I've been mulling over the Tour de France in my brain ever since it finished up on Sunday and considering the Olympics start tomorrow I figured I better get my licks in while they still were kind of relevant.
First, lets just get this out of the way. The race was boring to watch. I know everyone was thinking it. I just wanted to say it. There wasn't much pageantry or drama. Well except for maybe in the eye's of Great Britain. Which of course how could you blame them... To have your countries first tour victory is a very big deal. I'm fairly surprised on how little of an uproar the UK has given the victory. I guess having the Olympics starting so close to the end of the tour, as well as being located in their country doesn't help matters.
In my mind Wiggins and team Sky took the old US Postal team's play book. Couple that with Wiggins ability to do a Miguel Indurain impersonation and viola! You get a truly dominating performance. So dominating in fact that he and his team took all of the bite out of their competition and the race.
They deserve their kudos. To be able to put the 200 greatest cyclists in the world in their place takes major horsepower and tactical savvy. Not to mention the fact that they only started the team three years ago and they had the lofty five year goal of putting a Brit on the top podium step. By my calculus, that's (multiply the ten, carry the three...) 2 years ahead of their deadline. Super impressive. I just wish they would have done it with more panache and less cold hard execution (Maybe that's why I like the Giro better. Hmmm...).
With his dominant performance and his faithful (?) (I say that because while Froome came in second overall. He certainly didn't tow his leader in on several occasions like a truly faithful super domestique would/should have. Instead it was almost like he taunted him with his power on the climbs. And it certainly isn't hard for a teammate to look back and gauge a distance. Instead of sprinting forward. Gapping Wiggo. Waiting. And doing it again. It was kind of bullshit. If Sky had truly clipped Froome's wings then he wouldn't have done that... Wow! This is probably the longest inner monologue I've ever had in my blog before. Kind of makes me want to keep going. JK...) lieutenant Wiggo trounced the competition fair and square*.
There was some panache in the race however. Thanks to a small group of individual players. Not least of which was Wiggo's very own teammate Mark Cavendish. I'll tell you what. After the first few stages I was getting a sinking feeling for Mark. I thought he would get lost in the mix with the end all be all goal of winning the tour. But he certainly proved me and any other doubters wrong with some really solid wins. Not least of which was winning the final stage in Paris. As a side note. That was probably one of the only times in the whole tour where I got chills watching Bradley Wiggins. Helping to lead out his sprinter was a super classy thing to do. And I must say that there aren't to many GC leaders that would have the stones to do that for one of their teammates. So I guess Wiggo did have a garnish of panache. Just not a full serving....
That's all I'm going to say. Between him and Nibali they were the only predictions I got right before the tour started (Meh. What do you do?). But holy crap did Sagan deliver! Three stage victories and the green jersey. I still say we will be seeing this kid bring home a ton of wins for a long time to come. Just awesome! Some people are touting him as a potential GC contender but I don't see him improving his TT and climbing skill enough to make that happen. However, I can see him win the green jersey and pretty much every hilly to semi-hilly classic for the next ten years.
Speaking of my predictions... You can take this one to heart. Vincenzo Nibali will win the Tour de France before his career is done (Put your name on it!). He can climb very well and he didn't lose as much time in the TT's as I thought he would. With the exception of two times that Cadel to a dig. He was the only other real GC contender to truly try to attack Wiggins. Plus he did a lot of smack talking (At least during the first half.) which I like. Makes for entertaining stories.
Then there is of course the next big American hope (Although he's small. So maybe he's our next small hope...) Tejay Van Garderen. After Cadel Evens popped he was the only thing that BMC could wrap their hopes around. And he did a very admirable job. He's maybe not as consistent as some of the seasoned veterans in the mountains. He had good days and bad days. But all the basic building blocks are there. I wouldn't be surprised to see him either be the leader for the Vuelta or the Giro next year or maybe even the Tour depending on what happens with Cadel.
*So I guess that's about it. I could go into the doping busts. Plus the big old rumor mill about Wiggins and his team. But the fact is that we really don't have all the info yet. Some of it may go away. Some of it may stick. And even more of it will show up ten years after the fact. Like it always seems to do... *sigh*
Tomorrow I want to talk about the Olympics and the fact that I know almost nothing of what's going on.
Thanks for reading.
Rubber side down,