Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23, Stage 20: Grenoble (ITT) 41 km

OH HEY. I finally got what I wanted, but it almost didn't happen. And, to be frank, I was ready to root for something bad (not crashing, but you know what I mean) to happen to Evans. Because, to be honest, the only thing that could salvage this Tour for me was Tony Martin winning (and even then, that's not enough). But at least I got a stage win for someone I liked before this TDF. Tony's the best at time trials, I don't care what other people say, no one rides like he does. He's solid, he's strong and he's so fucking good that you'd have to move Earth to stop him.

And lord, how Evans tried. If you've been following me on twitter, you probably know that I don't like Cadel Evans. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I never wanted him to win the Tour. I don't care if he's always coming in second or whatever, that doesn't mean anything. He annoys me, I don't like him and I don't want him to win. But I was especially against him because he was trying to win this fucking time trial and I just wasn't having any of it. It's not that I think Evans wouldn't have earned the win or that I thought Tony deserved to win, it's that sports are extremely personal to me and if you fuck with an athlete I love, then I'm not going to forgive you ever (or mostly ever, exceptions exist).

Luckily I can just be annoyed that Evans' in yellow instead of hating him for beating Tony. But let's talk about Evans. He was a man who knew what he needed to do and he knew (don't tell me he didn't) that he was going to win this whole damn thing today. He knew, because he's not stupid, that the Schlecks -- neither them -- were a match for him. I know that there were some who thought that Evans was too confident, but I think that in this case he was the right amount of confident. It doesn't work on everyone, but there was no way he wasn't going to ride into Paris in yellow. As much as I dislike him, I do like the fact that the yellow jersey switched hands three times in the last four days of the TDF. I just wish it'd changed hands a lot more frequently throughout the whole TDF. As much as people want to tell me that this was a race or the best Tour in ages, I just don't buy it. You give me a TDF where the jersey changes hands 15 times, or even 10, then I will grant you that the Tour's something special. We just haven't seen it yet (if ever).

Voeckler lost a shit load of time and finished fourth overall, which was totally not unexpected. Contador did his best, but it wasn't his year (too much pressure), which was sad (for me). Basso, Cunego and Sanchez were never any sort of threats. And then we have the Schlecks. Again, this too was inevitable. I don't care if they train constantly for time trials, there wasn't anyway they were going to walk away with one of them on the top of the podium. If Andy Schleck was going to win the TDF, it was going to be this year -- and he was never going to do it. Chalk it up to his inability to handle the pressure, the fact that he can't time trial, the fact that he can't do much without his brother, the fact that Leopard Trek's tactics are weird (at  best), or to the fact that he's just not good enough -- he's never going to win a TDF unless the conditions are right. And unless (until) he's up against someone who time trials as badly as he does -- he doesn't stand a chance (unless he gets a TDF suited to him).

Tomorrow is the final stage of the TDF and I cannot wait until it's over. I always find the last stage a pain in the ass. I don't care about the celebration, the champagne, or the photographs. What I wish is that the final stage was a race. Sure, once they hit the Champs-Élysées it becomes fun, but up until that point it's a waste of time. I really wish that the final stage was a true race -- that the yellow jersey was fought over until the very last second of the race. But we don't live in a perfect world and tomorrow will be just like every other year in recent memory (or at least since I've been watching).

Since both Hushovd and Boasson Hagen raced today (and Edvald came so close to being amazing), I want one of them to win the stage tomorrow. If not them, then Sylvain. If not Sylvain, then there are few others. I don't want the Green jersey to matter, I don't want that to be battled out. And I really, really don't want Cav to win the final stage. Of course, he will and I will have wasted July, but such is the risk one runs being a fan of cycling. I may sound bitter, and maybe I am, but this was not a good tour for me as a fan. I've been lucky, in the past few years, it had to end at some point and I guess 2011 was that time.

One more post, tomorrow, and then it's over for another year. I can't wait.

No comments: