It’s been a while, but it’s time to get posting again. And since I’ve been enjoying it royally, the Tour de France is the perfect place to start. Some observations just past the half-way point:
It’s not the best year to ride for Garmin
It’s been the Tour de Tarmac so far, with a large number of crashes in the opening week, some of them for seemingly no good reason at all. Not only has there been a large number of casualties, however, but Garmin really did pull the shortest straw. Practically the entire team went down in the mass pile-up on the first Friday, and the team is all but decimated, along with their ambitions. It’s hard not to feel sorry for them.
Having a lead-out train is useful
Being the world’s best sprinter will win you things, but having a world-class lead-out train will ensure you win even more. That would be the lesson for Mark Cavendish, who must wonder if he made the right team choice. With only one designated helper, his stage win was hugely impressive, but he has hardly had the best tour so far. Two crashes and a lack of support has cost him the opportunity to contest stages, and the green jersey is cycling on, out of sight.
It’s possibly not the best year to ride for Sky either, unless you’re Bradley Wiggins.
The walking wounded
No matter how exciting the Tour, what always impresses me the most is the heroics of the riders who press on with dislocated shoulders (Tom Danielson), horrific abrasions (Johan Van Summeren) or stomach viruses (Marcel Kittel). Tony Martin managed a week with a broken wrist. A ruptured spleen and kidney, bruised legs and three broken ribs didn’t stop Woet Poels from carrying on, and it took him ten kilometres to see sense.
Every year there are riders who carry on with injuries most people would see as a marvellous excuse to take a month or three off work. Even if they don’t finish the race, as is the case with all of the above, they still soldier on for longer than any normal person would even dream of. It makes me wonder what cyclists must think of footballers…
Not everyone has pulled out because of injuries, however, which leads us on to:
Obviously. It wouldn’t be the Tour if someone didn’t get caught or arrested, thus giving ammunition to cycling’s naysayers. Remy di Gregorio, of Cofidis, is the latest addition to the shame sheet, or at least for now – the larger story is brewing in the background, but I think I will leave that for a longer blog post…
But Wiggo still has a point
Good old Wiggo got rather worked up when someone raised the D word in a press conference the other day, and opined that internet trolls should pipe down and get a life, or something to that effect.
He has a point. Cycling certainly still has its drug issues, but it is also spending a lot of time, energy and money on cleaning up the sport. To accuse all good riders of being drugged up is a bit unwarranted, not to say unfounded, and rather takes the credibility out of the criticism. Even cyclists should be considered innocent till proven guilty.
Besides, being an optimist makes for more pleasant viewing, and people who spew vitriol online behind the protection of pseudonyms are amongst my pet hates anyway. Go Wiggo!
Though please have an off day, Wiggo!
Or somebody else have a particularly good day – much as I want a British winner, some excitement along the way would be nice.
Lastly, thanks to @FrankVanGool for the kick up the backside:) More frequent posting to resume.