Friday Group Ride #32

It’s early yet. There is still plenty of time in Grande Boucle 2010 for a violent plot twist and/or turn. Tours de France (see how easy it is to pluralize that?) are pretty much plot twist machines. You just start one up and out come the thrills.

And so, even though it’s early, this week’s Ride is about the Tour that was. This Ride has got to last us all through the weekend and into next week, by which time we’ll have the benefit of about ten minutes of hind sight.

Clearly, this race will be remembered as the one where Lance Armstrong went out with a whimper, rather than a bang, the one where Andy Scheck tried hard, but couldn’t quite ride Alberto Contador off his wheel. We’ll remember Fränk Schleck down on the pavé. We’ll remember everybody and their brother down on the Stockeu. We’ll remember the World Champ riding into Paris with a broken elbow and scores of riders (ok, a few) going home with broken wrists. Mark Cavendish? Poor form, his lead, lead out man expelled, and he still took four stages. Old man Petacchi in green. Chaingate. So many stories here.

Will this be the year that Tour organizers realized their route was causing just that little bit too much pain and suffering? Or is 2010 the year that heralds the return to grand tour as survival race, the way Henri Desgranges envisioned it? Will this be Jens Voigt’s last Tour de France? Egads!

Wrap it up for us, people. Who was the biggest surprise? Who was the biggest loser? What was the best story? What will you remember?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Champs

    Individual Awards
    Surprising: Menchov, for living up to expectations and not collapsing for a change (yet).
    Loser: Sastre, he doesn’t care how he does, nor does anyone else. He’s been checked out for two years.
    Story: Evans, for toughing it out. Hesjedal gets an honorable mention.

    Group Awards
    Surprising: French riders, for winning at the same pace as Manx riders.
    Losers: RadioShack, we knew Armstrong was weak, but all of them? Team classification means nothing.
    Story: Garmin/HTC (tie), not in the best way, for opening a new chapter in the story of their petty “non-rivalry.”

  2. Anthony

    Biggest, most awesome surprise is Ryder Hesjedal in the top 10. It’s made watching this tour much more exciting for me, and probably a lot of other Canadians. Without doubt this year’s biggest story for me, particularly his two brilliant rides on the cobbles and the Tourmalet.

    Not everyone can be Top-10 in the tour, but the list of losers could include a lot of names like Armstrong, Basso, Leipheimer, Sastre, Evans, Wiggins… If I had to pick one, it would be Wiggins. He just doesn’t seem to care at all. The name that doesn’t belong here is Evans, who has ridden with courage and emotion.

    Probably the least exciting thing has been the Shleck vs. Contador, tete-a-tete, oh look, Andy tried but Contador is unbeatable. I could have written that storyline before the prologue. Somehow I doubt if Schleck’s chain had stayed on things would be any different right now.

  3. randomactsofcycling

    The biggest surprise for me has been Petacchi. Who’d have thought an old guy still had so much speed. I’ll also put him up there because he’s actually finishing the race. Perhaps with age comes some respect? I guess as an old man he will be proud to say he won the Green.
    The biggest loser coming out of the Tour will be Bjarne Riis. If not losing his entire team then it seems at least the Schlecks.
    The best story has got to be the emergence of some balls in the French camp.
    I’ll certainly remember this Tour as one that has been a test of endurance and guts, not to mention a test of some of the unwritten rules of etiquette. Bravo to the Giro and Vuelta for showing the Tour what is has been missing for the last few years.
    I’ll remember the Rainbow Jersey mixing it up on the cobbles with the best of them. It’s been great to have a World Champ in the headlines so consistently this year.
    Most of all I will remember Jens Voigt signing off in his unique stye, descending a Mountain pass on a little yellow bike with toe clips. No more Jens. Say it isn’t so…

  4. SinglespeedJarv

    Biggest Suprise:
    I have a couple one of which is how much the tour “heads” changed this year. All the pre-race talk was of the usual riders: Contador, F&A Schleck, Armstrong, Evans, Rogers, Basso, Sastre, Menchov, Leipheimer, Kloden and to a lesser extent Wiggins & Vandevelde. So OK Frankie, VDV & Cuddles crashed out, but the rest? Other than Invisible Denis, nowhere. Next year the media will need to do some work when compiling their favourites because Sastre, Kloden, Leipheimer, Rogers, Basso & Wiggins have all shown that they haven’t got what it takes to win the Tour, especially if they’re up against Contador.

