To what extent did the guys predicted to finish after Ullrich, Baso, Mancebo, Valverde, et cetera...develop a sense of complacency? It seemed on the ITT that Landis, Kloeden, and to some degree Savoldelli were the only GC contenders off the top of my head who did not suffer from unexpected disapointments. When Mayo got dropped I was in shock. Has the huge pre-race boost to morale been shattered after an embarrassing ITT performance? Did hincapie go into the ITT thinking he had a top 5 place locked up without excessive suffering? Leipheimer admitted to not having trained after the dauphne--the sprinters are looking in better form than he is. Has the Puerto case led to a cutting-back on doping during the tour?
Pre-race, the U.S. was in unbelievable position--Jullich's crash and Levi's mystery ailment have been big blows. I think Hincapie's early success got everyone overly exited about another US tour winner.
I think discovery dropped Chechu intentionally to save him for an attack lead-out tomorrow along with Eki and Padrnos. T-mobile will be reeling from a fantastic ITT showing and a day breaking wind for the peloton, Phonak will have to be alert and ready to attack themselves. I am afraid though that this year will come down to the last ITT, as gaps on climbs will disipate in the flats that lead up to the finish.