Tour de France - What have we learned so far? Posted on 15 Jul 22:04 , 0 comments
Five things we’ve learned after the first week of the Tour de France:
Don’t wear yellow early- or ever maybe…
Holy hello no! Rohan Dennis must be feeling lucky. Not because he won a stage, he was record-beating fast and deserved his prologue win. No, his lucky day was wearing yellow and not crashing out.
After Rohan “gave up” the jersey on stage two -where he did not bridge across to the winning break to ensure the riders with him lost time to his team leader- he must have been disappointed. But I’m sure that seeing the next guy in the leader’s jersey, Fabian Cancellara, crack some vertebrae in a big, fast, scary crash, Rohan must have been somewhat relieved. When Tony Martin crashed (and it was his fault too!) the next day while also in yellow he must have been high fiving all in sight.
Past winner Chris Froome inherited the leader’s jersey after Tony Martin cracked the collarbone and wisely declined to wear it out of respect to Tony Martin. [ embed https://twitter.com/chrisfroome/status/619405860096356352] I know a few pro cyclist and they’re a suspicious bunch. So yeah Chris: “out of respect to Tony Martin” Sure bro.
He knows. The yellow is cursed. Wear it with caution.
The Cobbles are amazing and should be in every tour forever.
The cobbled roads of northern Europe are famous among cycling aficionados for their appalling nastiness to riders during the various spring classics. During these classics, such as Paris Roubaix, bigger riders and great bike handlers come to the fore and the smaller guys (who can get bounced clean off the bike) do not even turn up. Hitting the TdF GC contenders with a cobbled stage is like getting a marathon runner to do parkour. They can do it, but they will be crap and someone will get hurt.
To avoid getting hooped out the back it’s all hands (and legs) to the pumps. Get your GC rider to the front before the cobbles so they can avoid crashes, stay close to their fellow GC contenders and… yes chaos ensues. For a while there I thought we were going to get rain. Rain + the run to the cobbles ended Chris Froome’s TdF last year. This year the weather was kinder, the GC contenders got a bit of luck (apart from Thibaut Pinot who lost a stack of time AND his temper after a puncture and hurty feelings) and the racing was bloody spectacular.
And that’s why I say let’s include the cobbles every year. The climbers will get their opportunity to leave the other riders in their dust multiple times. Let’s see them spend one day caught in the dust of the bigger guys!
There will not be another Australian on the podium at this tour.
Rohan Dennis’ prologue win got things going just nicely for Australia, but an unseen, second and we’re told BIGGER crash on Stage Three took out Simon Gerrans (wrist) and injured everyone from Michael Matthews to Gerry Ryan.
OGE’s Yates brothers are handy climbers and though they will quite probably mature into GC contenders, but they are Poms. The reality is that OGE is currently setup to target stage wins so the loss of Gerrans and the crippling of the very handy Michael Matthews pretty much ended their (and our hopes). RIP (and by that I mean get some peaceful rest guys)
While OGE are pretty much out of the running, other Aussie stage wins are unlikely with most of our riders in support roles. Richie Porte has announced he’s leaving Team Sky at the end of the year, so we may see him chasing the GC win in 2016. But for now he’s adamant that he will be working for his good mate Chris Froome. Michael Rogers popped up last year and won his first stage of the Tour after many years racing, so a repeat seems far-fetched. For now, we must just enjoy the spectacle of the big contenders going toe to toe.
There are still drugs in the Peloton
After bearded hipster Luca Paolini got caught with cocaine in his system during the first week, I had to watch as yet another one of the riders I like was out of the tour due to drug use in one form or another. My cynicism came over me like an LSD flashback (I’m clean I swear). Cocaine is a pretty terrible cycling drug as I'm told it is not conducive to blood flow, just a pretty good (and dare I say it FUN) stimulant.
Crappy stimulants aside, it’s pretty clear the UCI and WADA big wigs still think something’s up as they were conducting late night door knock blood tests in an effort to catch riders who are micro dosing EPO. If that wasn't enough, there’s the “whole x-raying bikes for electric motors” debacle to keep the cycling sadists sated. In short; there’s a lot of people who want to win and there’s always a way to cheat and some people can’t help themselves.
And to hell with them.
There’s a LOT of racing to come.
Chris Froome will take to the roads in yellow again and that’s nice for him, but it’s a bloody long way to Paris. It would have 100% suited him to not take yellow until much later in the race, as he and his team will naturally defend the jersey.
Where the early stages of the tour can see one in yellow thanks to a small win (and a time bonus) once we go up and over the hills, the gaps can become rather large. Froome currently holds a small advantage over his nominal main competitors and the pressure of defending that lead will have the brains trust at Team Sky alert, but not alarmed. They can afford to use us their admittedly impressive ammo belt of super domestiques to defend the jersey, but if Froome gets isolated, you can bet the likes of Contador and Quintana will be like a carnivore on a (tainted) steak to snap up the opportunity to put serious time into Froome.
But Froomey is in insane form. It’s going to take a lot to dislodge him.