The best and worst of the 2012 Tour de France so far
ASO require Tour de France leading teams to wear yellow helmets (Image: ASO)
As the 2012 Tour de France enters its second week, I thought it might be a nice idea to look back and examine what it is that we have loved and hated about this year’s edition of the race so far.
My views are following but I’d like to invite all fellow Roarers to post their likes and dislikes at the bottom of this article.
I disliked the confusion that seemed to surround Team Sky throughout the first few days of the Tour. The moods and body language of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were analysed minutely.
There was a rift, there wasn’t a rift. Wiggins was fed up, Wiggins wasn’t fed up. I know I was fed up.
But, I absolutely loved their performance on stage seven as they teamed together brilliantly to get Wiggins into yellow ascending La Planche des Belles Filles. There were shades of the old Discovery Team in Sky’s performance.
Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Chris Froome set a cracking pace and destroyed the peloton with the same clinical perfection that Lance Armstrong’s teams used too.
While on Team Sky, I was disappointed with Rogers’ prologue and felt for him as he seemed to suffer from mechanicals and punctures early on, but he was back in the top ten on general classification after stage seven. He thoroughly deserves it.
I’ve loved the emergence of Peter Sagan, not just at the Tour, but throughout the whole year.
What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said? The unearthing of a new talent is always exciting but the way the Slovakian has gone about his victories has really captured the imagination.
No one can match his power, or the exuberance of his victory celebrations! However I’ve disliked that some of the other riders see Sagan’s carry on at the finish line as disrespectful. Well boys, there is a way to stop him – beat him across the line.
I love that Andre Greipel has won a couple of sprints. The big Gorilla is all over his bike in the closing stages of a race but produces a prodigious amount of power. He is a scary sight when he is completely wound up with head bobbing and legs pumping down the straight to the finishing line. You have to admire his courage as well. His second behind Sagan on stage six was a gutsy effort as he had dislocated his shoulder in a crash earlier in the day.
Speaking of crashes, they have robbed us of sprinters and general classification riders, which in turn affects the final results and the race is poorer for it. Although a crash can be quite spectacular, the sight of bleeding and broken riders strewn across the road is something we don’t ever want to see.
It is a dangerous sport, but we want to bask in the glory of the riders’ skills, not their misfortune.
Fabian Cancellara in yellow again is a great pleasure. Hugely popular, the Tour prologue specialist has now spent 28 days wearing the yellow jersey since his Tour debut back in 2004. That puts him at twelfth on the all time list. Eddy Mercks, who leads the table spent an astonishing 96 days in yellow!
I’ve been annoyed by Orica-GreenEdge in the sprints. They have done a mountain of work early in this Tour and seem to have little trouble setting up their lead-out train. But their timing at the business end of the sprint seems to be a little askew, and although Matty Goss is trying his guts out, it’s no less frustrating to watch. I dislike their new jersey design. It’s not as easy to pick out in the peloton as the old one and doesn’t inspire.
I’ve enjoyed watching Michael Morkov. The brave Dane from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff has endeared himself with his endeavour to get into every single breakaway possible in order to be the first over all the category four climbs.
His meticulous accumulation of the scant number of points on offer gave him several pleasing days in the King of the Mountain jersey, something that he has enjoyed so much, that he even painted his power metre with red dots.
Morkov, competing in his first Tour de France, will chase track glory in the team pursuit at the London Olympics. “I’ve never led a climbing category in any other race,” Morkov laughed after receiving his first polka-dot jersey. You’ve got to love that.
Tyler Farrar’s attempt to storm the Argos-Shimano bus after falling in the closing stages of a sprint was pretty poor. I found his outburst a little hard to digest considering it was him trying to gate crash the Argos-Shimano lead-out train.
The argy bargy that followed resulted in, not only the American falling, but several other riders as well. Might be time to look in the mirror Tyler.
I have an intense dislike of stupid spectators that insist on getting too close to the action. I’m not talking about the thousands and thousands of cheering, colourful, dressed up fans that pack the roads every July. They help make the event what it is – even the ones wearing Borat mankinis!
But those who interfere with the riders, whether deliberately or not, need to be dealt with severely.
Who in their right mind would stand in the way of a fast moving peloton to take a photograph? It happens and with bone breaking consequences. This total lack of awareness about what is happening around them is downright dangerous. And then there are the spectators who feel the need to push and prod riders or dangle flags in their faces, or squirt them with water on the way past or just generally get in the way. At times it seems that we are only seconds from disaster.
And finally, to end on a happier note, I absolutely love the French countryside. Of course I only watch the Tour for the bike racing but the country is so lush, green and picture perfect. May the Tour prosper for many more editions yet.
Over to you Roarers. What have you liked or disliked so far?
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