Thursday, July 07, 2011

July 7, Stage 6: Dinan - Lisieux 226 km

No picture today, I can't really seem to find a good one that sums up the stage. What was today's stage? A pain in the fucking ass. There were some crashes, though nothing like what happened yesterday. But, seriously, the rains just wouldn't let up and normally this would be a day for someone like Sylvain, but that was not meant to be at all and, in fact, might not happen for the rest of the tour. I promise to talk about the finish and all of that crap, but first let me say that this tour is really hard for me as a fan.

I was really excited right before it started, especially because Sylvain was going to be racing in the French national colors and he had had a pretty decent start to the season with a long layoff and preparation. And then the stuff with the QS team bus (which was probably something, but ended up being nothing) happened and made me think that shit, he might not be racing this year. But that was overcome. And then, on stage one!, he caught caught up in a mess of crashes, but didn't seem to get hurt. And then not much else happened until yesterday. When he crashed and he crashed hard. He obviously thought it wasn't bad, though the report on cyclingnews (linked in yesterday's post) wasn't as optimistic.

And then stage six happened and it was a MESS. It looked yesterday like Boonen was the one who was hurt worse and maybe yesterday he was. But today, well, reports had it that he almost abandoned and this quote from the QS site basically says as much:

"It's been a day I will remember for a long time. I'm still in the race thanks only to my sports directors. I even stopped during the stage, but they spurred me on by reminding me that this is the TOUR and that I'm carrying the symbol of my country on my shoulders. I stuck it out even though the mobility in my shoulder is really limited. I can't relaunch and every time I try to stand on my pedals I'm shot through with pain. To suffer like this while riding is no walk in the park, but I also wan't to stay tough for all the fans who have supported me, even today along the sides of the roads", said Chavanel after the stage.
Seriously, my heart is like so hurting here. Which is ridiculous, because it's just a race and he's just an athlete but it's my favorite sport and he's my favorite cyclist/athlete and so of course it hurts. So, maybe being excited for the TDF was my first sign that something was wrong. Unfortunately, I don't know what will happen to him and of course, it's clear he doesn't know either. I suppose, as a fan, my only care is for that of his health. I would like him to finish the tour in one piece (if that's even possible now), but if he's suffering to much, as much as it sucks for me as a fan, he should stop. I wouldn't want him to get hurt further. But at the same time, it must be killing him to being in the French RR jersey and be suffering so much on only stage six of the tour. Gah.

Enough of that. Today's stage was awesome at the end. I know yesterday I said I don't like trains and I think I can stand by that. Today's sprint was not won by Cavendish (woo!) but it was orchestrated by two lead our riders. How is this different? Well for one, they had to do this through a lot of traffic and two, they didn't outpace everyone. Ben Swift worked his ass off and the Geraint Thomas took for and, well, was fucking amazing. They both gave practically everything to push Edvald Boasson Hagen across the line. This wasn't a traditional lead out and I liked that (either that or I like Team Sky (or maybe both) but I'm not saying). The sprint was super exciting and the result made me really happy, instead of pissed off, which was a nice, if not surprising, change.

But mostly I'm spending all my time worrying about Sylvain. I know, that makes me a lame fan, but I can't help it. I've been spoiled a lot in recent years. Hopefully Sylvain can pull himself together and keep going, but I'm not convinced.

Tomorrow's stage is flat, or as much as one can be, and we'll probably have a traditional sprint at the end. I imagine there'll be a breakaway, but that the GC'll stay the same. And then, of course, it'll probably be Cavendish who wins by a massive amount and I'll be back to disliking him strongly. I hold out hope for something different, but not much. I won't be able to watch much of this one, I don't think, so it'll probably be a tape delayed stage for me.

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