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At Last.

Commentator Phil Liggett often reminded viewers throughout the past three weeks that there’s no shame in finishing last in Le Tour de France. Of course, surviving 21 stages to finish in Paris is always a feat for any rider. This year’s last-place finisher in particular has shown himself to be the most respected recipient of the “lanterne rouge” in recent cycling history.

Lawson

Only five Americans competed in this year’s Tour de France out of 176 riders to start. The U.S. needed to make its mark on Le Tour once again, and, well… it happened. While the amazing Peter Sagan took three stages and survived a third-week crash to finish with his sixth green jersey, Philippe Gilbert climbed back up the wall over which he flew to complete the day with a broken kneecap, and the consistent-yet-cracking Chris Froome squeaked his way onto the final podium alongside his maillot jaune-winning teammate Geraint Thomas, the most impressive display of sportsmanship in my opinion, and that of many, came from this year’s holder of that lanterne rouge. My hat– or rather, my helmet– is off to Lawson Craddock, not only the first American in Tour de France history to earn this final designation, but also an inspiring fighter in the face of overwhelming physical, mental and emotional challenge.

At last, three typically grueling yet glorious weeks have seen their end.  At last, it’s a very special viewpoint. And at last, good can come. C’est Le Tour, encore!

 
 

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Still Not the Same…

tdf17countryHaving already said it once last week, now I say it again: It won’t be the same. And needless to say, it hasn’t been. In fact, it seems to get more and more different with each passing day. I’m speaking of course of this year’s Tour de France, just one week in and now paused on the first rest day. The following article echoes my sentiments, as I sit at home:

“As we come to the end of the first rest day of the 2017 Tour de France, the race has been saturated with so much drama and controversy that it’s hard to believe only nine days of racing have taken place. The Tour has lost the World Champion to disqualification, the most successful Tour sprinter to injury and the main contender to Chris Froome for the yellow jersey to one of the most horrific crashes in memory, all in only a matter of days. The attitude from the riders is always ‘C’est le Tour’, and the show must go on. Perhaps those of us in the race have a different vision of events to those at home, but for many here the controversy, the crashes and the abandons have eclipsed everything else this year – sadly even the competition itself.”

Much of the initial wind has left the sails– if I may apply a sailing analogy to cycling. I’ll continue watching, as most of us professional cycling fans will. And, I won’t be surprised when Paris brings us yet another very predictable, unchallenged, and dare I say rather unexciting win for Chris Froome. But wait, that’s one thing that WOULD be the same about this Tour. For all else that’s already not the same, especially after 12 riders lost in stage 9 alone, let’s see what else changes over the next two weeks.

 

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The First Down & Out

Photo Courtesy:  Doug Pensinger

Photo Courtesy: Doug Pensinger

After a record-breaking individual time trial in stage 1 through Utrecht, and following some quickly shifting weather across Holland in stage 2 en route to a sprint finish in Zelande, comes the first dose of heavy carnage in the 102nd Tour de France– this massive high-speed pile-up in stage 3 to the Belgian town of Huy, big enough to halt the entire race for almost 20 minutes!

The first three days down and the first seven riders out, including today’s yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara who did valiantly finish the stage, comes in advance of tomorrow’s treacherous cobbles– not to mention French soil.  Altogether, this day clearly beckons that annually uttered classic phrase: “C’est Le Tour.”

Watch the crash video here.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in 2015 Tour de France

 

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Stage 12: For The Best, And Not.

One day after he was still in, he’s out.  Andrew Talansky and his team decided his departure is for the best, given his overall physical condition following multiple crashes.  At least he had some time to think about it, unlike David de la Cruz who crashed to his sudden Tour end today in an instant out of nowhere.  (C’est le Tour, bien sur.)

Along stage 12...

So rolled stage 12 through France’s beautiful Beaujolais region, ending not exactly for the best for “poor” Peter Sagan.  Already sick of second, he must be just a little sicker today after yet another number two stage finish, this time losing out to Norway’s Alexander Kristoff. (C’est le Tour, encore.) Now where are those Alps?

By more than millimeters this time...

By more than millimeters this time…

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in 2014 Tour de France

 

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