2012 Tour de France - One Week Down, Two Remaining
Now things are starting to get interesting. Roadcycling.com's 2012 Tour de France analysis continues.
Finally the peloton had reached the mountains in the Tour de France. Okay, not exactly the mountains like we'll see them in the third week, but stage 7 was finally going to shake up the general classification?
I use a question mark at the end of that last sentence because the yellow jersey wearer Fabian Cancellara could still haul his carcass up the last climb, La Planche Des Belles Filles, and keep his jersey. This climb is the first category 1 ranked mountain of the Tour. Fabs is a big guy, capable of churning out the watts to win a time trial, like he did a week ago in the Liege prologue. He's not known as a climber. However, in 2009 he did win the Tour de Suisse - not exactly a flat race.
What also motivated Cancellara was that Sunday the Tour slipped into Switzerland, his home country. If you can ride into your homeland with the yellow leader's jersey of the Tour de France on your back, you will never, ever, have to by your own drinks at the pub again.
The after effects of stage 6's blood bath was still lingering at the start of stage 7. Team Garmin-Sharp had taken a pounding. They lost Tommy Danielson who had finished 8th in last year's Tour, their sprinter Robert Hunter and recent Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. Garmin-Sharp went from contenders to pretenders in the span of a few hours.
The gold star Tour de France favorites of Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans got brighter with Hesjedal's abandonment, but people were forgetting about a rider lurking in 5th on the G.C. - Denis Menchov. The Russian won the Vuelta a Espana in 2005 and 2007. He's had a good result in the Tour as well winning the young riders' classification in 2003. Menchov could be the spoiler of this year's Tour if his luck holds.
As expected the excitement of the day was reserved for the category 1 climb. Garmin-Sharp led the peloton in chasing the six escapees. Timing it to perfection the break was caught at the foot of the climb. By this time Team Sky had taken over. It was GO time.
It was reminiscent of a lead out for a sprint finish. Team Sky strung out the field and one by one riders were popped. Under the red kite it was just Bradley Wiggins, his teammate Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Cadel Evans.
Australian Evans attacked, but Froome covered it, passed him and carried on to win the stage. Wiggins finished behind and took the yellow jersey of leadership.
While Wiggo got the glory of the yellow, the rider that impressed was Froome. Arguably he could have won last year's Vuelta a Espana if he'd had more support. And in the last kilometers of stage 7 he leads the charge, covers Evans' move and then counter attacks to take the stage. If Froome wants to reach his potential as a grand tour leader he needs to step out of Wiggins shadow. As long