95th Tour de France - Tour Report Card
Tim Lee Grades the tour and the riders. How did your favorite rider and team do
in his unique grading system?
By Tim Lee
A bit about me…
I am a 24-year-old Aussie. I live in Newcastle, which is about 2 hours up the
coast from Sydney. It is the sixth largest city Australia has to offer. I am a
full time physiotherapist and part time cycling tragic. I ride a Legerra
Sirocco, which is a stock frame from the same builder that has his name on bikes
previously ridden by Mick Rogers and most of the Australian Olympic team. I try
to ride as much as I can but this realistically equates to sub 200 km weeks,
which is about a quarter of what I did whilst at Uni. It appears I didn’t
appreciate the free time I used to have until it had evaporated like a spilt
beer at an Aussie summer barbeque.
I also own two mountain bikes and in fact got my start in cycling on the dirt
before defecting to the world of bandanas and shoe covers. I guess this is why I
lay claim to unashamedly worshiping Cadel. I have followed his career since he
rode for Apollo at age 18. I hired a Peugeot and circumnavigated France last
year to see him become the first Aussie to finish on the final podium in Paris
and it was a memory I will take with me (and boast about) forever.
The tour thus far in a nutshell:
As I sit writing this at 2:30 am, I have many questions floating around in my
mind. Where does all the white go when snow melts? Why does a long ride never
finish with a tail wind, and where the hell was Christian Prudhomme ten years
ago when the tour needed a facelift? Gone is the first predictable week of
stages that require ice cream and maple syrup to make them interesting (pancakes
In are lumpy road stages, a clever short time trial, and a genuine move away
from a week tailor made for the guys with fast twitch fibres and balls of steel.
Of course, it is the riders who make the race and this is especially true this
year. Breakaways are resisting the catch, while the bunch seems less organised
than in previous years where the emergence of ‘trains’ have strangled the race a
bit. This also probably isn’t a good time to start a debate about race radios…
Of the big guns, Cadel has ridden defensively thus far to good effect. He is
a bit like a home/generic brand item- no bling, but geez it’s effective! Who
would have thought he would have more points for the green jersey than Rockin’
Robbie after the first week??? Valverde is spending a lot of bikkies but he has
been ultra impressive. Caisse d’Epargne are looking a bit more solid than
The CSC trio of Schleck 1, Schleck 2, and Sastre appear to have been keeping
their powder dry up to this point, so we are waiting for them to go on the
attack, which they surely will at some point soon. As for Cunego, he probably
wants to forget about the first week of mishaps and get on with the racing. I
think his ITT was pretty impressive for the Pint sized Prince from Verona. And
Kirchen continues to impress, as he grows into a real Grand Tour rider day by
As for the ‘d’ word, well I am an optimist so prefer not to dwell on it, but
I wish Manuel Beltran a happy retirement and that those around him don’t
backstab him and let him down as he has done to the cycling community. Hang on,
I hear mainstream media networks tripping over themselves as they again take
interest in the tour at a rather convenient time. Pity they haven’t broadcast
the rest of the best first week of the tour in years…anyway here is the report
card handed out after stage 9.
Tour report card: what it means
A- Outstanding achievement worthy of all the superlatives known to mankind.
B- Damn good effort but falling just short of stardom.
C- Middle-of-the-road, but can hold their heads high.
D- Needs improving but there’s a skerrick of hope.
E- Remedial classes required. No good can come from this.
OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said
George W Bush- Otherwise known as the ’tool’ award, this goes to the rider that
makes a decision that 99% of us can see is either wrong or futile but they think
there is merit to it.
Ricardo ‘Brat’ Ricco: The 24 year old Italian
prima donna's confidence must be sky high right now. First Super-Besse and now
into Bagneres-De Bigorre. He sailed up the Col d’Aspin with apparent ease as if
the Italian Olympic selectors were waiting at the top. Knowing Ricco, he didn’t
want to just show them how strong he was, he probably wanted to rub it in their
faces and show the world what Il Cobra is capable of. Like him or loathe him,
with four wins in Grand Tour stages so far this year he is certainly following
through with many of his brash and arrogant promises.
B - Christian
‘V12’ Vande Velde: Hung tough today and rode a fairly non-descript
race to finish in a larger than expected group at the end. But this was all he
had to do to move up to 3rd overall after the first Cat one climbs of this
year’s tour. His team have been saying that he has form coming out his ears and
perhaps the first pink jersey wearer from this year’s Giro is about to confirm
C - Cadel
‘Rock star’ Evans: Even his famous bodyguard couldn’t help him today
when Australia collectively held their breath as they watched him rolling
alongside Gerard Porte with a cracked helmet and torn gloves and jersey. Having
the poker face he does, it was difficult to ascertain how much the crash
affected him, and it could go either way for him right now. Fair to say though,
the little man from Victoria will wake up a bit stiff and sore tomorrow and the
thought of the Tourmalet and Hautacam certainly won’t make things any easier. It
really is crunch time now for the wearer of possibly the best and most
outlandish shoes in this yea’s tour. Popo had his best day yet too.
Thomas Lovkvist was the biggest looser from the
top 10 today, turning the reverse lights on with Haimar Zubeldia on the
Peyrescourde. For Lovkvist, it was the culmination of working for Kirchen and
Cav in the first week that was his undoing. But as for Zubeldia, perhaps he has
decided to commit himself to Mikel ‘bones’ Astaloza and Samuel ‘Dirty’ Sanchez.
E - David ‘Converted’ Millar:
Now has to set aside any dreams of yellow until next year. The Brit is allergic
to the sun and also Cat one climbs it would seem.
OFE - Nicolas ‘Junior’ Jalabert: today
was Junior Jalabert’s turn to beat his patriotic fist on his chest and show the
world how attacking the French are again this year. They were certainly a lot
quieter today. Was it because the real mountains are now upon us or are the
French saving the fireworks for Bastille Day tomorrow? Either way, I bet Laurent
wanted to give his Lil Bro a push from the French TV motorbike he was perched
on. Sandy ‘Julius’ Casar also had a little dig towards the end. Nice.
George W Bush ‘tool’
Stefan ‘Shuey’ Schumacher: Not too
sure why you would attack with just over 30 clicks to go when your teammate is
out in front. It was Schumacher’s attack that ultimately opened the floodgates
of counter moves, which saw Seb Lang’s lead diminish fairly quickly. And then
Schuey gets dropped? It makes it just that little bit more embarrassing and
perplexing. Pity really, because under different circumstances, Shuey would
still be in Yellow now…
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