Bauer: Armstrong's "Drive for Five" will succeed unless...
Exclusive Tour de France interview with Tour veteran Steve Bauer.
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Hamilton, Ont. -- Steve Bauer was on the line from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Bauer was in
On the Tour de France Steve Bauer speaks with some authority. He rode in 11 straight
"Frankly, I don't think there'll be much change this year -- I mean, Lance is so damn good right now," Bauer begins. "He's at the top of his game. Maybe even more than that..."
There are contenders, to be sure. Bauer mentions a few names -- Joseba Beloki (ONCE), who was runner-up to Lance in the 2002 Tour, Santiago Botero (Kelme), winner of Milan- San Remo, and the 2003 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni (Saeco).
But none of them should be able to beat Lance. They're not even close.
Then Bauer pauses:
"But the Tour is never a given. No one, even at his best, is guaranteed a win. It takes three weeks to win a Tour and a day to lose it."
Armstrong remains the man to beat.
"He's the master of a pretty big engine -- he has it all physically and in terms of technique," Bauer says. "Lance can definitely turn a gear. He's efficient and powerful at a high RPM".
Lance Armstrong (USPS) has credited Miguel Indurain, winner of the Tour five years in a row (1991-1995), as being the model for his high RPM style of riding.
But Bauer thinks that Armstrong is a better rider than Indurain ever was.
"Indurain excelled at time-trialling and he tended to protect his leads in the climbs," he says. "But Armstrong also excels at time-trialling and he can be dominant in the mountains. He's a better all-round rider than Indurain ever was."
But what if, for one reason or another, Lance falters? Who can step up and take the big man's place?
It's suggested to Bauer that a rider like Tyler Hamilton (CSC), winner of this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic and the Tour of Romandie, could be the guy.