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TTT musings and more....(10 posts)

TTT musings and more....eyebob
Jul 9, 2003 12:58 PM
Most of us on this board (I presume) understand the concept of what a team's function is around it's leader, but the TTT really speaks to this. In one stage Simeoni lost 3 minutes and virtually assured that he won't be on the podium in France. It raises (for me) a few questions.

1) Was this expected by Saeco? Did they not bring the horses that they needed? Do they have the horses? If I'm Simeoni, I'm peeved with management. He seems to think that he can hang with Lance in the mountains and that he could hold his own in an ITT (witness the Giro). If nothing else, it reinforces the idea that to win this thing, you need a good team.

2) Italy, Belgium, France, etc obviously have a more cycling-mad population so if Simeoni can win a stage then I'd suppose that that would be "good enough." In other words, they're willing to see thier favorites do well as opposed to having to see them win to have it be even worth it. Am I off here? I mean, here in the U.S. not many follow the Tour, and I suppose that fewer would if Lance weren't going for 5, huh?

3) Does Beloki have a shot now? What about Aitor? or Santi Botero. My prediction is that you'll see Lance, Landis, Chechu, and Heras just hang and "defend" in the mountains to a large degree. Sort of like what he did last year, and this year in the Dauphne.

Your thoughts?

re: TTT musings and more....ClydeTri
Jul 9, 2003 1:14 PM
Agree...I sense that if he, Simoni, wins a stage , they can spin that into a victory, especially if it is in the mountains..however, here in the US, its all about the overall victory in the tour..if LA won 10 stages and didnt win the overall GC, the feeling would be one of loss. I think it comes from the concept of the idea is to win the WAR, and if you win a few battles along the way so be it..where the euros really contest each battle...

might also speak something with respect to military history..
It couldn't have been unexpected...Dwayne Barry
Jul 9, 2003 2:58 PM
but you got to remember Simoni (not Simeoni, who is another Italian climber, who has failed drug tests, testified against Dr. Ferrari and is in the process of suing Armstrong for libel) already won the Giro. Saeco is Italian and to them (and Simoni) probably the Giro is more important, and all the publicity out of the Tour is just icing on the cake. They also got screwed with Di Luca being ill, not that he's a good TTist but it still had to hurt them. Simoni's in an odd position now, as he's got to decide whether to continue the GC fight or just try to bag some stages. Probably will depend on how the first day in the mountains goes.
TEAM!!!! Remember?Live Steam
Jul 9, 2003 3:20 PM
These TTT are what will separate the field. Simoni can lose another 3 min. in the next TTT and more time in the individual TT. It will be hard to make up all that time in the mountains on LA unless he has a very bad day. Possible? Yes. But this is not something you game plan. It is very hard to be a GC contender in the Tour without a strong team. Just look at Beloki instead of LA. He has high finishes because of a stron team. Same for Ullrich when he was with Telecom. I don't think the Bianchi team can hold up over the next three weeks. TEAM!
good questionsMaRider
Jul 9, 2003 3:34 PM
a few points/musings:
1. Simoni's team, in Simoni's typical big-mouth fashion, announced they were going to win the TTT prior to the stage. I was quite happy to see them lose the TTT by 3 minutes to USPS. I think they knew well in advance they had no shot at winning it, but they still lost a lot more time than they expected. I believe the announcement came long after they knew of DiLuca's form, so I don't see how someone could make an argument "well, we missed some key players" after the fact.

2. I don't think there's a double-standard in terms of stage win / overall GC win, in Europe and in the US.
Everyone understands that there's a completely different requirements to winning a single stage as opposed to winning a Tour. Winning a single stage, even a mountain one, is sort of a bush-league compared to doing well in GC.
It's a very respectable goal, but not for true GC contenders like Simoni. Simoni claimed he is going for the GC and that he is going to win the Tour and show Lance what it's like to compete against "true climbers". I think we all agree if he talked about how he is going to win a single stage of the Tour, say L'alpe D'Huez, nobody would pay as much attention to what he said, both in US and in Europe. Richard Veronque won L'alpe D'Huez, but to a lot of people the real news was the battle (or lack of thereof) was Lance vs. Beloki.

3. Giro. True, to some degree it was quite important for Simoni to win Giro. However: if faced with a possibility to win Giro or win Tour, I think almost every italian rider would pick the Tour. Let's face it, the Tour is where it's at - the competition at the Tour is a few levels higher.
Let's wait and see where Garzelli and Simoni will finish overall at the Tour. The same goes for Vuelta. Winning Giro or Vuelta is very important for an italian or spaniard respectively, but only if (or especially if) they know they cannot win a Tour. I would go as far as saying that a podium position in Tour may be in some ways more respectable than a win at Giro or Vuelta. This is not an americanized position of someone who has never paid attention to other major tours - I am a European by birth and passport, and I can tell you that LeTour has always been a clear #1, with other Tours being distant second.

