Oh boy, the team selections have been announced, and there are controversies in all of the teams with key Americans. First, it was a shocker to hear that Chris Horner was left off by Astana. Horner proved his form in the Giro, but had another mishap. And, Astana is deep. And, Astana had to take a Kazakh….Or else, they’re never gettting paid again. You can bank on that. Even one Kazakh may not be enough to ever get the Kazakh mafia to pay again. Truth be told, Astana had SEVERAL really strong riders who didn’t make the squad. Including Colom, Rubiera, and Vaitkus. So, Horner was among four really strong guys, one of whom got screwed when they had to choose a Kazakh kid. My take is that Vaitkus is the guy with a beef. He’s been riding strong, and the real reason not to choose Rubiera, Colom, or Horner is to prevent dividing the team in case of a 1986-like team split between Armstrong and Contador. As it is, there are two Spaniards and two Americans, then a full international set (which also maximizes global marketability).
Next, poor Tom Danielson didn’t make the squad at Garmin. At first, I thought this said something about TD’s form, but now I think Tyler Farrar is the reason. Unfortunately, Christian Vandevelde is probably not gonna have a great Tour. He may win the Vuelta, but he’s barely raced since his injury this year. So, it’s better to have a Julian Dean as an extra fast guy to help Tyler Farrar, than it is to have TD struggling with Vandevelde. With Wiggins and Millar in the stable, they have guys who could solo off and steal sprint stages, and they’d still have strong guys to help finish it off for Farrar if Wiggo or Millar get caught. It’s a great strategy. Farrar is the shit. He has beaten them all, head to head: Boonen, Pettachi, McEwen, Cavendish, Freire, Hushovd…and, notably, Boonen and Pettachi ain’t gonna be there. Cavendish isn’t going to finish, even if he cleans up in the first week. So, Farrar is a strong contender for Green.
Ah, then Columbia. Greipel, their second winningest rider this year, isn’t going. Who hung in the balance? George Hincapie. If you’re all for Cav and all for Cav, then it seems like you’d pick Greipel. But, Columbia wants to win other shit, and they should. They have a legit chance for the White Jersey in Tony Martin, and with Kim Kirchen and Michael Rogers both on form, they want to win some other stages (and maybe a polka dot, who knows?). I’d peg them the favorite in the TTT. With those goals, you’re better off having Hincapie–who can lead out, time trial, and make it up mountains–than having a fifth sprinter for the leadout train. Cav’s gonna win anyway. And, Cav’s been working with Renshaw, who would be the weakest selection on paper.