Here is my first preview. Read it. Now look at the current standings. Funny, eh? Honestly I don't know why I even attempted to predict how the KOM competition was gonna shake out way back in the end of June. It's hard enough to predict it now. So before I throw up an actual power poll that will most likely be totally wrong within 24 hours, let's look at what we have learned:
- Jerome Pineau is the current leader and his teammate Sylvain Chavanel is second. Do either of these guys have a chance at wearing spots in Paris? History-both their history and the history of where the KOM is actually won-says no. First, neither of these guys is a major climbing talent. I just can't see either of them cresting the Col de la Madeleine or the Tourmalet first and that gets to the second problem for them: the big points for this competition are in the big mountain stages, especially the last climbs of said big mountain stages where the points are doubled. Now I can see these guys trying to hang on as long as possible. They could attack straight out tomorrow and get points for Colombiere, and maybe even Saises, but all together those points add up to 43 points and Madeleine by itself is worth 40. That leads us to points two...
- Rafael Valls? That would sure be a coup for Footon to have one of its riders stamp their foot on the KOM prize. (My VDS team agrees.) Did you notice how Valls was a) in the GC group up the Col de la Ramaz yesterday and sprinted to the front of the group in order to pip the 4th place points for the climb? That's Classic KOM contender behavior! The question is doe she and his team want him to try for a top 20 place in the overall instead of going for the spotty jersey points? I think we might find out his target early on in tomorrow's stage. Hopefully (IMO) he gets in the early break and racks up points at least through the next to the last climb.
- Bobo Gesink? Young Robert here could be the KOM favorite if he focuses on it as opposed to a higher GC standing and/or helping his teammate, Denis Menchov. Only five points behind Valls he could earn the spots even playing the 'ol one-two with Menchov: get in the break early then when the GC boys catch up, he's in position to help his teammate up the Madeleine. BIG PROBLEM THOUGH! Bobo's only 2'37" off the race lead so at this point it's hard to imagine the peloton letting him go solo up the road. That leads us to…
- A (usually marginal) GC contender who loses big time tomorrow-or yesterday. Last year we saw Franco Pellizotti deliberately lose time early so he could capture the KOM prize without the GC crowd worry about him. So far that hasn't happened-unless Cunego completely failed. Now we have Brajkovic, Armstrong and Kloden but I can't see Lance or any Shacker going for the spots with Levi in the overall race. No, they are a GC team and they will stick with that. Maybe Le Mevel or Casar or Moinard but now we are getting into Valls-type riders and Valls seems the most interested.
Who will contend for the King of the Mountains prize?
Rafael Valls (23 votes)
Robert Gesink (25 votes)
Andy Schleck (30 votes)
Jerome Pineau (10 votes)
Amael Moinard (5 votes)
Alberto Contador (5 votes)
Lance Armstrong (15 votes)
Christophe Le Mevel (4 votes)
Mathieu Perget (2 votes)
Sylvain Chavanel (5 votes)
Mara Abbott-Missionaries, Missionaries: we're on top! Go Whitman! (5 votes)
Someone else-say who in the comments! (12 votes)
141 total votes