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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Midway analysis of the Tour Continued - Vinokourov's chances

We did a post on the science analysis of the Tour so far, but steered clear of analysing the fate of the pre-race favourite, Vinokourov. But, what do we make of Vinokourov, and his team-mate Kloden? On Saturday, we did a post that predicted that they would have to hang on in the Alps, limit their losses. This was mainly because of the systemic, 'whole body' response to their accidents, that would leave them feeling weak. Kloden managed, apart from team orders which forced him to wait on the climb up to Tignes (how vital might that minute be in the end?) Vino was not so lucky - he has lost minutes and with it, likely the Tour (I would say he's lost the Tour, but we all remember Landis last year, right?).

I was interested to hear that Vino was sick yesterday. In our post on Saturday, we actually said that flu-like symptoms could develop after a crash. Not that we're claiming that this was to blame (or that we're clairvoyant!) but I do suspect that the demand on his body to:

a) Heal the wounds and prevent infection, plus
b) Ride the Tour in tough days on Saturday and Sunday

left him unable to fight off an "opportunistic infection", which all the cyclists are susceptible to. The demands on 5 hours of racing a day leave the immune system in a very compromised position, particularly if the energy intake (diet) is not optimal. So it's all related in the end, and bad luck for the Kazhak rider.

I'd still pick Vino for a stage win, like he claimed in 2005 after his overall chances had been accounted for. But perhaps next year the unlucky rider will be back for the GC. But then again, there's always memories of last year...!

Enjoy the cycling!

R & J