Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Different Day, Same Story - Mostly: Stage 17 Recap


It’s tempting just to copy and paste yesterday’s account because so many of the themes held true today: Norwegian domination, Contador aggression and near-devastation on the twisty descent before the finish. And I’d repeat the subject line too: this just keeps getting better.

Only things played out just a bit differently; like any good story, new plotlines are developing: Sammy Sanchez, Contador’s new BFF* showed remarkable strength and admirable loyalty once again, staying with his countryman on the day’s key climb and then pacing him to the finish; soon Sammy will be the loudest voice in the if-not-for-the-team-time-trial chorus, and he’ll surely have to weigh his regional commitments to the financial ones he might receive from a stronger team. Meanwhile, the chinks in hero Thomas Voeckler’s armor are little by little showing his vulnerability; today it almost appeared as if he was simply beginning to buckle under the weight of the Yellow Jersey, as we see him making mistakes (like riding off the road or letting gaps form) that three days ago I don’t believe he’d have made. And today Contador’s aggression carried through to the final descent; he rode riskily enough that this time he dropped Evans, who was forced to collude with the Schlecks so as not to have to give back the precious seconds he gained yesterday. These new twists made today’s stage well worth following – once again.

Most of my recaps focus on the General Classification contenders, but there’s drama behind them, as the races for the White, Polka-Dot and Green Jerseys remain tight. The sprinters’ competition isn’t as narrow as the others, but drama pervades nonetheless: a couple of days ago American Tyler Farrar complained that Mark Cavendish had drafted behind team cars in order to catch back on with the “grupetto” (the group of sprinters who stick together on the big climbs, the idea being that the Tour organizers wouldn’t kick all of them out for finishing too far behind the leaders); Cav shot back that Farrar and others had surged on climbs, looking to drop their superior-sprinting rival where he’s vulnerable – something that’s not illegal (unlike drafting behind cars) but that just isn’t done. Farrar later apologized – and then today Cavendish notched another point on his way to what’s looking like a Green Jersey in Paris.

With unowned Edvald Boasson Hagen and Bauke Mollema taking the first couple of spots today, we awarded few points, and our standings changed very little. Tomorrow should be quite different, though, likely one of the three most decisive stages in this Tour. The riders will climb three hors categorie beasts totaling 17,000’, finishing atop the feared Col du Galibier. I’ve had the opportunity to ride up the more famed Alpe d’Huez – they’ll ascend that on Friday – but a friend tells me that the day he climbed “the Galibier” was his toughest ever on a bike. These guys will ride it after two other monsters. By the end of the day we should have a much clearer picture of this Tour’s GC competition – and of our own as well!

Set your DVRs: tomorrow should be one for the ages, with some completely new storylines.



*Basque Friend Forever


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home