Tour de France


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Posted on: 3rd August 2015

Cycling Tours & Le Tour in review

Over the past few weeks the 2015 Tour de France has given us some fantastic racing, great scenery and many highlights. 

My Tour de France has been immensely satisfying. My days as a pro are long over although on the odd day I reckon I could still hang in there.

On the Phil Anderson Tour de France, we had fun. I dragged my guests down secret roads, to unknown destinations, over dirt roads. Did the guide book mention cyclocross?

The race panned out as expected, the emotional favourites couldn’t break through Sky’s dominance.

Our hopes for a good Aussie showing were high with a brilliant performance by Rohan Dennis. Sadly Orica Green Edge had a poor tour. Their strategy, as predictable as Team Sky’s failed them this time, the butterfly effect of early crashes a disaster in a team geared to race only one way. Michael Mathews showed enormous courage, manning up and finishing the Tour. 

The tour was entertaining despite being over before it started. The racing was good. The route gave the fans hope that future challenges would allow for any number of contenders to dare to win. 

The media made much ado about Contador, Nibali and Quintana. Racing can include a bad fall of the cards, Contador had an unlucky tour but he put his head down and continued to challenge. The lack of aggression from Moviestar early in the tour caused their demise and was disappointing. In the third week they did recover and started to work over Sky. Some good old school race tactics from Valverde and Quintana saw the first of the chinks in Froome and Sky’s armour but too late.

Sky, simply clever. No superstitions, clean scientific racing.

Cycling is a sport that is still steeped in so much tradition. I remember arriving at the start of my career to rituals and superstitions that could not be explained. A cyclist lived a certain way, got out of bed on a certain side, ate, trained and slept in accordance with these traditions. Growing up in Australia, I considered most of these cultish traditions to be nothing more than a joke, right.

I shaved my legs on race day, unheard of, I even slept with the window open, I could have died. Even sex, no sex between events. I was buggered if I knew how that worked. I challenged these traditions and was frowned upon. Not quite spat on because at the end of the day I respected these traditions even if I flouted them. As an Australian, I was forgiven.

Sky has changed the face of cycling in the post Lance era and the reaction to this flouting of traditions has been greeted with a traditional response. Heckling, spitting and unreasoned allegations of cheating. All are undeserved. Sky is essentially a team working cohesively to their own advantage. 

Sky have taken the Tour de France and made it their own, until their methodology is challenged they will dominate. They don’t deserve the inuendo’s, they did not create a boring tour, they just own it. Their methods work and until the other teams step back from boring strategies and re work the formats Sky will dominate for awhile to come.

The Tour de France is entertainment on a grand scale. The riders entertain us while performing on the edge. The is the very attraction of Le tour and while it is dangerous riding up through the jostling crowd to a pinnacle unseen this is the attraction for legions of fans and the cyclists. 

To barricade the climbs would be an enormous tragedy for the sport. There is no other sport where you can feel the heat of a riders sweat like Le Tour. The atmosphere was electric on Alpe d’Huez but being in Froomes shoes would have been bloody scary. Just imagine if a French man was a few seconds down and chasing. I would want to climb off my bike and not race.

I don’t know the answer but could suggest that all vision and reporting of the few miscreants, and there are only a few be withheld from the highlights and reporting of the tour. These small moments of TV fame are a huge problem, what started as a red costume is now a full time job, the hecklers seeking their moment of fame.

The athletes are the stars, not the devil, or the thrower of the urine. The media are calling for barricades but they are on the other side of the fence and barricades present a different risk. 

The 2015 Tour de France is done. Richie has moved to BMC a one year contract is a not the result I would have looked for. I am sure there will be a story. 

Written by Phil Anderson


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