I know I’m a few days late but I felt the need to give an impression of this years Tour de France, mainly because it has dominated both my TV and my conversations for the best part of a month. I’m doubt many will disagree with me if I say that it was one of the most exciting and entertaining Tour de Frances’ in quite some time with almost every stage providing some edge of the seat style viewing.
Thomas Voeckler provided much of the entertainment, taking the yellow jersey and fighting unrelentingly to hold on to for as long as he possibly could, which turned out to be much longer than anyone, perhaps even Thomas himself, expected . His perseverance and determination were admirable and although he wasn’t in yellow when the peleton rolled into Paris, I would have been delighted if he had won, his efforts over the three weeks were worthy of a champion.
I was however extremely happy when Cadel Evans won, he fought tooth and nail in the mountains and rode a scorching time trial, destroying the fifty second gap that lay between him and the yellow jersey of Andy Schleck. There no denying that Evans, at 34 years of age, can’t play this game for much longer, and I think this is part of what drove him to ride the way he did over the three weeks. From winning at Mur de Bretagne to almost taking the TT stage win from an on form Tony Martin, he really showed that he deserved to win and left no one in any doubt that he is still a force to be reckoned with. When Andy Schleck broke away in the ascent of the Galibier he rode hard to minimise his losses, with no help from anyone else in the peleton, all of whom refused to ride at the front forcing him to work for himself. In my eyes he’s a more than worthy winner and I will be interested to see how his career develops now that he has finally snatched the illusive Tour de france victory.
The big question on everyone’s minds before the tour was can anyone beat the schlecks?The big question after was could the Schlecks have won? For the Schlecks it was a case of too little too late coupled with the fiery determination of Cadel Evans that saw neither brother on the top step of the podium. Frank never seemed to be able to put any serious time between him and the favourites and Andy’s break on the Galibier didn’t Leave him with enough of a cushion going into the time trial. I’m not sure if it was a case of poor tactics or if they were genuinely unable open up any decent time gaps in the mountains, but either way the left themselves in a bad position going into the time trial. It’s no big secret that the brothers weakness is unquestionably in the time trial and when Cadel was within one minute of yellow following stage 19, the tour was all but over. Although I still expect the brothers to win it at least once between them, this year, once again, wasn’t their year.
Alberto Contador arrived at this tour more tired than he, or anyone else expected. His excellent showing in the Giro D’Italia clearly took its toll and the most notable attack he made in this years tour was on one of the spectators who was dressed as a doctor. The whole doping scandal and the allegations surrounding him have clearly taken there toll, and to be honest I cant blame him for reacting the way he did.
The exploits of Mark Cavendish were again to the fore in the Tour de France as he once again showed his dominance of the sprints. Taking five stage wins, three wins in a row on the Champs Elysees and the green jersey is impressive by anyone’s standards and the manxman and the HTC train in full flight were definitely a sight to behold. There are many other riders who deserve mention in any post related to this years tour. The Norsemen Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd picked up two very impressive stage wins each. Sanchez rode well in the mountains, picking up a win on Luz ardiden for the Baske riders of Euskatel. Pierre Rolland’s Victory on Alp D’huez was nothing short of epic, and the fact that he rode himself into the best young riders jersey in the process made it all the sweeter.
This years tour was nothing if not entertaining, with all the drama, excitement and emotion of a hollywood blockbuster. Needless to say, Roll on next year!