    I think it shows how much the Tour dominates the sport, possible in detriment to the rest of the calendar. Some of those riders putting everything on the Tour means they miss out opportunities to win races they’re better suited to. Cuddles should concentrate on one-day races, probably competitive in most of the classics he could become a legend. Wiggins as well, I’d love to see to pair of them ride Paris-Roubaix to see what they can do – yes I know Wiggins finshed 20th at his first attempt last year and has said he’d like to give it another shot.

    Biggest Loser:
    Andy Schleck (with frank in a supporting role). I hope that they aren’t turning into, to quote Carlos Sastre, “spoiled brats”. I saw little good in what Andy achieved over the race other than his stellar turn on the pave. All I’ve heard is bitching and moaning about the race route and the unwritten rules and his tactics have a lot to be desired especially as he is riding for Riis. I’ll cut him some slack, just as I cut Cavendish slack, because they are both still young, but it’s a race. He was lucky that Cancellara is now a patron and shut the race down on stage 3 otherwise he would have been out of it there and then, nevermind whingeing that rivals/your bestest buddy didn’t wait for you because you can’t change gear properly. Most people gloss over the fact that he lost more time on the descent that he did with the chain-drop.

    Best Story
    Got a choice here, Chain-gate/Spoiled Brats, Armstrong’s Alamo, but i think I’ll go with the French Renaissance. Especially as some commentators were writing about the decline in popularity of the Tour in France, predominantly due to a lack of success, this years tour should be a great boost to France and the French riders. the only thing they are lacking is the sign of anyone being able to challenge on GC, they couldn’t get anyone near to the Top-10 this year.

    How tedious the GC battle has been. Clearly Contador could have dropped the Schlecklette on the Tourmalet if he’d needed to do so. Maybe having Frank around would have helped Andy, but he needed to take all chances to attack and try different things.
    The one other memory will be Geraint Thomas, all the talk of him being a future Tour contender, I hope he’ll dismiss. But he showed his class and abilities and that he has what it takes to win in the Spring Classics.

  5. Sophrosune

    Nice comment, SinglespeedJarv. Better than the professional journalists covering the race. I don’t know if you would put this under ‘Armstrong’s Alamo’ but as you point out earlier, there’s a changing of the guard. I think we can finally put aside talk of Basso, Evans, Sastre, Leipheimmer, and the other mid-thirties riders when we’ve got Contador, Schleck and Van de Brouckes to consider. So, Robot, I feel like this is a watershed TdF where we are the point of out with old and in with the new.

  6. Mr Blue Sky

    One of the best Tours in years, to me. VDB a revelation. Horner and Ryder, rode out of their skins this year!
    Also the treachery of Gadret, when Roche flatted, what do you give his odds of a decent contract in the future? I can’t imagine a lot of Directors lining up to sign him to help their team leader!
    As for Andy losing time on the descent after chaingate, he was riding virtually alone against 3 or 4 rivals and did a great job of minimizing the damage.
    Finally, I feel the route used this year was excellent, the pave sections added a lot of interest to the first week, which often is a series relatively boring of mass sprint finishes. Nice to see the Tour and Giro toughening up!

  7. MCH

    Biggest winner: fans of real racing. More so than in many years, the riders actually looked tired! Endurance is once again a factor in the TdF. While we may no longer see an entire team sit on the front every day pounding out an unbelievable pace, incredible TT performances, or mind-blowing climbing exhibitions, we are seeing break aways that succeed, winning performances from riders from “non-doping” countries, and perhaps a return to more tactical risk taking.

    Other winners: Contador – I don’t like him, but the guy was solid in every aspect of the race. Respect. Cavendish – the guy is just awesome, ’nuff said. Hesjedal – impressive, particularly for a big guy. I hope he doesn’t go the way of Wiggins (see losers).

