Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whiners and winners

This year's edition of Le Tour has been a good one. Instead of Contador running away with it the way he did the Giro, he's been trailing since the outset and has demonstrated both his mortality and his dominance while opening the door for some other contenders to showcase their mettle. Can't wait to see how it wraps up.

Although to date, we haven't had a chaingate, certain riders have found no shortage of controversy--contrived or otherwise--to complain about. Others have chosen to STFU, HTFU*, and show what it means to be a bike racer. Some examples:

*Hoogerland The F*ck Up, for those not familiar with the term. The replacement of the first word in this acronym needs no commentary.

Tyler Farrar
Tyler finally lived up to his promise by winning a stage and paying tribute to his late friend, Wouter Weylendt. You'd think beating Cavendish would get that monkey off his back, but it hasn't. I don't know why it isn't obvious to the sprint teams, but the way to beat Cavendish is not to sit his wheel and try to come around him after he accelerates. That approach just doesn't work--his acceleration is too fast, leaving you with too much ground to make up.

Instead, teams need to get their train lined up behind HTC, force them to work during the chase, then in the final K, come to the front and let your guy make the first move. Force Cav to make up ground. He's the fastest guy over 25 meters, not 250. Go at 250, force him to use his 25 meter kick catching up, and then keep driving it from there. Farrar went first when he won, Greipel went first when he won. Why then would you not go first every time?

Most importantly, though, Tyler, no matter how suspicious you are about what Cav did to make the time cut in a mountain stage, don't whine about it the next day after he beats you. Implying that Cav shouldn't have made the time cut and therefore shouldn't have been in the race to beat you tells us exactly where your head is: even though you've beat him, you still don't believe you can.

Thor Hushovd
Hard to believe that for all the sniveling Farrar had done, he's on the same team as Thor. Farrar whines about Cav making the time cut, but Thor didn't utter a word of complaint when he lost his spot as his team's marquis sprinter when his team merged with Farrar.

Instead of whining, Thor led his team across the line in the TTT, wore yellow for several days longer than anyone expected, and then once they finally tore it from his back, he went on to win two mountain stages. Thor doesn't seem to care that his own team isn't giving him a crack at the sprint stages because he knows he's hard enough to get over the mountains with the breakaway specialists and then just ride away from them in the final kilometers. Farrar need not even leave the team bus to learn what it means to be a hard man.

Andy Schleck
Le Tour is not an uphill time trial, it's a grand tour. And that means going down the hills that you go up. The thing Andy seems to forget in the midst of all his bellyaching over the treacherous descents is that he had already lost time before they started descending.

As if not being able to ride down the hills in the team bus were not enough of an inconvenience, Andy also bemoaned the fact that he had to do two doping controls on one day, the second in a restaurant while he was eating dinner. I am somewhat hopeful that his naivete around the second control's purpose--ensuring he didn't microdose following the first control--is an indication that he's clean. Either way, his reaction is a clear indication that he's a crybaby. Not surprisingly, his sponsors have silenced his twitter account, so now he only gets to whine in interviews.

Thomas Voeckler
If Hinault was The Badger, then Voeckler is The Honey Badger. Not supposed to be a GC contender? Honey Badger doesn't give a shit. Watching this tenacious Frenchman race his bike has only been rivaled by watching his no-name, low-budget team ride at the front of the field as if their presence there is the most natural thing in the world. As brilliant as Cadel has been, I hope Tommy V. holds onto yellow all the way to Paris. Even if he doesn't, it's going to take a lot more than a cobra bite (or a pistol shot) to wrestle it away from him.


  1. And who led out Farrar when he won his stage? Oh yeah, that was Thor... while wearing the yellow jersey.

  2. I cant believe you didnt mention Edvald. Gets beat by the one two punch of Garmin and then the next day goes for it again and wins. That was classy. Also love how there have been no gifted stages this Tour. This race has been out of the gun from the start and everyone is going for it. Best Tour in years!!!

  3. Forrest: the list is by no means comprehensive. Edvald certainly deserves a nod, as does Phillippe Gilbert for racing hard day in and day out. It's a great year to be a fan when you just don't have time to talk about all the stellar performances.

  4. I agree that Andy has been a whiny baby. But he got the job done today.

  5. Andy's move was indeed a bold one today. He rode like he got a new bag of blood last night. Or like half a Voeckler.

  6. No longer a fan of Voeckler, dude sucked Evans wheel with a teammate to keep the jersey. It was up to Voeckler to chase down Andy to keep the jersey. LAME!!!

  7. Forrest, did you notice when Pierre Roland briefly took the front that the pace dropped and Cadel immediately went back to the front? Did you notice that Sammy and Bert both got dropped? The pace wasn't exactly easy, and Tommy V and his teammate were both hanging on and only just. Neither took the front simply because they couldn't. That Voeckler managed to hang on shows just how much heart the guy has. I am that much more of a fan after watching him today and seeing his refusal to give up after so many "real" GC contenders threw in the towel.

  8. I'm sure the stories behind each of them and descriptions of my performance will be much better when I have grandchildren.

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  9. I don't know why it isn't obvious to the sprint teams, but the way to beat Cavendish is not to sit his wheel and try to come around him after he accelerates.
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