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Week Two Maillot Blanc Power Poll!

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Pretty well contested competition so far. I think people are starting to assume it's over, but, well, this is a competition of really young riders. So you never know.

1. Alberto Contador ↔

Odds of him wearing a regular Discovery kit in Paris keep going down. The temptation to send him after yellow must be weighing incredibly heavily on Bruyneel. Think: if Contador wins the Tour, Johan will have Spanish title sponsors staking out his house. Well, assuming Contador can't get out of his contract (which one has to assume is an incredible bargain for the team). If all the Accountant comes away with is the White Jersey, Bruyneel is still sitting pretty: just announce that you're never backing Levi again, and the same sponsors will be hounding him to bankroll his 2008 Tour squad. There's a lot of racing left, but Contador has a time advantage, two unbelievable legs, and a team that will never, ever hold him back.

2. Mauricio Soler ↑

Hm, we learned one thing about him today: he can climb the crap out of anything shorter than the Andean Highlands. See the next entry for a cautionary word, and anyway, Contador's no slouch on the inclines. Unless Soler uncorks a pretty sick time trial, this is his summit. But frankly I have no idea what he'll do Saturday.

3. Lin♥s Gerdemann ↔

First, the ♥ is a reference to a sign on the Galibier today, which dotted the "i" in Linus with a heart. I thought it was especially cute, and well captures the warm feeling everyone seems to have toward the daring German kid. His advocacy for clean racing, along with his win Saturday about five seconds before he was about to keel over from exhaustion and dehydration, have made him the #1 Tour heartthrob. Alas, one dilemma about clean racing is that when you delve that deeply into the ol' suitcase of courage, the next day can get pretty ugly (n.b. Soler!). Lin♥s' up-and-down fluctuations (which I averaged into a side arrow) could swing back up. He's likely to be no less fresh than Soler by Saturday, and there are an awful lot of good German time triallists out there; he may prove to be yet another.

4. Vlad Gusev ↓

The best time triallist in this group (AFAIK), he's 9' back on his teammate and probably won't challenge Contador, but he's less than 6' down on the next two, and just over 3' down on Siutsou. With 110km of flat time trialling left to cover, he could be a big mover. I don't see him reclaiming white, but every other position on this poll (including 13th) is in play.

5. Kanstantin Siutsou ↑

Homestly? I don't know the first thing about this guy. He rolled in with the Vino group today and was a tad behind them on Sunday, so it's not clear to me he's got anything to offer beyond staying power. But that counts, so keep an eye on him.

6-13. Bernhard Kohl, Thomas Dekker, Marcus Burghardt, Igor Anton, Benoît Vaugrenard, Rémy Di Grégorio, Andriy Grivko, Romain Feillu ↓

Kohl didn't have it; Dekker's main concern wasn't what jersey he could wear but how many bottles it can carry; Burghardt has been game (when not running over dogs) but bruised; Grivko and Vaugrenard have been hanging around; Feillu's a sprinter; Rémy is on bed rest, and I don't know what Anton's excuse is.