Friday, July 08, 2005

Tour Report; Stage 7

Bravo to Robbie McEwen, the Pocket Rocket, for his second stage win. The little speedster from Oz is proving to have the legs to match his mouth, again. Say what you want about the brash talking missile, but the guy can sho-nuff wind up a heck of a sprint.

Better yet, my man Magnus (yes I weigh more then 200 lbs and can still ride a Grand Tour) Backstedt was second in the sprint... ahead of the other sprinters in the group. The guy can win Paris-Roubaix AND carry his gigantic Swedish body up and over the climbs of a 3-week race. He gives guys like me (tall and fat) hope and encouragement to keep on keepin' on.

Has anybody else noticed that professional riders in the Tour seem to crash a lot? Kind of makes me feel a lot less like a dork, since I crash less than they do. 2 crashes today in the last 500 meters. The amazing thing is that so few people actually went down in each of the crashes. Some of the riders anyway have amazingly good handling skills to avoid all the guys sprawled across the road.

I've been asked why there are so many crashes, so here is my take on it, based on what I've read and conversations I've had with riders; the Tour is the biggest event in cycling and the sponsors are MOST interested in the event and what the team does. The whole year for most teams hinges on what happens at the Tour. More importantly to the riders, their careers depend on the Tour. Yesterday's winner, Bernucci, has now sealed his career with that win. He will now be much more valuable to any team he chooses to ride for. The riders are so worried about doing well that things get really nervous in the field. On top of all that nervousness you have GC riders wanting to limit losses and stay out of trouble and they end up getting involved in what happens in the sprints. A little twig like Heras has to stay at the front to avoid crashes at the back, but then finds himself stuck next to a sprinter's leadout train that smells blood in the water as they get closer to the finish line. If elbows start banging, guess who is going to lose that little battle. Yep, Twig Boy.

Tomorrow should see some activity, though my predictions have proven wrong so far (where is CSC when I need them?). The final climb of the day is less than 40k from the finish and it's a good one, but the long twisty decent runs all the way to the finish. If somebody gets away in a small group over the climb, they could stay away to the end. But the sprinters teams are likely going to try and contain things. As big as he is, I have a feeling Maggie Backstedt is going to try to get away on the climb and use his size to fly downhill to the finish.

Heck, I could be right...


1 comment:

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