The Tour de France is over, and there is nothing left to do apart from watch videos of Froome running up Mont Ventoux. Which even on repeat viewings always make me laugh.
It seems within the Tour de France, there are several races in one. And because it is a three week long sporting race, we tend to place a great value on how entertaining the race is. For various reasons, the GC battle in the Tour de France never seems to get the same level of drama and unpredictability of the Giro and especially the Vuelta.
If you look at all the past editions of the Tour de France it is quite rare to have a see-saw battle between the top contenders. Often, we get a period of time, where one rider seems to be better than the rest, and it becomes more a procession than a battle. – Anquetil, Hinault, Merckx, Coppi, Indurain, Armstrong and now the Froome era. Often during their period of dominance, the popularity of these grand tour winners is quite low, because the public can resent the lack of drama and competition. Usually it is retirement or the final defeat and proof of a fallibility, which brings a change in popularity. (though there is a notable exception to this rule, you shouldn’t have too much trouble working out.) I can’t think of many sports where the gallant loser is often more popular than the greatest winner of the age. In football, for example, we don’t admire the failings and human fallibility of the English football team, with the same aplomb of an eternal second like Raymond Poulidor.
Despite no one ever threatening Froome on GC, I still enjoyed watching the hour highlights in the evening. Some highlights include:
Froome running. There is a fine line between tragedy, comedy and farce, and in its long history the Tour often manages to be all three. But, this Ventoux stage, was the first time I laughed out loud watching the tour. The site of the yellow jersey running up Mont Ventoux was beautiful in its farcical nature. Froome was running pretty well. But, then getting on that small kids bike with the wrong cleats was the icing on the cake.
Froome / Sagan attacking on a crosswind stage.
Froome attacking down a descent was something no one predicted.
Romain Bardet winning a stage and moving into second. It’s a strange feeling to be rooting for the French to win something. The British had such a good tour, you wanted the French to win something just because it is their tour and it was becoming a bit rude to have the Tour de France dominated by so many British stage winners.
Earlier in the tour, when Froome got fined €200 for hitting a spectator, I thought about writing a post it should be the other way around. Fine spectators who get in the way. To improve the tour, it is spectators making a nuisance of themselves who should be fined. And anyone in a mankini can get a double fine. I’m sure many others have said this before, but nothing seems to change
There are often frequent extortions for spectators to behave themselves, but it seems a losing battle. If everyone else edges onto the side of the road, it creates a pressure for you to edge closer too. Because there are no punishments for running alongside riders, it is an encouragement for anyone of a narcissistic nature to get some free publicity. I find people running alongside riders waving placards really irritating, and I’m just watching on TV not trying to cycle up an Alpine climb.
If there was €300 fine for such people, it would soon stop.
Next year, let’s hope, Quintana is over his lack of form / illness. Perhaps Adam Yates will continue his upward trajectory.