With rain falling at the TT in Albi, strategy is going to play a very important role. Tyler Hamilton told me after the 2003 Tour de France that the final TT, where he jumped from seventh to fourth overall was all about strategy. First off, the course was a point-to-point, and with a strong tailwind blowing all the way from the start to the finish it would mean that the overall time each rider spent on course would be less. This being the case, even though Tyler was faster than some of the riders ahead of him, with the faster overall times there was a possibility that he would not be on course long enough to gain back much time. Also, with rain coming down, taking a risk could lead to a crash.
Because the first half of the course was flat and fast, and the second half was tricky and technical, Tyler decided to race as hard as he could when there was less risk and back off when the course became more technical. His decisions paid off, though he just missed a podium place.
Lance Armstrong and his director used different tactics. To implement their plan, they would designate one rider who started much earlier than the Texas Tornado to ride the course flat out. This rider would radio back any tricky sections or sections demanding more attention insuring that Lance could give maximum possible effort at all times.
Of course, all the riders preview the course weeks or months in advance and then usually ride the route the morning of the TT just to make sure they know what is coming. Michael Rasmussen admitted that he did not preview the final TT course in the 2005 Tour. His multiple crashes and slide from, second to seventh place were the result. You can be assured he will not make that mistake again.
So what happened in Albi? Vino proved that he is a warrior. He is still in the show! Evans impressed me the most, as I said in an earlier blog, this is a man on a mission! And, the Chicken showed that he can limit his losses when it counts. It is going to be a battle royale in the Pyrenees.