Sunday, July 24, 2011

July 24, Stage 21: Créteil - Paris Champs-Élysées 160 km

My initial reaction to this stage finishing was thank god this shit's over. And, well, that still stands, but after an hour or so, I think I'm better equipped to talk about it now.

So, where to begin. I guess the stage first. I don't like the ceremonial start up to the final stage. I really want the final stage to be an actual race and I'd really prefer that the TDF folks would bring back the ITT as the final stage. I want to see a real race, but I know that'll never happy. I should just suck it up and deal, but I find it hard.

My biggest complaint about the race was the fact that it's been ridiculously predictable and this stage was no different. The worst part, though, was that the racing seemed to start too late and no one attacked hard enough to make a dent. Ben Swift tried, but in the end it was the HTC train that ruled the day. Like I said on twitter, I'd like to see Cavendish consistently win some stages without the train helping him out. None of the other sprinters have the luxury of bring cyclists to the tour for the sole purpose of being a lead out train. I know that people really like, but I'm totally over it. Maybe if HTC disappears, we'll find out just how good Cavendish is when his team gets split apart.

Moving on. Predictable stage was predictable with Cavendish winning the final sprint without having to put forth any effort. It was definitely an anti-climatic finish to a rather crappy race. Perhaps if I liked the GC folks, my feelings would be different. Or maybe if Sylvain (or other riders I actually liked) won stages, I wouldn't be so bitter, but that's not the case. I muted all of the formalities at the finish (including interviews, because I just don't care what Cadel or the Schlecks have to say). I did unmute for Jeremy Roy's presentation of the most combative rider. I like him and FDJ, for the most part, and it was nice to see them finally rewarded.

As for the race as a whole? Not very impressive. I'm not talking about individual performances or stage results (though those weren't too interesting, depending on the stage). I'm talking about the race as a whole. I was really excited for this tour, which surprised me, but I should've realized what it meant -- that this tour would suck for me. I know people are happy (especially Australian fans) but it's hard when the people you're cheering for never seem to win and everyone you don't like wins.

I don't know if I can do this again next year. It takes a lot out of me to care so much only to have everything I like/support destroyed right in front of me (twitter, I'm looking at you). It used to be easier to ignore the GC, but now because of twitter, everyone's crazy and nasty about all sorts of crap and it sucks. Hopefully all of this BS will die down now that the race is over. And, honestly, maybe next year will be better. Perhaps Cadel, the Schlecks and Contador won't be there and then we can have an actual race.

Until next year (maybe), I suppose. I hope you enjoyed the TDF better than I did.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23, Stage 20: Grenoble (ITT) 41 km

OH HEY. I finally got what I wanted, but it almost didn't happen. And, to be frank, I was ready to root for something bad (not crashing, but you know what I mean) to happen to Evans. Because, to be honest, the only thing that could salvage this Tour for me was Tony Martin winning (and even then, that's not enough). But at least I got a stage win for someone I liked before this TDF. Tony's the best at time trials, I don't care what other people say, no one rides like he does. He's solid, he's strong and he's so fucking good that you'd have to move Earth to stop him.

And lord, how Evans tried. If you've been following me on twitter, you probably know that I don't like Cadel Evans. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I never wanted him to win the Tour. I don't care if he's always coming in second or whatever, that doesn't mean anything. He annoys me, I don't like him and I don't want him to win. But I was especially against him because he was trying to win this fucking time trial and I just wasn't having any of it. It's not that I think Evans wouldn't have earned the win or that I thought Tony deserved to win, it's that sports are extremely personal to me and if you fuck with an athlete I love, then I'm not going to forgive you ever (or mostly ever, exceptions exist).

Luckily I can just be annoyed that Evans' in yellow instead of hating him for beating Tony. But let's talk about Evans. He was a man who knew what he needed to do and he knew (don't tell me he didn't) that he was going to win this whole damn thing today. He knew, because he's not stupid, that the Schlecks -- neither them -- were a match for him. I know that there were some who thought that Evans was too confident, but I think that in this case he was the right amount of confident. It doesn't work on everyone, but there was no way he wasn't going to ride into Paris in yellow. As much as I dislike him, I do like the fact that the yellow jersey switched hands three times in the last four days of the TDF. I just wish it'd changed hands a lot more frequently throughout the whole TDF. As much as people want to tell me that this was a race or the best Tour in ages, I just don't buy it. You give me a TDF where the jersey changes hands 15 times, or even 10, then I will grant you that the Tour's something special. We just haven't seen it yet (if ever).

