Un-be-lievable. Did you watch today's TTT? Astana steamrolled the field, winning by 18s over Garmin, and putting 40s into Saxobank. For those of you keeping score at home, 40s was the exact margin that Fabian Cancellara had on GC over Lance Armstrong, which means they are now tied, and tie goes to the incumbent. So Cancellara keeps his yellow jersey, and Lance is in second, 0:00 behind. The Astana victory means the rest of the top five are all Astana too, with Alberto Contador in third, 0:19 back, followed by Andreas Kloden at 0:23 and Levi Leipheimer at 0:31. Talk about total domination.
It was quite a technical course, and the day was marked by a number of crashes; at one point the entire Bbox team overcooked a corner and flew off the course. Garmin had an interesting strategy; they shed four riders over the early part of the course, finishing with the minimum of five (their best TT men). It obviously worked out as they finished a strong second and picked up time for their GC men Christian Vande Velde and David Millar. Columbia looked a bit tired and finished a disappointing fifth, reversing the gains Kim Kirchen and Mick Rogers made in yesterday's amazing "echelon" finish and pushing Tony Martin down out of the top five. Others who lost time included Cadel Evans, who's Silence-Lotto team finished 2:35 back, Denis Menchov, with Rabobank finishing 2:20 behind, and Carlos Sastre, as Cervelo dropped 1:37. Those three are basically out of it now.
The next couple of days are relatively flat and likely to end in bunch sprints, which means Cancellara is likely to keep his yellow until Friday (barring some time bonuses at sprint points or something like that). Friday's stage is a killer with a mountaintop finish on the HC Arcalis; that will be the end of Cancellara's run and it will be quite interesting, perhaps Contador will attack at the end to try to take yellow away from Lance... Really when you look at GC, you have to say one of the Astanas are going to win. The question is which one?
What a tour, and this is only the first week!