Thursday, July 18, 2013

Poor, poor Tejay, and a bonking yellow jersey gets penalized

Froomie bonked.

But, really, so what? With others failing to pull away, even on a bad day, leader Chris Froome managed to gain ground on second-place Alberto Contador.

I felt bad for Tejay Vangarderen on that second ascent of Alpe d'Huez. Had he not suffered a mechanical problem with his gears on the previous descent of the Col de Sarenne, he wouldn't have been forced to waste energy chasing his breakaway mates, Christophe Riblon and Moreno Moser.

He paid for the chase dearly with about 5 kilometers to go on the second climb of Alpe d'Huez. You could tell he was tired when he flapped and slapped away at the annoying spec-TA-tors running at his side. He was too tired to focus on the task at hand and allowed the Bodystocking and Thong Goofballs to distract him. Then, he wasted what little energy he had shooing them.

His misfortune allowed Riblon to reconnect, then storm away to victory.

Christophe Riblon. The definition of a schlubbo rider. Anonymous. Got no reason to be in that position. But there he was, just as he was the last time he won a race: a stage to Ax 3 Domains in the 2010 Tour. The guy hasn't won anything since. Now, he'll go down in French lore as the man who won on the day that the peloton climbed Alpe d'Huez twice, in the 100th Tour. He'll become mythical.

Tejay Van Garderen will be left to hobble to the finish with nothing. Both should be wasted tomorrow and lose time.

Froome paid for his authoritative victory in the time trial Wednesday by bonking on the second climb of the Alpe. But, then so did Contador, who finished second in the TT. Froomie seemed to know that he was in trouble. Just before hitting the wall, he chatted with Faithful Richie Porte, then raised his hand. Faithful Richie Porte returned to the team car for a bottle. The tour judges saw through the ruse and penalized Froomie 20 seconds.

"If I've been given 20 seconds, I'll have to take that, but if you look at the technicality, it was actually Richie Porte who fed from the car, not myself," Froome said to reporters at Alpe d'Huez. "I fed from Richie Porte, so maybe that's something that needs to be taken in consideration."

This is two road stages in a row on which Froome placed blame for his actions on others. He blamed Contador's dangerous descending on Stage 15 for causing him to lose his balance on a descent to Gap. Well, if it's that dangerous, dude, back off. Let Contador take himself out, and you can ride safely past.

On the other hand, it's kind of nice to see Contador and Froome suffer, because it adds credence to their assertions that they are riding clean. You just don't crush a time trial, then turn around the next day and fly up Alpe d'Huez twice.

Other snide comments:

  • How about Big Jens Voigt, getting in the break and not getting caught until the final 5K of the second ascent of the Alpe? I hope he remembered to wave to the Trek fans again as he crossed the finish line with a smile.
  • Nairo Quintana can climb. Wonder when people will start bugging him about his climbing data, as they did Froome. 
  • The latter released his power data to L'Equipe and physiologist Frederic Grappe. Preliminary analysis found nothing untoward. But this kind of transparency probably will become the way of life for this generation of riders. They'll have to keep answering for the sins of cyclists in the 1990s and 2000s, releasing data, and at some point accept that there always will be a group of "fans" who will doubt their eyes. And who can blame them?
  • I think Saxo's tactics backfired, since everyone on the team ended up losing time to the Bonking Froome. The team sent two riders ahead early, in an attempt to have them there after Contador and/or Roman Kreuziger launched an attack. The first pair popped before the latter two could get in a position to attack. 
  • What happened to Belkin? Laurens Ten Dam was dropped a couple times and plummeted to 10th overall. Bauke Mollema, who was in second overall before Wednesday's time trial, wasn't shown on camera through the five hours of live coverage. He ended up 26th on the stage, losing three minutes to Froome and fell to sixth overall 9:13 behind Froome.
  • Contador switched bikes, then reswitched to his original after Tour officials announced 30K from the finish that they would have a surprise inspection. Wonder how much that jettisoned bike weighs?
  • Faithful Richie Porte is a much better teammate to Froome than Froomie was to Lord Wiggins. 

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