Thursday, June 20, 2024

Duelling Trains


Duelling Trains. There’s something about certain sporting moments when two competitors meet each other in their pomp and just go head to head. There’s a minimum of tactics, and a maximum of fireworks, and we, the interested onlookers can only marvel at how good this is, and wonder who will crack first?

Some of my favourite moments include the Daniel Komen-Haile Gebresellasie 5km & 10km track & field battles in the mid-90s; the Australia-Great Britain Teams Pursuit at the World Track Champs last year, and in last year’s Tour, the Schleck-Contador duel on the Tourmalet.

Looking at the lead-out trains for the two big sprinter teams this year, and there is potential for something similar in the coming sprint stages of the Tour. HTC vs Garmin at TdF 2011 could well be one for the ages. Couple the long history of bad-blood between the teams with the out & out horsepower at their collective disposal, and you’re looking at some of the quickest final kilometres ever.

Duelling Trains
Sprint Trains at work. Photo©Cycling Weekly

If you’re talking 4th man to 1st, you’d have Millar vs Martin? Or Millar vs Eisel? Either way, silver vs bronze at last year’s Worlds TT, or silver Worlds TT vs a strongman who would be the designated sprinter in many other teams. Then Dean vs Renshaw? (I’m clearly unsure of HTC’s train order!) If it is Dean vs Renshaw, you’d have to lick your lips!

Last year on stage 11, JD got his nose in front of Renshaw, drifted a bit, and Renshaw started throwing headbutts and then chopping blokes off of their lines, winding up disqualified (and rightfully so I reckon).

Then Hushovd vs Gossy! Interestingly, the JD-Thor combination has a very successful history with Credit Agricole back in the day when Thor was an out-and-out sprinter. Gossy: the young buck who won Plouay last year as a bit of a break out victory, then took Milan San Remo this year to announce that he is a big hitter these days.

Ohh mamma! So you’ve got Millar vs Martin/Eisel, which you’d give a draw if Martin, a win to Millar if Eisel. Then Renshaw vs Dean, which Renshaw has the wood as far as regularly nailing it, although Dean had him last year in their final ride at TdF ’10. Then Hushovd vs Goss, of which Thor must be rated the stronger going into the show down, although there are no guarantees that we will be singing the same song at the end of the Tour.

I’d give the lead-outs to Garmin on points, with the caveat that they may have to burn some bodies earlier defending Thor’s jersey, in which case this all goes out the window.

However, in a Farrar-Cav duel, it’s all Cav. He’s more aero, more aggressive, quicker, and dictates terms to Ty too regularly to not be clearly the better finish man.

The question to be answered now is will the Garmin train, with their tails up after winning yesterday’s stage give our man Ty enough of a lift to get him across the line in front of Cav for the first time at the TdF?

I’m putting it out there and saying yes they will.

Can’t wait to see if I’m right!!