Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, a Spanish 5 stage early season race was this past week. It proved most remarkable for being the race that took Lance Armstrong down with an injury, a temporary setback in his quest to return to the top of professional racing. Without Lance, the Astana boys still proved to be strong. My pick to win the Tour de France, Alberto Contador, placed a nice second behind Levi Leipheimer. Levi is a strong rider, but I fear a little long in the tooth to win the Tour. We shall see.
This season could be an interesting one for Astana. Levi is in good form, I believe Contador is the best of the lot, and of course there is always the looming specter of Mr. Armstrong. Keep in mind, Lance is a close friend of team manager, Johan Bruyneel, as well as a part owner of the team. Who will the team support, the big name, or the best rider? Maybe it will prove to be one and the same...but not likely.
1. Levi Leipheimer (Astana) 15hr 33min 26sec. 659.3 km raced at an average speed of 42.38 km/hr
2. Alberto Contador (Astana) @ 16sec
3. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) @ 22sec
4. Stef Clement (Rabobank) @ 49sec
5. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 1min 7sec