Another amazing week at the Tour de France, as the week one crash carnage gave way to dramatic racing as the Tour hit the first huge mountain stages in the Pyrenees. In the end, it was the Frenchman Thomas Voeckler who made out the best, as he emerged as the overall leader of the race by 1:49 over his closest rival Frank Schleck. Even Voeckler himself thought that he would lose the leader's jersey in the Pyrenees, but he climbed amazingly well and distinguished himself as a long shot to win the race overall.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
It was one hell of a first week at the Tour de France. Thoughts from week one of three . . .
Thor Hushovd showed his class with a gritty defense of the yellow jersey right up until the day before the first rest day. It's a bit of a pity he wasn't able to carry the jersey into the second week, but it couldn't have transferred to a more deserving guy than Tommy Voeckler.
There were a ton of crashes in the first week, and it is a shame to see a host of GC contenders out of the race. Some in the press are calling for reduced field size and others for wider roads, but one thing is for sure: There will ALWAYS be crashes in the first week of the Tour, no matter if there are 80 or 180 riders entered. The first 15 spots are what is coveted, so crash-marred stages should be expected. No way to fix it.
Mark Cavendish ends up the man with the most stage wins after week one. Didn't see that coming . . .
What happened to Andre Greipel? The German left HTC for a chance to contend in big time races in 2011. Thus far, he has fallen flat. Greipel has been overshadowed by other sprinters and his own teammate, as Philippe Gilbert looks in position to contend for the sprinter's jersey at the Tour. The Gorilla looks more and more like a chimp every day.
If you had told me that Tom Danielson would be the highest placed Garmin rider for the GC heading into week two of the Tour, I would have told you that you were stone crazy. Yet he sits in 17th place overall. Wow.
The last time Ivan Basso rode the Tour de France he finished on the podium. He currently sits in 11th place, about a minute behind Cadel Evans. To say the least, he's in with a chance.
If team owner Bob Stapleton can manage to find a new sponsor and hence keep them together, the three-headed HTC beast of Martin, Van Garderen and Velits could wreak stage race havoc on pro cycling for the next 10 years.
Damiano Cunego is in 12th place on the GC. Wait, what!???!!?!?!?
If Alberto Contador manages to win this year's Tour, he will have done so truly against all odds. His mental fortitude is astounding.
Who's on better form, Frank or Andy Schleck? Looks a coin toss thus far.
Sammy Sanchez targeted a podium place for this year' Tour, yet he is already two and a half minutes behind Cadel Evans after one week of racing. Already a podium place looks unattainable for a rider who has always been long on potential and short on results.
Sylvain Chavanel has worn his heart on his sleeve after a tortuous week of dealing with the after effects of a hard crash. Chavanel has willed himself along and done the French colors proud. With a rest day ahead of him, he'll hopefully be able to recharge for a run at the Champs. Should he finish the Tour it would be a testament to his mind more than his body.
With Gesink looking weak thus far for Rabobank, I wonder if riders like Boom, Tjallignii or Barredo will emerge as protagonists in breakaways over the next few stages like their teammate Sanchez did today?
Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha should sue the Tour de France, French TV and anyone else involved in the crash in today's stage. Unbelievable that Hoogerland held on to earn polka dots on the day. He's lucky to be alive, as is Flecha.
26 year old Vincent Jerome is in last place on the GC with a strong 7+ minute lead. Let's see if he improves his position over the coming stages.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
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?