Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hey, is there a bike race on TV?

Yes, yes there is.  A bike race on TV that is.

I am typing this after Stage 18, up the Galibier, but before Alpe d'Huez.  Here is what I think.

Schleck (Andy that is) did mount an impressive attack at a point that no rational cyclist would have.  Maybe one would have thought about it, but after seeing the weather and hearing about the wind through the valley, no rational person would have gone through with it, but Andy did.  It was a ballsy, high-risk move and as a cycling fan, you have to appreciate it.  On the other hand, one wonders why Andy decided to uncork this move today, when by all appearances Contador was coming back strong, and why for sh_t's sake neither he nor his brother showed a willingness to take any risk at all in the Pyrenees.  Seriously, Andy or Frank could be in yellow and defending a lead, but neither was willing to take any step that might, and I emphasize might, have jeopardized the other brother's chance.

I think that Frank was the stronger brother through the Pyrenees, but for some reason he was so committed to Andy winning that he wasn't willing to ride away from the group when he could. I started today firmly thinking that the Schlecks had p_ssed away the chance to win (which I think they still have - but from a different person) when they didn't just bury Contador when they had a chance.  Well, I guess the last two days of Contador dancing up the short climbs and storming down the dangerous descents built a bit of spine on those brothers - or maybe it was the plan all along, but in either case, Andy's attack was impressive and a big win-or-lose-it-all bet.

It was looking like it was all coming up aces as they stormed through the valley floor and the time gap amazingly went up and the following group refused to work together.  I was flabbergasted and yelling at the TV.  How could there not have been a few willing to put it on the line and not give away the overall win?  Well, jiminy cricket pulled a big huge shrimp off the barbie and threw down huge.

And, as Andy worked over the Galibier, he got all of the glowing comments, but damn if Cadel Evans (Thunderbirds Are Go!) wasn't matching him stroke by stroke and then pulling back time.  He did a monsterous climb and actually made it from the top to bottom faster than Andy in the winning time.

Now, one other person deserves mention - Thomas Voeckler.  Up until now I have mostly referred to him as frickin Tommy Voeckler, or that damn Voeckler, or maybe something worse.  I hate the way he mugs for the camera and throws his franco hands around in exasperation at everything from the wind blowing onwards.  And I still hate him.  But, I am also willing to recognize that he has raised his game way beyond what anyone thought he could and has been impressive, no time more than his curb jump into a car park on the way down the last descent on Stage 17.  If you haven't seen this three second clip, find it.  Anyway, no one will be happier to see him shed than me, and I really, really believe it will happen on the Alpe d'Huez on Friday, but credit where credit is due.  Chapeau.

Final thoughts.  We have watched a number of years of somewhat formulaic races, so it is great to see the TdF literally three days from finishing and no one can seriously say that they know who will be on the podium.  Oh, except me.  I am going to stand by my prior prediction and say that I think there will be two Schlecks on the podium, just beneath the step holding Cadel Evans. They still can't match Cadel in the TT and it will be their undoing.  Call your bookie and let them know.

No comments:

Post a Comment