06 July 2010

Bananas and Bedlam?

Today we will witness the long anticipated unknown outcome of Stage #3 of the Tour de France

Some recent  comments about Stage 3:

“If there’s a crash, then it generally blocks the road completely,” David Millar of Garmin-Transitions said, adding that he often had “lost the will to live” by the cobbles’ end. “There are guys getting off the bikes, running around in the field next to the road,” he said. “It’s bananas.” 

Voigt, 38, has seen that happen plenty of times. Once, he recalled, he had to avoid smashing into a rider who had fallen and broken his femur. Such bedlam is good for the fans, though, Voigt said.

“Remember in ancient Rome, the gladiator fights they had?” he said. “It’s going to be awesome; it’s spectacular for the people on the sofa, having a little Bud Light on the side. But for us poor fellows on the road there? For us, it’s terrible.”

Chris Horner's video diary yesterday was good - he basically said leave the cobbles in the classics, the classics to the classic riders. He made a very valid point in saying that if you take out a few GC guys early in the race from falls, it makes the rest of the race much less interesting to watch. This is only the 4th day of racing. We have 17 more days to go in the Tour de France. 

Try to imagine putting a nordic skier on a downhill ski course for the day simply for the entertainment of the spectators. Sure all the racers know how to ski and they know speed, but the equipment is different, the technique is different, and the type of rider that rides the classics is of a different build. 

The General Classification (GC) riders with the ability to win the Tour de France, are smaller and lighter, they do not ride the spring classics in Belgium, the classics are for the bigger men. Sure the classic riders participate in the Tour de France, but they suffer. They are heavier stronger riders, they are the Clydesdales used to power the peloton over the long haul stages. Bob Roll (the Clydesdale) once said of Andy Hampsten (the GC), we bring him to the climb, then Andy is, "spit out like a watermelon seed" off the front.  

Riders on a bike team have different purposes, and so do the cobbles. The purpose of the cobbles is for the entertainment of the spectators, and for the benefit of the sponsors by attracting huge numbers of fans to watch bananas and bedlam. I hope the organizers haven't made a mistake in attempting to attract the huge numbers of fans in the north and forgetting about the fans in the south. At the end of the day, we will know which riders have survived for the rest of the millions of fans to come see in the weeks ahead.