    Biggest loser has got to be Armstrong. The collapse during the race likely would have happened regardless of the crashes. Despite promises, his lack of support for Levi was shameful IMO (the promises were pretty half-hearted, though). Not a great swan song. That said, I think the real loss is yet to come. LA’s un-retirement drew the attention of spurned lover, Floyd Landis. As a result, the Fed’s are now involved. And unlike sporting federations, the federal government can compel everyone – racers past and present, team employees, friends, girlfriends, wives, etc. – to talk. Witnesses will be thinking Marion Jones. So, once they start talking they myth could unravel pretty quickly. The come-back seemed to be driven by hubris (remember his comments after the 08 TdF about Vandevelde, et al?). That hubris may have a very high price.

    Other losers: Wiggins – buys into the hype, bows to the pressure, or maybe just makes a bad decision, but leaves a good system and ends up where he was 2 years ago – a great trackie and an OK roadie. Horner – the guy’s awesome, so not really a loser, but I can’t help but think what if? In europe, he’s been an under-appreciated role player. What results could he have achieved throughout his career with the right support???

  8. Sophrosune

    Didn’t it seem as though Contador was riding on a Trek TT bike with Specialized decals. If so, that would be interesting news going forward.

  9. Hank

    The emergence of a rivalry to rival Coppi – Bartali. By the next Tour neither Contador nor Schleck will be able to give up a second from Prologue to finish. It will be a battle for any little edge on the cobbles, in the mountains and the TT’s.

    Looking at the way riders had to marshall their resources it looks like doping may be a much smaller determinant of outcomes now then in the era of Armstrong and Pantani. Great to see a new generation of future stars starting to make there presence felt in a playing field that maybe is cleaner then before.

  10. Souleur

    Who was the biggest surprise? Many of them already have been mentioned, but how about the new Belgian-Jurgen van den Broeck…Belgium has a rising star. The youngster did very well last year, better this year, and he may be a real good GC’r to come.

    Who was the biggest loser? WIggo without a doubt. Embarrassing for Sky, his countryman and himself. I wish it were different for him, and hate to see it, but his pre-ride pomp built up expectations that made 2nd place a loss, and his actual ride an embarrassment.

    LA wasn’t a loser here, however, the Shack was. They dumped millions in a team built around him, he had a bad run, and a bigger loser yet was Levi. Levi was able to make a run at the podium, but had a lone American at his side, Horner. Where was the shack, and the team to help one rider who had the 2nd shot for the team??? Poor Levi, but irrespectful as it is, he himself made a good ride of it, and its a feather in his cap to date, and hopefully impetus for next year.

    What was the best story? The best story is the one I will remember, is Jens going down, w/broken ribs and saying ‘they are overrated’. Broken ribs…overrated, and refusing to get in the broom wagon because he promises to not miss Paris like last year. He is a freaking stud and I hope the best for him and doubt he will return. He is a hardman, great ride, great career and it couldn’t have ended any better…if it does end this way.

  11. Rp

    Out with the Old – drug-using riders who make the big bucks and keep a special doctor on board, but never seem to suffer or falter on a climb or timetrial during the big races.

    *In case you did not hear, Petacchi is under investigation for drugs again in Italy.

    In with the New – young skinny-as-a-rail riders who have natural talent and determination to ride clean.

    It may take a few more years, but we`re witnessing a change in cycling.

  12. Lachlan

    Think we all have our new biggest surprise!

    Disclaimer #1… have “Chaingate” not happened then I’m sure Contador would have attacked and ridden a different race.
    Disclaimer #2… I think we have a worth tour champion

    BUT all the “red herring” posts about how Chaingate made no difference are now shown up history.

    Ask Fignon or Evans. Its dangerous to predict a final time trial, and Chaingagte might just have produced the closest finish in history had it played differently. So as a pro, alberto played it right. As a champion, he’ll still have many questioning whether he really showed conclusively that the yellow was his to wear!

    But besides that…. Andy… your prologue… WTF??? Regret it now?
    ; + )

  13. Sophrosune

    Andy started his prologue when the roads were a good deal more wet than when Contador started his and the time difference is the result. Maybe Andy should have asked for a do-over? Instead he just bitched about his DS choosing the time for his departure not him.

