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Posted on: 15th July 2016

A long Tour de France

I have been tardy this year with my Tour de France blogs.

A couple of reminders – hey we like your by the roadside blogs have spurred me on to a reminisce post as I am about to embark on another adventure.

The reason for my tardiness – it was a great tour and of course my right hand lady was on the road with me. 

My reflections on Le Tour, it was in fact a really good race. I lamented the disaster that struck Richie but it seemed to be a daily scenario. There were riders down wherever you looked and enough misfortune to create a whole new legacy of rider taboo’s.

The dominance of Sky and Chris Froome could have turned the event into a bit of a yawn. Just like during the Armstrong era there was an inevitability to it all. Lance and now Froome never seemed to have to deal with the incidents that can happen to any cyclist, Richie Portes puncture, a classic.

That incident alone has probably had more comments and articles written than just about any other. My view, a team leader is never left alone suggesting that all is not good at BMC.

Sky’s focus is single minded, winning and not just le Tour. Arguably they have a huge budget but that is not all that cuts the mustard in team dynamics. It’s a mentally strong outfit and the only time during the 3 week odyssey Froome wasn’t in the shadow of the blue & black super-team, was on the upper slopes of Mont Ventoux where falling off didn’t pose a problem as the lanky pom proved he could also run until a replacement bike was provided.

Team Salary caps might be the answer and something the UCI should consider to maintain some balance otherwise short of misadventure le tour will become a fait accompli, where only teams like Sky can win.

That said the media focus on Le Tour is has created a monster that is being handled badly by the key players and for what it is worth it has impacted. Other than on Mont Ventoux, crowds seemed a down on other years.   

A tour highlight, after some great riding is pitching by the side of the road just being part of the crowd as you wait for the peloton. There was plenty of room! The ride traffic – pretty light on. This not just about riding the smaller roads that no-one else looks for. It was light.

Our rides: Awesome

Le Tour on the ground is quintessentially French, the smell, the feel and they way the locals celebrate the race. The media coverage does not convey the passion of the roadside supporters and I don’t mean the spectators dressed in mankini’s or as condoms. Its about being part of a village in the Pyrenees where the occupants of a nursing home have a front row to le tour and watching the ‘St Michel’ van stop out front and throw enough madeleines out to the crew for a year’s worth of morning tea. Delightful.

The race Highlights.

Sagan. Is there anything he can’t do? With-out a leadout train, the Slovakian mixes it up with the best sprinters on the blue ribbon stages earmaked by the Cavs and Kittels. When the sprinters are having recovery days in the hills, he is on the attack in a breakaway having a crack. He rode from day one as if it was his last. He might not be as fast as Chipo but he has a personality without the arrogance of the 7ft sprinter come porn-star. Despite coming from mountain-biking and showing superb skills on the road, I’m not sure he will feature in the MTB results in Rio but one thing for sure, his participation will greatly increase the attention the press give the Olympic cross-country event.

Another standout was Mark Cavendish every bit as quick as he was 10 years ago when he was on the T-Mobile outfit. He came into the Tour as a bit of a dark-horse on a young lower budget team and won about every sprint he attended. 

Something also needs to be said about Romain Bardet who we saw raise his head in last year’s Tour de France, the stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne was a great ride.

I am at home and keeping up with the goings on of the Olympics. I raise my hat to the efforts of the Aussie team especially Simon Clark, great job. The race, was a great bike race, a point sometimes lost in patriotic commentary.

I am about to head to the hills, car camping. With 2 new Cannondale Slate’s on the bike rack and a tent awning on the Skoda it is the start of long held dream.

I’ll be back in time to launch a trip to the 100th Giro.

Written by Phil Anderson

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