TDF Wrap: Highs, Lows, And In Betweens
Now that’s what I’m Talkin about! 2003 has given us a reason to watch the tour again in 2004. Lance has proven that, with a little poke from a cattle prod (or was it a lasso?) that he can snap to attention and get the job done. He got the job done on the day it had to be done, and in Typical Armstrong fashion. Now, to go along with “The Look”, we now have “The Hook”. Makes you wonder if next year the little candy musette’s they toss out will have straps on em.
Jan has proven that he can be best of the rest, and that he has held form (maybe due to his few years of off and on racing?) and, if Lance isn’t top form, the gap to second place is frighteningly close. He also showed that a high cadence is good for some and not for others. Hopefully everyone trying to spin faster (while going slower) in the weekend group rides will feel comfortable enough to give it up and go back to what works for them… Had Jan been afforded the opportunity to have a stable team (his own greedy fault for heading to Coast instead of CSC?), this may have been closer.
Closer still could have been Joseba Beloki. Damn Tires! Damn Chipseal pavement! Damn Vinokourov! Beloki was right there. Simoni has been saying he would attack Armstrong for a whilea and done squat. Beloki got bold enough to say it once, and was living up to his words. You weren’t the only one in tears bro.
Speaking of Damn Vinokourov, That guy was brilliant. His team worked for him, but he was as alone as a leader could be. Next year, if Botero is around for support and Cadel can ride, this guy might make people even more miserable (and happy). His only faults being that he needs just a bit more endurance to hang till the end and that his super attacking style and sheer ability kept the biggest hero since Lances first Tour win from getting to the Podium.
Tyler you are a Freak. I have had a “minor” break that was similar and thought I was gonna die every time I touched anything, for a month. Thanks for making us all smile and for making me feel like such a wussy. The break away was icing on a cake that already stood 30 feet high, and the final TT was another 20 layers of cake. Spain is cool, but stay clear of the Basque country for a while… Not because they’d have any hard feelings, but because they will be partying like Rock Stars in Euskadi country and Tyler is in no condition to samba!
Euskaltel have secured some big bucks and can keep together the team that has taken Kelme’s job of sending a bunch of guys into the mountains that make even the best shake in the wake. I say lets get Home Depot to jump in as a title sponsor and they sign a couple more guys with some meat on their bones to protect the bones guys on the flats (don’t try and beef up Leiseka though. If you gave that guy a hamburger he would look like a Python that just swallowed a Golf Cart. Venga, venga venga Euskaltel, you earned that tour birth!!!
As for Brioches La “Menagerie”, even if Jean Marie sends you a ticket, stay home next year and keep what ever is left of Jean De Latour with you. Wanna animate the Tour? Swap out these two for The Zebra and Milanesa- MSS and this tour would have been even better. Milanesa would have added something to a stellar set of mountains, and had the Thundering Herd been around, we wouldn’t have had the likes of a Kelme rider taking down Levi and Tyler while trying to get in a better position to sprint for 28th place. I am not sure that Mario would have beaten Petacchi though (But what a great tribute Petacchi gave to Cipo leaving on the first patch of ground steeper than a freeway overpass). “Butt” with a more organized Zebra train setting the sprints up, we would not have had the chance to see Rene Haselbacher having to pedal to the line with his ass hanging out either, so I guess it’s a win/lose situation.
Haselbacher was not completely to blame for some things though (despite the fact that he sprints like he’s trying out for a job as a pinball), Like Robbie Mc Ewen using him as an excuse for trying to lean Baden Cooke into the Barriers… I thought Robbie would have the Goods for sure, but Baden came good and flat out earned the Green Jersey. He did so despite a Typical Robbie Mc-Gripe as Mc Ewen went straight to the judges after the finish to complain. And upon review, even his own Director couldn’t help but notice that it was Robbie that went after Baden Cooke. Robbie was generous in defeat though giving Baden all the credit (once his other avenue was a dead end). Still, I would watch for Mad MC next year for green. He would have had it this year had Lotto not lost sight of the green goal early on. Today’s Jersey is the result of yesterday’s efforts…
Speaking of a yesterday kind of Guy… let’s not forget Ricky Virenque. On second thought, Yeah, let’s forget Dick, and think about what could be in store in the future. Sylvain Chavanel could wind up being the next big thing in a country that desperately needs a star not so readily associated with drugs. Hopefully the pat on the back was a passing of a little of the power to win from a man who has more than enough to a man with the burden of being his countries next big hope. I would like nothing more than for French Cycling to deserve the spots that it is going to get in the tour anyway. Here’s to hoping that starts to happen for them.
So Bring on 2004 and save me a seat. It will still be damp from the overexcitement of this year!