    I did read a report that Contador said he didn’t sleep last night due to a bad stomach ache.

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  15. Lachlan

    you’re thinking of WIggins? no?
    Andy was 20mins or so ahead of contador if I remember right.

    I get the Contador support thing, but I honestly dont get the “Andy is bitching” thing…compared to many a past champion Andy S is mega reserved and humble.

    Have you been watching his interviews in another language? ie v/o ed by an agressive translator or something?? ; + )

    I mean seriously he is pretty placid, even by luxembourg standards (and thats saying something). Even the “revenge” statement when you watch it is really mild and not at all how it gets made out to be in some comments.

  16. Sophrosune

    That’s right, Andy started ahead of Contador on the prologue so faced wetter conditions. That’s been pretty clearly established. As far as Andy, I guess I am pointing how easy it is demonize someone. I haven’t even mentioned the rather insulting remark he made that no one seeemed to notice, not even the Spanish press. He said that Contador’s attack could be the result of some cultural difference. Wow! Really? What exactly is Luxemborg’s culture again? Isn’t just a bunch of bankers looking for low taxes?

    Anyway, I am more interested in the Trek/Specialized controversy that no one seems to have confirmed for me. I could swear Contador was riding a Trek TT bike. Anyone care to comment?

  17. SinglespeedJarv

    @Lachlan it’s not how Schlecklette talked, it’s what he (and his brother) have said during the race
    1) Complain about the race route
    2) Complain about people not waiting for them

    and I’m sure there was a third example. Made them sound like spoiled brats, complaining because the race wasn’t going the way they wanted it to.

  18. Lachlan

    Yep Sophrosune, you’re doning exactly what you’re incensed at others doing. Which is funny I guess, if thats what you intend, but I think not.
    And regarding the prologue, now you’re really on a red herring…. Andy is the first to admit, it was a crap ride. As a fan of both AS and AC I’ll second him, it was a crap ride. I’ll ding him for that, but not do some “pick a phrase and over exaggerate it” character assassination, of which you’re both so fond of doing (about Andy) and keen to criticize others for (for Alberto). …. Ye cannae have it both ways man! If you want hyperbolic out of context criticism, then you have to live with others doing it from the other side.

    @singlespeed … it really doesn’t sound like that from a broader view unless you’re looking for it.
    I’m a big Contador fan, and yet you sound to me like you’ve been watching from Mars … in black and white patchy video… with subtitles… of a translation in russian.

    Really, you’re commenting like Fox news on Obama on this subject. Its just not so dramatic. Not even close! If that’s complaining like brats, then you guys just went into the stratosphere on the same scale! Go on, think about it, if he’s a spoiled brat what would that make your style of commentary? Just wondering.

  19. SinglespeedJarv

    @Lachlan I’m commenting on it from the viewpoint of having 4 week old twins & I just found a spare 5 minutes with which to have a read of this site for the first time in a month.

    I might have exaggerated a little but the sentiment is the same. I’d go into more detail if I had the time.

  20. Hank

    “@Lachlan I’m commenting on it from the viewpoint of having 4 week old twins”

    Congratulations! Were did you find 5 minutes? I just had a friend visit with his hyperactive 3 year old for 2 days. I need a vacation after one weekend.

  21. Lachlan

    @singlespeed – oh man! Congrats and good luck. I am amazed you found five mins even :). Mine are two/half and 8 months old, and I still don’t feel like I slept in a decade!

  22. wvcycling

    So much has been said that it is difficult to add anything worth saying to the conversation.

    My impressions this year are as listed:
    * Liggett feels irrelevant and just doesn’t feel the same anymore. Not sure I need him.
    *I wish Jens Voight was my father.
    *Tony Martin? Any future?
    *What is RadioShack going to be like next year?
    *Is Thor Hushovd worth talking about? He did well, had passion, but not sure what to say about him.
    *Time Bonuses – They need to come back!

