Tour de France 2012: General Classification worst in years?
In terms of the Yellow Jersey competition, this year’s edition of Le Tour has been one of the most dour that I can recall. As a Tour de France spectacle, does it fall into the “worst” category?
First let me just say congratulations to Brad Wiggins, Chris Froome and Team Sky for being without a doubt the strongest team in the race (the honours for strongest individual rider are another matter though).
It would take the most extreme of opinions to believe Wiggins will not wrap this up.
This year, Team Sky is all about taking care of business – business being to wrap up the Yellow Jersey. That’s fine, but some might say a certain degree of panache comes with the responsibility of wearing the Yellow Jersey.
Look where ‘panache’ almost got Thomas Voeckler last year. I was at least glued to the TV for the entire race.
In football, a team ‘park’s the bus’ to negate any attacking threat. In boxing, one might out-jab his opponent for 12 rounds to secure a no-risk points victory. In this year’s race, Team Sky. It’s boring.
About the only race animation of any form we’ve seen from any Team Sky member has been from Froome, those times being when he took his Stage 7 victory, and then when he ‘dropped’ Wiggins.
While I understand the high stakes involved in wearing the Yellow into Paris, I am a fan of racing. This race has been about neutralising.
Aside from his early stage victory, I haven’t seen Mark Cavendish race. All I hope is that while Wiggins is sipping his pseudo-champagne on the Champs Elysee, Cav is going to be powering on up the final straight with arms raised as he crosses the finish line.
Edvald Boassan Hagan, another dynamic rider who has sacrificed his own stage winning ambitions for his leader. Who knows if Cav and Boassan Hagan (Froome, Porte and Rogers included?) are genuinely happy with this arrangement, but would they be willing to spend the next 12 months in preparation to do this all over again next year for perhaps Froome instead of Wiggins?
In defence of Froome, he is probably the stronger overall GC rider, and he is a lot more likeable than Wiggins.
While I apportion some blame on Team Sky for the rather boring GC affair, I have to ask the question of every other team in the race. What has happened in the space of 12 months that such a gulf in ability can be created between one team and the remainder of the field?
To expect Cadel Evans to defend his title this year, would be to show one’s true patriotic colours, thinking with the heart rather than the head. The head tells you that he is a year older this time around and with a sub-par preparation, his recent demise in the GC is not entirely unexpected.
Liquigas-Cannondale with Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso have done everything expected of them by way of attacking riding, but they just have not been up to the task. As have Jurgen Van den Broeck, Jelle Vanandert and Lotto-Belisol, who have actually performed well below expected.
Despite the uninspiring battle for GC, thank God for Peter Sagan, Thomas Voeckler and Thibot Pinot. These riders have been the shining lights of this year’s race in my view. Ok, I can’t leave out Jensie from that group.
In light of Frank Schleck’s positive sample and departure from the race, the inevitable doping clouds once again descend on the sport. But (and as I have my tongue firmly planted in cheek) how about the UCI lift all substance restrictions once and for all, creating the most level playing field of them all.
Perhaps then we might see a return to the fantastic racing we’ve seen in the 90s and early 2000s. Or they could ban the use of race radio…
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