Monday, July 24, 2006

Tour de France wrap-up, final thoughts and thanks...

I can't believe it is over now and for the second year in a row, my company had its International Sales Meeting/ Product Launch on the the last weekend of the Tour. Two years in a row... there should be a law!

Anyway, on to the Tour stuff.

I was unable to post for the past several days due to the sales meeting and an absence of a web connection, but don't think I wasn't following things in France. After Floyd's spectacular failure in stage 17, Landis rallied against all probable odds to win the next day and regain nearly all the time he had lost. In doing so, Floyd carved his name in the record books for amazing days in the Tour's history. Surely, his ride will measure up to LeMond's race winner in 1989. Two days later, Landis rode strong enough for thrid in the final time trial and regained the yellow jerey. The race's final day was a victory lap that was hard earned and well deserved by Floyd. His win will go down in the record books as one of the most incredible ever. Bad hip or not, his ride is worthy of legend and myth.

This Tour has to be considered one of the most exciting in decades. Drama was plentiful, from drug scandals, to crahes, to "bad days", to redemption and to elation. It had it all. No team dominated the event at any point, even when it looked like one might when T-Mobile did so well in the first long time trial and had several riders in the top 10. Phonak never gave a truly dominating performance, but always rode strong in defense of Floyd and ultimately delievered him to Paris in yellow. This race delivered what no other Tour of the past several years has been able to; suspense.

Each of the final jersey winners earned their special tunics and each will be regarded as worthy of the record books;

Yellow jersey/ Overall winner- Floyd Landis... need I say more? What a great ride by a great man. Here's to seeing him this winter on the local roads again and having the chance to give him a pat on the back for a job well done. Here's to a speedy recovery and a great title defense!

Green jersey/ Best Sprinter- Robbie McEwen. Robbie the Rocket won his thrid green jersey and won three stages in the race, proving that his legs are still among the best in the world when it comes to the mad dash for the line. Robbie rode a tough and aggressive race and had the luxury of knowing the jersey could not be taken from him by anybody on the last day- as happened to him in the past. Robbie is almost as well known for his mouth as he is for his legs, but this year the legs really did do the talking.

Polka Dot jersey/ Best Climber- Michael Rasmussen. The Chicken managed to stay upright long enough to claim his second consecutive climber's jersey and a hard fought stage win as well. Rasmussen proved that he was the best climber of the race after starting the competition at a deficit while supporting team leader Denis Menchov. Once Menchov faltered, Rasmussen went on the attack for moutain points and demolished his rivals. The lanky, ok... frightfully skinny Dane proved that he is a rider to be feared when the climbing is truly painful- making people ask, "Rujano who?"

White jersey/ Best Young Rider- Damiano Cunego. The Kid is a gifted rider and one to watch for the next decade. Everybody already knew this thanks to his Giro win two years ago, but he fell off the map for the better part of two seasons due to injury and sickness. He now appears to be getting fit again and maturing as well. He should prove to be a threat to many riders for a long time to come and certainly brings new hope for Italian cycling fans for a new Italian Tour hero to replace the departed Pantani.

It was a great race this year and I can't wait for the new punditry to begin for the next one.

I'd like to thank Jessi Pacetti for playing Cub Reporter and working so hard to help me provide you with in-depth and expanded coverage of the race. Her unique perspective and sense of humor was great to have here and I hope to have the chance to collaborate with her again. I only apologize for not getting her posts up sooner and missing the past few days of her commentary and behind the scenes stories. I am already looking forward to next year's race and trying to "cover" it for you all.

Thank you all for reading the coverage and oddball commentary here. It was a lot of fun again. Next year, I'll try to make sure that the company doesn't schedule a major, multi-day event during the race.


1 comment:

Donna Tocci said...

Good to have you back, Tim. I think we all agree...would a meeting a few days later hurt anything? Seriously. You have 100+ passionate cycling folks in a room...with no tv or internet...during the best week of the largest bike race in the world...isn't there something a litte wrong with that? I'd start lobbying now to have the meeting start the day AFTER the Tour DAY France finished!

Thanks to you and Jessi for the great commentary. You two make a great team and I can't wait to introduce you guys in person in Vegas! Bring it on!