“I’d say this Tour rates as one of the best opening weeks ever in terms of sheer excitement. So far the race has provided a graphic illustration of when the riders feel everything is on the line and they’re willing to just go flat out! The epidemic of crashes is really unfortunate, but it’s also the nature of the Tour now that’s grown to such epic proportions. The caravan of cars on course with the riders is like a flotilla of constant threat to the riders. And this year the promoters upped the field by two so that there are now 22 teams on the road – although with so many riders falling out it’s now back down to the usual number of riders. The road system in France has changed over the years with the addition of so much new traffic furniture to control the increased number of cars on the road. It’s like playing Russian roulette with the riders and the Tour just keeps spinning the chamber. I’ve never seen more road riders display a talent for bunny hopping as I have in this Tour - some of these guys have the talents of Peter Cotton Tail when it comes to bunny hopping over the curbs! Overall, it’s contributed to the crashes because the riders rarely have a pedaling moment to not be gripping the bars which causes more fatigue and slows their reaction times.
I think the most telling thing about the Tour so far is the display of toughness shown by all the riders. Unlike other sports, there are no substitutions or taking dives in the Tour. You never want to get left behind. The bond of teammates is stronger than in any other sport. It’s as tight as WW I soldiers in the trenches and that’s what makes it so critically important to get up and keep going no matter what happens to you. I mean, look at Horner, Flecha and Hoogerland getting back on their bikes after such heavy falls! The peloton is the mother ship and just like in the old days when the clan would move on, you either moved with it or got left behind – it’s really a primordial instinct to always try and keep on with your tribe. What other kind of athlete is capable of showing such suffering and dedication? Their tenacity is on full display and it’s a shame so many people remain oblivious to it.
THE BETTING LINE
I say neither Alberto or Andy Schleck look as supreme as they did last year. Alberto used to vanish on the climbs, and I know the really big ones are still to some, but he looks really vulnerable this year. Luckily for the Schlecks they have a secret weapon and it goes by the name of Fabian Cancellara. Fabian is like the fast train out of Salzburg and riding at 50k in the wind doesn’t faze him. If you ask me I’d say that Cancellara by himself is as strong as the whole SaxoBank team!
For the GC guys, no news is good news. All they want to do is stay out of trouble and wait for it all to really start this Thursday. Well, except for Contador…where Cadel has just been sitting tight, Alberto is out there falling day after day and forcing his team to do like three time trials every day just to bring him back up to the peloton. That may not be a big deal for a guy making a few million a year, but he’s asking a lot from a bunch of guys who make about $80k a year!
BOBKE’S BEST MOMENT
Oh, without a doubt it would be Farrar winning on the fourth of July. That was so awesome and no one thought it could be done. The team un-corked the perfect lead-out…I mean how cool was it to see the yellow jersey leading out an American sprinter?! It’s all just more of the ingredients that make this race so special.