Voeckler lost a shit load of time and finished fourth overall, which was totally not unexpected. Contador did his best, but it wasn't his year (too much pressure), which was sad (for me). Basso, Cunego and Sanchez were never any sort of threats. And then we have the Schlecks. Again, this too was inevitable. I don't care if they train constantly for time trials, there wasn't anyway they were going to walk away with one of them on the top of the podium. If Andy Schleck was going to win the TDF, it was going to be this year -- and he was never going to do it. Chalk it up to his inability to handle the pressure, the fact that he can't time trial, the fact that he can't do much without his brother, the fact that Leopard Trek's tactics are weird (at  best), or to the fact that he's just not good enough -- he's never going to win a TDF unless the conditions are right. And unless (until) he's up against someone who time trials as badly as he does -- he doesn't stand a chance (unless he gets a TDF suited to him).

Tomorrow is the final stage of the TDF and I cannot wait until it's over. I always find the last stage a pain in the ass. I don't care about the celebration, the champagne, or the photographs. What I wish is that the final stage was a race. Sure, once they hit the Champs-Élysées it becomes fun, but up until that point it's a waste of time. I really wish that the final stage was a true race -- that the yellow jersey was fought over until the very last second of the race. But we don't live in a perfect world and tomorrow will be just like every other year in recent memory (or at least since I've been watching).

Since both Hushovd and Boasson Hagen raced today (and Edvald came so close to being amazing), I want one of them to win the stage tomorrow. If not them, then Sylvain. If not Sylvain, then there are few others. I don't want the Green jersey to matter, I don't want that to be battled out. And I really, really don't want Cav to win the final stage. Of course, he will and I will have wasted July, but such is the risk one runs being a fan of cycling. I may sound bitter, and maybe I am, but this was not a good tour for me as a fan. I've been lucky, in the past few years, it had to end at some point and I guess 2011 was that time.

One more post, tomorrow, and then it's over for another year. I can't wait.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, Stage 19: Modane - Alpe-d’Huez 109 km

I don't really want to write about this stage and I'm not sure I know how. It was a stage, just like lots of  others. Stuff happened, much of it didn't go the way I hoped, but that's the way sporting events go. You win some, you lose some. But at the time I would've been thinking about writing this stage, I found out about the bombings in Oslo and all thoughts of writing about the stage vanished. And then I had to watch the stage (which screwed up taping and so I watched half on Versus and half on a Eurosport d/l), which didn't grab me, no matter how hard I tried. And I was fighting with my internet (thanks for nothing, Comcast) and so I just didn't care that Pierre Rolland won the stage. I didn't care that Andy Schleck was in yellow. I just didn't care.

And the more I thought about it, the more I knew what would happen on Stage 20. Even though I hadn't finished watching the stage, I knew who would win this Tour and as happy as Leopard Trek/the Schlecks were, I knew it wasn't going to last. When things are predictable (and they have been, on this Tour, just like all the previous ones), there's just no excitement left. Perhaps I'm missing something, maybe I've stopped liking cycling the way I used to (but not the way I should -- because there's no wrong way). But Alpe-d’Huez did what it was supposed to do and gave us a winner.

About the stage itself, not my hindsight, let's just say that Pierre Rolland's win was, er. It was a win, I guess? Good for him and good for Europcar getting something at the end of this Tour (barring a disaster for Rolland). I mean, Thomas Voeckler again loses everything and rides into Paris empty handed. I'm glad that I don't care about him/his team anymore. That's a lot of heartbreak that I just don't need in my fandom life. That's not to say that Voeckler and Rolland didn't bust their asses, because they did (they just had help, clearly). And it's not to say that they didn't earn the jerseys and the win, but there was never any way that Voeckler was going to wear the yellow jersey into Paris.

