Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tour de France 2014

I think I have to write this post since Tour wasn't what I told in stage 5 post. This felt like cleanest Tour in long time. I am not sure what has happened. President of UCI has changed since last Tour. Old president was blamed to be part of doping problem and new wanted to make cycling cleaner. I am not sure is that the real cause or have Armstrong's problems made riders thinking about doping usage. If I had to bet, I would be cynical and say doping tests can show something new and riders can't use their normal "diet". It that is the case, something new will eventually come up and we get back to regular doping filled racing.

So, what makes me say this was cleanest Tour in long time? We didn't have dominating teams and riders had bad days more than usually. Normally there are one or two teams that dominate the race on mountains. Those teams keep the speed up until only couple riders from other teams can follow. Then team captain attacks and drops everyone else.  Many of these teams have later been found to systematic doping program. This year no team could control the race like in previous years. If team captains had helpers on fine climb, they were from different team each climb. Captains were alone during last ten kilometers and they had to fight for themselves. And they did it. Attacks came from further from the finish line than before. It was more entertaining racing than before. I still think fifth stage was most entertaining, but mountain stages were more entertaining than before. I like to see more of this kind of racing. Every day was different and you never could guess who will have bad day.

Everyone except  Nibali had bad days. After Contador crashed, Nibali didn't have any problems and he didn't have to push himself to limit. He could keep his pace and that was enough to make time on others. I think Nibali could have won even with Froome and Contador in the race. I didn't like how Froome's and Contador's camps questioned Nibali's victory. Riders themselves didn't do that. It was someone else from their camp. You have to remember that Nibali was over two and half minutes ahead of Contador, when Contador crashed and we never got to see Froome on cobbles, where Nibali made most of the time difference. We didn't get to see Froome or Contador to have bad day on mountains. When you speculate on crashed rider's changes, you never count how they could have bad days.

Winner was clear after first mountain stages, but that didn't make race boring. Fight for second and third places was tight until the last time trial. Every stage had something dramatic. If Froome and Contador didn't crash, we wouldn't have seen this fight. That fight would have been for fourth place and other teams would have made their moves. It is hard to say which would have been better, what we got or fight between Nibali, Contador and Froome. If we see that fight next year and someone other than Nibali wins, it doesn't mean that same guy would have won this year. Route suited Nibali this year with cobbles and only one time trial. Next year it could be two long time trials, which suit more Froome and Contador.

Over all it was better Tour than I expected. I have watched other races this year. This was first one during which I felt like watching cleaner cycling. Now that I start to think it, other races make more sense now, when you assume them to be cleaner too. We have seen something unusual on earlier races too.


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