Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the 17th.
Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador (Movistar) spent Monday in quiet reflection after learning that he is professional cycling’s only rider not rumored to be joining BMC Racing in 2012. The American team — already home to an impressive stable of riders (including current podium contender Cadel Evans), has been connected in recent reports to a veritable laundry list of riders — from Tejay Van Garderen (rumored to have secured a three-year deal) to Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.
While the UCI sets August 1 as the opening of cycling’s official transfer window, the Tour’s second rest day is well known as a time for wheeling and dealing.
Monday’s “rider shopping” was punctuated by the arrival of Australia’s Shayne Bannan — whose GreenEDGE Cycling is poised to become Australia’s (second annual) first ProTour squad in 2012. Though the team — underwritten by a 14-year-old boy’s lawn mowing service — has disavowed plans to pursue riders already under contract (ruling out the likes of Evans and Sky’s Michael Rogers), it is believed to be negotiating with free-agents including Aussies Matt Goss and Simon Gerrans.
Tuesday’s Stage 16 saw the surprise re-awakening of Saxo Bank-Sungard’s Alberto Contador. The reigning champion used the occasion of the Col de Manse to attack his unsuspecting GC rivals — leaving Thomas Voeckler and the Schlecks in his wake. The Spaniard’s move was marked, however, by Euskaltel Euskadi’s Sammy Sanchez and BMC’s Cadel Evans — who used the descent to his advantage, finishing 3 seconds ahead of the pair. Evans’ strong showing returned him to second place overall and strengthened his front-runner status.
As for the stage itself, it was win number two for Garmin-Cervelo’s Thor Hushovd, who outpowered his Norwegian countryman Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) in a battle for the line in Gap. The stage win is the fourth of 2011 for Jonathan Vaughters’ Garmin-Cervelo squad and the 10th career stage for the reigning world champion.
Wednesday’s stage 17 begins the Tour’s decisive Alpine stages and includes a rare Italian finish. With time ticking down, look for more attacks from Contador and the GC favorites as they set their sights on Sunday’s podium.
Dan’s pick for stage 17: Unable to keep pace with Contador on the Col de Manse, look for Voeckler to cede his yellow jersey to Evans in