Eye-catching stat from today's time trial: Tony Martin, the Stage 20 winner in a time of 55:33, won on the same course June 8, Stage 3 of the Dauphine Libere, in 55:27. For the civilian cyclist and for anyone who looks at the Tour racers as I do and assumes that the race takes a brutal toll on bodies, endurance, and psyches, it's sort of a starling statistic. The guy dominated then, and he dominated today at the tail end of a race in which he's been driven very hard to help his team's sprinter (HTC Highroad, Mark Cavendish) and has had to go over all the big mountains with the rest of the pack.
I figured there were more interesting comparisons to be made between the Dauphine and Tour performances. Here's another: Cadel Evans, who rode a very strong second today in 55:40, finished seventh on June 8 in 56:47. So there's a guy who's been driving very hard for three weeks--has been on the spot to cover all his rivals' mountain moves and with his team's help (BMC) has reliably kept himself out of trouble near the front of the pack--who made a major improvement in his performance in the space of six weeks. Thomas Voeckler, fresh off several harrowing days defending his overall race lead, improved by almost a minute.
One question it raises--no, not about doping--is what are the factors besides fatigue that might explain such an improvement. I'm not taking that on right now. Instead, here's a side-by-side comparison of some of the other Dauphine/Tour performances on the Grenoble course used in both races (I haven't done them--yet--all because my painstaking one-at-a-time method takes a little too long; I'm about to break out a spreadsheet to do the whole list):
|Racer||Dauphine time||Tour time||Change|
|Juan Antonio Flecha||58:42||59:53||+1:11|
|Edvald Boasson Hagen||56:10||57:43||+1:33|
|Rui Alberto Fario da Costa||57:27||60:02||+2:35|