You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Wayne Gretzky said that. Jens Voigt lives by it. Jens and other breakaway specialists know that >90% of the time, the break will be caught. All that work and nothing to show. But the handful of times the break isn’t caught, someone from the break wins. You can’t be that someone if you aren’t in the break.
So it was with Sergio Paulinho today, although today the break had a 100% chance of staying away. For starters, it’s Bastille Day, the day every French rider wants to win a stage. The French people want a French rider to win the stage, and Le Tour organizers are French people. So they designed a stage that was perfect for a breakaway, knowing full well that there were no French GC threats, so the only way a Frenchman would win a stage is in a breakaway (and so far Chavanal has, twice). It was the last day in the Alps, with climbs at the beginning to keep the sprinters out of contention, but no climbs at the end to make the stage decisive on the GC.
Who would have thought that Paulinho would bring the Radio Shack team its first, and very likely only, Tour stage win? Moreover, who would have thought that a Portuguese rider on an American team would win on Bastille Day? Strong work, Sergio. You earned it. Enjoy it. Time will tell whether you have salvaged the only glory your team will see in the event it built its season around.
As for taking shots, I’m not much of a breakaway rider. I proved that last week. Moves like that are a gamble and lose situation for me. Which is not to say I won’t keep trying.
Sometimes there are shots you know you won’t make but that you take anyway. Which is what I was thinking about when I saw this job posting. I’m not a journalist, I’m an amateur hack blogger. My training is in business—I know more about discounted cash flow analysis than I do about publishing and media. But if someone did offer me the chance to move to Europe and write about cycling full-time, I don’t know how I could say no. If only I could figure out the little detail of getting a UK work permit…