There are three American teams in the Tour de France this year: BMC, RadioShack-Nissan, and Garmin-Sharp. This is one less than last year; like last year, one team is contesting the podium, one is performing well and likely to take the team classification, and one has been decimated by crashes.
BMC, the team of 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans, is riding about as well as it did in 2011. The difference is that in 2012 Bradley Wiggins and half of RadioShack hasn’t crashed out, and a lot of the talent which was scattered throughout the peloton last year is concentrated at Sky this year.
Cadel Evans won the Tour through sheer determination in 2011. His team helped, but he did most of the work himself. This year, the competition is too good. An individual effort won’t get him back to the top step of the podium. Still BMC is acquitting itself admirably. Second or third in the Tour de France is a monumental achievement for any cycling team.
In 2011 Radio Shack was shattered by a series of terrible accidents which left every possible General Classification contender in bandages or in the hospital. This year the team is doing much better, with Fabian Cancellara leading the race for the first seven stages and the team leading the team classification after the first nine stages.
Sadly, team classification is the best RadioShack can hope for. It’s top GC threat, Andy Schleck, broke his pelvis in the Critérium du Dauphiné and had to skip the Tour. His brother Frank is in great form, but he got caught in a pileup in Stage Six and lost two minutes. He wasn’t injured, but by the time his team car could pick through the wreckage to get him a new bike, his podium hopes were over.
On the first real climbing stage the team’s remaining possible GC contenders, Chris Horner and Andreas Klöden, both lost too much time to be considered GC threats.
The team is still there, and still strong. A couple bad breaks have spoiled its hopes for a podium, but the team can still show what it’s made of. Haimar Zubeldia sits sixth, 3:19 seconds behind Bradley Wiggins but still in the top ten. Maxime Monfort is right behind him in seventh, 4:23 down—to far to make up, but again, top ten at the Tour.
Tony Gallopin is 13th, Andreas Klöden 15th, and Frank Schleck 17th. Chris Horner lies 23rd, and Fabian Cancellara 32nd, after wearing yellow for the first seven stages. RadioShack might not be winning any stages, but they can still ride with pride, as they did in Stage Eight, finishing with three riders in the top ten.
Garmin-Sharp is the RadioShack of the 2012 Tour—a team wiped out by repeated crashes, its hopes dashed through no fault of its own.
GC contender Ryder Hesjedal, back-up GC hopeful Tom Danielson, climber Johan van Summeren, and sprinters Tyler Farrar and Robbie Hunter were beat up and broken in repeated wrecks. Of the four, only van Summeren and Farrar are still in the race, but Farrar is likely going to retire after the rest day to focus on recuperating for the Olympics.
The team still has spirit. Dave Zabriskie led from the start until the two-and-a-half kilometers of Stage Six just to show that the team was still alive despite its injuries.