2011 Tour de France-Stage 14

16 Jul

If you expected to see the favorites come out and race aggressively today you’re probably disappointed.

On the other hand, if you like to see the underdogs, the riders that ride below the radar for most fans, race and challenge the favorites, you probably thought today was an exciting stage.

I’m in the 2nd camp, and I’m a fan of Thomas Voeckler, still the leader of the Tour de France, after one of the two toughest mountain stages in this year’s Tour.

If you like to watch riders lay it on the line, you were disappointed in the tactics of Frank and Andy Schleck and impressed with the tactics of say, Stage 14 winner Jelle Vanendert, Voeckler, his teammate, Pierre Rolland, Sammy Sanchez, Rigoberto Uran and others.

Cadel Evans attacked once and was quickly followed, Ivan Basso attacked a couple of times with the same results. I don’t question either. Andy Schleck however, attacked 5-7 times. Each time (except at the finish) he checked to see what damage if any he had done to the others and then allowed them to catch up – then wait for 2-3 minutes and attacked again…. turn around – check others – wait… etc.

I understand the strategy, but I don’t agree with it. If you’ve got the legs ATTACK and GO!  Don’t look back, don’t check on your brother or the others just GO!  Andy wasted a lot of effort on those multiple attacks. Wouldn’t he have been better off to use it in one serious attack?

His first attack was his best. Catching the others off guard, he quickly got a lead, but then instead of continuing the attacking pace, he slowed up.

The Schlecks and perhaps team management, strategize too much. They race too cautiously. Psychologically at least, they’re not as strong as they were. Other teams have to be questioning and thinking that if they had the legs they would have gone. The team and the Schleck brothers have allowed chinks in their amour and it could cost them.

If they want to win and have the legs to win they must come out on the next tough mountain stage and race lights out.

I don’t mind about the Schlecks however, because it played out well for my favorite, Voeckler and his teammate Rolland. I was happy to see Vanendert win too and for the Sky rider to be up there with the big guns.

When sport, whatever the type of sport, is dominated by one or two elite competitors the competition, the sport, suffers. It’s fun and refreshing to see new riders or the likes of Voeckler mix it up with the established favorites and it’s good for bike racing.

Thomas-Voeckler-stage 14

I am so impressed with Voeckler! He has the heart of a champion and he can suffer with the best of them. In the Tour de France talent only takes you so far, you have to be willing to put it all on the line and you have to be willing to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.

Voeckler would collapse from exhaustion before he would ever sit up and quit.  It remains to be seen if that is true of any of the favorites.

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