Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, Stage 16: Bagneres-de-Luchon - Pau 199.5km

I will be upfront and honest with y'all. I really expected a lot more out of this stage. I suppose, as it was (somehow) billed as Armstrong's swansong (ha. hahahaha), there probably weren't going to be any real attacks on the yellow jersey. Sadly, this was, in fact, the cast -- the no attacks things. I guess that's the way these things go. Maybe they're saving themselves for Stage 17, which is Pau - Col du Tourmalet. That's probably the last stage where true yellow jersey attacks can take place, aside from the time trial (which might be where Alberto Contador seals his win, barring any unforeseen incidents). But, still, I was hoping for something exciting. And, well, I suppose in a way I got that.

Which is not to say that I enjoyed Armstrong in the breakaway. It actually took all of my cycling fan-ness to care about the breakaway. It was only the presence of Carlos Barredo that made me even pay attention. Armstrong is such a worthless figure and I couldn't bare to see him win. So it was basically who do I want to win that's not Armstrong. I guess it was more of an anybody but Radio Shack thing, since I also cannot stand Chris Horner (bitter, bitter). But, honestly, aside from Barredo, there wasn't anyone in the break I cared about. And I was doing a million things so it was kind of hard for me to care much about the stage (work gets in the way of fun times). But I did manage to see the whole stage. I meant to write about it earlier, but couldn't be bothered. I blame my apathy on blogging on both the weather (ugh, heat) and work.

Anyway, so the break did it's thing and nearly fell apart, but managed to hold on until the end. Luckily they made it exciting for us because Carlos Barredo attacked with about 35k (give or take) left. I wish he'd waited a bit longer because his timing was just a tiny bit off and we all know what that means. Which is that he didn't win the stage and that's just super annoying. If he'd waited maybe 5k or so, he probably would have won the stage. Though who knows with the way this tour is going. But, yeah, Barredo left too early and ended up getting caught almost within sight of the line. It was terrible and annoying because you felt like Barredo was so close and he just had to do it. But, sadly, it was not to be (damn it).

So what did happen? More ridiculous cat and mouse bullshit with the breakaway. But the worst part wasn't the BS, instead it was all the commentators who said that the break should allow Armstrong to win. I mean, come on. We've been through this many, many times. No one deserves to win, there are no gifts in cycling. Armstrong's even said as much and yet everyone seemed to think that the break was going to sit up and let him win. I cannot even begin to tell you how angry that made me. I don't understand the world's love of Armstrong. Maybe it's hero worship, maybe it's blinded by love, maybe it's stupidity. Or maybe it's fear. The man'll sue you if you talk shit about him (well, and if you're important, because I talk shit about him all the time -- but I'm not anyone, luckily). Regardless of why the cycling world seems to grovel at his feet, there's no reason to expect that they should gift him a win.

And, thankfully, that didn't happen. What did was pretty awesome. It was a weird sort of sprint (which made twitter go wtf a lot because two teams in the break had two dudes from each team and they did nothing -- one of them being Radio Shack, I love it when team tactics fail -- even at the expense of someone I like). And somehow Sandy Casar out lasted almost everyone -- except for Thomas Voeckler's teammate (Voeckler won Stage 15), Pierrick Fedrigo won the stage. I'm not a fan, but I don't dislike him, either. It was just so fucking awesome that Armstrong didn't win the stage that I was like OMG YAY! Maybe it's petty of me, but I was really hoping instead of a swansong, he'd have a swandive and ... he kind of did. Thank you, cycling.

There was also some sprint weirdness, with the jersey changing hands again -- back to Thor. We'll see what happens on Friday (sprinter's stage) and then on the final stage on Sunday. I don't know what I way any more, except maybe Sylvain to win another stage, the Tour to finish and Armstrong to go away. At least two of those will happen eventually. I hope. Wednesday's a rest day (woo!) and then Thursday is a wicked stage. If we don't see any fireworks on Col du Tourmalet, then I don't know why we even bother with the Tour. Fingers crossed for excitement.

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