Former Rider and Current Cycling Commentator Brian Smith Takes a Look at Americans in the Tour
Brian Smith has been involved in cycling at the highest level for more than two decades. He won the 1991 British professional road race championship in his first professional season and was champion again in 1994. In the 1994 season, Brian signed for one of the world’s top teams, Motorola. It was a predominantly American squad with some talented riders: Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten, Canadian classics specialist Steve Bauer, Australian legend Phil Anderson . . . and a young, ambitious American by the name of Lance Armstrong. After he stepped off the bike, Brian found himself a career behind the microphone, enlightening cycling fans worldwide with his expertise.
US Cycling Report is so very pleased to have had Brian's insights during the 2012 Tour de France and want to thank him for his contribution.
Sky Is The LimitTeam Sky has taken a lot of stick in the past and throwing money at the problem has certainly helped. They have now put themselves in the position to win the 2012 Tour de France. Unfortunately for some, they have fallen in the first week and now the second week is starting to show the effects and demands put on teams to keep their leaders in contention. It’s quite unfortunate that cycling still throws up depressing headlines with positive doping charges but I believe that the majority of riders in the Tour are riding clean. This has been very apparent this week as many of the riders are happy to get through this tough second week and start to concentrate in getting over the Pyrenees and hope to finish in Paris. I would not say this has been a spectacular Tour so far but lets hope there is plenty more to come. The US has not had much to shout about and is going through a difficult time. Tejay Van Garderen is showing plenty of promise and I’m sure the future of US Tour contenders is firmly within his grasp.The US has 7 riders left in this year’s Tour de France. I have rated them 1-7 and given my reasons why.
1. Van GarderenAnother week passes and Tejay is still riding well. This is absolutely no surprise to me. If you put the time and effort in, then talent shines through. His main job within the team is to support Evans who seems to be failing in his bid to remain the Tour Champion. You can see the glint in Tejay’s eye that he wants to do his own thing but in this day and age you get paid to do a job. Tejay’s job is to ride for the team. This is sometimes difficult to accept for an up and coming rider and there was a slight error in Tejay’s part when he never gave up his wheel for Evan’s when he punctured. This to me shows determination to succeed as an individual but I suspect he has learned from this small error. Tejay is slowly becoming a leader and is starting to show these qualities, which can no doubt be great for the future of US cycling.
2. Vande Velde
Christian is such a classy bike rider and to see him floundering about in the first week trying to look after Ryder and Tom must have been a nightmare for him. Luckily enough for him he has some great teammates around to help pick up the pieces after a dreadful first week. Dave Z bouncing back by getting in the break and getting caught with 1.3kms to go and David Millar killing everyone to take a stage for the team, Garmin-Sharp. This must of brought high spirits within the team and VDV dually reacted by getting himself into the winning break and a good second place to Fedrigo. Just a pity the finish never suited Christian as you could see the determination to perform well in his eyes. Christian still looks good enough to go for another stage.
3. HornerChris is everyone’s dream teammate. So easy to get along with and always there. He looks to be climbing well with the main favorites and is probably hanging back with Frank to support him. Chris, to me, needs to be given his freedom to perform. We have seen in the past what he is capable of and would love to see him win a stage of the Tour. I doubt we will see him do this as the two main stages in the Pyrenees may be dominated by the GC contenders but you never know. Lets hope we see Chris get his freedom to go 100% for a stage win. This is a tough time for the team but Chris is experienced enough to concentrate on what is now needed.
You can now see it is not easy to ride a Tour and do what George does at his age. Its great to see he has the experience to position the team at crucial stages but time is catching up with the old man. I have the utmost admiration for George and he certainly knows his way around the Tour but you can definitely see that there is little life left in the old dog. He is an essential element of any team with his experience and I would love to see him give it a go on one final stage but George is and always will be the faithful lieutenant. A true professional to the end. No personal glory but all for the team.
Well Dave has disappeared into the Tour peloton. The second week can be a hard week for many after a frantic first week with nerves. Dave managed to get himself into a good breakaway but unfortunately it never succeeded. Dave has now struggled in the last week and lets hope he has managed to duck and dive and save some energy for the final week. There is certainly another stage in him but he tends to blow hot and cold. Let's hope Captain America rises above everyone else and shows us what we know he can do.
6. FarrarI must say for a sprinter not winning he is showing plenty of self-motivation. It’s clear that he has been left alone in the first week sprints. Now into the second week his teammates are going on the attack. He is still in there, which is a credit to him, and anything is possible. He must believe he can still win in Paris but for me this is a make or break year for Tyler. He needs to up his game in this sprinting lark of look at his strengths and weaknesses and decide very quickly where he wants to go in the future. He certainly has talent but needs to take a step back before taking two forward. He just seems to be lost in the Tour bunch sprints.
I have a lot of admiration for Levi but he has just dipped under the radar too much in the second week. It is now not possible for him to finish in the top 20 so he needs to be concentrating on a stage rather than the overall. Levi is 7th of 7 because he has the form and talent but never seems to show that aggression. I want to see my ex-teammate win but for this to happen he needs to motivate himself and get in the race for the stage rather than just follow. We know you can do it Levi….just throw caution to the wind and give it a go!As for the US Teams...
RSNT: As suggested, they would struggle after Cancellara departed and with Schleck’s positive test, it must be devastating for the team. It’s all down to the Pyrenees now and a chance of a stage.
BMC: Still doing a great job for Evans. Have been professional all the way through Tour.
Garmin: Wow….up against it and they pull off a great win with the Scot David Millar. VDV then comes close with a second. Just goes to show the team spirit is still there.
Potential US Success for Last week: Stage win by Van Garderen, VDV and Horner.