Tour de France

30 07 2007

Congrats to Cadel Evans for his second place in Le Tour – the first time an Aussie has attained a podium finish in this prestigious event.  And big kudos to Alberto Contador for winning the yellow (oh, and the white).

It’s only in reent years that I’ve begun to understand this event, due in no small part to some bike riding nutter friends of mine (here’s lookin’ at you AdrianU, JasonV and ColinC) practically forcing me to take a look at it.  I’ve always respected the riders for the insane level of fitness required – these guys are serious athletes – but watching a bunch of bike riders?  Not for me, or so I thought.

I was wrong; this event is remarkable and compelling.  I had no idea that it took a team, working closely together, to achieve victory.  No idea that tactics played such a large role.  Didn’t realise that riders had such radically different specialities.  There’s a lot more to Le Tour than I imagined.

Saturday night Adrian came over and we watched the second last stage – a 55.5 kilometre time trial.  It was Evan’s last chance to try to improve his second place and, being an excellent time trial rider, the odds were good that he would reduce the 1:50-odd lead Contador had amassed. 

Initially we were both struggling to stay awake.  (This is one of the great problems with the tour here in Australia; due to timezone differences it’s always televised at an ungodly hour.)  However as the top few riders hit the tarmac the blood started pumping.  When Levi Leipheimer (third place) began riding we knew we were in for something special.  He was a man possessed.  By the time he went through the first timing gate he was some 1:20 faster than anyone who’d preceded him – an incredible feat.  Evans and Contador were going to have to ride hard.

Ride hard they did.  Evans, while more measured than Leipheimer, still ripped up the road.  When he passed through the timing gate he was slower, but still in the game.  Contador was also a man on a mission.  He knew he was going to lose time to both of the other riders but be damned if he was going down without a fight. 

In the end Leipheimer took the stage victory by 51 sec over Evans who finished 88 sec ahead of Contador.  Although Evans had closed the overall gap to just 23 sec it wasn’t enough to take the yellow jersey.  Contador wins Le Tour, Evans second and Leipheimer a well-deserved third.

Despite the drug controversy (three riders out due to drugs – one of which was wearing the yellow at the time) I really enjoyed watching this Tour.  And particularly that stage!

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5 responses

31 07 2007
William Luu

It’s definately a great race to watch, even with the drug controversy.

And the French landscape/scenary adds to it.

31 07 2007
Pat

I’ve been watching it heaps over the last three weeks. I rock up home, realise the stage hasn’t gone far yet and turn the TV’s sleep timer on.

The tactics are fantastic, watching the teams work together to repel attacks, and I like how the underdogs can have their day if the leaders think they’re not worth chasing down.

But the commentary is the clincher. Phil Liggett FTW!

3 08 2007
Brushy

I have seen a fair bit of it on TV here (4 or 5 complete stages, coming in at 5hrs each), as well as a lot of 1hr summary shows on the days that I had to work.

There is still one part of the tour that bugs me, and that is the “tradition” that nobody attacks the yellow jersey on the last day. I think that every jersey should be up for grabs until the last guy crosses the line. So, when the leader goes back to the team car to drink some champagne to celebrate his win while still outside Paris, sprint off the front of the Peleton, and collect the time bonuses.
I know that this really wouldn’t work, because if CE had have got off the front, then Discovery would have sent some guys up the road to catch him, and to take all the sprint time bonuses. But it is nice to think that it could happen if someone had the guts to give it a shot.

PS: Did you know that in the first years of the tour, the supporters of some of the riders used to pull other riders off the bikes and beat the shit out of them? This isn’t even the worst one – some of the spectators used to give other riders water that was spiked with poison.

Sometimes the best part of the tour is all the history / baggage that comes along with it.

PPS: Chis, Bec, Bel, and I managed to see the tour scream past us in Kent a few weeks ago. 🙂

3 08 2007
Brushy

Oh yeah – and Rasmussen wasn’t thrown out because of drugs. He was thrown out / fired by his team for missing 4 random drug tests. Admittedly missing 3 is equivalent to a positive drug test, but I still think it is worth mentioning that nothing has been proven in his case…though I am pretty sure he is on something too.

Someone said to me here that there should be a Manufacturer’s Championship in the Tour, just like there is in F1. But not for the bike manufacturers, rather for the drug companies. I think the drug companies should just come out and sponsor the damn teams, because everyone else is talking about jumping ship (T-Mobile is talking about it, Credit Agricole has gone already…).

Gruß aus dem Vaterland.

8 08 2007
trentini

Phil Ligget is a dead-set legend.

@ Brush: As I understand it the ‘tradition’ on the last day of not attacking the yellow would have been overthrown in an instant if Evans or Leipheimer would have had a chance of improving their standing. But as you pointed out they didn’t (Discovery were in a stronger position than Lotto and Evans is a better sprinter than Leipheimer). Incidentally, the yellow has come under attack on the last day in the past – well, they said so in the commentary.

And yeah, the Tour has had an interesting, and often sordid, history!

I saw the video that Chis put up about you guys watching the Tour fly by (http://bjuk.blogspot.com/2007/07/le-tour-de-kent.html). It was over bloody quick!

Technically, as I understand it, Rasmussen was thrown out for “lying” to his team. He’d told them that he’d missed two random drug tests because of “a clerical error”. Suspicious enough, but when it was revealed it was actually *four* that he’d missed the team threw him out…fair enough IMO. But yeah, you’re right; he hasn’t actually been proven to be a drug cheat. They just weren’t able to clear his name.

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