How about Le Tour so far? Best edition of Le Grand Boucle I can remember. Can I get an amen to that?
So about this time last year, I was fed up with Cadel’s whining. When he went and won the rainbow jersey I was disgusted to see it land on the shoulders of someone I didn’t consider worthy of the honor.
About the same time, I was cheering for Lance. Then I showed up at a race LA had declared would be all about him and discovered that indeed everything in his world is all about him. To the exclusion of people that should matter to him and apparently do not. Since then he’s blocked me on twitter, and I can no longer stand the guy nor his sycophants who do the commentary on Versus.
The tables have turned.
During this morning’s broadcast, I had to endure Phil and Paul lamenting the rotten luck LA had in Sunday’s stage, crashing three times by their reckoning. Well let’s see: the first time, he was forced off the road but didn’t crash. Shouldn’t have made a difference. The second time, he wrecked himself in the roundabout. Nobody to blame but him (it’s not bad luck if you wreck because of your own inattention). Three teammates then rode him back into the race. The third time he also did not wreck, but just had to stop for a wreck in front of him. And at that point he had given up anyway, even though two teammates, Brajkovic and Horner, both of whom were well-positioned on the GC, were loyally and wastefully hanging back with him rather than riding with Levi where they should have been.
Contrast that with the casual mention given to Cadel, who also crashed on Sunday. The broadcasters talked about how he must be sore, what with his bloody elbow and hip and all. But they didn’t seem to recognize that while Lance was pathetically throwing in the towel (much as his title sponsor seems poised to do as a corporation), Cadel was riding himself into yellow.
As today’s stage continued and it was clear Cadel was in a bad way, Phil and Paul reiterated that it was clearly a case of bad luck and not bad form that had hurt LA on Sunday because LA was gapping a suffering Cadel going up the Col de la Madeleine. They seemed to fail to notice that LA was likewise getting gapped by his own teammate Levi, who was being similarly gapped by the only two remaining racers that matter, Contador and Schleck.
Well as it happens, Cadel wasn’t just suffering from the effort he was putting in on the climb. Whereas LA suffered a bit of road rash on Sunday and lost 12 minutes as a result, Cadel suffered a fractured elbow, but managed to ride himself into yellow. Who’s had the bad luck now? And who said “luck be damned, it’s a race, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Other guys who have been racing include Thor Hushovd, scrapping for intermediate sprint points, knowing a green jersey in Paris is far from a sure thing. And Dani Navarro, who has been hurting himself up some impossibly difficult climbs, riding GC guys off his wheel to set up Contador. Contador squandered it Sunday chasing attacks from guys who weren’t GC threats, but Navarro was back today doing it again.
Then of course there’s Jens Voigt, getting in the break knowing it was his only way to be out front on the Madeleine and in position to help Schleck. Then he pulled Schleck and Contador to 1K to the summit until saying “shutup legs” was not enough and they simply could turn the cranks no more. The anguish on his face spoke volumes about how much it means to him to ride for his captain.
Whichever of Schleck and Contador wears yellow in Paris will have earned it—catching the break before the line today showed their commitment and dominance. But the true spectacle of Le Tour are the Hushovds, the Navarros, the Voigts, and the Cadels whose pride in their own performance prevents them doing anything short of laying everything they have on the line.
Cadel has honored the rainbow jersey every time he’s worn it in competition. And today he honored the yellow jersey in the process of losing it. To cowboy up and race with a broken elbow is the epitome of hard man.