And, um, holy crap you guys:
- Team Beer Lao, 13,485 points
- Vlammende Vedetten, at 24
- EuroPeloton, at 119
- Low Road Redux, at 181
- Brian Clough's Nose, at 221
- Cruzers, at 244
- Down Tube Shifters, at 328
- Spin'n Doo Dads, at 359
- Let's Hurt a Little!, at 390
I thought I'd do the standings in the cyclo-recognizable deficit form, to emphasize how unbelievably close this race is as we head down the home stretch. A lousy 24 points -- that's a minor stage placing -- separating glory from anguish. And with at least four more teams close enough to make the top two sweat.
In other tidbits, Alejandro Valverde has overtaken Alberto Contador as the most valuable rider. Not surprising, given the former's elusive grand tour win to go with his other palmares. So far, at least, we have scored the Vuelta and Giro on par with the Tour, even if Contador wouldn't see it that way. We could rethink this for 2010; we'll see.
Going forward, we have lost the Giro del Lazio, but the Coppa Sabatini, Giro dell'Emilia, Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia are left to decide the matter. Three Italian races and one French affaire. Or, two sprints and two more challenging humps. Team Beer Lao looks pretty hard to beat, with Cunego and Gilbert for Lombardia as well as an assortment of sprinters like Greipel and Allan Davis. Vlammende Vedetten has a very different lineup -- Benna, Samu, Pozzato, Kenny! -- and may be looking more to an upset win somewhere. You can peruse the other teams for more intrigue. And you may want to because...
It's the First Ever PdC End of the VDS Guess the Winners Contest!
We have recently come into a brand new pair of blue HUDZ for Dura Ace 7800 shifters. Guess the top five finishers in order (or come closer than anyone else) and you win this, along with a grab-bag of other goodies currently lying around. Maybe a feedbag or a pro jersey from the 1990s. Or a cap. Got lots of stuff... Anyway, I have created a fanpost in the sidebar for contest entries. Submit your guesses in the comments before Saturday. Don't submit them here.
One more thing... Let's not forget the Maglia Nera:
- Team From Oz, 6222
- Bright Eyes, Sharp Ties, +160
- Team Foolish Sentiments, +360
Nobody else is really in the race, unless you believe all of these teams are stacked for the fall classics. Somehow I don't feel like I need to look up their rosters to answer that in the negative. But since you asked, Team From Oz is pretty much a collection of Australian cyclists (is this a referendum on Aussie cycling? If so, HTFU), so if Cadel and Allan Davis go berserk in the next two weeks, we could see some changes. Bright Eyes Sharp Ties is relying on a juggernaut of Basso, Boonen, Levi and Simoni. This is a team built to win it all, in 2005. Ah well...