After stage 16 this tour has finally gotten a couple of exciting days in and we have a real good idea of who is looking good and who is not.
Who's looking strong:
Alberto Contador: his attack on stage 14 was breath taking. He has been protected by at least 2 teammates the entire time and has managed to mark every other attack from the challengers.
Andreas Kloden: Watch for him to podium again this year with a good time trial effort. He has had to do the least amount of work of any of the top ten riders and still looks strong. I'd argue he's the second strongest person in the tour this year, but we can't prove that because he's never had to attack.
Lance Armstrong: as much as it pains me, I have to admit his reeling in of the yellow jersey group today was classic Lance. He doesn't look strong enough to match the Schlecks or Contador when they attack, but he looks a lot like Sastre when he slowly pulls in the leaders. He also blew right by Frank, which is no easy task. He won't win, because even if all bets are off he can't climb better than AC and AC is just as strong in the time trial, but he's a lock for the podium.
Bradley Wiggins: everyday he makes me proud to be a trackie. I would love for him to win this whole thing and Cav to miss out on the green jersey after Cavendish bashed Wiggo when they missed out on a medal at the Olympics. Wiggens won't win, but he was there all day with AC and a podium is looking pretty attainable.
Who's looking flat:
Andy Schleck: his attacks lack the punch of AC and he looks like the week in the flats really messed with his climbing rhythm. He can't time trial at all, so if he can't put any time into the top 5 guys then he will miss the podium. He is still a great climber and can sneak into the third spot, but Iam not sold yet. He is a lock for the white jersey, because Nibali is not going to gain much time on him. Too bad, I like Nibali.
Carlos Satre: my pick to win overall is suffering from the Astana bludgeoning. Its starting to look like you need a solid two headed GC team to be strong enough to win the tour. Astana, Garmin, and Saxo all have 2 guys who can compete for GC and so they can attack to weaken the field, while Sastre has to wait for the field to sleep on him. He hasn't shown an ability to attack yet, but I think he's saving that for a stage win to come.
Christian Vandevelde: for what he's been through this year, he can be proud of his tour, a top ten would be an excellent result. He was able to get back in with the leaders today, but that was after the yellow jersey group slowed down. I worry that Wiggo's success will hurt VDV emotionally, he seems to lack confidence when he shouldn't.
Who's falling back:
Cadel Evans: can't wait to see his youtube videos this year.
Frank Schleck: he is riding (reluctantly?) for his brother. He only has one attack in him each day it seems, or one big effort. We won't know how strong he could have been because he has been supporting Andy, but he won't have a top ten this year.
Sad to see Jens Voight crash like he did. It looked extremely painful and he is one of my favorite riders. The tour will not be as exciting without him that's for sure.
Favorite rides from the tour so far:
Brice Feillu - Maybe France has a future after all? I would be excited for this kid to move up in the GC, but his weak team and lack of experience have left him out of many of the important selections.
Heinrich Haussler - If anyone deserves to win a stage, its HH. Look at all of the emotion.
Franco Pellizotti: glad to see an Italian working his way into the polka dot jersey, there is such a big lead now, but I don't think he will stop earning points.
This will be a great off season, by the way.