Sunday, July 24, 2011

A glorious Tour

The 2011 edition was almost perfect.  It had everything: suspense, heroes, drama.  And it had many firsts which make it particularly special.

Cadel Evans surrounded by the Schleck brothers
It had the first Australian to win it, and for that matter, the first southern hemisphere biker to win it.

For the first time it had two brothers in the final podium, the brave Schleck brothers of tiny Luxembourg.

It had a long overdue French hero for a Tour with Thomas Voelcker who managed to hold the yellow Jersey for ten days straight.

It had five interesting stories for the five top runners.  Besides the 4 above mentioned, the 5th position was last year champ Contador who after winning the Italian Giro earlier this year shows that last year he would have won with or without drugs (I think he did not use and I hope a final court ruling due soon will settle that nasty affair once and for all).

But best of all, since I mention Contador, for the first time in years drugs were not the headlines.

After this Year tour the Tour de France is back on track, ready to offer us prime fun in the future.

11 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:34 AM

    And also the first time a Brit has won the green jersey (fastest sprinter)

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  2. I think a vast majority of professional cyclists dope and have for decades, before Armstrong and now. Especially the top 20 cyclists. You don't get to the top without doing what others do, changing the blood, undetectable drug use and such ruses. It's easy to get away with it.

    Say only a few good cyclists used illegal substances and chemical methods, while others didn't: they would have too much of an edge on this particularly grueling and very competitive sport. As an avid cyclist in Miami, I'm positive some of the "animals" that beat everyone by far are doping, some even admit it. The Sclecks, Evans, Contador, Voelcker, Cavendish, Sanchez, etc, you bet they all use similar "enhancing" methods at that level. In a sense, they look at it as fair play, since everyone's doing it and there's no way to make it if you don't.

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  3. Yes, it was an excellent tour - save for all the nasty crashes. But that's not enough to distract from the rest. How often does the champion only wear the yellow in Paris? Kudos, indeed, to all the cyclists you mentioned, though I would add several others.

    Thor Hushovd, for some impressive stage wins.

    Pierre Rolland (I'm surprised you didn't mention him), for the white jersey and a great win in Stage 19, one of the most difficult this year.

    Sammy Sanchez, as the King of the Mountains, and his own mountain stage win. And for wearing those polka-dot shorts to go with the jersey.

    I would also credit the toughness of Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha, who both, after being wiped out by a car driven by an idiot while in the lead group on a stage, both managed to not only get up and finish the stage but the entire Tour. Imagine hitting a barbed wire fence at 35+ miles per hour, and think about how you would spend the next 2 weeks recovering.

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  4. AIO

    I can be only so nationalistic :)

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  5. Yeah, this Tour was fun to watch. New rules, new routes, great scenarios in France as usual. The fans were really going wild in those mountains. It's a shame that on cable TV here we get constant commercial interruptions way too frequently. Even recording the event,, fast-forward all the time. Except for great finishes when they would allow for 20 or 30 minutes commercial-free, except for thanking "Nissan corp" every 5 minutes for the "commercial-free" time ;--<<

    The last stages in the Alps were awesome, and the Schleck brothers' strategies against an arrogant Contador.. I was rooting for Sanchez, from Asturias like my dad, but it was cool that at his age the Australian finally won. Andy Schleck tried to gain as much time on Evans, amazing effort on the last mountains, he gambled everything, and spent so much energy. He knew Evans would win the final time-trial anyway. Chapeau to Cadel for beating everyone, including the 2 brothers against him at times, with smart strategies that nailed Contador. Evans beat them both virtually by himself.

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  6. An excellent group in the podium - but by his 5th day in yellow I was turning into a Thomas Voelcker fan and was hoping against hope that his inner cannibal would appear and he would somehow astonish us with a win.

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  7. Daniel, really? News to me! ;)

    Sledge, it occurred to me that while the Schlecks played their strategy quite effectively against Contador - I will note that Contador lost about 1:40 on the first stage when he got stuck behind the crash, which without that (and all other things being equal, which is only possible, not assured) he would have finished ahead of Frank and on the podium, but behind Andy (which was the point) - I think Cadel simply stayed off the radar enough that they never really attempted the strategy on him. And I will admit, he didn't seem like the primary threat until the day before the time trial, so I can't say they were wrong at the time. Cadel played it brilliantly, though, letting the favorites wear each other out like that.

    (By the way, guys, it's Voeckler, not Voelcker.)

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  8. RabbiBulla5:04 PM

    I knew the odds were against it, but I was hoping the Schleck brothers would finish together, hand in hand-a tie for first.
    Just a dream..Notwithstanding that happening-I still admire the Schleck brothers very much. Nothing against anyone else- and I expected Contador to win-again-the logical side of my brain said that-ha.
    I think several new contenders"have arrived" and they will be back next year, and I will be looking forward to 2012 Tour de France, also!! Viva France!!!

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  9. AIO, interesting observations, maybe the Schlecks somewhat underestimated Cadel, even when he had been a formidable opponent for years. They may have focused their strategy on Contador too much. (Or did Evans have a secret pact with Contador to defeat the Luxembourg kids?) Or maybe it came down to guts, hunger and determination. Also pre-tour preparation, as they were narrating here, when Cadel did everything right in previous races, not over-training and such, and also prepared for that final time-trial better than the rest, on site. Glad to see those 3 on the podium anyway, the younger Schlecks will have many more chances going forward. Sometimes it takes many defeats to finally pull through, as Cadel and now the brothers know.

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  10. Sledge, I agree with basically everything you said, except the secret agreement with Contador - I don't think he would have made a deal with anyone. If he wasn't to win, I don't think he cared who did.

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  11. Anonymous11:29 AM

    that was just a clumsy joke..

    ReplyDelete

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