Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour de France isn’t the same for Sweden without "Gotland"

Nine stages into the Tour de France, it’s fairly easy to say 2009 will not be the year for a Swede to win the yellow jersey. A Swede won the pink jersey as the overall leader at the Giro d’ Italia in May. Briefly. Thomas Lövkvist wore the "maglia rosa" for one stage, after becoming the overall leader of the Giro following Stage 4.

But Lövkvist, affectionately called Gotland by friends and family, is not competing in the 2009 Tour de France. His team, Columbia-HTC, left him off their crowded TdF roster. Critics say Lövkvist faded fast after an impressive start to the 2009 Giro. But he did finish in the Top 25. He claimed a Top 50 finish (41st place) at the 2008 TdF and also wore the best young rider jersey for five stages last year.

At the 2009 Tour de France, the Swede to watch (in fact, the only Swede competing at this year’s Tour) is Gustav Larsson. Even though he brought home the silver medal in the men's time trial at the 2008 Olympics, Larsson has so much ground to make up 9 stages in to be considered a contender at "The Tour." He’s nearly 7 minutes off the pace in 33rd place in the overall standings.

When Le Tour gets back underway tomorrow after a rest day, Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini will begin the 194.5k Stage 10 from Limoges to Issoudun as the overall leader, 6 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador, 8 seconds ahead of 7-time TdF champion Lance Armstrong.

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