It’s that time again. The end of the year is here and this is our chance to look back on the year and gain some perspective. And even after writing this, we’re still not sure what to make of it. First up, Michael Hotten’s Awards:
The Best Day of Racing was turned in by a rider who finished 179th. Stage 11 of the Tour was not about who won but about who hung on. Andrew Talansky had every reason to jump into his team car as the bunch dropped him with 51 miles to go. His body was wrecked from two hard crashes, his dreams of a podium in Paris in shambles and now he was going backwards. Why go on? The end looked to be moments away when Talanksy stopped pedaling. My wife and I watch the Tour together, usually over dinner on the DVR. We fast forward through boring kilometers and the commercials and watch in real time the attacks, the sprints, the crashes and the catches. But when Talansky pulled over, we put down the remote and our forks and watched a bike racer contemplate that question, “Why go on?” There he was, sitting on a guardrail, somewhere between Besancon and Oyonnax, his team director attempting to offer some words of reason. Of all the moments this year, Michael Rogers winning stage 11 of the Giro, Jens Voigt’s hour record, Fabian Cancellara’s bridge on the Paterberg and his eventual 3rd Ronde title, it was that moment of inaction that drew us in and made us ask, “Will he go on?” His remount offered another round of drama that had us asking “Will he make it on time?” Talansky did beat the time cut by five minutes. The next day he did the inevitable and withdrew. A lot of people will say the 2014 tour offered the best day of racing, that being stage 5’s test over the ancient roads of northern France. Nibali, on the cobbles, in the rain, I get it. But Talansky, on the rocks, in tears, now that was a day I’ll keep in my scrapbook.
The Gold Bidon for 2014 goes to two people who used to be partners and now have competing products, Dr. Alan Lim of Skratch and Dr. Stacy Sims of OSMO. Lim and Sims were the minds and energy behind the secret drink mix. They went their separate ways, too much brain power in one powdered drink mix I suspect. But we have been the beneficiaries and this year they continued to deliver. Lim gave us a drink with matcha and lemons. A little caffeine for energy and it actually aids in hydration. Sims dug into the specific needs of women and introduced a line of products for hydration and recovery. Sims found that “that time of the month” is a rough time for women when it comes to performance and hydration and concluded that what women need is more Branch Chained Amino Acids to combat the increase in estrogen. Both continue to press the idea that hydration goes in your bottle and food in your jersey pockets and the food we eat should be something our grandmothers would recognize. So pass me a rice ball and keep on pedaling.
The Wilson Award goes to Bradley Wiggins. You know Wilson, the volleyball Tom Hanks turned into a companion in the movie Castaway. Seems to me Sir Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France champ, four time Olympic gold medalist and knight was placed on an island by the bosses at Team Sky. Wiggins wanted to ride in the Tour and said he was willing to ride in support of the anointed one, Chris Froome. Never mind the tour had a cobbled stage and Wiggins earlier in the year had ridden Roubaix—team management said bollocks. Forget that Sky’s number two, Richie Porte, was headed into biggest bike race on the planet with a string of DNFs and a bunch of trips to the doctor’s office. Sky’s brain trust said to Wiggo “You just go be on your own while we handle this little three week romp around France.” Team Sky’s July turned into Wiggin’s September to remember. He did what a castaway with a Pinarello should do, went out and won a rainbow jersey, solo style, no team needed. Better yet, he did it for his country and not his trade team. The 2014 World Time Trial Gold Medal and the Wilson award for Bradley Wiggins. Dig, set, spike.
The Seven Yellow Jerseys—Lance still has those seven yellow jerseys. Last we saw them they were hanging on a living room wall in Austin. Let’s give one to Betsy Andreu and one to Greg LeMond. I mean what the hell?, it’s not like the Tour’s organizers are going to figure out who are the deserved winners from any of those years. Andreu and LeMond had it right all along and they never wavered, in fact just the opposite. In the face of intimidation, ostracization, and litigation, Andreu and LeMond cranked up the volume and kept telling their story that Armstrong was a cheat and a bully. The interview where he admits all of this is coming up on its two year anniversary and what do our two lucky contestants have to show for their efforts? LeMond is still struggling to resuscitate a bike brand that was ruined during his years of honesty. Betsy Andreu is no longer being called a bitch or a two-bit whore but she has a nice stack of legal bills to show for her contribution to the truth. So a couple of yellow jerseys for our caped crusaders. You can keep the frames Lance.