Last year I did my top ten for the week (5 best and 5 worst, so to speak) and I'll do that again here. No picture, though. They were mostly of Lance and not as cool as the ones of Voeckler last year. Anyway, here they are.
1. Dave Zabriskie
Kind of obvious, of course. Who'd have expected this kid (I say that affectionately, as he's really just a year younger than I am) to win the first stage of the tour and then go on to wear the yellow jersey for three more stages? I didn't, but then again, I wasn't surprised. Zabriskie is good and it showed in '04 and in the Giro this year. I enjoyed watching his interviews on OLN as well as watching him race. I imagine he'll be back next year. Maybe he'll be in the yellow jersey for even longer.
Three different cyclists in the KOM jersey and two stage wins in a row. Who knew? Rasmussen declared he would win the KOM jersey and it looks like he will (so far, at least). And then he won the stage -- the day after his teammate, the young Pieter Weening, won his stage. Weening's break was awesome (really, there's no other word for it). He was almost caught by the peloton and eventually by Andreas Kloden. The win came down to the line, 2 mm and less than a second of time difference and Pieter won. Quite amazing.
3. Tom Boonen
Not one stage but two and a very slim lead on the green jersey. Sure, he might not keep it and he might not make it through the mountains (though I think he will, even if it's just within the time limit), but he's proven that he is probably the strongest sprinter (without Petacchi in the bunch) in the tour this year. As long as he starts correctly (and not too early, as when Robbie beat him), he can and will beat anyone. I think that unless Thor or Stuey can get points on the mountain stages, Tom'll be in green come the final stage.
4. Stage Eight
So very exciting. I hope that the rest of the 'real' mountain stages are just as exciting. In addition to the fine riding of both Pieter Weening and Andreas Kloden, it was nice to see T-Mobile working together. But, really, what made that stage to so fun and exciting to watch were the attacks on the yellow jersey. Over and over, totally relentless. I want more of those, please.
For the first time since I've been watching (and someone tell me if they've ever done this), it seemed that T-Mobile was actually functioning as a team and not riders out for their own. I don't know if they can keep it up, but it'd be nice to see them try. As a friend of mine said, wouldn't it be wonderful if the three top riders (Vino, Klodi, and Ullrich) were to attack Lance all at once (and/or Voigt, since he has the jersey now). Although with Ullrich being hurt, who knows? I give them the benefit of the doubt though.
6. Dave Zabriskie
I know, he was up in the 'good' section, too. But, really, he needs to be in both. First he's the 'next lance armstrong' and then suddenly it's as if he never wore the jersey. All he had to do was fall and he's back to (mostly) being no one. I am extremely sad that he fell and that he didn't make it through the tour. But I have faith that he'll be back.
Last year seemed to have more, but these have seemed to be worse and involve (in some cases) fewer riders. Hopefully the peloton will avoid them on the mountains this year. After all, cracking on the climb is bad enough.
8. Robbie McEwen
I don't really have much to say here, as I said it all in my stage five post. I wish he'd grow up and start acting like a real bike rider and not a petulant child. Then maybe I'd think he was worth rooting for -- because he is really good on the bike. If only it was echoed in his behavior.
The 'only lance network' is at it again. Every American is the 'next Lance Armstrong' and everything seems to revolve around someone else 'borrowing' Lance's jersey -- as if he owns it. I know that they've started, a bit, to talk about other cyclists, but only if they win stages/a jersey or are a rival of Lance. Otherwise the only information we get (without looking things up online) is from Paul and Phil, and as much as I enjoy their commentary, they aren't really that knowledgeable sometimes. Also, when they start talking about what the cyclists are thinking, it just makes me roll my eyes. I think that they should talk about the history of cycling if they run out of things to talk about. That is more interesting than guessing what the cyclists are thinking as they race.
10. The crowds
Normally this would be a good thing. But it seems that the fans are really getting in the way of the cyclists. Not so much on stage ten (which I'm watching right now), but earlier stages -- stage nine especially. They need to get out of the way and stop touching the riders. Not only do they (the cyclists themselves) get in trouble if a fan pushes them (which I don't really agree with) but there is the danger that they could fall off (a la Eddy Merckx) and be attacked or whatever by the fans. It's dangerous and, well, maybe there need to be more police on certain areas of the climbs (or barriers -- or both). And those noise sticks? They are long and could easily (though they have not yet) hit a cyclist.
Over it's been a fun few days of cycling to watch. I had to struggle to find some things to 'complain' or feel sad about. There were a few crashes that just broke my heart and stage nine really brought a lot of sadness out (among other emotions). It's too bad when people are forced to retire for the race. In other news, though, Specialized just had an absolutely hilarious commercial with Levi Leipheimer. Anyway, hope the rest day was good for everyone!