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95th Tour de France - Tour Report Card
 
By Staff
Date: 7/13/2008
95th Tour de France - Tour Report Card
 

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 anyone?).

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 Silence too.

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 day.

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.

Special awards
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.

A - 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 this.

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.

D - 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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