Unusual Time Trial Shakes Up General Classification

Did anyone expect that Serhiy Honchar would win the Stage 7 Individual Time Trial of the 2006 Tour de France? I certainly didn't.

Honchar has turned in good time trials in the past, mainly in races like the Giro d'Italia which is not on television a lot in the United States. He had never done this well in a time trial in the Tour de France before, but yesterday he was the only rider to exceed 50 km/h.

Floyd Landis was the only American rider who was able to stay close to Honchar. He only lost 1:01, which isn't a huge amount of time to lose to Honchar, since he's unlikely to do well in the mountains. Honchar's teammates Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, and Andreas Kloden are more of a threat to Landis because they all climb fairly well.

The big issue in my mind is whether Team Phonak can protect Landis the way Team Discovery protected Lance Armstrong in the past, or the way Team CSC could have been expected to protect Ivan Basso had he not been withdrawn from the Tour? Of course the team did successfully protect him in Paris-Nice, The Tour de Georgia, and The Tour of California, but none of these races is as long or as difficult as a grand tour.

I think everyone watching the Tour was lured into a false sense of hope for Team Discovery Channel's on the GC. Yes, they had a lot of people in the top 10 during the first week, but they didn't do well in the this time trial. It was interesting to read the comments of Johan Bruyneel before the start of Stage 8. The big statement for me was: "What was the big surprise was the dominance yesterday of T-Mobile and one can fear what would have happened if Ullrich had been here; the Tour would probably be over."

I guess it's safe to conclude that Bruyneel doesn't think that the Tour is over yet, but it won't be easy for his potential GC contenders to make up over two minutes. [ Registration required to read articles on The Paceline ]

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