One (numbingly) constant theme here at the Cafe is updating our previews during the race. Unlike the big media, we don't just toss out a slew of predictions and go into hiding til September; accountability moments are always just around the corner. And here's one, doubling back to our Tour Teams Preview, where each team was given a "-sauce" name to make it sound like I'm as cool as my wife's twentysomething coworkers. I'm not, but that doesn't stop us from having a look back and a little fun wondering how things went so right... or so wrong. In no particular order:
Happysauce: Five Teams On A Roll
Purported Objectives: "GC placings, young rider comp"
And now? How about the podium? Or the maillot a pois? All they need is a stage win and their cake is thoroughly iced. OK, Roman Kreuziger's breakout ride hasn't happened, but Vincenzo Nibali is one of the real stories of the Tour. Racing for the first time in France without having also ridden the Giro, the Shark of the Straits has ridden incredibly well so far, holding sixth place just 25" adrift of wunderkind Andy Schleck, whom he should beat in the time trial. Tomorrow and Saturday will be massive tests for the young Sicilian, but if he passes, Liquigas have themselves quite a grand tour team. For, like, the next decade. Oh, and Pellizotti's next batch of mountain points should salt away the spotty jersey for good.
Tourbecco's Take: "If only my cousin were alive to see this... Lousy Swedish anti-Giro extremists!"
Purported Objectives: "Stages, and VandeVelde's top five GC aspirations."
And now? That name may have been more prescient than intended, since Bradley Wiggins' weight loss is perhaps THE story of the Tour. Like Nibali, it's two megastages too early to celebrate, but along the same lines we have seen no signs of weakness from the plucky Brit, and that's before we discuss his abilities in the time trial. VandeVelde has taken a back seat to Wiggins now -- happily, in his words -- since Wiggo sits third with a shot at Lance's second as soon as the Texan gets gassed. Oh, and Tyler Farrar has been on the verge of nabbing a stage win. Nobody's spirits have come from so low to so high as Garmin's.
Tourbecco's Take: "Will Wiggo and Cav be on speaking terms in Paris? This is the greatest human drama since the Bachelor dumped his fiance."
Purported Objectives: "Stages; Efimkin's GC placing."
And now? No stage wins. Efimkin home nursing his wounds. Somehow I don't think anyone is complaining: nothing upends your world like having the yellow jersey land on you for eight stages of the Tour. Whatever their plans for the season were, they must surely benefit now from the cohesion and confidence of defending the maillot jaune for so long. Also, you have to like the ride Nicholas Roche is putting in.
Tourbecco's Take: "Brown... the new yellow? Hey, it was fun while it lasted."
4. Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Name: "Secret Sauce"
Purported Objectives: "Stages, Mountains Jersey (Fedrigo), face time."
And now? Pierrick Fedrigo won't catch Pellizotti for the KOM jersey, but along the way he bagged a stage, and ever-popular, blood-and-guts Tommy Voeckler gloriously bagged another. Meanwhile, they are second only to Astana on the teams classification, which is pretty mind-boggling, and were all over the front of the race today. Tons of satisfaction in there for a team of their stature -- which, to be clear, is a pretty decent stature. Not all French teams are as hopeless as Cofidis.
Tourbecco's Take: "As valuable as a KOM jersey may be, Fedrigo could probably make more money hunting for truffles."
Purported Objectives: "Stages"
And now? If some teams are in France just to pay back the sponsor, nobody has done more for less than Skil, thanks to the thoroughly courageous and riveting travails of Lanterne Rouge Kenny Van Hummel. Newcomers to the sport may think we're joking when we talk about the unofficial battle for last place, but there is something much sweeter and closer to the ideals of the sport involved. KVH is a sprinter -- pretty high pedigree one at that. He won five races in May alone and took second in the Dutch Nats as well as the high-profile Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. In the highest mountains of Europe, he's got no chance, popping off the back frightfully early each day, but he's managed to scramble over the line each time to hold his start in the next stage. Today he actually closed the gap to the pack by three minutes on the final descent, showing those northern classics bike-handling skills, and his declaration that he won't quit til he falls off his bike says all you need to know about what makes cycling great. Thanks Kenny, and for god's sake rest up for tomorrow!
Tourbecco's Take: "I'm supposed to come up with a snarky line here? You'd have to be a real jerk to do that."
Purported Objectives: "Jaune!"
And now? In the bag. This one is too boring to elaborate on -- not that Astana's accomplishments aren't interesting, but there isn't much for a commentator to add. Oh, except that Kloden sits fourth and has mad crono skills.
Tourbecco's Take: Alancevi Contastrongheimer is dead! Long live Alanceas Klodistrongador!
Angrysauce: Five Teams Muttering Darkly
Purported Objectives: "Stages, jerseys, GC placings"
And now? No, no and no. Stage 14 was a sort of Waterloo moment for the Everyday boys. First George is denied his moment in the sun. Then Cavendish is relegated for a fairly nebulous infraction -- a devastating blow in an otherwise tight points battle. Within 24 hours Tony Martin's white jersey dreams had come crashing down. Worse, Maxime Monfort, a purported future GC hope, has conceded 27 minutes, raising questions about whether their GC team is really just around the corner. Even Kim Kirchen's late charge up the GC ladder is generating zero interest. And came out of Saturday looking like the race's biggest whiners to boot.
Tourbecco's Take: "I guess they'll have to be content with challenging the record for wins in a season."
Purported Objectives: "Yellow and Green"
And now? At least Columbia gave their fans a little suspense. Rabobank's Tour was blown by the middle of the first week, and only seems to get worse. Menchov's demise is probably just bills coming due after the Giro, but what's Freire's excuse? The reigning green jersey now sits behind JJ Rojas, Tyler Farrar, Gerald Ciolek and Nick Roche on points. WTF?
Tourbecco's Take: "For all their missed opportunities you'd think this was Three Weeks of Amstel Gold."
Name: "White Whine Sauce"
Purported Objectives: "Stages, podium place"
And now? Today was probably their best day in the Tour: Jurgen Van den Broucke was on a rampage in the breakaway group, charging over one St. Bernard after another. The BCS (Belgian climbing sensation) is back! I hope the good folks at Sporza took notice. Everyone else seems to be covering Cadel Evans' endless misery and cryptic blamestorming, for some reason.
Tourbecco's Take: "And this surprises you how?"