It's a dream start for Evans and to have such a lead on Contador. Much better than than being on the same time obviously. Even though there are plenty of great riders near Evans on GC, he would have to be more than happy to be in the his current position. The first week of the TDF this year is not as flat and I think some people have underestimated how hard the course is. The third week is very hard but I think the second week will also weed out some of the contenders. Evans looks less stressed than usual and has won one stage and the team has performed excellently. But as you said, the third week will show who has peaked too early and who is the strongest. Even if Contador is tired from the Giro I expect his mental toughness to still put him near the front in the third week. I could be wrong but it is Andy Schleck I have some doubts about this year. Whether he will be able to reproduce the climbing form he had in last year's TDF and limit his losses in the TT. Too early to tell yet and it's shaping up as a great race with Contador having to attack and make good time gains on his rivals.Libertine Seguros said:The other problem is that this parcours is hugely backloaded. You can gain a minute or two in the first half, but lose an hour or two in the second.
Cadel looks to be in absolutely great shape - but can he hold that form for 3 weeks? Are others just looking to limit their losses for the first two in order to raise hell in the 3rd?
We simply do not know. It is premature to say that Evans is the man to beat because he's so far only shown that he's:
1) the best of those GC contenders that didn't crash on stage 1
2) the best of the GC contenders by the width of a front tyre on a climb that wasn't selective enough for Thor Hushovd or JJ Rojas to be dropped properly.
These 2 finishes have been absolutely Cadel Evans territory - the kind of thing he's always excelled at. Sometimes in the past his timing has been off (see Flèche Wallonne 2008) but he's always been one of the strongest in these races. Since the move to BMC I've really had to wonder why he kept doing Paris-Nice, since he's been 3rd and 1st in his 2 attempts at Tirreno-Adriatico, a race that absolutely to the core suits his style. I'm not ready to anoint him the favourite until he shows the same kind of form on something that really isn't Cadel Evans territory.