My Rides

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Le Tour 2011

This usually isn't a place to find 2nd hand commentary (I didn't watch Le Tour 1st hand), however I have to say I really enjoyed this year's tour.  I'll admit up front that I'm a relatively new cycling fan, and wouldn't rank myself a fan as in "fanatic."

That said, I'm not really a fan of the some of the big contenders.  I'm not a Contador fan because (worth bullet-pointing):

  • He seemed to usurp Lance's team leadership status in 2009 (or at least seemed to demonstrate little respect for his more experienced peer and team member)
  • He seemed "un-gentelman-ly" when he rode away from Andy Schleck (when he had his mechanical on a climb) in 2010
  • He's one of those "super-light-skinny-guys"
  • His voice sounds silly in interviews
I'm not an Andy Schleck fan because (not worth bullet-pointing) he doesn't seem to try really hard, all the time, or enough of the time to actually win.  And, he seems to be whiny...  I'm sorry if I offend any European and/or Socialist leaning readers, but he seems to embody the Franco-German Socialist work ethic (or at least the stereotype of it that I lean toward - highly capable, but not hungry enough to win).

So, seeing some hard working, of-good-character (apparently), underdog riders in the yellow jersey, was very refreshing.  Phillippe Gilbert got the jersey first, and worked hard all-race to try to get the Green Jersey from Mark Cavendish.  He doesn't have Mark's team to set pace to tire the field, or lead him out in sprints, but he was always seen pushing hard trying to reach his stated goal of winning the Green Jersey.

Us big guys have to love Thor Hushovd - there's actually some chance some of us can weigh what he weighs (180 lb)! He won sprints, he won in a team time trial, he won 2 mountain stages, and was seen working hard all those days staying in yellow.

Last, but certainly not least:  Thomas Voeckler.  Wow!  He got the yellow jersey riding in a break-away, with some unfortunate (field slowing) crashes behind him, however he (and little known, at least to me, team members) absolutely worked hard, every day keeping him in yellow.  You could see the pain in his face near the end of each day, but then he would be recovered, and working again the next day.  That told me, while he seemed to be stretching or struggling each day just to keep the jersey, his training was obviously hard enough and disciplined enough to support him for so many days.  By the time the tour left the Pyrenees, I wanted Voeckler to win.  

I can't say I don't think Cadel Evans deserves the jersey, in the end - he and his team worked hard every day, followed a sound strategy, in a disciplined way.  You could see the inevitability of a victory unfolding with the race.  He had some adversity, even on the last day in the mountains.  Cadel doesn't look like a flower, like Contador and Andy Schleck, and he used to be a mountain biker.  So:  "Congratulations! and Well Done!" 

However, to Phillippe, Thor, and Thomas:  "Thank you for a very interesting Tour!!!"