Friday Group Ride #29

Christmas Eve and all through Rotterdam, most creature are stirring, riders, sporting directors, mechanics, soigneurs, journalists and fans. And old Chris Prudhomme, with his staff in the thousands, is just settling in for three weeks of chaos. The cobbles are dusty, and the Alps, they are high, the Pyrenees waiting to make riders cry. And all over the planet, folks like you and me, are drooling in wonder at the spectacle to be.

Yeah. Sorry about that. How else to quantify the anticipation and expectation we feel on this last day before the Grand Depart? This race we’ve talked about nearly every day since the last version ended is finally upon us again.

The story lines are legion already. Lance v. Alberto, whether you believe there’s even a contest there, no one will stop talking about it, especially on American television. The Schlecks and Saxo Bank seem to be breaking up, but in the meantime, they may have the strongest team with which to attack the general classification. Mark Cavendish v Thor Hushovd is on again, but we have to wonder if Tyler Farrar will crash their little party. And what of the Italians? BMC and Cadel Evans? Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky?

Do I dare even mention the white elephant in the room, Floyd Landis?

We have argued here, in the past, that the Tour de France is the biggest bike race in the world, arguably the biggest sporting event, because it tells the best stories. No other event cultivates and propagates its history so effectively, and so no other race captures our attention so completely.

Just in enumerating the stories already simmering in advance of the Prologue, we can see some of what the 2010 Tour de France will be. But, with history as our guide, we also know that it will be all of that and more.

This week’s Group Ride is about stories. What do you think the most compelling plot line of the 2010 Grand Boucle will be? Is it something already on our minds, or is it a thing that will come to light as the race goes on? Will it be the end of a veteran, or the emergence of a new star? Will it be the racing, or the personal squabbles that invariably go along with it.

Think of this as our prologue. Three weeks to go.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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14 comments

  1. michael

    I’d like to see the grand old man of the baroudeur’s Jens get a golden handshake in what is most likely his final TdF with a classic breakaway “no one else in the photo” win.

    I’d like to see Hushovd put all his eggs in the cobbled basket and take home a breakaway stage win over Cancellara.

    I’d like to see Michael Barry tear the roads of France a new one as the grand doyen des domestiques (and you know he will)

    I’d like to see a climber head out on a kamikaze breakaway in the Pyrennees on the first col, old school style. and win.

    I’d like to see Cav get shut out and shut down.

    I’d like to see Lance realise his own mortality as a professional athlete by cracking in an epic fashion, and seeing if he has the stones to honor the tour by finishing anyways.

    I’d like to see a cross-wind battle royale between Cervelo and Saxo on the roads to the cobbles.

    I’d like to see Contador get schooled on a climb by an up and comer who shuffles the contender deck even more.

    I’d like to see Frank man-up and ascert himself instead of deferring to little-brother all the time.

    I’d like to see a Basque rider win on the Tourmalet.

    If this year’s tour can muster even 25% of what this year’s giro had to offer it will make for phenomenal watching.

    Vive le mois glorieux de Juillet, Vive le velo, Vive le Tour.

  2. michael

    just finished reading the WSJ piece on more Landis alegations, and would just like to add –

    I wish that the WSJ would choose some better editorial timing than the day before the Tour to publish this. Not that it does not need to be delved into, but taking away from the sport itself is not the way forward.

    Lastly, if the allegation of selling bikes to fund drug purchases turns out to be true that would take the term service course to a whole new level LOL.

  3. cthulhu

    I’d like to see van Gerwen announce a new head sponsor for the next three years because if that team shuts down it would be pretty much lights out for professional cycling in Germany for the next few years. That would be also pretty bad for the amateur scene and face it, pretty disappointing for the country with the most inhabitants in Western Europe, which cycling union has the most members after the football union.

    I’d like to see Ciolek finally break through and win two or three stages. That would certainly help for my other wish and he is really a nice and talented guy.

    I’d like to see a Footon-Servetto rider win a stage. Just because I know how much you hate their kits :P And because they are sending this youth experiment of a team to the tour.

    I’d like to see Chavanel(does anyone still remember him?) taking the stage to Arenberg, spoiling Cancellara and Hushovds’ show.

    And I’d really like to see some serious actions against doping. But i ear that is the most unrealistic wish.

  4. randomactsofcycling

    I think a great story would be an unpredictable Tour, that goes down to the wire.

    I want a return of genuine Glory to the Tour, for the Maillot Jaune to once again rival the Rainbow Stripes in prestige and to once again think of each and every finisher as a hero that has battled the elements and his own physical limits to reach the Champs Elysee.

  5. James

    Unfortunately I think the biggest story of this years Tour will be another year of defensive riding by the GC guys. Cycling needs another Eddy Merckx! Someone who rides with guts and isn’t afraid to attack!

  6. dacrizzow

    i’d like to see a major break away like the giro had to actually wake up the top five. could care less about the top 5-6. that group (whoever it may be) seems to be happy in the top 10. like to see astana show up as a team just to prove you don’t need lance or johann to qualify as a team. like to see any ride that inspires me to go out and ride like i never have before.like to se lance get on with his life and realize four years off (not age) cost him at least one more tour victory. like to see kloden get something out of sacrificing the rest of his career for the radio shack masters wheelmen club. like to NOT see levi bore me for one more tour. would love to see vino put his amazing kamikazi like efforts into being a super domestique and possibly a stage win.

  7. Souleur

    This year the TdF will give us a look into the next era and next generation of GCr’s.

    Hope for another savior to cycling
    The next Ambassador

    will we like him?
    will we accept him?
    what water will he carry?
    will he be American? or a Brit? or Italian? or from Lux?
    what will the next youngsters bring?

  8. cthulhu

    Though I can understand their anger. Ever climbed the Stockeu? It was already pretty crazy of the organization to let them descend there. They would have crashed en masse on a dry road and today it was wet and all the scribblings on the road for LBL didn’t help much either. Also, a few sprinters weren’t even in the group, Petacchi for instance so far back at the Rosier, I doubt he made it into the field again besides them rolling out towards the finish line. And I saw Farrer and Freire pretty far back, too.

    But yeah, the favourites were all back at the climb to the Rosier, they could have went on and continue racing there. Would have been bad luck for Petacchi and Freire but that’s racing, isn’t it?

  9. Alex Torres

    Robot: no way! But then I don´t imagine the sprinters ever reaching the summit in a way to put the GCs on that position! The power balance dictates these relationships between GCs and the peloton in any GT: those who can, command; those who are smart, obey (lol). I guess the sprinters sat up and conformed ´cos they knew there were more than just points at stake today…

  10. Jon

    Today’s stage delivered the best a GC has to offer- the unexpected. Don’t get me wrong the crashes of most all of the GC and jersey contenders were unwished for and horrible. The non sprint at the end was well… odd. Still the random unexpected outcome is what makes GCs worth watching. Not carnage per se but when a break succeeds or some unknown holds on to the yellow jersey for many days longer than expected. Apropos that… expect Sylvain Chavanel to hold on to the jersey for a good long while.

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