  23. SinglespeedJarv

    Liggett and Sherwen have been irrelevant since Armstrong started winning
    I think Tony Martin (Ratpack) has a huge future, just at times it is put on hold for the greater benefit of the team. Did you hear Cav’s comments yesterday? Into the last km and he was looking for a way through the riders and he saw Ratpack in front of him. cav thought he had been blown out already. Ratpack then took him and dropped him off on Petacchi’s wheel. Add that to the comment earlier in the Tour when Ratpack was supposed to line the peloton out from the roundabout at 10km to go, but got the wrong roundabout so lined the peloton out from 13km to go…not bad really. As to whether he can convert into a GC rider, he has a chance now that Rogers has proved he can’t do it.
    Who cares about Radioshack? Other than that they will have Taylor Phinney and Tiago Machedo riding for them, pretty exciting riders for next year I’d say. Just forget about the old boy’s club. Might also have to forget about Bruyneel being the boss as well…
    Smash: well he did point out that he hadn’t done much sprinting, it also seemed as though his form was fading as the weeks passed, perhaps not too surprising given his disrupted season. Also if Cancellara hadn’t selfishly shut down stage 2, there would have been a good chance he would have been closer to the green by the end.
    Leave the time bonuses out of it. If people thought it such an exciting Tour, then why do you need time bonuses?

  24. Sophrosune

    @Lachlan I suppose you’re free to determine what is in my mind when I comment here. I, on the other hand, really have no idea what is in yours. Yes, Schleck was not happy with his poor ride in the prologue to which he attributed, at least in part, to the wetter conditions when he started before Contador. Not sure where the red herring is. But as I said, I am not the mind reader that you are.

  25. Yorkie

    Any of you Cav doubters swallowing your words yet? Wunderkind of the highest order. That sprint up the Champs-Élysées was incredible and showed he is in a class of his own (even without Renshaw – although clearly his team are a large part of his success)

    Biggest surprise? For me it was the Astana team which seemed to (for the most part, Vino being the special case on some of the stages) gel and control the pace for Bertie through most of the significant tests.

    Biggest loser? Tyler Farrar for once again showing he might not have the cojones to mix it with the big boys? Anyone who names Team Sky as biggest losers probably ought to have a close look at Team Garmin who have been running as a unit for significantly longer but made it look like they’d only just taken the stabilisers off their bikes. Oh, and Euskaltel-Euskadi for that pricesless quote as being a team of “bleeding carrots” (copyright Matthew Lloyd).

    Best story? Jens (apologies for the lack of originality) – but his quote on crashing on stage 16, which left only his “right ankle untouched” and then to get back to the grupetto on a kiddies bike. Legend at 38 years of age

  26. Touriste-Routier

    @Yorkie There is a big difference to not having the cojones vs. not having the speed. Sure Farrar didn’t win a stage, but he was 2nd on one, and 3rd on another, so he has proved he can be up there. The list of those that beat Cav is rather limited.

  27. SinglespeedJarv

    @Yorkie @Touriste-Routier
    as T-R points out, the list of people who have beaten Cav is quite short (discounting the stage he sat up on), and Farrar is on that list.

    Have I missed a joke somewhere or do people genuinely believe that Jens got back into the race on a kids bike?

  28. Robot

    I underestimated Cavendish. Full stop.

    And Jarvis, yes, when Jens crashed he mangled his bike. Both team cars were up the road, so Mavic neutral service gave him a bike, a 52cm I think, with clips and straps, which he rode up to the gruppetto, before switching back to a team bike. There are pictures. If he wasn’t chewed to bits and nursing some busted ribs, it would have been funny.

    Actually, it was funny anyway.

  29. Lachlan

    cav – definitely in a class of his own.
    I was on the Champs yesterday, trying to explain to a few brits and aussie tourists why he wasn’t in the green jersey, yet was clearly the best finisher. I know that stuffs easy for us here to explain, but they really couldn’t get it, even though they were daily tour watchers on TV and could understad the yellow, white and polkadot jerseys.

    Jens – ditto… a class of his own when it comes to hard riding and general being a tough guy on the road. And LOL at the pics, I think that is maybe the first time I can actually remember seeing someone on a Mavic service bike!

  30. randomactsofcycling

    Hi Sophrosune, I’ve just been looking at a gallery of the TT stage and Contador appears to be riding the same bike as Vinokourov. Lance and Levi appear to be riding the same bike and it’s not the same as the Astana bike. Perhaps AC’s sponsorship deal got them a new frame before Saxo got their hands on it?
    Well spotted by the way!

