After week one’s crashes and withdrawals (including sportreview.net.nz fav Bradley Wiggins), it’s a wonder there was any lycra or cyclists left to get up all those hills. Poor old Johnny Hooglerland’s arse was all over the globe’s tellys after this appalling bit of driving. His polka dot jersey and continued presence in the race is a reminder of how hard tour riders are and how much this race means to them.
My rider of the tour so far has been Thor Hushovd, the World Champion who took yellow after the team time trial, held on to it for a few days as well as dragging his big sprinters’ frame over two mountain stages to take line honours. Super stuff.
Getting into the Pyrenees, Richard Williams wondered where the attacks were – the GC leaders were marking each other into oblivion and not pinning their ears back to make the death-or-glory breaks. Andy Schelck was even nicknamed ‘stiff neck’ by French press for endlessly riding while looking back at his rivals. He must have been reading – his 60KM solo attack in this morning’s 18th stage was the moment of the tour so far. Bizarrely, Eddy Merckx himself appeared in a car, sticking his head out the sunroof like R2D2 to give the cannibal seal of approval to the attack. Little Aussie bleeder Cadel Evans was left to slog up the hill by himself, dragging the other GC contenders up behind him like naughty children.
And so it comes down to the last hill climb, the time trial, and the Champs Elysée. New Zealand fans can cranks the MySky and get up for what should be some compelling stuff. Tomorrow morning’s stage is the Alp D’Huez, the Tour’s equivalent of T20 cricket – let’s see if Evans and A. Schleck have anything left after their long rides today.
Who’s going to win? I’m with BikeSnob, and would like the fairytale, please. Voeckler, who would be the first winner to spend race time in someone’s car port, or Evans. It will probably be a Schleck. Any way it winds up, this has been a dramatic tour.