Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Controversy at the Tour

The riders are now in the Pyrenees, the mountains between Spain and France. These are their last hill climbs before the Tour heads north toward Paris.

The yellow jersey (overall leader) is held by Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. His nearest rival is last year's winner, Alberto Contador. As of the day before yesterday, Andy Schleck held the yellow jersey by 30 seconds. They both raced side by, side not really challenging each other, content to stay close.

Yesterday Andy Schleck saw his opportunity to break away on a steep climb. As he was churning up the hill, away from Contador, he looked like he was going to put some distance between them.

Then Andy's chain slipped off. You couldn't really see any reason, just that he had to get off the bike and put the chain back on. Contador, who had doubled his efforts in response to Andy's break, sped past Andy as he was fiddling with his chain. They reckon Andy lost about 45 seconds putting his chain back on.

The problem was that the whole pack had passed Andy as he was repairing his bike and Contador has assumed the lead at the front of the group.

Andy tried valiantly to catch up but he summitted 40 seconds behind Alberto Contador and on the descent to the finish line was only able to make up 2 seconds, giving Contador the yellow jersey at the end of the day by 8 seconds.

The controversy was in whether Contador, seeing that Andy Schleck had mechanical troubles, should have scaled back his attack on the assent until Andy was back on his bike.

The Tour de France is filled with gentleman's agreements and self imposed fair play conduct. When the pack crashed during Stage 2, the leaders slowed and allowed them to catch up, not taking advantage of a situation out of the control of the crashees.

I think it isn't a race if you wait for the guy behind you. They didn't wait for Lance Armstrong or others who were in contention when they had bad days and crashed. I think as long as the disadvantage isn't intentional these things are part of the race and shouldn't be compensated for.

Good luck Alberto, 8 seconds isn't much but you are ahead. Ride that yellow jersey into Paris!

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