Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6, Stage 3: Wanze - Arenberg Porte du Hainaut 213km

I've thought long and hard about how I want to write about today's stage. I've already dealt with a lot of my issues elsewhere, so I suppose I can be moderately objective (keyword being moderately). I suppose I should start at the beginning, but I don't think I will. Instead, I'll just get the worst part over with. Today's stage sucked. It was far, far worse (for me) than yesterdays and included just as much whining. I won't comment anymore on whining, because I'm just constantly repeating myself and I'm as tired of it as I am of the whining.

Today's stage was all about the cobbles and, for me, if Sylvain could defend his yellow. Sadly, he couldn't. Through a comedy of errors and bike changes, he ended up coming in over four minutes behind the new leader of the peloton. It was pretty fucking depressing, but that's the way the Tour goes. I knew it was likely he wouldn't have the yellow jersey for very long, I just didn't expect it to disappear the same day. My parents were amazing for putting up with my anger and boy was I angry. Not because Sylvain lost the jersey, but because of who won it. As I said yesterday, my respect for Cancellara is non-existent and that continues today. I will say that he did everything he should have done yesterday.

It was my understanding that the point of the Tour de France is to get the yellow jersey (or whatever jersey you're chasing), no matter the cost. Yesterday (aka Monday), that seemed to have been forgotten at the expense of a lot of riders. It was unprofessional and selfish, but no punishment was handed out (much to my chagrin), except to the cyclists who crossed the line after Sylvain. And then today, when there were loads of crashes and Cancellara's teammate crashed out of the Tour -- he didn't give a shit about it. Which, to be honest, is the way cycling should be. It's not about playing fair and today show that's not the case. So I can't be angry that Sylvain lost the jersey, instead I can be angry about who took it because he is the complete opposite of what I like about cycling.

Moving on. I really wish I hadn't been so upset about yesterday's events (minus the Sylvain business), because I really should have been able to appreciate this stage. It was high drama, it was crashes, it was ridiculousness to the extreme. It was exactly what I look for in a stage of the Tour. Unfortunately, I let twitter destroy my love for the sport and it was really hard for me to recover, and I'm not even sure I have. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Anyway, back to the race. It was like a mashup of Paris-Roubaix and traditional TDF stages and it was pretty fucking awesome. People bitched about it afterward (and before), but come one. Let's learn to complain when the route is announced, not the day of the tour. Grow some balls, kids.

There was a break that almost stayed away, it would've been really nice if it had. But Cancellara did what he should have done yesterday (and something I would have hated him for, but understood) and that was attack. He's awfully good at the classics, and especially good at cobbles, so it was a great day for him. He just took off, along with a few others (including his teammate Andy Schleck, who must be magic, because he certainly recovered well). And along the way, Cancellara took out loads of his rivals. He goal was, as they say on Eurosport and Versus, carnage. I know all he wanted (cares about) was getting the yellow jersey back (but come the fuck on, it's not like you deserve it more than anyone else, Cancellara, you're not special and nor is anyone else). And that's exactly what happened, at least this time he did it without being a bastard and cheating (yes, I call what he did yesterday cheating, don't like it? Too bad).

His closest real rival (aka contender) is Cadel Evans, who I don't really like, but he's pretty much the lesser of all other evils. He's 39 seconds back and could probably take the jersey if he has a really good day. Sylvain's a sad 1:01 back, close behind him is Andy 'it looked like I broke my collarbone, but I didn't' Schleck at 1:09. Last year's winner is 1:40 back from Cancellara. While Lance 'I should have stayed retired' Armstrong is over two minutes back and so on. And yes, I am awfully bitter and I'm quite good at holding grudges -- remember that. So, yeah, it's not so tight at the top, but we're only onto stage four tomorrow, so anything can happen. We haven't even gotten into the mountains yet -- I cannot imagine how anyone, save the riders, isn't enjoying this Tour (to at least some degree). It has everything we could ask for, except a doping scandal (when? when!).

I forgot to mention, the stage ended with Thor winning (thank god) and Cancellara in yellow. We know how I feel about the latter, but the former made me surprisingly happy, even though I'm rooting for the old man, Robbie McEwen (and I do need to write up a post about him). I guess I was at anybody but Cancellara at that point. Ahh, well. I'm nothing if not predictable.

Tomorrow could be interesting, but I expect a breakaway (without Sylvain) that doesn't last and a mighty sprint finish (at last). We need a good sprint, even if it's crash marred. Hopefully I won't hate everyone after tomorrow's stage. Fingers crossed and all of that.

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