Boring Tour de France

I admit that I am a Cadel Evans fan and was hoping he would repeat. He prevailed last year in a very strong field and while he doesn’t show the explosive accelerations that many of the other favorites have shown, his dogged persistence was a joy to watch. However, this year Wiggins and team Sky have shown clear domination. I haven nothing against Wiggins other than I haven’t really seen a lot of him, but in many respects we had such long domination by Lance that made the whole race about second place, I am a little reluctant to cheer on another such dominant performer. Team BMC is clearly much weaker than Sky as evidenced by how many times Evans has been abandoned going up the mountains. Since BMC was built to exclusively back Evans for a second yellow in Paris, it is very hard to believe their poor performance. That Sky has such a strong team (with Froome not only pacing Wiggins, but being a powerful second on the GC) that it makes BMC look like a bunch of sprinters. Unless Cadel manages to somehow pull some dramatic attack that Wiggins (and his team!) can’t respond to, I think the tour (baring accidents, of course) is over but for possibly third place (I don’t know a lot about this Nibali fellow but if he is even OK on the time trials Evans looks like he won’t even be able to get on the podium).

I have followed the TdF now for about a decade and while there are almost always a series of crashes on the very early stages, this year seems particularly violent. A year or two ago there was a big pileup in the peloton as the screamed down a mountain, but that was due to a motorcycle accident spreading oil on the road (or that is how I remember it). This year it seems that half of the race favorites are already gone (some to hospital for surgery!) and there is one team down to 4 (from 9) and several down to 5 and we are only just past the half way point. I have read and listened to some analysis of this and can’t agree that this year is any different than earlier years. In the past when there were pileups there were reasonable arguments that the route had unfortunately timed pinch points or poorly located tight corners, but many of these pileups just seem to be from either unwillingness to give an inch or simply loss of attention. Since the TdF is always made up of a huge collection of hyper aggressive riders, unwillingness to give an inch seems like something that would have been present a century ago and since all of these guys are long-term professionals lack of attention doesn’t seem reasonable either, so perhaps it is just a statistical fluke and we can hope that future races can be decided by rider performance rather than being lucky enough to avoid crashing out.

So far, there hasn’t been much on the doping front. While I have come to believe that Lance was probably doing some doping (like probably everyone else), I have also become very convinced that the level of doping is so low that the only effect can be through the placebo effect. I have tried to interest people in doing actual experiments (see if you are interested and be sure to read the comments), but there doesn’t seem to be any. Humans seem very willing (nay, eager) to believe things without any evidence and decisions are made based on who has the best story, evidence be damned. This thing against Lance is so clearly purely political in nature that it is hard to take it seriously, but the anti-doping world is so completely slanted against the athlete (I very closely followed the Landis affair and while he admits to doping, he clearly wasn’t guilty of the charges against him based on the evidence presented) that it is almost nonsensical to muster a defense (again, see Landis) no matter how innocent you are.

There is still a solid week left of the Tour and hopefully there will be some interesting events for the podium, but I still love to watch, even on those flat stages where everyone knows the breakaway will be caught in time for the sprinters (man, watch that Sagan go!) to do their thing. This year it is hard to get coverage, OLN, which became Vs which became NBC doesn’t repeat the showing as much as it used to and I am not constitutionally suited to staying up past 9 to catch the replay. In any case, I follow it live via a blog so I already know the results which does make watching the replay somewhat anticlimactic.

The TdF has got to be pretty close to the hardest thing any human can do, check it out if you aren’t already a fan.

Author: Tfoui

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