Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tour de France: Weekend Winners And Losers

The race finally headed skywards this weekend (in more ways than one) as riders faced a couple of undulating 'middle mountain' stages. Stages 7 and 8 were tough for everybody, though some felt the effects more than others. Here are this weekends winners and losers...

  • Team Sky - Formidable on the final climb and summit finish of Saturdays stage, drilling it so hard that baring Cadel Evans, all of the main favourites lost time to Bradley Wiggins yet again who took the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Fabian Cancellara thanks to an amazing team performance.
  • Christopher Froome - Just when it looked like Cadel Evans was going to nick the stage victory on Saturday Christopher Froome had other plans. After working tirelessly as part of the train dragging Wiggins to the top, he simply skipped round Evans in an emphatic show of strength to take the stage victory. There no questions remaining as to whether Froome 'has the legs'.
  • Cadel Evans - The only one not to have lost any additional time (since the prologue) to Wiggins. OK say he didn't get the stage win on Saturday and Froomes actions must have been a little demoralising, but things could be worse.
  • Thibaut Pinot - 22 years old, French, one of the finest climbing styles in the peloton and a brave solo breakaway from 17km out to take the stage win on Sunday in front of his home fans, what's not to like? This kid has panache by the bucket load, one to watch for the future. Watching him filled me with excitement.
  • Vincenzo Nibali, Pierre Rolland, Frank Schleck, Van Den Broeck, Michele Scarponi, Levi Leipheimer, Dennis Menchov, Everybody Else - Baring Cadel Evans, all of the main favourites lost time on Bradley Wiggins over the weekend and we are not even in the real mountains yet. It doesn't bode well if your jersey isn't yellow or red and black.
  • Samuel Sanchez - A nasty crash on stage 8 has put paid to his Tour de France general classification hopes along with any chance of defending his Olympic Gold from four years ago. A broken wrist, collarbone and damaged shoulder has seen to that. Adding to a long list of riders who didn't make it through the first week, he withdrew from the race, understandably in tears. It's a major blow for my favourite rider, Euskaltel Euskadi and indeed the Tour - he could have been fighting for a podium place and would have lit the race up in the high mountains. Devastated.
  • Fabian Cancellara - Spartacus lost the yellow jersey, not for want of trying but the final climb was just too steep. He will be back though, probably tomorrow as he teaches everybody else how to ride a Time Trial and cruises to yet another stage victory...
  • Bradley Wiggins - OK, so he was a winner, but following a four letter word filled post race interview he's lost a little flavour with me. When asked how he felt about fans who were sceptical that a Tour de France could be won by a non-doper (following comparisons with Sky and the durg ridden US Postal team, Wiggins replied: "They are just f***ing w*****s. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives. It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter rather than get off their arses in their own life and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something, and that’s ultimately it. C***s!" I can see why he may be upset after slogging his guts out tirelessly to get to where he is today, after all it's never nice to be accused of cheating but honestly? Fans should automatically assume cyclists are clean? Well we would if you hadn't given us the 90's, Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, US Postal and a peloton mainly off their tits. Cycling let the fans down for a generation, then fans become suspicious and riders get upset? I don't think the fans are wholly to blame here...

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