If there is one way for the Tour to be in some way redeemed for its sins this year, then racing right to the final line in Paris is it. This is how the story should go:
– The sprinter’s train of Predictor vs the big bad Disco GC train thundering past Chatenay-Malabry to the first intermediate sprint. Wind ’em up, watch ’em go.
– The valedictorians lead the race into Paris. As with Ekimov last year, Boogerd, Merckx and Vasseur (are there any others who have already announced their retirement?) should be allowed to ride at the front across the line for the first pass on the Champs Elysee.
– The racing begins again for the second sprint on the third pass.
– Should needs be then the final sprint should be decisive. Disco, Predictor, Quickstep and allcomers to the line.
Much will be written about this year’s Tour as a definitive moment in the history of cycling. Let us not then forget that, for all the controversy, this has been one of the most exciting races since the glorious 1980s heyday.
So close are the top three that they could probably throw a musette bag over them. A matter of 31 seconds covers them which, if it goes unchanged, will give Contador a victory by 23 seconds, the second smallest margin in the history of the race, bettered only by Lemond/Fignon in 1989.