Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, Stage 11: Blaye-les-Mines - Lavaur 168 km

The lack of crashes seemed to be the most important thing about this stage. Luckily the finish, while wet and messy, wasn't ever going to cause a significant problem for the sprint finish, unless someone lost control of his bike. Since that didn't happen, we were treated to an exciting, though ultimately disappointing, finish.

I've talked before about my like and dislike for sprint lead out trains. Sometimes, I like them. Perhaps it's only when cyclists I like win using them that I can tolerate them, but I'm getting tired of the HTC train. The thing is, no one likes a dominate winner -- except I've begun to discover that's not true. Most people like it when the same guy wins everything. I don't understand this at all. When the same guy wins everything (or most races, or a lot of them in a short period of time) my first reaction isn't "WOO AWESOME!" Instead it's disappointment. It's a feeling of being let down.

Maybe that doesn't make sense to most of you, but I suppose lots of people like Cavendish, so why should you care? The thing is, I used to like him. When he was a pouty little brat who was trying to prove himself. And then he turned into this monster of an asshole. Now, thought, it seems he's matured. You know what? I don't care. I really, really don't. Technically it's not cheating, but it feels like it to me. Because he has a strong lead out train, it means that he has an unfair advantage. I know, HTC fans and Cav fans will be calling for my throat or whatever, but I still don't care. I'm not saying what he's doing is wrong or against any rules, I'm staying it feels like it is. You look at that train and you think, well the rest of them haven't got a chance. Not because Cavendish is better or faster, or even strong, but because he has being like Mark Renshaw who do all the work for him.

But, you know, cycling, like life and all other sports, isn't fair. It's a race, not a spin around the block. It's a competition and one where people use whatever they can to get ahead. And, in Cavendish's case, it seems to work much of the time. It's disappointing, especially when he ends up being in the green jersey (insufferable, god damn it). But it's a race and he has the most points, so into the green jersey he goes. It'll be a test to see if he can keep it to Paris. Not that I don't think he's a good enough sprinter, but because I don't think he's a good enough rider to keep it throughout the mountains. If Philippe Gilbert has a good day or two and can take a few intermediate points, I can believe he'll get that jersey back. I can also see that not working at all.

That's the thing about cycling, it shouldn't be predictable. Sure, you'll get the winner sometimes, but if the same guy keeps winning, that's lame (see: those seven TDF wins). But whatever. I enjoyed the stage, the rain and the break away. I know, people don't like these and I'm sorry the cyclists hate the rain and are stuck with it. But I like the rain, not because of the accidents and crashes, but because I love the way the race looks in the rain. It makes them seem tougher and stronger than most other athletes. It also used to mean that it was a day for a Sylvain attack, he loves that kind of racing, but he's just not doing it this year, understandably.

Nothing else important, aside from the green jersey, changed due to today's stage. But then again, it never was going to. Tomorrow is a mountain stage, the true kind, and maybe we'll see some true competition for the yellow jersey. The green won't be contested, I'm sure. According so some, the real tour begins tomorrow, but that's bullshit. It's a three week tour, not a few days in the mountains, and whoever's telling you that really needs to figure out if they really like cycling or now. I know, I have opinions, but whatever. There's something to like about every stage of every Tour (even though sometimes you have to search hard).

Tomorrow is also Bastille Day, which means that France'll hope for a French winner. I've been told that it could be Sylvain's day, but unless he's feeling better (and it's hard to say), don't expect him in a breakaway. Though you never know and QS has just given him a brand new tricolor bike. I desperately want him to win and cannot wait for tomorrow's stage.

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