The 2010 Tour is in the books and there was some real drama and a few surprises.The rider everyone tabbed to win did just that. The rider everyone thought would come second also did that. Unfortunately, the rider who everyone tipped for the final spot on the podium finished out of the money.
Alberto Contador won the race showing exceptional climbing skills. Andy Schleck climbed on par with Contador, but he came up a bit short in the time trials and that was the margin of victory for the Spaniard. The good news for Schleck is two-fold. First, his time trialing is really improving and at the ripe young age of 25 he should be closing the gap between himself and Contador.
Secondly, his brother Frank was not there to support him in the mountains. With Frank at his side (or up the road) the race in the Alps and the Pyrenees would have been vastly different.
The positives for Contador are that he has admitted that his form this year was below that of 2009. Also, he let the pressure of being the heavy favorite affect him too much. He had stomach pains caused by nerves. Something he has never experienced before.
For Americans, the big news was the failure of Lance Armstrong to mount the same level of a challenge as he did last year. He admitted that he had more bad luck in this Tour than in any of the previous editions of the race. That proved too much for the 38-year old to overcome. We saw a flash of his former brilliance in the breakaway on stage 16 into Pau. A final stage win would have been a storybook ending and would have saved his Tour, but as Lance has said many times, in bike racing there are no gifts.
So, the 2010 Tour de France saw the emergence of a new rivalry. Contador is 27 and Andy Schleck is 25. Look for these two to continue to excite the Tour de France for years to come. Its only about 335 days until next year's race.