This should be a fun feature we can play with over the next month. If nothing else, it spares me the need to write a long, tedious, repetitive assessment of each team. And here's how it works: below is an opening list of the top 10 teams for the General Classification of the Tour de France, and a summary on which direction they're headed based on recent events. Now, this is a highly scientific assessment, in terms of the overall ranking and the direction things appear headed (a relative assessment based on a prior ranking that may or may not exist). So bear with me. We will update the list, based on events or at least once a week, and all input is welcomed. As usual, I like to operate by consensus, so feel free to blast away and maybe, just maybe, you can make a difference! In the list anyway.
1. Caisse d'Epargne ↑
They had an argument for this spot even before Astana handed it to them. Right now, their biggest problem is deciding which rider gets to call the reigning "champion" of the Tour his domestique. OK, it's El Imbatible, but let's see if he can match Karpets in the time trials.
2. CSC ↑
Leaping over Astana thanks to a relatively peaceful June, and thanks to a little clarity that maybe Frank Schleck isn't ready to challenge for the Tour just yet. Sastre can ride without looking over his shoulder.
3. Astana ↓
Disaster! But if hot favorite Vinokourov can stick with Sastre over the initial climbs, Astana immediately get back to #2 at least. And if he can't, then it's Kloden's turn. Still, they're having a really shitty week losing Mazzoleni and Kessler to scandal, so for now they're just barely on the podium.
4. Discovery ↑
It's a big drop from third to fourth, but Discovery are more interesting with Alberto Contador looking primed for at least the white jersey.
5. Rabobank ↔
Oscar Freire's back is bothering him? Gee, maybe Rabobank will focus on supporting Denis Menchov after all. Hell, maybe Freire will even contribute: he's usually got great legs until the climb really kicks up for a while. Menchov's preparation at the Dauphine looked perfectly balanced between good form and minimal effort.
6. Predictor-Lotto ↔
You have to look hard to find someone who likes Evans' support system, but perhaps even harder for someone who doesn't like Evans.
7. T-Mobile ↓
Rogers is in Australia getting his knee looked at? Lucybears broke that one earlier, which puts her ahead of nearly all of the English media on that. With a fit Rogers, it's hard to see how they rise much higher, though with an unfit Rogers, you could see Euskaltel creeping up into the next rankings.
8. Gerolsteiner ↔
Hard to take seriously for the overall when they're sending Markus Fothen (a quiet 13th last year) and Bernhard Kohl after the maillot jaune. But they have a deep squad nonetheless, once you add in Stefan Schumacher and Heinrich Haussler. Schumacher could surprise.
9. Saunier Duval ↓
David Millar gives them a reason to keep on living, at least for a few days, but Jose Angel Gomez Marchante's inflamed colon (did he eat veggie booty?) has them sinking fast.
10. AG2R ↑
No rankings can exist without a French team... after all, half the teams are French. AG2R was the home team of note last year, and Christophe Moreau's I'm-not-done routine in the Dauphine was impressive, to say the least.