An absolutely crazy few weeks at work saw the company that I work for bought by a private equity firm and, since I manage communications, me flat out working on the deal. We had to cancel our vacation to Italy and are now planning on going there in October while we're in Europe (already going to Dublin). I've not had much time to do anything other than work but I have caught as many stages as I could late at night (if you don't have a DVR, get one!) and my impressions of week 2 TdF 2005 include...
Hincapie: what a humble but unbelievable guy. He won the Queen's stage and was back the next day of riding (split by the rest day) as the last Discovery rider alongside Lance. Getting a bit of flack from the Phonak boys for failing to work during his winning stage, but it's the first past the line that folks remember...
Vinokourov: doing his best to make this year's TdF as exciting as this year's Giro. While he went backwards on a couple of stages, he was very very exciting going forwards.
Fast Freddy: not only a great lead out but managed to take third on one stage to steal points for O'Grady off Hushovd - amazingly intelligent riding at 50+ miles an hour.
The other Americans: 3 Americans in the top 7. 5 Americans in the top 20. Chris Horner having an absolutely amazing first Tour - pretty good rookie, I'd say.
Cadel Evans: I thought I was pushing my luck including him in my top 5, but the seven-time-collar-bone-breaker (according to Paul Sherwen) on Stage 16 showed amazing potential for a Tour rookie - I'll include him again next year...
Eddie Mazzolini: who needs the other pair ;-)
Kloden: kept Ullrich in the running for as long as he could (even if that involved chasing down Vino)
Rasmussen: no idea where he came from, but he has done an amazing job hanging in there. It'll be very interesting to see how he does in the TT. His goal was the spotty jersey and it looks like he's done the job there, but I'd love to see him hang on for a podium place.
Basso: once again, the only man to hang with Lance in the high mountains. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't lose him.
T Mobile and Jan: Finally they realized that if they want to win, they have to attack. They have thrown everything at Armstrong and for the first time that I remember they isolated Lance on several occasions. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to capitalize on it and usually ended up actually losing time.
Leipheimer and Landis: usually hanging on in 4th, 5th or 6th wheel in the high mountains - bodes well for the post-Lance era.
Lance Armstong: nuff said
There were only three riders to wear the yellow jersey this year. Two were American. Two dropped out.
Armstrong has never been so isolated as this year, and he's never looked as strong in my mind.
Discovery are looking good for a run at the 'triple crown' of Giro, Tour and Vuelta - if anyone has any gas left in the tank...
A phenomenal Tour for Discovery - the Yellow Jersey for the majority of the race; the TTT; a stage win for Hincapie. All that's missing is the 9th man (very hard luck) and a stage win for Armstrong (final TT maybe?).