FGR #36 Wrap

Could it be that we’re Grand Tour weary? Or is it that the list of favorites for the 2010 Vuelta have done little to inspire us? Or could it be that the prospect of yet another Grand Tour podium decimated by doping scandals tastes nearly as good as cod liver oil?

Or maybe we just missed our mark with the question. To say that Frank Schleck is the favorite for the win isn’t exactly accurate. There’s currently a lot more love for Laurent Fignon than there is for Schleck the elder. Maybe we’re sentimental fools, the lot of us, but the comments (and lack thereof) has inspired in me a new question.

Could it be that we’re so tired of doping scandals and the calculus we must perform when considering a rider’s fitness vs. the odds that he might be doping that we’re weary of a season’s-worth of thinking about this stuff?

I’m beginning to watch races with a certain Zen in-the-moment perspective, just looking for good racing and trying not to worry about what will happen once WADA gets their sample from the winner. Maybe I’d be happier if Michael Mann was directing bike races the way he shoots his blockbusters, with explosions akimbo. How about you?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Champs

    This is sacrilege, perhaps, but my mind has turned toward football.

    The Vuelta certainly gets the red-headed stepchild treatment of the grand tours, and that’s a shame, considering that Spain is the most prolific country in terms of bicycle racing today. There certainly isn’t much buildup: the Giro makes a break from spring classics, the Tour has tuneup races, but then in August, even the calendar goes on holiday. Most of the successful riders take the rest of the season off, and even when teams do bring their big guns, most of them are there for the fans/organizers (an injured Carlos Sastre in all three grand tours) or they are embarking on a 2000 mile “training program for worlds.” Maybe that’s not the treatment it deserves, but that’s the treatment it gets.

  2. Robot

    I’ll take a stab at this one. There’s no compelling story to this Vuelta. The TdF offered us so many different storylines to follow. Contador v. Schleck. The demise of Armstrong. The return of Cavendish. The Stockeu crashes. The cobbles casualties. Chaingate.

    The Vuelta was similar with so many crashes in Holland at the beginning and then these great mountain battles. The redemption of Ivan Basso.

    What is the story at the Vuelta? What is supposed to make it interesting? A team time trial? Even the protagonists are boring. Fränk Schleck? Joaquim Rodriguez? I’m not sure they have a personality between them.

    Add to that, that coverage is even more sparse than usual, and you have a three week siesta. Unfortunately.

    It’s especially sad because I think Tyler Farrar’s win over Cav was exciting, and of course, Phillipe Gilbert is a sympathetic character in the red jersey.

  3. Lachlan

    isn’t it just simply that “The” Tour inspires us, the Giro excites and fascinates us, and the Vuelta… well it has always struggled (both before and after its date change) to really attract riders at their top and also struggled to attract fan interest. We’ll all await the steepest mountain stages with interest but find less of note in the rest. Recent doping scandals havent helped, but the problem is an oldie, no?

    1. Author

      I think all these perspectives are valid. After all, there can be no one answer to diagnose apathy. I really like the Vuelta and loved the date change. I was in France in ’95 when it was run in September for the first time and was riveted by Jalabert’s dominance, class and panache. I’ve had a soft spot for the race ever since.

      I gotta say, I chuckled when Shlanger and Gogulski commented on how poor the road condition was on today’s descent of the Cresta del Gallo. That road looked far better than the descent off Sherman Pass. The Cresta del Gallo looked fun by comparison.

  4. Randomactsofcycling

    I’m with Robot, there’s a distinct lack of personalities that actually have the ability to win the race. Menchov, Sastre, Schleck(s)…. About as exciting as a carton of milk.
    I don’t think it’s so much the Vuelta itself, but the lack of standout personalities in the current peloton that have the ability to animate the landscape. Hence the ‘love’ for Fignon: a man from an era that yes we all view through rose tinted glasses but when true characters dominated not only cycling but other sports. Where are the McEnroe’s, the Hinaults and the Rosbergs? Really, the almighty sponsorship dollar has killed sporting personalities.
    30 years ago Tiger Woods would have been branded a playboy. Now he’s just branded.

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