July 17, 2006 posted by

Straight Dope on Le Tour

Okay, I’m pretty sure that I don’t know nearly as much about cycling as Paul Sherwin and Bob Roll, who were ex-pros, or Phil Liggett, who’s the only Tour de France announcer I’ve heard in my lifetime (and I’ve been following the race since I was a kid.) However, listening to these guys talk it’s apparent that there are marketing influences behind what they’re saying. I’m guessing it’s OLN, harping on them to say things to liven up the race (even though this edition is plenty full of life), but the stuff that’s coming out of their mouths is often just nonesense.

For example, the “inability of Phonak to control the race” is something they talk about daily, especially since they purposefully gave up the jersey the other day. We hear Lance would have done this or that and “no way the Discovery Team would have allowed that to happen” yada yada yada and it’s almost as though they never watched Lance race. I mean, when Thomas Voekeler bravely defending the yellow jersey for days on end in 2004 his biggest cheerleader was Armstrong. It’s better to not have the yellow jersey if the person wearing it isn’t an overall threat. No one disputes this except just about everyone in the American mainstream media. was even more honest about Pereiro, saying “Grabbing the jersey is somewhat of an overstatement as Phonak almost forced him to take it.” Yet OLN won’t shut up about how “Phonak is vulnerable.” Yet, watching Pereiro’s Caisse d’Epargne boys working all day in the heat while Floyd’s boys sat in the autobus resting for the alps, I’m thinking Phonak is employing some very sensible strategy.

This is just one example. I really used to like Phil, Bob, and Paul–and still do, even if it’s now mainly sentimental–but I’m getting more and more sick of their lunacy every day. I’ve always blamed all this on Al Trautwig, but this excuse is beginning to wear itself thin.

Anyway, Phonak is fine. Landis is in perfect control of the race. He might not win if some individual is stronger in the mountains. But he’s not going to lose to Pereiro. And he’s not going to lose because of his team.

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