Today was unpredictable? I say no

Like many, yesterday's stage 15 performance by Landis convinced me that Landis had this one sewn up despite my amazement that Landis was doing it with almost no team support. Thus, today's stage 16 meltdown was a surprise. But if I had just listened to myself four months ago to this day, I would have been more prepared:

Floyd Landis: "It's the team, stupid": in both the ToC and Paris-Nice, Phonak was very shakable. They pulled through in the end, but I saw plenty of Landis fighting others off on his lonesome in both victories. The Tour de France's many stages require strong team consistency. You can win with a weak team like Armstrong's first victory, but you have to be lucky enough to have most of the major competitors sitting out due to doping violations. Discovery has already shown they can beat Phonak up on Brasstown Bald in last year's Tour de Georgia and T-Mobile put a lot of cracks into Discovery in last year's Tour de France. Even if Landis gets a coveted yellow jersey, I would expect to see isolated on a future mountain stage watching his lead tick away.

Caisse has a strong team. T-Mobile has a strong team. CSC has a strong team even with all their losses. They're riding at the top of this Tour even though all of them lost their leader. Lotto, Rabobank, and Discovery didn't lose their leaders to scandal or injury, and those leaders are riding lower in the standings.

Phonak has been weak throughout this season and throughout this Tour. A strong can protect you when your weak, and, more importantly, strong teammates are strong riders that aren't riding against you. Landis tried to win this Tour on the strength of his own efforts, but finally imploded under the weight. Can't say that's surprising.

NOTE: this isn't bragging about my prognostication skills. I predicted early, I predicted often. I've made many predictions and changed my mind many times since this entry. I'm just pointing out that sometimes things are as surprising as we think, if we just stuck with our gut hunches.

related articles: Tour de France 2006
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