and Movistar’s José Joaquin Rojas — currently separated by only 15 points in the hunt for the green braggart’s jersey.
Dan’s pick for stage 21: Cavendish. Yawn.