Try though I might, I can't seem to pull myself away from the sport of pro cycling. The continued scandals boil my blood, but the pure, raw beauty of the sport continues to compel me. There are still good stories in the sport of cycling, and for that I continue to watch. What else can I do?
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Tyler Farrar took his first stage win this past week, dedicating the victory to his fallen friend Wouter Weylandt. To watch the American win was an amazing feat to behold. He and his Garmin team have kept the momentum going through the first week, as they also managed to win the team time trial in an impressive technical display of execution.
World Champion Thor Hushovd assumed the yellow jersey as a result of the TTT win, and the affable Norwegian has managed to hold the jersey into the first rest day.n a Tour full of dramatic subplots, none have been more compelling than watching Hushovd scrap and scrape to stay in contact with the climbing specialists over the past few days has been nothing short of astounding. Add to that the dedication of the rest of the Garmin team in controlling the first week's racing action, and the story becomes the most compelling of the 2011 Tour thus far.
Close behind the Garmin story is the yearly crash lottery. This year GC threats Janiz Brajkovic and Chris Horner of the Radioshack team and Brad Wiggins of Sky are the hard luck losers, with all three having had to abandon the race due to injuries sustained in crashes. Levi Leipheimer also has been struck down by bad luck, and is minutes off the pace.
A couple of comments on Chris Horner's situation. After crashing Horner lay unconscious in a ditch. According to team director Johan Bruyneel, when questioned by the doctor on site, Horner had no memory of the crash and was clearly disoriented. That he was allowed to continue in the race was criminal. The doctor that put him back on the bike should be disbarred and fined, as well as sued by Horner himself. Thankfully Horner made it through the stage and as of today remains in stable condition despite a concussion and broken nose.
Among all the first week drama, Alberto Contador too has been affected. He has hit the pavement as well in the first week, and in today's stage 8, the first true mountain stage, Contador looked average at best. He tried unsuccessfully to create a gap in the final few kilometers of the stage, as Cadel Evans, the Schleck brothers and all of the rest of the GC contenders had little difficulty holding his wheel. Heading into the second week, Contador's defense of his 201o Tour title is off to a tenuous start.
Last but not least, a tip of the hat to Tom Boonen, as the Belgian once again suffers a tough crash and sees his hopes in yet another race go up in smoke. 2011 has been a tough year for Boonen, yet even despite his poor luck he has managed to win a big classic at Ghent-Wevelgem. He'll be back for the final few months of the season, where he'll look to win his second world championship this fall.
The Tour rolls into the second week wide open with a host of contenders still very much in the hunt for the overall title. Currently, it looks like Cadel Evans is in a great position to go for the win. The Aussie has been uncharacteristically lucky thus far, and if his luck holds he will be very hard to beat, as his form is clearly cracking, The Schlecks both look strong as they do every July, and they'll be ready once the big mountains call. Meanwhile, Ivan Basso, Peter Velits, Robert Gesink and Alexander Vinokourov all are chugging along nicely, well within striking distance for yellow. At this point in the Tour, it is anyone's game.