Simple stage, big break goes, no one wants to burn any matches before the mountains. 199km later there’s more gossip and bickering than a middle school girls’ room between classes. It’s almost enough to make someone wish for a drug scandal.
Add to that the tragic death of a spectator, and most people watching have probably already forgotten the perfectly-delivered counterattack by Sergui Ivanov that won the stage. Of course, the fact the Versus was in commerical when the Russian made his move certainly doesn’t help that situation.
There was an unsettling absurdity about everything today, really—Jens Voight’s sloppy neutral service, the heads-over-shoulders leadout as Columbia attempted to protect Hincapie’s advantage, the crooked barriers with 50m to go that all but sealed the Green Jersey competition by means of a ticky-tack relegation.
And can you ever recall the yellow jersey squad being unable to manage a gap on mostly flat stage—the day before a string of high mountain passes is sure to grind the race lead off their shoulders, no less? Honestly, the only thing that impressed in a positive sense was Boonen’s dance through the team cars after a late flat—too bad it’s pretty much all the Belgian Champ has done right in two weeks.
As for the polemics, read up and be your own judge. Were I George Hincapie tonight, I’d be most mad at Astana for burning me to prop up their puppet leader for another day, though obviously Garmin’s alibi for the late tempo setting seems a bit weak.
Then again, there are those who think Astana was merely soft-pedaling during their turns the front. I must shamefully concede that I wasn’t paying much attention to the time gap, having assumed that the big squads would be more than happy to let George ride off with the jersey.
In the end, I think Columbia-Highroad learned a fairly valuable lesson today—a cycling team cannot serve two masters. Had they simply called off the dogs on the run-in, and risked having Cav drop a few points to Hushovd in the the sprint competition, they’d have toasted a Yellow Jersey tonight.
Likewise, had Columbia let Hincapie’s ride stand on its own, and barreled into the line in their accustomed style, the I think the race jury would have been far less picky in scrutinizing the tape, and Cav might still be the odds-on favorite for Green in Paris.
Instead, the greedily pursued two separate ends, and ended up failing at each. With the final selections looming, I’m wondering just how well this lesson was attended to from the Astana team car. With any luck, we’ll find out tomorrow.
thoughts on “Le Tour de Soap Opera”
Thanks for this blog post, Cosmo. It’s one of the best things I’ve read all day (and believe me, I’ve been reading a *lot* following today’s episode of “As the Spokes Turn.”) You are so right, Columbia/HTC cannot serve two masters. Had they opted to let George take the yellow, Cav likely would have ended up with some points for today’s finish rather than being relegated to 154th and trailing 18 points behind Hushovd. And upon reviewing the end of the stage on TiVo, it does appear that Garmin was only starting to ride hard with maybe 5 to 7k left to go.
Indeed, tomorrow is another day.
Cosmo you picked the two points I had already hammering on to my mates today. The barriers had a false apex, and if Columbia wanted George in yellow they had the opportunity to slow the final down, so failing to get GH into yellow was in their own hands, there is no need to pass blame to other teams for failing to achieve the targets of Columbia HTC.
But the biggest Gaffel came on the day came from the mouth of Ron Keffel who “when an American team chases down an American that has the opportunity to be in yellow…” what!!!! Didn’t national teams ride there last tours in the 1950’s??,These are professional teams seeking the best for their own sponsors , there non there to pursue national glory for participants in opposing teams?. Honestly this smacks of self centred nationalism, not a good look or an informed judgement from a media commentator.
He need s to talk to’ Jens Voigt’ who was asked to come back from a break and chase down Jan Ullrich for his CSC team. This action that appeared to be in aid of Discovery and Lance too . The following day Jens Voigt was subject to abuse and derision in the German media and spat on during the stage by his own countrymen. It was pretty pathetic then and doesn’t sound good now either.
Nice post, 100% agreed about the serving two masters bit. In fact, that was my first thought when Columbia crossed the line in disarray… that they managed to blow *both* the yellow and the green. The DQ of Cavendish was just icing on the cake.
So someone sends me your latest How the Race was Won, and I think, damn! This is awesome! So I poke around your web site, discover your commute video, and think three things roughly simultaneously:
1) Hey, this dude lives near me.
2) Wait, his name sounds familiar.
3) OMG! It’s the *Tom Champion song* guy!
And now I see you have worked at a company my husband did (although not at the same time), and you attended the same nerd camp we did (albeit also not at the same time, or site — LAN ’91-’94 for me), and took one of the same classes (chem).
You are RSSed so much. I eagerly await your comments on today’s stage :). And maybe we’ve seen each other on our commute one of these days.
(And I didn’t even mention the part where I, too, kinda speak Latin.)
Well laid-out post Cosmo. “You can’t have it both ways” are my thoughts exactly. All things held equal, had Columbia/HTC not ramped things up for Cav, George would most likely have been in yellow. That was something they certainly COULD have controlled. Anyone pointing a finger at Garmin is trying to cover their own tracks and obfuscate the facts. Yes, had Garmin not picked up the pace things might have unfolded differently too, but that’s not the point. Columbia still could have played their hand differently and not contested the sprint. But that’s not what happened. They gambled and went for yellow AND the the glory of the bunch sprint and the points that come along with it. Snake Eyes. They got neither and now it seems that they (Stapleton) don’t want to look themselves in the mirror (or George in the eyes) and face up to the facts. They did this to themselves.
I am an 83yr old avid fan of the tour for many years. I am particularly angry at the behavior of “FANS”, as a granny I would like to take a few of those people that all but run into the bicyclists…put them in the corner until they show respect…the selfish lot!!!
Yeah, I don’t beleive the “Garmin did it” excuse either. There is a reason Hincape is still steamed at Astana days later. Watch the video, Armstrong kept the pressure on. And then Columbia got bipolar and blew it.
They also lost the White Jersey that day; so that’s 3 jerseys that they dropped the ball on in one day.