As has become tradition with this blog, here are my top ten, the six good and bad things of tour so far. These aren't in any order, except the way they came to me as I was making the list.
1. Linus Gerdemann. This kid is the future of cycling. Hopefully (and I hate how I'm saying this, but there you go) he won't have any positive doping tests and we can admire the effort and skill that it took for him to ride himself into the yellow jersey for one day. His effort was amazing and he paid dearly for it the next day (compounded with losing two teammates on the road). I am extremely impressed with Gerdemann and I hope to see him do well next year -- and hopefully keep that young rider's jersey for at least another few days.
2. Sylvain Chavanel. It's not every tour that I get to put Sylvain in this half of the list. Or maybe it is, because I just looked at one of last year's and there he is. This year, unlike previous years, he actually did something quite amazing. He wore the KOM jersey for several days. I'm extremely proud of him -- and the fact that he was in two breakaways in a row really, really impressed me. Now, if only he could win a stage or wear the yellow jersey (even for a day).
3. The Mountains. This is one of those that I debated about which category to stick it in. It's here because it really blew open the race, not just in bad ways. I enjoyed the way the peloton split, the effort that they put in. And I really enjoyed that on just two stages, the performances have been amazing and the race broke apart. I only hope this continues (without the crashes, of course) throughout the rest of the tour.
4. London. There were numerous worries about the race starting here: not fans, terrorist attacks and so on. They were not unfounded worries, but none of them came to fruition. Instead it was one of the most amazing prologues and the beginning of the first stage was truly wonderful. With everything that was going on that weekend (Wimbledon and Silverstone, among other things) the crowds were magnificent and I think the Tour pulled off an amazing event. This also gives me hope for the 2012 Olympics being amazing as well.
5. Fans. There's not much to say here, there have been a few run-ins with the cyclists, but the point is that there are fans. I know that before the start, the question was whether people would turn out and I'm just so pleased that they have.
6. Crashes. By far the most deciding factor of this year's tour have been the crashes. While I don't know if there have been more than usual, it certainly seems like it. What they have been, though, is horrific. From Mick Rogers to Stuart O'Grady, the crashes have claimed more cyclists than I can even believe. I hope that the next two weeks are different. I don't want to read about more broken ribs or fractured collarbones. I know there will be more crashes, there always are, I just hope they are minor. We don't need a repeat of the first week.
7. Descents. This is connected directly to the point above. But at the same time, we've seen some pretty bad ass descents, but mostly I think that the cyclists are taking too many risks (for whatever reason). Not everyone can desced like Paolo Savoldelli and they they are all trying. As we have loads of mountains coming up, I hope that the boys are more careful, though I don't think that'll happen.
8. Sprints. In previous years there have been crashes during the sprint finishes. In previous years, there haven't been crashes as well. This year it's like every sprint finish has a crash of some sort -- I know it's not true, but it certainly seems like it. For some reason, the teams of the sprinters can't control the bunch and the sprinters through themselves toward the line and end up hitting the deck more often than not. Dangerous and exciting, which is exactly what cycling is.
9. Team tactics. Or maybe it's a lack of them. Stage 8 was ripe for the taking and yet the only team who put on any sort of tactical display was Rabobank (of all teams!). I have no idea what was going, but I hope that tomorrow we'll see a better display.
10. T-Mobile. Just a note to say that this tour has been hell on this team. They keep losing riders and it's just tragic. I hope they make it through the rest of the tour with all of their remaining riders in one piece, but who knows.