Monday, August 1, 2011

Cadel's suitcase of courage*

Well I was wrong about Contador and wrong about the Schlecks, but at least I was pretty close with Cadel. It was probably the most exciting Tour that I can recall – wide-open and tremendously exciting right from the first stage.

Cadel winning was more of a relief than anything else. I did wonder if he would always be one of those riders remembered for the almosts, what-ifs and second placings rather than the big win he deserved. It seems a bit unfair to say that about someone who has won the World Championships and perhaps that day in Mendrisio did mark the turning point in his career. After that he certainly seemed less awkward and more confident about his own talents, happier and willing to take risks.

The win hasn't been as big a deal in Australia as I thought it would be. Obviously it will make a big difference to Australian cycling, but in this sport obsessed society it is unlikely to change much in our sporting landscape. Personally I'm quite happy about that. I don't want the big commercial channels muscling in on the coverage and cocking it all up like they do with the Olympics. Everyone who has watched the Tour over at least a few years knows what a huge achievement it is and how hard it is to win the greatest annual sporting event in the world.

My green jersey predictions weren't too bad. I got the winner and no-one could deny that Thor had a great Tour. I would be surprised if Rojas figured in anyone's predictions for the sprinter's prize but he put up a great fight even though he couldn't compete with Cavendish's all out speed.

My top two maillot à pois predictions failed to fire and I was happy to see Sanchez take the top spot. He is a great climber and worthy winner of this jersey. Finally, hats off, as they say, to 'little' Thomas Voeckler and his superb tenure in the yellow jersey. Unfortunately I think that's the last time the big teams will ever let him get in a breakaway, however, with a bit more investment in the team and bit of good luck he could well be a genuine contender for the yellow jersey in Paris next year. After Cadel, of course.

*Thanks to Paul Sherwin for this bon mot from the Alpe d'Huez stage

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