Friday, July 23, 2010

Stage 15: Andy's Chain

Andy in front...burning through his teammates and leaving himself alone. (He has no one to change bikes with.)

Andy's chain...jumping out at the worst possible moment. I've never seen this happen in a professional bike race.

I disagree...even the commentators are divided. And they're both professional riders. I'm a little conflicted myself.

little tommy...driving like a madman in order to win the stage.

Pamiers-->Bagneres-de-Luchon, 187.5km

Kudos for Thomas Voeckler (FRA, BBOX Bouygues Telecom) for winning this stage. In addition to wringing himself out getting over the Port de Bales first (it's an HC climb, meaning it's beyond categorization) he took serious risks on the descent. I'm always amazed at what guys like him will do just to win a stage. Being over an hour behind Contador, he has no chance of winning the overall. Still, he races like a man possessed. It makes the TdF worth watching.

Keep in mind that it was on this stage in 1995 when a teammate of Lance Armstrong's, Fabio Casartelli, suffered fatal injuries in a crash. It happens. And as there is a monument on the route to Fabio, I'm sure it was in Thomas Voeckler's mind as he raced down the mountain.

As for the debate over Andy's chain, it continues still. Alberto got some boos on the podium after this, but I'm on Alberto's side. No one stopped the race when
Sylvain Chavenal(FRA, Quick-Step), got three flats on the cobblestones in stage three. And like Andy today, he was wearing the yellow jersey. Alberto himself had to finish that stage with a flat tire and a broken spoke, and no one (including Andy) waited. And on stage 8, when Lance Armstrong crashed twice, nobody, including Andy, stopped. (And though Armstrong is getting old, remember that he was on the podium with Andy and Alberto just last year.)

I think Carlos Sastre (ESP, Cervelo TestTeam), overall winner of the TdF in 2008, said it best: "They don't stop in Formula One. They don't stop in [motorcycle racing]. They don't stop in running. Why should we stop in bicycling?"

When Sylvain Chavenal lost his yellow to three flats, he didn't complain. Instead, he went and got it again on stage seven. And when he put it on again he kissed it, as he undoutedly realized how hard it is to get--and how easy it is to lose.

It's something Andy finally learned on this day.


Anonymous said...

For various reasons I've hardly watched any of the TdF this year, hopefully I'll be able to catch some of what remains.


Kirk said...

I never watched until I got a DVR and a kick-ass tv, which was only last year. And even then I came in only around stage 15, a good two weeks into it.

I notice the more I watch, the more interesting it becomes. A big part of that is learning about the riders.

I'm sad it's over. I still have some posting to do though.