I’ve got to admit it’s been the most spirited Tour de France in a long time. We’ve seen sprinters winning mountain stages, rouleurs wearing the sprint jersey, and the guy who’s dominated every recent grand tour he’s entered getting dropped on climbs. The race leader is currently an attacker who hunts for stages and claims that he doesn’t train with a power meter, heart rate monitor, or even a speedometer. With only three stages to sort out the overall it’s an absolute crap shoot as to who will come out on top, leading one Eurosport commentator to sum it up as “one hell of an epic”. And to think, when it all began I was ambivalent.
The flat stages have been the most fun. Cav looks as though he might finally hang onto Green but it hasn’t been easy, especially since when the roads have gone up the sprinters have not only hung on to win intermediate points but actually won stages. World Champion Thor Hushovd has been the man of the race, followed closely by Phillipe Gilbert, Tommy Voeckler, the HTC lead out train, Garmin/Cervelo, the country of Norway, and a slew of other guys who’ve been fighting out every mountain, hill, sprint and finale like its life or death. To tune in on the Interweb click here.
The only complaint I’ve heard is lack of early attacking in the big mountains. Long gone are the days when the Postal and Telekom trains would lead into a 20 kilometer mountain finish as though it were a sprint. You don’t ride up L’Alpe d’Huez at 20kph breathing through your nose unless you hematocrit is well north of 50. And, while there’s no way to say doping is gone from the peloton nobody is being called “Mr. 60%” anymore either, leading to my friend Josh’s comment/question, “so, is Thor the only one doping? I’m confused.”
However, it wouldn’t be bike racing without a bit of controversy. Over at the The Inner Ring you see a lot of banter from those a bit more in-the-know, or at least willing to dish dirt, than the TV commentators. Such as this tidbit on how race heroes according to the press might not be the most popular guys among their colleagues.
Then, of course, there’s Lance. Even though he’s retired, this time we think for good, it wouldn’t be the Tour without some further revelations about “the comeback of the century” or whatever other monikers the PR machine heaped on the Armstrong era.