First off, one minor tradition here is to rename the Daily Feedbag in the langue du jour -- during the Giro it was the "sacchetto dell'alimentazione quotidiano"; for the Tour it was the handier "musette du jour". Can someone give me the German version? Extra credit for one of those many-words-mashed-together words that I so love about German. I once had a VW and there was a 32-letter word on the engine block. Ausgezeischnet!
OK, whatever. Anyway, today's prologue proves that however unbloggable short time trials may be, there's always something to watch. I only saw the last half-hour or so, but the deluge that swamped the final few riders was apparently coming and going all day. The result? Huge time spreads -- nearly two full minutes from first to last -- over a mere 5.5 km.
more on da flip:
One of the big losers of the day was unlucky Levi Leipheimer, whose entire ride was during a heavy downpour. The defending champ was on the road at the same time as Jens Voigt, so German TV didn't show him much, but Jens was coming to a near stop on some hairpins to avoid going down in the sheets of water. Jens coughed up 24 seconds, but Leipheimer starting last lost a full 41. That put him comfortably behind such time trialing legends as ... well, a lot of guys you've never heard of.
Disco's Vlad Gusev was the winner, despite going during a wet spell (though not the worst of it), stealing what seemed like a sure win from Linus Gerdemann by nine-hundredths of a second. TT ace Seb Lang was a disappointed third, one second back, while wearing the German ITT colors in his homeland. Eurosport has the first coverage up, with some quotes from the top guys. Alexandre Vinokourov finished 10 seconds adrift, along with my other personal fave here Thomas Dekker.
Tomorrow is a flat 192km through Erik Zabel's home region, so apparently we're supposed to expect him to win. Nice story, but he's got a fat bull's eye on him now, as far as those other sprinters are concerned. Did Danilo Napolitano get the memo? Did Stef Schumacher? We'll see.
From the Paceline: