Monday, July 19, 2010

The debate. THE DEBATE. Stage 15

So the blogs, the Tweets, the postings are BLOWING UP over the whole "should Contador have waited?" controversy. I can't not blog about this.

So, to bring you up to speed, in case you have a busy day job and have other things to do than watch the Tour at work and discuss it and blog about it until you're blue in the face--here's a very quick synopsis. Another big day in the Pyrenees. Hors cat├ęgorie climb at the very end, followed by a stage-finish descent. Breakaway has almost a 10-minute lead on the field until Voeckler (one of my favorite riders, BTW: still picture him, jersey un-zipped, tongue hanging out, desperately holding onto the yellow jersey back in 2004) launches and manages to stay ahead of the field on the latter half of the climb. But not that his brilliant stage win is going to get much attention, when the GLADIATORS, who, just yesterday, were trackstanding during their dual (who DOES THAT on a hotly contested mt. finish, anyways? Actually, I confess I'm slightly jealous, because even on a proper fixed-gear I still can't trackstand, but anyways) decide they're going to race turning the pedals today, or so it seemed, until Schleck had that unfortunate incident called dropping-your-chain.

I'm assuming it was one of those occasions where the chain was so dropped he couldn't jam it into the big ring and get it back on--if he doesn't know how to do that, he fully deserves losing 39 seconds. But anyhow, he drops his chain, right after a big attack, that, seemingly, Contador wasn't responding to. Wait. Back up. So he attacks. Everyone watching is going "Finally! Here's the BIG ATTACK. If Frank were not convening from his collarbone being broken in three places, it would have been even BIGGER." And Contador? He's a bit behind! It's getting so damn exciting. And Vino! Holy shit! The dude is STILL up there responding, even after his stage win and basically daily breakaway attempts. But then, but then, something happens. Schleck is sliding backwards! Then he's off his bike! And everyone watching is screaming "Put it in the big ring! It will go back on! You don't have to dismount to fix this problem!" But he doesn't hear us. Contador, Sanchez, and Menchov don't scream "put it in the big ring!" They attack.

And that's it. Basically--Schleck's stage--and who knows? Tour? fate was sealed right then and there. Contador, Menchov, and Sanchez absolutely bury it and descend brilliantly. Schleck and Belgian's new hero (hint: his last name does not rhyme with "Moonen") chase in vain. Schleck is no longer the Bearer of the Maillot Jaune.

Back to the controversy. People are being so harsh about all of this. "It's un-sportsman like!" "Contatador should feel ashamed wearing that jersey!" and on and on. My two cents? IT'S BIKE RACING, PEOPLE. I can't tell you how many races I lost places and places in the standings because some chick didn't understand you can just put it in the big ring when you drop your chain, or when a girl went to grab a feed and in the process took out half the peloton. Did the girls in the front wait? NO. It's a RACE. Mechanicals happen. And I aplogize if I'm being a little excessive with my ALL-CAPS usage right now. I've had a bit of wine, and I'm feeling very impassioned about this whole debate.

Perhaps, too, my mt. biking as of late has had some influence. In a mt. bike race, you carry your own tubes, pump, tire levers, Cliff Bars, tampons, whatever ... If you flat out there, no team car is going to get your back. Mechanicals, as unfortunate as they are, are part of racing. Road racers, of course, are so pampered because if a team car doesn't have their ass, a Mavic neutral support vehicle does--yes, mechanicals happen, but you will never see a lycra-clad kid with arms skinnier than mine changing his own flat tire on the side of the road.

And need I remind us all of how Schleck got those 30 seconds to begin with? THE COBBLES. The cobbles were so damn entertaining because there were punctures and crashes and hedges and Belgian ditches and at the end of the day, you didn't hear riders say "BUT HE DIDN'T WAIT FOR ME!"

I'm sure all of this renewed "anger in the belly" that Schleck is claiming to have will transpire into some very entertaining trackstanding racing the next few days in the mountains.

To close, I just have to share with you my most favorite-ever quote ever, EVER by Phil and Paul. I believe Paul can take the credit for this one. As Schleck was furiously drilling it, trying to catch back up after his unfortunate mechanical incident, Paul says "and he just passed Armstrong as if Armstrong were standing still!"

Whoa. If that is not poetic justice. Well said, Paul. Well said.

1 comment:

tamara said...

Oh to be a pampered road rider and have someone change your flats and fix your chains. If only I were ever that spoiled...