For the second time in three years, the final stage of Paris-Nice was an exciting do-or-die stage. In 2007, it was Alberto Contador taking the race with great panache from Davide Rebellin (who would win it in 2008).
Although Versus only televised the first and last stages, I was able to keep up with the race via Velonews’ daily coverage. The biggest take away from this race for me was the end of the Astana Myth of Invincibility™. On two occasions, Contador was isolated from his teammates and vulnerable. On stage 7, he bonked spectacularly and lost a big chunk of time, and cost himself the race as a result.
I can’t think of this ever happening on the old “Blue Train” US Postal teams. Can you imagine Lance without an escort in the critical mountain stages? Can you imagine Lance not being focused enough to eat when he needed to?
Obviously, Contador is no amateurish chump. It just baffled me that a team with such talent could let that happen to their leader. They should have done better. On paper, they should have ruthlessly dominated that race. But, as Kenny Mayne said, the games aren’t played on paper, they’re played inside your TV set.