Your Final Tour de France Teams Power Poll!

The Yellow Jersey poll just got more interesting, but the rest of them (green, white, spots) are pretty well dead, or at least not worth repeating.

1. Discovery Channel ↑

The yellow numbers don't lie. Discovery have outlasted all the teams who, at first blanche, appeared to have superior firepower (Caisse d'Epargne) or stronger leaders (Astana, Lotto), or clearer goals (Rabo? Quick Step). They've locked up two podium spots by balancing patience and aggression... and a heavy dose of Yaroslav Popovych. The first stringers are as advertised; it's the second string that have made the difference.

2. Rabobank ↑

Kind of a sympathy vote here, but then again, what Boogerd, Dekker, Flecha and Menchov did for the Chicken after he hijacked the team demonstrates what Cycling is all about. These guys gave their all, against their personal feelings (so we hear?) and in Menchov's case against the original pecking order. And they did a damn good job controlling the front too. Nobody should be shocked though, those guys all bring the wattage. Too bad Oscar Freire left, but he's my early favorite to win the Dubai Million.

3. CSC ↓

This was a maillot jaune team that never went anywhere. Their second string is better than the first. Schleck isn't ready to win the Tour, and may never be. Still, their depth is awesome, and Cancellara rules.

4. Caisse d'Epargne ↓

Five guys in the top 22, with Valverde 6th. Not too shabby. Someday we'll get the story on why Valverde wasn't as good as expected. But as disappointing as his performance is, you can't diss this team.

5. Predictor Lotto ↑

Maybe they can't control the front lines in the mountains but there's a lot to be said for this team. Cioni and Horner are loyal pluggers, and the sight of Big Johan Van Summer Ale pulling little Cadel around to the finish is amusing. Also, if Evans wins the Tour in the time trial (I'm betting yes), they will have accomplished a rare maillot jaune-Lanterne Rouge double. Impressive.

6. Saunier Duval ↓

Well, Mayo's clock struck midnight, but JJ Cobo has an heir-apparent look to him. David Millar has been as valiant on the bike as off it. Is he really allergic to the sun? Yikes.

7. Euskaltel ↑

Bagging a top-five with Zubeldia likely to solidify his placing in the time trial. And they avoided the nightmare of cutting Mayo loose only to have him win something. Astarloza and Txurruka are guys to watch.

8. Quick Step ↔

Four stages and a green jersey... about as well as can be expected. They really grew into a Tour train as time went on. This could be the start of something.

9. Barloworld ↑

Bagged one jersey, second on another two. Soler and Hunter put on great individual performances. At least one of the wildcard teams made the Tour proud.

10. T-Mobile ↔

What a roller coaster. Other than Sinking Joke and crashes, it's been decent enough. Gerdemann bagged one stage and Kirchen will likely be recognized as winning another (once Vino is expunged). Kirchen lies 7th overall. Burghardt is a rider any team would love to have.

11-20. Everyone else ↔

We laughed, we cried, we ate a lot of energy gel.

21. Astana ↓

It's hard to imagine any team having a worse experience, at least considering the expectations. From the Albi TT results, you couldn't dismiss the possibility of them sweeping the podium; at a minimum, the question wasn't so much who would make it but which ones and how many? Then the two serious leaders crashed, seemed to recover, blew up again, dragged Kashechkin into the sewer, and eventually left in utter disgrace. Did I miss anything? Sheesh...

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