I think this is going to be a great year for the Tour de France. I watched quite a bit of the Stage 1 Time Trial in Monaco, and I have to ask, why haven't the Tour organizers given us an opening time trial like this before?
The key to the Stage 1 time trial was the steep climb at the very beginning followed by a fairly technical descent. This forced the potential General Classification candidates to lay their cards on the table from the outset. The potential for gaps between the leaders was great if anyone didn't push themselves to the aerobic limit in the first 7 or 8 kilometers.
What surprised me most was the fact that Alberto Contador was unable to stay closer to Fabian Cancellara, considering that Contador had about an eight second advantage at the top of the Category 4 Côte de Beausoleil. Cancellara is known to be an excellent bike handler, but it takes special skills to be able to gain 26 seconds over one of the better TT riders in the world in only 8 kilometers of riding.
Lance Armstrong did well enough to make some of his detractors take him more seriously. It shocks me when I read and listen to correspondents writing for non-U.S. audiences how little credit they give Armstrong for arriving at the start of the Tour in shape to be in serious contention. Particularly considering how his collarbone injury affected his training.
I thought Stage 1 was an excellent way to start the Tour. Passing through the streets of Monaco gave the race a very picturesque background. The 15.5 kilometer length made the course a better test for the riders than the typical, shorter prologue. And the inclusion of a Category 4 climb right in the middle of the course made the results very interesting. I wish I could have sat in front of my TV for the entire time the live broadcast was on.
I realize that I've been absent from Operation Gadget for quite a while. I'm looking forward to writing more in the near future. I hope to start off by writing a few articles about the more technical aspects of the Tour. I've been sitting on this article for a few days, and I wanted to get it out on the site before the subject matter got completely dated.