Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thoughts on TdF Stage 20

1. No surprises. After a royal procession into Paris, Team Sky made sure that Mark Cavendish got the lead-out he needed and deserved to win the final stage of this year's Tour, putting a cherry on top of what has been among the most dominant team displays in TdF history.

2. Congrats to Brad Wiggins for giving Great Britain its first ever TdF championship. It was a long time coming, but in the end he made it look almost easy (which, of course, it cannot have been). Congrats also to his teammates, including Chris Froome, who sacrificed his own chance at the top podium spot to help Wiggins hold his other rivals in check in the mountain stages, as well as Mark Cavendish, who really did sacrifice any realistic chance he had for the green jersey (points competition) for the larger goal of winning the overall.

3. Kudos to polka dot jersey wearer Thomas Voeckler, who came into this year's tour with a bad knee, which almost forced him to abandon during the first week, but not only persevered by thrived in the Pyrenees to win the King of the Mountains title. Year in and year out, he is among the most enjoyable riders to watch in the tour.

4. Speaking of enjoyable riders to watch, it was great to see Jens out front again today, animating the breakaway on the Champs Elysee, and giving it all he had before being caught by the hard charging Team Sky. If this was his last TdF (and I hope it was not), he left it the same way he first came in 15 years ago: on the attack.

5. Despite its victory in the team competition, is this the last we will see of Team RadioShack in the TdF? Amidst drug allegations affecting both riders and team management, failure to make regular salary payments to some team riders, and conflicts between riders and management about team tactics and selections, it's hard to see much of a future for what was supposed to be a super team. How different things might have been had Cancellara not suffered a broken collarbone during the Spring Classics, and Andy Schleck not suffered a broken pelvis in the run-up to the TdF, and the USADA not leveled charges against Johan Bruyneel (among others) two weeks before the start of the race. Frank Schleck's positive test for a diuretic during this year's race certainly hasn't helped. I suspect that next year we will see at least one of the Schlecks, Cancellara, Andreas Kloden, and hopefully Jens Voigt riding in a different team's kit. 

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