As for Andy Schleck? The only person he had to beat was Voeckler and he just had to gain 15 seconds. In the scheme of the TDF, that's not hard nor a lot. In the stage itself, it was both. Funny how that works. Schleck did it and he ended the day in yellow, which was inevitable. I know, I suggested that it would Cadel in yellow (and hindsight makes me wish he had), because that's what he wanted, but it didn't really work out that way (which seemed to be the best for Evans in the end). A little bit of me was amused to see Andy Schleck in yellow -- but with the ITT on Saturday, there was absolutely no way that he was going to win the whole thing. No matter how much his time trialling had improved, Evans wasn't going to let this get away from. 57 seconds separate Cadel (in 3rd) and Andy ( in yellow) at the end of the day. It was nothing

The thing that bugged me, though, that made me kind of annoyed, was that I actually cared about Contador. I mean, yes, he's a doper and probably shouldn't be racing (but they're all dopers, so maybe that's less important than it could be), but at the same time, the amount of anti-Contador I've seen totally outweighs all the other anti-Evans (does that exist?) and anti-Schlecks (it comes and goes). And because I'm who I am and I hate winners (winning is for losers) and the underdog (even when he shouldn't be), I couldn't help but want Contador to do well. And he tried. Fuck, he tried so hard and he just couldn't do it and it broke my heart just a little bit. Which is weird, but there you go.

Unrelated to the GC: Sylvain finished 39th on this stage, which was fuck yeah awesome. I'm so proud of him for making it the whole way with his shoulder issues. I love that dude, he is my favorite and the rest of them can suck it (or not, but you know what I mean). And, okay, so the time cut thing. I'm sorry, but people have got to grow up. As hilarious as it would be to see 87 (or whatever) riders kicked out of the tour for failing to keep up make it to the finish in time, it was never going to happen. It's not like the rule didn't exist, it's not like it wasn't there for a reason. And as for the points punishment? You cannot play favorites. Mark Cavendish deserved all the points deducted just as much as the last dude in the gruppetto. And for all the bitching and whining, they knew how hard it was going to be. Yesterday and today's stage were hard and perhaps the Tour ended up being harder than expected with all the crashes -- but the route never changed and it's not the race's fault that the gruppetto was too slow. The TDF folks did what they had to do -- not because the Green jersey was in there or because of the French RR jersey (fuck you for saying so) or because of who else was in the autobus. They did it because the rules allowed them to and there are consequences to actions and if you can't make it in fast enough, you either get cut or you lose points.

The time trial will decide the TDF, just as everyone expected. Because this Tour is nothing if not predictable (I know people don't agree, but when you can only pick from three or four dudes as to who is going to win it -- that's predictable). I want Tony Martin to win the stage and that's that.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21, Stage 18: Pinerolo - Galibier Serre-Chevalier 189 km

Maybe I'm getting tired of the Tour, but I have to admit that I don't understand where all the excitement about today's stage came from. Sure, maybe we've finally got a race, but it's certainly not interesting and entirely predictable. I know what you're thinking, but what about Thomas Voeckler? He did it before, you know. He struggled up a mountain and kept the yellow jersey by a matter of seconds back in 2004. So, honestly, while it was a surprise that he kept up, it wasn't like this was the first time he'd done something like this.

What's more interesting/bizarre to me is the fact that he and his teammate(s) are even up there at all. He's never been a strong climber or descender -- decent at best -- and yet here he is, keeping up with Cadel Evans' attack. I swear he almost considered going off after Andy Schleck, but wisely decided not to waste his energy. The back of the yellow jersey group was shedding riders like, well, something that sheds a lot and yet Voeckler was clinging on to Evans' back wheel for most of the climb. I'm hesitate to call him a wheel sucker, because if he'd had the energy, I'm sure he would've pulled, it's what you do. I'm a bit annoyed that Evans didn't ask anyone to help, but at the same time, he may have known it was frivolous and a waste of energy to ask when no one was going to be able to. But that's not the point.

The point is that I'm supposed to be impressed with Voeckler and I suppose I am, in the same way I'm impressed with Cavendish that day he finished only a few places behind Andy Schleck. Which is to say I'm impressed, but there's a little asterisk next to it signifying that, well, I'm not convinced. And, speaking of Andy Schleck. Yesterday he was dropped and day he zooms ahead like it's nothing and we all remember the last time someone attack like Andy did today. Not that I'm saying he'll test positive or anything, but at the same time it's kind of amusing. 

