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Big Blue Power Poll!

Chris earlier rated the GC contenders. I will now do likewise to the Points contenders. Sorry to be so late! My flight, Madrid-Portland, just arrived home five minutes ago and... what? You expect that I would make a Power Poll without witnessing the race first-hand? Without obtaining interviews with each of the major riders involved? I'm hurt! A reporter has got to have his standards! Of course ALL Podium Cafe race reports are gathered from on-the-scene work! While I was over there I saw gavia, Drew, Jens, Mr. Van P, and Chris fresh from the Podium Cafe's World Headquarters at our Spanish bureau for this race along with crack reporters-

umwolverine, Elvisgoat, koppenberg, DemonCats, crashdan, Jimbo, Hons, Bruce Suomi (our Finnish Overlord), nickel17, The Team Chef, Frinking, King of Doping, Katiek, KevinK, PopUp Rolen, guidemd, majope, steph, WhyWhat, Albertina (we are still waiting for that beer, dude), bradBordeaux, and cyclingchallenge. (We have other bureaus like our fully staffed Missouri office and others in Belgium, France, Italy, California, Australia, Switzerland, Deutchland, and Kazakhstan, etc.)

I can't believe you thought that we were a bunch of internet nuts sitting around in our pajamas making this stuff up.

Go to the jump and I'll think about letting you read further.

Really. I don't know if I want you to read any further. Oh alright- but if I catch your insolence one more time...... We have muscle to back us up:

Just so you and I are clear as to where we stand vis-a-vis.

But why now for a Big Blue (sponsored by IBM) Power Poll? Because this is the perfect time to rate these guys. A bunch of them will jump off the race tomorrow because they are too, how do I say it, wimpy, to trudge up a few small hills over the weekend. Quitters! Running Dogs! Losers! Titoists! People's Front of Judea splitters! I tell ya: those guys will be first against the wall when the revolution comes! So below I have the riders ranked by a Very Scientific System that uses the Latest Techniques in sabermetrics (including the all-important Lance Factor*) to Accurately Measure the riders.

* Lance Factor and the acronym LF are registered trademarks of Podium Cafe and any use of either without express written consent of Podium Cafe, Chris or any of his salmon/henchmen will result in full prosecution or being slapped with a Chinook (whichever comes first)- unless you send us a case each of any Hair of the Dog beer.

To the Rankings!

1. (tied) Greg Van Avermaet, PRT ↓. A show of hands who thought stage one that after 57.142857143% of the race had been completed that Baby-faced Greg here would be leading the points competition with 99 points. Tsk. And you thought you were so smart. So why do we have the dreaded down arrow? It says here that two things are working against him in this first Grand Tour. You take your choice on which is right: A) He's getting tired and the only win he had was on a breakaway. Other sprinters will start focusing on the jersey as the end of the race gets over. Plus its hilly which favors a non-sprinter like Valverde. B) The Lance Factor. I promised you interviews and here's one with Greg from just yesterday:

"Dude! Lance is coming back! He's my hero! I watched him on TV after the cartoons were over! You mean he's not dead? Ironic! I so want his autograph before he croaks! I got some old tapes of him when he was in Nirvana! What? He wasn't in Nirvana? Sure he was- I got some tapes of him and Kurt Cobain. Dude. I'm sooo embarrassed. But still: He's as big as Cat Power! Ironic!"

So which is it? A or B? You, dear reader, judge for yourself.

1. (tied) Alejandro Valverde, GCE Kinda obvious, ain't it? As for Rafa Nadal, September is not very kind to the guy who's Not Quite As Tall As Alberto Contador. Yes, that's a cue for you on who's better in the mountains. So with his GC designs in flames, what else does AV have to look forward to? The Worlds? Yeah he would do well on that course but since when did sense enter into that space between Valverde's ears? Guy's gonna Keep On Truckin' better than Eddie Kendricks using the Best Bass Player Ever to pick up the Instrument until Madrid and he's gonna get himself some Big Blue.

