It’s hard to believe the Tour de France is over. Its 21 days and 2,131 miles just flew by leaving me with some major cycling withdrawals. This years tour was spectacular, even for non cycling aficionados. The epic dual between the Schleck’s and Contador didn’t materialize, but we did witness an outstanding Cadel Evans win his first ever tour. His constancy, smart riding, well oiled BMC team, as well as his incredible diesel-like power put him on top of the podium over the two impressive Schleck brothers of team Leopard Trek.
The tour had many notable firsts including, the first winner from the southern hemisphere, the first Australian to win the tour (Cadel Evans), the first brothers to stand on the podium (Andy and Frank Schleck) and the first green jersey for Great Britain (Mark Cavendish). It had the highest race finish ever at the 8,677 foot high Col du Galibier and it brought back the exciting Team Time Trials.
There were many notable moments in the tour which had a very strong US showing with four teams (Garmin-Cervelo, BMC Cycling, HTC-Highroad and Team Radio Shack) representing the Red White and Blue. Some very notable moments included team Garmin-Cervelo not only winning the Team Time Trial, but also crushing the record average speed for a TTT. Garmin-Cervelo won four stages and had Thor Hushovd in the maillot jaune for nine days. Garmin-Cervelo relentless efforts also achieved a first time stage win for US rider Tyler Farrar and had Tommy Danielson, a 33 year old rookie, place 9th overall in the GC (highest ranking US rider). Oh and lets not forget that team Garmin-Cervelo won the team competition (very classy yet whimsical act at the ending ceremonies when they had a life-sized cardboard cutout of crashed out rider David Zabriskie (broken wrist) at the podium to virtually receive his medal).
The US teams and riders were not the only ones making headlines. The amazing 10 day run of frenchman Thomas Voeckler to hold on to the maillot jaune was electrifying, especially for the home country which hasn’t won the tour since ’85. This was accentuated by Pierre Rolland winning the brutal Alpe d’Huez stage (first French rider to win that stage since ’99) as well as capturing the maillot blanc (best young rider under 25). The all-star first-time powerhouse team of Leopard-Trek was also incredible, propelling the Andy and Frank Shleck to second and third in the GC.
Unfortunately headlines were also made during crashes, the most horrifying being when a French television car, speeding to get past a leading breakaway group, swerved around a roadside tree and struck Juan Antonio Flecha, who in turn upended the Netherlands’ Johnny Hoogerland and sent him cartwheeling into a barbed wire fence resulting in 33 stitches in his buttocks and legs (btw Hoogerland actually finished the race in 74th place). Other notable crashes included David Zabriskie, who broke his wrist, Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov’s who hurtled off the road into a tree resulting in a broken leg and hip (His teammates all stopped and carried him back up to the road for the arriving medical staff to attend to him. The peloton actually stopped racing and waited for all the riders to rejoin the group.), RadioShack’s Chris Horner who rode the last 25 kilometers of a stage with such a severe concussion that he didn’t remember he had crashed and Laurens ten Dam of team Rabobank crashing face-first in the Alps, finishing the stage with gauze wrapped around his head holding his nose in place.
Most importantly, the tour was pretty much doping free. Sure allegations are still swirling around Contador’s tainted test results which may up costing him last years Tour de France win, as well as this years Giro d’Italia, but, for the moment, there has only been one reported doping violation by a Russian rider snagged for using a diuretic masking agent (he was promptly removed from the race). It will take about a week or so before all the samples from the race are analyzed, but apparently the introduction of the biological passport program has greatly cleaned up the black eye professional cycling took after Floyd Landis’ disqualification in 2006.
Hats off to all the riders of the Tour de France, and congratulations to Cadel Evans again for his spectacular win.
I now anxiously await the start of the Vuelta de España for my cycling fix. La Vuelta is another monster three week race covering 2,050 miles with 21 stages including 9 flat stages, 10 mountain stages with 6 summit finishes, a team time-trial stage and an individual time-trial stage. All the pain…I mean fun begins on the 20th of August. Be sure to also catch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a new 518 mile seven day race in the high peaks Colorado. It’s the highest altitude course ever created. I can’t wait!
So back to the dizzying heights of Florida, where altitude is measured in inches. I rode my Miromar-30 with a good stiff headwind today…and frankly it didn’t bother me much at all.
Ride Time: 2:00:46
Stopped Time: 39:10
Distance: 30.52 miles
Average: 15.16 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 22.07 miles/h
Ascent: 142 feet
Descent: 96 feet