That's not to say that the only reason I didn't enjoy this stage was because, oh noes, these dudes might be doping. In fact, that's only secondary to the fact that, to be honest, nothing happened. A good friend of mine and cycling fan mentioned to me in an email that perhaps the cyclists are riding scared. Not, like, terrified kind of scared, but with all the crashes this TDF and Wouter's death, they're not taking risks. That makes a lot of sense, more than most other theories people are throwing around. It's not that I think we're seeing a new era of cycling, mostly that it's an unconscious thing and that, in the end, results in more crashes, not fewer ones.

What did I want out of this stage? Not a Schleck win, but that, too, was predictable. I wanted a breakaway winner. I want the days of people attacking for KOM points. I want cyclists who aren't afraid to leave it all on the road. Sure, that's kind of what we have in Voeckler, but as someone on twitter (I think) said, he's riding completely beyond himself. I suppose that's something to be admired and I hope it doesn't backfire, as it's wont to do -- I mean, some good things are too good to be true. But at the same time, I want the real folks who are going after the GC to at least attempt to attack. I guess Schleck was a start, but I don't see it. I can't figure out if he wants to win or not. He tries, but not hard enough and there's nothing about him that shouts I'm a winner. Say all the crap about Armstrong that you want (and I do), but he wanted it and he wanted it bad. The current crop of GC contenders don't seem to have that fire. Sure, Armstrong basically had his tours handed to him near the end of his career, but occasionally he still had a little fire in him. I don't see that, not in any of these guys.

Who does have that fire? People like Sylvain Chavanel (I'm biased), some of these Wiggins-free Sky riders. Boys from FDJ and even a few of the carrots. Hell, even Cavendish has more fire than most GC contenders! Perhaps I'm too cynical (I don't think so), but if there is a new era of cycling, it's full of apathetic boys who want us to think they care, but can't be bothered to show it. It's not the gruppetto guys, they seem to care. It's just the GC. Maybe they'll prove me wrong tomorrow and will have attack after attack, but I'm not holding out hope. At this point I just want the Tour to be over so I can stop caring about these guys.

Tomorrow isn't the queen stage, that was today (and what a joke it was). Tomorrow is a huge stage, it's got Alpe d'Huez waiting for the boys and if that can't motivate them, then nothing will. My prediction is that Cadel Evans will take the yellow jersey from Voeckler and wear it into Paris. I don't want that, but at this point it's the least annoying option and it's really, really annoying. Voeckler has hung on with the big boys far long than he should, but tomorrow's stage will be one stage too far. My hope is for a breakaway that smashes everyone and we have a winner, preferably French and from a team without a win. I don't hold out much hope, but you never know. This tour has been made for disappointment as much as for excitement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, Stage 17: Gap - Pinerolo 179 km

I did not get to see most of the this stage for various reasons, but I eventually watched my tape of the end of the stage. I thought, maybe because I couldn't watch, that because Sylvain was in the stage, this was going to be his day. Unfortunately it was not to be. Before I started watching my tape, I already knew the result (I looked/cheated/whatever) and so I knew that Edvald and not Sylvain had won. What I didn't know, until I saw some quotes and then the stage, was that Sylvain gave it a really good go. It seems he really wanted to win the stage and maybe thought that he could, but damn you, Team Sky.

This is from the QS website:

Chavanel came in 5th at 50 seconds of the Norwegian winner. "Today I really thought I could give the team the first victory in the Tour. In the break we collaborated really well. When De Weert attacked behind me I stopped collaborating as actively, hoping he could get back in. During the break I saw that Boasson Hagen was checking me out; I knew he was the strongest rider. Personally I gave it all I had. It was nice to spend a stage in the lead. This was probably my last chance in this Tour. After a few really hard days in the last stages I’ve really improved. I’m going to try to be useful to De Weert in the next stages."
Sylvain saying that this was probably his "last chance in this Tour" makes me super sad. I mean, this is right, the rest of the mountains are not the kind he likes (yikes, really). But a girl can dream, right? It's like he's finally feeling well enough to attack more and it's too late. I mean, if he hadn't crashed, he'd probably have one a stage or two, but the RR champion jersey seemed to be more of a curse than anything else, at least for Sylvain. But there's still a whole half a season left for him to race, so you never know what'll happen. His Tour might be over, but there will be other races, just not the TDF.

