The annual soap opera "As the Tour Turns" hadn't even finished its final circuit of the Champs, Cav was in fact still alseep behind Renshaw and Hincapie, when Bob Roll uttered, "I can't wait for 2010". And based on the diarrhea of speculation pouring out of the cyclomedia, so it appears neither can the majority of us. First, there are a few formalities that need to be delivered - a half dozen GP races and the like around Europe, reborn Tour of Soggy-clover (alias Ireland - thank god for the neutral beer zones!), stateside Tour of Mizzou, finally real racing at the Worlds in Mendrisio (cracker of a course) and my favorite Giro di Lombardia, the race of the falling leaves. But for anyone who is paying attention, the Tour's 2010 Prologue really starts next weekend with the Leadville 100 in Colorado not next July in Rotterdam.
If you haven't been watching this soap opera long you need to know that Leadville is not the archetype prologue for the Grand Boucle. Yes, since 1903 the Tour has gifted its opener to other nations nearly 20 times in all, most recently the Grand Depart 2009 was stunningly beautiful along the streets and cliffs of Monaco. So let's get back to Leadville, umm? Colorado? Isn't this August?
Cast your mind back one year, and where was Lance Armstrong? We're talk'n the old LA, before he was Twittering his every other thought. Yip, Leadville. He was there to ride the dusty Leadville 100 (as in miles) and see if he couldn't scare reigning five time champ Dave Wiens into submission. As VeloNews reported it he wasn't out to just make a showing:
"Armstrong accelerated on the Columbine climb — which tops out at over 12,000 feet elevation at the halfway point of the out-and-back race — and broke up a group of ten that had formed in the first half of the race. Wiens matched Armstrong's pace and in a few short miles the two had a five-minute gap over third place, which grew to more than 20 minutes at the 80-mile mark and more than a half hour at the finish."
It wasn't until the final 10 miles Wiens pulled away from Armstrong winning the race for the sixth time, in record time. Going into to this dirty little century LA is reportedly back to win, and destroy the 6 hour barrier.
So, Contador, Schlecks, Wiggins, and the rest, be watching. Watch very carefully. Don't look for advice from Cancellara, he won't be there, this isn't your typical Prologue, there will be only one TdF rider there, and he isn't your typical former Tour winner. Leadville isn't Rotterdam I agree, but in the thin air of Colorado this weekend an old guy is coming back to make a statement: I don't lose a race one year and forget about it the next. My guess is LA was thinking about tomorrow the last ten miles of last year's race. Just like he started thinking about TdF2010 in the last couple miles up Andorre Arcalis.
I find it hard to imagine he will crack the 6 hour barrier, but Lance has stunned us in Prologues before, and the message starting in 1999 - beware what the Prologue portends. But no one should be surprised to see him win in Leadville. Last year a victorious Wiens said, "The guy that I raced today was not the guy who won the Tours," August 15th the guy who races Tours is back, and he's looking to start the 2010 stage wins in Leadville.