Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stage 21: Montereau-Fault-Yonne - Paris Champs-Élysées 164km

The final stage is upon us. Actually, it's over. The whole damn thing's over and I get to have my life back. This is good, but at the same time it's horrible. Not because I'll miss 24/7 cycling (because god, I will), but instead because it means that the main cycling event is over. We'll all go through post-Tour withdrawal and depression. But, at least we had this last stage (a replay of which I am watching on Versus as I'm typing this up). And like so many other years it was a mesh of boring crap and an exciting finish.

I know there are plenty of people who like the boring crap. They like celebrating on bikes. They like the goofing off. And sure, it's cute. But I wish I'd been watching cycling when the last day mattered for more than just a sprint. I remember cheering people on, knowing full well that there'd be no way in hell that they'd get the time they needed, but desperately wanting them to anyway. Hell, I'll be honest, I definitely wished Armstrong would crash so that Wiggins could end up getting third. I'm not proud of wishing a crash on someone, but, damn it, I don't like Armstrong.

Speaking of Armstrong, though (and I know, for someone who hates him, I sure talk about him a lot – that's because the whole fucking cycling world seems to be in love with him, or at least most of them), I was not impressed with his use of stage 21 to conduct business. Now, I'm not 100% certain that's what he was doing, but he was certainly chatty as they rode toward Paris. Does he really think people are stupid enough to join his team? Probably. Do I think they are? Fuck yes. Just hopefully not the Schleck brothers. I'm not their biggest fans, but they'd have to be idiots to join Team Radio Shack (and the next person who says Shack Attack is going to get punched in the face). But, yeah, I was not impressed with Armstrong chatting everyone up. He's not the TDF winner and yet he gets 90% of the attention, it's bullshit.

Of course, this was the Tour de Armstrong, right? Wait, what? You mean Armstrong didn't win anything? You mean he only finished third? You're kidding, right? Oh, I forgot. There are 198 OTHER cyclists racing the tour (well, there were when it started) and all we can talk about is Armstrong? I was watching the final stage and there were cyclists racing that I forgot were even at the Tour. Why? Because all people ever talk about is Armstrong this, Astana that, blah blah blah. It gets really old really fast and we're back to the pre-retirement days when it was like no one else existed except a chosen few cyclists who were deemed worthy, and everyone else they talked about just "happened" to win stages.

Now, I know what you're thinking, Versus talked about Columbia and Garmin. They interviewed loads of other cyclists, like people from Lotto, SaxoBank, and Cervelo. Which is fine. I mean, who doesn't like Fabian Enchilada* Cancellara? But the rest of the time they just fall over talking about how much they love Armstrong. There were some stages when I actually turned my music up so I didn't have to listen to their fanboy love. The worst, of course, was the evening programming on Versus. There's nothing worse than listening to Bob and the other guy whose name I can NEVER remember (figured it out: Craig Hummer) try to call a race. Bob can be funny sometimes, but ugh. I'd like some non-biased reporting. I don't mean anti-American (because I love listening to Dave Harmon and Sean Kelly get all giddy about British cyclists doing well), I just mean not as much pro-Armstrong.

Apparently I have a lot of rant built up in me, so I think it's time to go back to talking about the stage. Despite all my bitching, the end of the stage was really fucking brilliant. I started out rooting for anyone but Cav, but that didn't last because there were plenty of people I didn't want to win. I ended up picking Haussler, because you know me. Of course, it wasn't to be. What happened was amazing. Garmin decided to try something different and they were giving Tyler Farrar a great lead out and the other teams had mostly boxed Cavendish's Columbia lead out in and then ... BAM. George Hincapie shifts the line of the Columbia train and suddenly they're leading. And then there's Mark Renshaw. There is not bigger stud in today's stage.

Mark roared ahead of everyone else, leading out Cav and it was amazing. He took a corner ahead of Garmin and the rest of the peloton and that was what gave him that extra kick. Mark was going so hard that I wasn't sure if he'd be able to get out of the way in time. But he did and Cav took off. The best part, even better than the win was the fact that he looked back, so just exactly how big Cav's lead was and he looked back and just knew that Cav was going to win and he was like 'FUCK YEAH' and celebrated before Cav had even crossed the line. It was so hot that I completely forgot I wasn't supposed to be rooting for Cav. I'm watching it again and it's just as beautiful this time. Seriously, Cav is fucking amazing. He's a cocky bastard, but I'll be honest. I love him and against my better judgment, I loved this win.

So, the final stage was exciting. It surpassed my expectations, thank god. Then we had the presentations. Cav got a hilarious gold bird thing for winning the stage. Andy Schleck is kind of adorable in his white jersey. Pellizotti's children kitted out in polka dots were adorable. Thor was lovely and there was a sweet moment when Cav and Thor showed that they didn't really hate each other. And then there was the yellow jersey. I was on the phone with my mom during the stage this morning and when they showed Contador, she was like 'we don't care about him!' and she's so right. I mean, she's not an Armstrong fan, but she doesn't like Contador either.

I can't really care about the GC, except that Andy's hopefully not a doper and I wanted Wiggins on the podium. But none of it matters now because the Tour's over. We'll hear about the positives in the weeks to come, but for now, let's just enjoy the fact that Cavendish is the world's fastest sprinter and that Heinrich Haussler won the stage of the fucking TDF. If only Sylvain had won, then I'd be extra happy.

Well, thanks for joining me as I got my rant on throughout the 2009 Tour. See you all over at my regular cycling blog ... Or if not, see you all next year! Same time, same place.

*for those of you who don't get that, it's a Eurosport joke. Sorry about that. Kind of. Okay, I'm not sorry about it at all. Now go back and finish reading the post.


Anonymous said...

First off: slagging of Armstrong is the easiest to do. The reason he gets the attention he does: he's got charisma. He's an arrogant ass at times but the did just became third in the tdf after being out of cycling for two years.

Secondly: You seem to be missing the fact that someone at Garmin missed the last corner and held up the peleton, thereby causing Cav's 'miraculous' lead.

cyclinginsider said...

Love your ranting, could read it all day. Some day Il PM you some savvy stuff about Hein and some nice stuff about Syl. Next year gonna be awsome. Watch out for the "golden boy", the next big "thing" in cycling. Was on training with him 2 weeks ago, and hes already hungry for next season. Hes "roumored" to be training for attitude stages for next years TDF debut, trust me he can climb...when he wants to ;)

cyclinginsider said...

Ps. About the little Shack thing Lance got going. Dont worry about Schleck brothers....Why you think almost noone leaves the Danish team? Its awsome team morale there. Fab could go to teams where he would get 300% better backings for the classics any day, but he stay becouse he love the team, just like the S-brothers. No way they gonna "run-away" with the annoying old american.