As for the stage winner? It's totally impossible to hate him. I mean, this was clearly a revenge sort of thing after what happened with Thor on yesterday's stage. And even though I'm totally annoyed that it wasn't Sylvain winning, it's hard to be too pissed when you see how happy Edvald was to win and how much it clearly meant to him. You can't compare a French win with a Norwegian, but it doesn't matter because they're both wins no matter what. Maybe next year, Sylvain. And hopefully we'll see loads more of Edvald.

The GC was kind of hilarious amusing. There were a few crashes by a non-GC rider and Voeckler also ended up the car pack, but he didn't let that stop him. He just kept on riding. There were a few attacks and for a bit it seemed like Contador had gotten away. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), the attacks failed to accomplish anything on the "big boys" as P&P call them. The group, as a whole, gained 25 seconds on Voeckler, but it wasn't nearly enough to take the yellow jersey. At this point, I can see one of two things happening -- the first that Voeckler manages to hold onto the jersey through the mountains because the attacks fail or GC riders can't hack the mountains and then loses it on the ITT on Saturday. The second is that Voeckler loses the jersey early in either tomorrow or Friday's stage -- either one is as likely as the other. I think the latter is the more likely scenario, but you never know with Voeckler -- or this Tour.

Tomorrow is the scary as hell Galibier stage and means that there are only four (!) stages left. Where has this Tour gone, seriously. I can't believe it's almost over. During that first week it felt like we'd been following the Tour for months. At least the crashes seemed to have stopped -- the worst ones, that is. Anyway, hopefully we'll see a proper battle on our hands and someone, not Voeckler, will end the day in yellow. But as I've seen before, in this and previous posts, with this Tour one never knows. If we're lucky, though, tomorrow will give us a chance to see what these guys are really made of -- if they have anything left.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19, Stage 16: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Gap 163 km

I was hoping this would be a good stage and in a lot of ways it was. The result wasn't quite what I wanted, but it's nice to see a breakaway managing to stick it out. I'd hoped, futility it seems, that one of the guys I was rooting for would win, alas, it was not to be. As soon as people saw that Thor was in the break, it seemed like there wasn't a chance that anyone else could win. And, well, apparently it's inevitable because Thor did, in fact, win.

Briefly, I thought made it was Norway against Canada, until the very end when I realized that it was Garmin-Cervelo and not Norway that was binding people together. It meant that Ryder Hesjedal and Thor were working together to, well, totally screw over Edvald Boasson Hagen. To be honest, it was kind of fun to see, even if it wasn't the result that I wanted.

The break had a couple of people I liked, including the Quick Step rider, Dries Devenyns as well as the rider I really wanted to win, Tony Martin. According to someone I follow on twitter (he's German), Tony's been nursing a cold, which meant he's not at his best. It also means that his fourth place was well earned, especially in the shitty weather. I was happy to see him finish so close to the winners because we hadn't heard anything once the break split apart.

One thing that made me sad about this stage was that ideally, with the mountains and weather, it could've been a stage that Sylvain might've won. But this isn't his year. I really hope that next year'll be better for him. Hell, the rest of the season, too. He's due to get back into form around the time of the world championships. Though of Thor's still in form, we might see him in the rainbow jersey yet again. But enough digression.

Thor's win wasn't the only thing going on. Unlike Sunday, we actually had some real action. It seems everyone was expecting a move by Contador and he didn't disappoint, which was actually quite nice. What I didn't expect was that a small group couldn't keep up with him. Voeckler wasn't going to, but Frank Schleck? Basso? Totally couldn't keep up. And Andy Schleck? Well, he's really missed his chance to win the TDF. And his excuses for getting dropped were ridiculous. But such is the way with the Schlecks. Who did stay with Contador? Sanchez (of the carrots) and Cadel Evans.

And, in the end, it was Evans who really made the effort. Which is kind of a shocker because attacks aren't his thing, he's known, at least to cycling fans, as a wheel sucker. A lot of people are saying, in various places, that Evans can't win it or he doesn't have the strength to win. But I don't know. He's only hampered by the strength of his opponents. Of course, much will depend on what happens on tomorrow's stage, along with that ITT. We know the Schlecks are bad at time trials, or at least not that great. But the same can't be said for Contador, he's not the best in the world, but if things work out right, it could be Contador versus Evans.

