Archive for July 21, 2010

Tour de France 2010 – Week 2   Leave a comment

Unfortunately, I missed most of the action through the Alps and Pyrenees in the 2010 Tour. After the disappointment of not being able to watch much of the first week due to the OLN network in Canada’s decision to only broadcast the live action (with no evening re-broadcast), I thought  being in the States for the second week would allow me to watch the great Versus coverage morning and night. Unfortunately, the Hyatt Regency hotel in San Francisco where I was staying, did not have Versus on their Channel line-up. The only way I had, to keep up with the action and results was via Twitter (primarily @procyclinglive) and even then I had to ration my usage due to ridiculous data roaming rates.

It seems that the two big events of the week came from the two guys (LA and AC) that we expected to make the headlines in the year’s Tour – although this week’s stories were not as a result of them going head-to-head.

On Stage 15 [and I make the following comments without benefit of having been able to watch the race] there was the controversy of Alberto Contador taking advantage of an Andy Schleck problem to jump ahead up the mountain and gain enough time to take the yellow jersey from Schleck.  I’ve always admired Cycling for the sportsmanship demonstrated by waiting when one of the GC contenders encounters bad luck, such as a flat or getting caught up in someone else’s crash. In this case though Schleck’s chain slipped off. To me that does not sound just like random bad luck. I’d attribute it to less than ideal bike tuning or a rider error. If that is the case then I say that it is fair to take advantage of the situation. The best (strongest, most technically skilled and strategic) rider (and team) should rise to the top. Andy’s team should have had someone right there with him to hand over a bike or pace him back to AC (had it not been for the bad fortune of Frank Schleck in Week 1, this is exactly what might have happened and I expect Contador’s move would not have got the same attention).  I’d also give Contador the benefit of the doubt in this case as it might have been difficult for him to know the nature of Schleck’s trouble while in the heat of the battle.  All that said I am still pulling for Andy Schleck and I hope he pulls off a decisive move on Stage 17’s Col de Tourmalet to win back yellow with a nice cushion to carry him through the time trial.

The second big news of the week was Stage 16. I’d been waiting to see Lance Armstrong recover from his disastrous first week and show that he wasn’t about to roll over and quit even though the podium was out of reach. Lance got away in the breakaway on this stage and stayed away but unfortunately just didn’t have enough left at the end to win (or even seriously contend for) the sprint for the win. Still it was a good effort and what seemed to be smart tactical riding from the legend. A week ago I hoped we would have seen more from Lance in these mountain stages, maybe keeping up with Contador/Schleck (just to prove he could) and perhaps a stage win (which Stage 16 could have been).

I’d been pulling for Team Radio Shack which on paper looked to be one of the strongest in the peleton. Although Armstrong is their leader they seemed to be one of the few teams with three serious podium contenders. I’ve been a bit disappointed that Levi Leipheimer hasn’t been more of a factor since Lance faded away. Although Levi is sitting 7th (and that isn’t bad at all), it would have been nice to see him in the race for a podium place. Kloden has been less of a factor that I expected but probably would have shone more had Lance been in contention.  I am really impressed with Chris Horner – a strong support rider for sure but who’d have expected him to have 25 minutes over Lance! Team Radio Shack has got to be a little  disappointed overall they can still salvage some respect by winning the overall team classification which they currently lead.

So going into the final 3 or 4 days what are we to expect? Well, Thursday’s Stage 17  should be the highlight. If Schleck can breakaway from Contador and gain a few minutes (yes that is a very tall order) he could be in a position to  survive the expected Contador advantage in the time trial. If El Pistolero can stick on Schleck’s wheel all day he should be in yellow in Paris. I’ll be watching intently the next few days knowing that even if the racing doesn’t keep me on the edge of my seat at least I can enjoy the wonderful scenery of the French countryside (love that TV coverage!)

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Posted July 21, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Racing, Cycling, Tour de France

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