Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 19, Stage 15: Pamiers - Bagneres-de-Luchon 187.5km

Everyone's talking about the yellow jersey drama and I will too, because like everyone else I have opinions. But first I want to say that it was one hell of a stage. It was exciting, had all sorts of fun elements (drama! drama! drama!) and mountains and descents that took your breath away and and and. But, the best thing (seriously) was that a French dude won the stage. I go through periods of like Voeckler and then times where I can't stand him because I'm still bitter about all the work he made Sylvain do when they were on BLB. Voeckler had the yellow and made Sylvain work his ass off for him and then lost everything (yellow and young rider) and I was like, Sylvain could have been winning stages, but no. Anyway, mostly I dislike him, but on stage 15, I couldn't bring myself to hate on him. It was great to see him win and even better to see just how happy he was about winning.

The shitty part is that he won and no one cared because of the stupid yellow jersey drama. This, my friends, is why it's way more fun to care about stage wins. You don't get caught up in all the bullshit that surrounds the race lead. I get that what happened (which, yes, I will talk about later) was dramatic, but come on. When you spend all your time talking about the yellow jersey and ignore the French winner? Fuck you. I know, drama makes headlines and I had a huge debate about this on twitter, but seriously. Praise the stage winner, don't let the other crap (no matter how crazy wild it was) overshadow the fact that a dude from the break managed to win the day. I know the race reports will talk a lot about him, as they should. But watching the stage coverage itself (both Versus and Eurosport) were more interested in the yellow jersey. I know that I'm just spouting shit and no one really cares, but I do.

Obviously this is neither the first nor the last time the yellow jersey has overshadowed the stage winner. Granted, it usually happens on the last day and it's totally justified, but come on. First day of the last week of the Tour. Give Voeckler a little respect. If you can muster up the energy to talk about Vino all the time, why not Voeckler? That being said, I didn't agree with Voeckler when he himself said he deserved to win, because we all know that I feel no one deserves to win. Regardless of that fact, it was super awesome that he won the stage. I'm glad that a lot of the French guys have won this year (especially because two of those wins were by Sylvain). I'd like to see a few more, but I'm not overly concerned. They've been pretty good stage wins and Voeckler just to them. It was cute as he rdoe up to the line he wasn't sure he was all alone and he looked back and was like !!! and that made the rest of us go !! and smile. It was lovely.

So, now that I've gotten three paragraphs worth of stuff from the stage winner, it's time to talk about the drama that unfolded toward the end of the stage. I don't know exactly what happened to Andy Schleck, except that it was a mechanical -- either the bike screwed up or he did. To be honest, though, I don't care. Schleck, in yellow, attacked. Vino countered, soon followed by Contador, his teammate. Then BAM, somehow in there Schleck's bike stopped and Contador kept attacking and that's when everyone lost their shit. Seriously, people on twitter (and the commentators) went insane. It was ridiculous, hilarious and utterly maddening. There are two extremes: a) Contador is a dick, he should have waited for the yellow jersey and b) It's a bike race, you attack to win, you don't sit on your ass and wait for your opponent. There are people who fall between these two extremes. I will put a disclaimer on this before I give you my opinions (for those of you not following me on twitter): I do not like Contador or A. Schleck. Yes, I don't like either of them and ideally, neither will win the GC.

And now, my thoughts. I am firmly in camp b. Which means that I definitely think Contador shouldn't wait. In the past I may have felt differently, until I realized that I was watching a race, not a popularity contest. The Tour de France is not a bunch of buddies riding together and wait for someone when they have a flat or whatever. Just like I felt Cancellara shouldn't have made the peloton wait for the Schleck brothers and just like I felt even though my boy had the yellow, the peloton shouldn't wait for him either. I keep saying this over and over, there are no gifts in cycling. Why should you be forced to wait for your opponent? I thought the TDF was a race, not a tea party (as someone said). I mean, honestly. If Contador can't take advantage of a (possible) fuck up by the dude he's racing against, what's the point. I know, tradition and all that bullshit, but guess what - there are more cases of people taking advantage than there are of people being nice. It's a sporting event! You're not supposed to be nice!

Pez Cycling, who annoys me a lot of time, actually has a really good article about these two opinions that people have. I recommend reading it. But yeah, my views are pretty straight forward. Either you attack or you don't. If you can't handle the fact that it's a race, then maybe you want to reconsider your career. This is just like how I hate that no one attacks on the final stage. I don't want to tune in to watch you celebrating and drinking champagne, I want you to fucking race. And while I might not like Schleck and Contador, I'm watching to see (among other things) A BIKE RACE. Of course, you say, they're not racing for you (which I know I've said) and you're right. They're racing to win the goddamn race. And instead, they bitch and whine like little babies when something goes wrong. Come on. Even with drugs, y'all are tougher than soccer (football) players. So get off your high horses and suck it up and deal.

I hope stage 16's better (though I already know the result as I'm writing this, I'm going to pretend I don't) because I cannot stand this crap. Thank god the race is over. I may have to reconsider blogging next year -- though we're supposedly going to be without Armstrong, at last (again), so that's something to consider. And as long as Sylvain's racing at the Tour, I'll keep watching. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Time start thinking about the next TDF blog.

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