The next two stages are the real deal, followed by Alpe-d’Huez on Friday. I think that a lot can happen in these stages. Depending on how the GC folks are feeling, Voeckler could be spit out the back and finally lose the yellow jersey -- or nothing will happen and he rides into Saturday's ITT with the yellow on his back, only to lose it. I think the latter is unlikely, but as all things have gone this tour -- we never know. While I believe that Andy Schleck has ridden himself out of the yellow jersey competition, you never know. If he has a good day and those in front of him have bad ones, you never know. We almost have a real race on our hands. Let's hope this keeps up.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, Rest Day 2

The Good: 

1) Sylvain Chavanel:
He never gives up. I don't know if it's good for him, but he keeps going. I keep expecting him to DNF at some point, or even DNS. But he doesn't. Instead, he just keeps going, attacking when he can. I love this about him, even as I worry. I hope he makes it to Paris.

2) Geraint Thomas:
I'm still annoyed at the whole Brad Wiggins debacle that lost Geraint the white jersey, but I'm happy to see him attacking and attacking. I also appreciate his attempts at a lead out for Ben and/or Edvald. It doesn't usually work, but the one time it did was nice. I just hope that he (and Sky) keep attacking, especially now that the white jersey's back on their shoulders.

3) Andre Greipel:
The day after the first rest day ended up being awesome because of this dude. With all the Lotto drama (which I find amusing) and the leftover Cav vs. Greipel war of words, it was nice to see Cav put in his place. What I didn't like were Cav's excuses. What I did like was Andre's win. I just wish he could do it again.

4) Breaks:
They've been good this year, even when they haven't lasted. I like to see guys attacking even when they haven't got a chance. I know that often drives people crazy, but I don't care. Effort is sometimes more important/interesting than a win.

5) FDJ:
Gotta give this team credit, they work their asses off in the breaks. They might not have any GC folks, they might not be as strong as they used to be, but they never give up, either. It was good to see two of their riders in jerseys, even if it was only briefly. Hopefully they'll get a few stage wins before the week is out.

The Bad:

6) Crashes:
There haven't been as many, but they don't seem to be stopping. The aftermath of the ones from the previous weeks have been what's really impacted the peloton. I can't believe that Hoogerland is still racing (and attacking). We've also seen some DNFs from guys who just couldn't keep going, like Kloden. It's always sad when a rider has to leave, even if they're on a team I don't like. 

7) The Schlecks:
I don't know what's going through their minds and I don't want to know. It doesn't seem to make any sense. I don't know why they don't attack. I don't know why Frank can't just leave Andy behind, if he's stronger or the reverse. If the Schlecks never win a TDF it's because they can't grow up and leave the other behind. If they do win, it's not because of something they did.

8) Mark Cavendish/HTC:
I know people love him/them. And yes, I'll grant you that I like a few of their riders. But I am so over the HTC train. It's boring (stop me if you've heard this one before), boring, and more boring. It destroys whatever fun/interest a sprint finish might hold. I get it, he's faster and he wants the green jersey. Great. Now shut up and go away. It's much more interesting when there's an actual race at the end, instead of Cavendish walks to the finish. 

9) The Mountains:
I expected better. A lot better. And, like last year, it was just a disappointment. It's really kind of embarrassing that this is supposed to showcase the best riders in the world and, er, it's not. Sitting around staring at each other isn't racing. It's being unable to attack. It's fine if you can't get away, but one or two attack doesn't constitute a competition. And if you're going to be jackassery about this not attack BS, then stop ruining the breaks. You could at least just quit racing properly altogether and then someone who's actually putting in some effort might win a stage or two.

10) The GC/Yellow Jersey:
See above. It's great that Thomas Voeckler (if I hear one more person call him Little Thomas Voeckler, I will punch someone) has the jersey through the rest day. It's ridiculous that he's able to stay (for whatever reason) with the real GC contenders. Aside from anything else, this means that no one's trying. I mean, for pete's sake, it's like no one wants to win the race and they're just content to let Voeckler take it to the ITT and then see how that plays out. Obviously Voeckler's not going to win the TDF, because these dudes are supposed to be better than him (in the mountains, the time trials, etc), but if the GC contenders can't be bothered to try, then why are we even having this race?

Supposedly we're supposed to have some proper racing over the next few days, because it's mountains and more mountains, but I'll be honest with you, I don't expect it. I hope to be surprised, but I don't really except anything exciting to happen. I guess we'll find out tomorrow, though.