IBM World Headquarters in Armonk:

Interview with Alejandro Valverde: "I felt so good! I just knew I was gonna surprise and win the Gold Jersey this year without that &*^$^& Vinokourov and &^$%^ Cash-Is-King in the race... until I read what gavia had to say. Merde! I knew that Chris had it in for me since that incident with the 2X4 but, I was hoping to ask gavia out on a date! I have no chance now... no hope... I decided to keep on, um, truckin' but... it just made sense that stage 12 happened. I need to accept that and get tranquillo. No one can go against Podium Cafe Conventional Wisdom. I just wish Drew had picked me: I would have had a chance then.... So I could go to Varese but I'm hoping for a Blue jersey that I can then gift to the Po dium Cafe gods so I can s atisf y them..."

Ursula to Valverde, " Beer, Alejandro. Beer."

1. (tied) Oscar Friere. RAB By now it must seem obvious that what motivates Oscar on this planet he's temporarily calling home is not someth ing as mundane a s a bike race he happens to be participating in. What does motivate him? In his words:

" It was the the 3rd of September.."

Now you know. Look- Oscar doesn't care about the Big Blue jersey- First, he's a Mac user. Second, he wants the Worlds jersey back- at least today. Tomorrow? Who knows? But take one thing to the bank: whenever he wants to win he probably will. You just never know when the blood lust takes over- until about 500 meters from the finish. The LF? Freire actually doesn't pay attention to other riders. Never heard of him. Oscar is actually related to Thor Wignutt. My lips to your ears.

1. (tied) Alberto Contador AST Answer me this: Which rider has close to a lock on winning three of the last nine stages? The guy sitting in fifth place of the points standings, 39 points out of the lead. Wouldn't you then favor that rider to win the points jersey? No one else has that kind of built in home court, especially when most of the best sprinters will be long gone by the time Madrid shows her pretty head.

Lance Factor: Are you kidding me? Fun fact! Alberto's actual birth name: Omar Little.

Interview blurb:

"Q: Alberto what do you think of the Lance rumors?

A: "Feel this: Citizens I leave alone. But if they're in the game..." Bert then whistles "The Farmer In The Dell."

(After the interview, we shared a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and I politely said I needed to see gavia. )

Seriously: The ASO already made him mad and look what that did to his season. The guy does not suffer fools. He beat (in all probability) a couple of dopers in the Giro and he can beat Lance too. If the worst rumors are true and Bert is on another team opposite Lance next year, I don't care how big a sack Lance has, he's going down. And Lance better be happy with second in the Tour too even if they are teammates.

1. (tied) Paolo Bettini QST. And you thought The Accountant is mad over recent events. The following is 35 minutes into the Cricket's interview:

" Quick ^%$&ing Step! ^$%&*ing Lefevre! Asshat Boonen. Schumacher can suck my big &^$$^ for all I care. IF I EVER catch ANY of that team in Italy next year I am gonna cram my Worlds trophy up their tight little ^%$#%holes!"

Yeah he's mad too. (Lots of anger in the peloton these days cause there's this mountain coming up.) Bettini's out for blood in Varese and Boonen better hope he's not in the way at the finishing line. And a mad Bettini is almost as good as a mad Bert. If he stays until Madrid (I give it about a -100000% chance) he'll win the Blue. But he won't cause he's much like the US Steelworkers of America- Keep reaching for that rainbow!

LF- Fun Fact! Paolo Bettini and Lance are best buds. Like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

1. (tied) Igor (pronounced EYE-gor) Anton EUS. Psyche! Of course EYE-gor is not in the running But I did want to show you a picture of him out of his Euskie garb (talking to Samu):

1. (tied) Tom Boonen QST. The one rider who I did not get an interview with as he was never near the Quickstep bus when Bettini was. Odd that.

LF: Bad and good. He's been trying to get away from Lance's shadow for years now; he thought riding cobbles would give him space. But now....

On the other hand, Tom has got hard partying Schumacher on his team and with Lance around, the babe factor is sure to go up! What? Paris-Roubaix? Again? What year is it? My head hurts!


To sum up:

The winner of the Blue Jersey is most likely to be Greg Van Avermaet- unless Alejandro Valverde hangs around with Alberto Contador being most likely to win. Plain as day. Oh- and Eric Zabel will come in third.