  31. parlorbikes

    I have read through some of the posts. I am quite dissapointed in the lack of mention of one rider who goes out on the top. Old, no. Weak, no.


    The French had a great deal to cheer about this year, one the great legend


    getting his last due respect out on the road. Maybe one stage was a gift, but assure you the other breaks and attack he did this year were from the heart!!!!

  32. Sophrosune

    @randomactsofcycling Thanks for the check. I guess also the front brake on the Trek bike is hidden while in the Specialized it’s in its traditional road bike position. Though I did think that maybe this was due to Contador using last year’s Trek TT bike.

    Despite Contador’s complaints of not sleeping well and stomach distress the night before and morning of the TT, it has never seemed to me that he had ridden as comfortably on the Specialized TT bikes as he did on the Trek bikes. He is always fighting with the bike.

    So when the Shiv first got banned, I thought that they might just make a bike that Contador felt comfortable on, i.e. the Trek bike (more or less). But I guess they resisted this for obvious reasons, but finally through evolution ended up with a design for Contador that looks remarkably similar to the Trek bike.

  33. Jay Batson

    A few additions & +1’s to some of the above, in the form of awards:

    Best domestique on climbs: Daniel Navarro. How many K’s on how many stages was he on front with his mouth agape sucking wind while doing tempo? A lot. Contador owes him.

    Best reputation rehab: Vino. I thought Lance’s tweet about him was good: “Say what you want about Vino but the guy has some serious guts. When he puts his numbers on he races. Period.”

    Biggest fall: Lance. Interpret “fall” as you wish. Try, e.g., crash, limelight, grace, … Note that this award category had plenty of competition…

    Best press moment: When Paul & Bob disagreed with Phil about what AC should have done during the Chaingate moment.

    Best tour improvement: Cobbles. I say bring ’em back regularly. Sprint stages don’t provide opportunities for GC riders to gain time. Mountain stages do; so do the cobbles, so keep the cobbles coming.

    Best kit: The dresses on the podium girls for the polka dot jersey. See [www_versus_com]

    Lifetime achievement award: Jens, of course. I’ve got a new personal motivation trick: When I think I’m about to die in a ride/race, ask myself “What would Jens do?” Then, just do that.

    Team with most obvious work to be done: SRAM. If they aren’t already looking frame-by-frame at the HDTV feed for Chaingate, they better start.

    Biggest disappointments:
    – That it’s over and we have to wait a year for the next one.
    – Craig Hummer. If we must have somebody besides Bob, Phil, & Paul, bring back Al Trautwig.
    – Bob Roll not “being Bobke” enough. He’s a total cut-up; they should give him more space to be a nutcase as a balance to the too-staid brits, and the current “network censor” (Hummer/Trautwig/…)
    – That Versus didn’t allocate enough time in their “official” schedule on the “live” coverage shows to allow for long stage length. Several times, my DVR cut off recording too early. Worst example: the Tourlamet finish.

  34. Lachlan

    The TT bike thing is weird. At a glance it is far more ‘trek’ than ‘shiv’. But not quite what the Radio shack boys are riding. IT almost like he kept his bike from last year + new decals, once the shiv got banned, and decided to stick with it for the rest of the season, even once Specialized got their work around done.

    In other bike news, former champ Sastre rather oddly dropped his wonder-bike the R5 and returned to the stock R3SL for the final mountains and there after…. not the publicity Cervelo had in mind for such an expensive hand built frame I’m sure! Maybe be he just didn’t like having to lug around so much extra metal in the downtube in order to meet the UCI weight limit : o )

  35. Alex Torres

    Sure LA didn´t do well but IMHO The Shack publicity didn´t hurt. The brand is now worldwide-recognized. Riding on the back, falling or winning the Tour, the fact is LA still draws a ton of attention. So I´d bet that marketing-wise they hit the bullseye and no one is complaining. But despite the team classification they really didn´t do much.

