Monday, July 19, 2010

A Spat Between Phil and Paul

Phil says it was perfectly fair for Contador to attack Schleck when the later had a mechanical problem near the top of the Port de Bales on today's stage; in fact, he says, Contador did not really attack but was just following others. Paul disagrees, and thinks Contador's move was beyond fair play, and betrays a certain lack of confidence in Contador's ability to beat Schleck fair and square in the mountains.

Again, I'm not Contador's biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to side with Phil on this one. It was Schleck who initiated the attack, and it's not Contador's fault that Schleck lost his chain after attacking. Moreover, the mechanical occurred at a crucial stage of the race, within 20k of the finish. Other riders cannot really be expected to hold their fire at that point in the race. I would note, however, that there were a lot of boos from the crowd when Contador pulled on the yellow jersey on the podium after today's stage.

Whether or not Contador's attack today was fair, I  look forward to seeing Schleck attack tomorrow with the same kind of venom that Vinokourov showed the day after he lost out to Rodriguez. I'm not clear what Team Saxo Bank's strategy will be. The climb up the Tourmalet comes pretty early in the stage, after two Cat 1 climbs, and there's a long way to go after the Tourmalet. Will Schleck go early and hope to hold off Contador and the rest of the wolves to the end? Will Saxo send another rider up the road early, who will then wait for Schleck to bridge up? If that's the plan, then Andy Schleck's brother Frank will be missed even more than he has been already. One thing's for sure: tomorrow's stage should be most interesting.

BTW, great riding by French racers in this year's TdF. Chavenel has two stage wins. Yesterday it was Christophe Riblon, and today Thomas Voekler rode away from the peloton for a solo win. Vive la France!

2 comments:

  1. Very unfortunate for Andy, but it's a bike race after all, and people who wins a race like tdf has to exploit every possible weakness. So despite it was a pretty un-classy move, I'm kind of with Phil as well. Andy has already had a "free-pass" where people waited for him + Andy took advantage of Contador being behind the bottleneck Frank Shleck's crash caused on the cobbles. So was it really fair of Andy to push on without giving Contador a fair chance to win? You can't wait for everyone all the time or it won't be a race. In my mind, they are now even. But that was a super strong move by Andy I'm still cheering for him to get the time back. It will be fun seeing how the following will be transferred into painful wattage: " “My stomach is full of anger. The race I not finished and I want to take revenge,” I'm also curious to see how the justice of the peleton will play out, and if a move like this will how long-term consequences for the pistol man.

    So perhaps it was not the nicest of moves attacking when the yellow jersey was down, and I think Robbie Hunter puts it the best: If Contador had of waited he would have won the heart of the world like this he got a yellow jersey on his back.but its always gonna be a ?"

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  2. I like the way Gerard Vroomen, owner of Cervelo, put it: Contador gained a great chance to win, but lost a chance to win great.

    Having watched the replay last night, it's clear that Contador was not just behind Schleck when the mechanical occurred; that was Vino, who sat up immediately when he saw Schleck in difficulty. Contador was well back at the time, and he clearly attacked, blowing by both Schleck and Vino, and dragging Menchov and other podium contenders with him.

    I think both Schleck and Contador are riding nervously, and it's understandable. Consider the stakes. What happened yesterday is great fodder for discussion, and I think reasonable minds can differ about whether or not Contador should have sat up and waited. But at the end of the day, the strongest rider overall will win the TdF.

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