Survivor: Dopage Islands

Echoing Heidi's comment about finishing being an achievement in this Tour: With entire teams capable of 'leaving' this Tour on any given day now, it does seem that just making it to the finish line without any doping cloud over your team is a victory in itself. In fact, quite a few teams are already in danger of losing sponsorship and this Tour is make-or-break for their post-Tour future.

Here's my look at how several of the teams are faring:

Eliminated

Cofidis: They've suffered the embarassment of a mass team withdrawal on the same day it participated in a sit-down protest of doping. Ouch.

Astana: Kazakhstan seems determined to keep up its sponsorship but BMC is looking to pull out. I guess we shouldn't have expected better from the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros that filled its rosters from the T-Mobile Ullrich-era program. And lets not forget about Mazzoleni and Kessler. Gee, when I put it that way Vino seems like a complete surprise.

Rabobank: Rasmussen out, Menchov abandoned, and Boogerd wants to go home. Might as well scratch them all.

Riding strong

Barloworld: Stage victories by Robbie Hunter and Mauricio Soler, plus Soler's King of the Mountains jersey puts the non-wildcard teams to shame.

Gerolsteiner: A strong anti-doping stance and they are riding with a full team roster in this year's Tour, a rarity that deserves some mention even if they haven't made the headlines this Tour.

Predictor-Lotto: They're suing Astana for lost publicity, which seems like a just move given that a TT victory for Evans would have been huge. As is his 2nd place in the GC. A showdown with Contador in the final TT could give him his just due.

Saunier Duval: Iban Mayo can count himself among the Rasmussen-cheated. Unlike Discovery, which moved up in the overall, there is nothing for Mayo to inherit because Rasmussen never tested positive -- Mayo won't officially get a stage victory unless Tour officials make a special decision. Millar has taken a special role this Tour as the Ghost of Doping Past, visiting the peloton to get it to change its wicked ways.

Quick Step: They are the only other team than Gerolsteiner riding with a full roster and Boonen has made the move of calling for a lifetime ban of Vinokourov. With Boonen set to finish in green and perhaps add another stage or two to his tally, they should finish this Tour riding high in spite of the early season team-association with the Belgian doping bust.

CSC: Riis' absense on the account of his own doping past nearly made me stick them in the "in trouble" category. After all, they did lose their Skoda sponsorship (if I recall correctly). But Fabian Cancellara has single-handedly given them team a huge boost this Tour with two stage victories and an entire week in yellow.

In trouble

T-Mobile: Some early sunshine with Gerdemann in yellow, but then came Sinkewitz. Their sponsor was already set to decide their continued sponsorship at the end of the Tour and they will be limping to that decision rather than riding high on Gerdemann's victory. Germany seems to not want to touch this Tour with a ten-foot pole: it may have been a prescient decision to end TV coverage. The team really does seem to have done all the right things, so it would be a shame to see their efforts for naught.

Discovery Channel: despite the whole Basso affair, they've managed to skate the doping issue. But I marked them as being in trouble because the team has no sponsor lined up for next year, which may make any victory pyrrhic in the end. Normally a team would be excited to be 1-3 in the standings and have a positive sponsorship future, but the lead has lost all its luster this year.

Caisse d'Epargne: Neither Valverde nor Pereiro have been able to deliver the goods this year, which perhaps has a silver lining: at least they don't have to complain about people them Puerto questions.

Milram: They lost Petacchi just prior to the Tour, who is not entirely clear of his doping positive just yet. And they have Zabel as their leader.

related articles: Tour de France 2007
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