    Now Wiggo and Team Sky… that was really one Titanic performance, in the worst sense. If the big guns at Radio Shack are thinking about their investment, then the ones at SKY must be having nightmares of regret. To me he´s the biggest loser of this Tour, as big a deception as his surprise last year. His pre-Tour cockiness was disgusting, he didn´t do a thing before the Tour and sucked immensely in it. I can´t think of a worse outcome for a rider on a team so well-funded, so supported – and so hyped up.

  36. Alex Torres

    I forgot to mention the good surprises for me in this Tour: Hesjedal, amazing performance. The french are finally tasting blood in their own race which is always a good thing. And Cavendish of course. He had a terrible early season, a bad eary Tour but turned the table and won beautifully not one, not two, not three – but FOUR times. With or without his leadout man, he´s able to find his line and punch, and there´s not a single rider in the peloton able to keep up with him. What a sprinter!

  37. cthulhu

    @SJ: It was a kid’s bike from the childrens’ program of the tour. That or the bikes for it may be sponsored by Mavic, which would make sense since they are already doing the neutral service and therefor look the same, but it wasn’t just a too small bike from the neutral service, since I guess they were all gone too. Jens quoted:
    “My bike was done for, the top tube broken. And our team car was much too far ahead on the road and couldn’t turn around. Behind the field there was some kind of childrens’ program of the tour taking place. So I took one from them, acidic yellow, and far too small. I rode 15 km with it until a Gendarm gave me my spare bike. Bjarne Riis told him: <>”

    Else, I hope people won’t do the same mistake with Hejsedal as they did with Wiggins, pressuring him to repeat his great result which was clearly a result of a stroke of luck(stage 3), well, combined with some excellent fighting spirits in the mountains, but to me he seems more the guy for classics and one week stage races with not too huge climbs.

    Tony Martin was definitely no disappointment. Sure, he tried to aim at a higher placing in the GC and retrospectively said he might have done something wrong in his preparations, but as already pointed out he did incredible work for the htc train and he was with Cancellara a class of his own in the TTs, nobody else got even close to them. OK, in the final TT both had luck with the wind, but I seriously doubt that any of the later starters would have come close to them. Maybe they would have rode somewhere in the regions of Grabsch’s ride.

    Disappointments…Yes, Sky, but not because Wiggins underperformed. I mean to me at least was clear we wont be attacking the podium let alone the TopTen, but while he had bad luck in the opening TT, he was weak where i expected him to do good, the final TT and on the cobbles. The mountains would be too much for him. But EBH was for that all rounder he is (supposed to be) petty bleak, especially on the hilly classic like stages. And Milram. Except for Ciolek and those who had to quite early, they were like invisible. I didn’t expect much except for presence in breakaway and they were in maybe three…Especially in the second and third week where the breakaways might have a chance. Cofifis was equally invisible…And I was a bit disappointed about Kreuzinger, since he didn’t have to ride the Giro unlike Basso, and Brajkovic. But maybe the latter went all out at the Dauphine since he knew he would get no chance at the Tour.

    About the course, no complains about riding the Stockeu the wrong way. And yes to the cobbles. No need for the really bad parts of Roubaix but they belong to cycling as the mountains.

  38. Sir Cumference

    Good: Menchov(good riding; no drama), Cavandish(fast; may have a future in sprinting), Jens(stud), Thor(gets the most of what he has), French riders(passion and results), Roche(didn’t kill his “teammate”), Astana(did what they needed to do), Contador(number 3), Andy(still very young and now with confidence)

    Bad: Sky and the Shack(Wiggins a no show; no plan B for the Shack. Levi, Chris and Andres rode well with no support. Apparently the team orders were to protect Lance’s 23rd place finish.

    Not good or bad: Coverage. Well at least there is coverage. With Lance gone we need the coverage to move on from a 3 week Lance infomercial. I would imagine with Lance gone the number of people watching that have little or no knowledge of cycling will be less and therefore the quality of the commentary and features will increase. I don’t need the forced drama of a imaginary Cavendish / Farrar rivalry or the constant teases that Lance is saving his remaining energy for something big. Phil, Paul and Bob were fun for a while but at this point it is like spending too much time at a relatives house. Same old recycled stories and points of view. Time to move on.

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