4. Beloki. I think he was somewhat underrated this year, last year, etc. For some reason nobody likes to take him seriously, while overhyping Ullrich, Simoni, Mayo, Botero and others. I always thought he has the best shot at dethroning Lance, despite his lack of TT ability. Ullrich is in decent shape and as has a decent team, but I think he missed too much time, and I doubt he is in as good shape as he was in 2001, when I think he gave it all he got. But he is another contender for the podium. I still think there's more chance of Lance faultering in the mountains, than in ITT, which is why I think he should be more scared of Beloki than Ullrich. And I think this year Beloki WILL attack Lance a lot more than he did last year.

Even before the Tour I predicted the podium a rather typical:
1. Armstrong 2. Beloki 3. Ullrich
And I think I still stand by this after witnessing the TTT today. Simoni and Mayo may talk all they want, and I am sure they will now make it their goals to win a mountain stage, rather than going for GC position. In which case it would be a lot easier if they slipped even further down GC so Lance Beloki and Ullrich won't have to chase them down.
For Simoni now to say he outclimbed Lance while finishing 10 or more minutes down the GC is sort of like Petacchi or Cook boasting how they outsprinted Lance or Simoni in first stages. Let's not forget or let him double-talk his way out of this - he claimed for a long time that he came to win the tour, not a stage. Sorry for my rambling style.
re: TTT musings and more....Spoiler
Jul 9, 2003 9:28 PM
1. I don't think Saeco expected to lose 3 minutes. As a team, they finished the prologue in 18th place, 51 seconds behind USPS and 32 seconds behind ONCE. After Simoni in 21st, the closest Saeco rider was in 77th, Leonardo Bertagnolli. Even Rabobank beat them!
DiLuca skipped his bella Italia's Giro to concentrate on this Tour. He's recovering from a collar bone break in May, but Mr. Marblehead, MA is recovering from a collar bone break a couple days ago and he finished quicker. Nope, Saeco never had the horses to begin with. They really didn't have that strong'a team in the Giro. You just can't win the Tour without a strong, rested team.

2. The Italians are willing to tolerate a less-than-total committment to the Tour as long as the team had a total committment to the Giro. If Simoni can beat Armstrong in any of the mountain finishes in a one-on-one dual, he can go back home be known as the one who hurt Armstrong.
It would be really sweet if the United States could have a national tour to be the focus of U.S. teams. We'd have the field be 50% U.S teams and 50% foreign teams, just like Giro and TDF.

3. Johathan Vaughters predicted Aitor would finish third overall, behind Lance and Botero. What?
No mention of Tyler? He survived the TTT, actually he performed better than most. He has two long, flat stages to recover before the Alpe. He has a strong team.
The Posties will probably follow the formula, but only as long as the opposition continues to do what they've done. Simoni isn't injured. If he can use other teams, or take advantage of a Spanish combine against Lance, THAT would force the Posties to change their tactics.
I think their strong enough and flexible enough to come up with a strategy to counter that. Unless, of course, someone sabotages their radios and Lance has to think tactics for himself for an extended period of time.
Di Luca's...Dwayne Barry
Jul 10, 2003 5:40 AM
problem isn't his collarbone, he's been sick since the tour started and has even been dropped on some of the flat stages.

I agree about Saeco never having the horses. They lost a boat load of time last year (or was it he year before?) when the Vuelta started with a TTT.

I don't know about a Spanish combine. I think Simoni will be the rider who tries to do something on Saturday. Banesto certainly has a handful of climbers that they may try to play something as well. I think ONCE are going to put all their eggs in the Beloki basket. Hell, if they didn't attack last year when they had the best tactical advantage a team could ever hope to get, why this year?
In response to your first question:MXL02
Jul 10, 2003 5:31 AM
Let me ask another...doesn't the TTT performance demonstrate not only LA's individual cycling ability but also his ability as Captain and leader, in putting together a great team to help him win the Tdf? My question about Beloki, Simoni, and Ullrich beating Lance isn't related to their abilities, but rather do they have the "horses" on their team? This seemed evident last year when Lance's teammates led him into the mountains and seemed to break Beloki on every critical stage.
more about budget and good director sportiffcyclopathic
Jul 10, 2003 6:54 AM
don't discount Bruynel.
Jul 10, 2003 11:29 AM
but my sense is that after 4 years, Lance is the real draw for these guys, and their practice together is pretty much dependent on him...he could blow if off, or push everyone into practicing harder. Bruynel is definitely the superb tactician who helped make Lance who he is, it just seems to me that success breeds success, and if Bruynel had another captain, he may not have had such a good team.