I controlled myself this year and decided to summarize all of my Tour thoughts in one post, as opposed to last year. It’s been difficult, because I’ve enjoyed this year’s Tour more than any other in recent memory. That’s partly due to the Floyd Landis yellow win and Robbie McEwen green win, but it’s also due to the wide-open and suspense-filled nature of it this year.
*I am amazed at Floyd Landis’ strength. In the stage where he got back into contention, he rode over 100 miles out in front, solo. This is almost unheard of, and many commentators thought it was impossible. And all of this on a cauliflower-like hip bone that has to be replaced. Stunning.
*Brian Goff’s post about team Phonak and whether or not the threat of being able to keep Landis in yellow for 5 more stages was credible is on the money. Relative to the other teams, Phonak did not have the depth and ability to coalesce and sustain a quality support infrastructure over several stages. So they ended up relying on Landis’ strength, force of will, and desire to win, which thankfully were all sufficient to make it happen.
*The game-theoretic dynamics of the team interactions is always fascinating. Team cycling is about achieving your objective (which varies from team to team, depending on the skill set of the team members) while expending as little energy as possible, because you’re riding 100-180 miles per day most days for three weeks. There are also many teams, all with their own objectives and ways of meeting them, but they are not that different from the objectives of the other teams. That means that the strategy space can be very fluid, and that the riders have to be adaptable because conditions will change quickly.
*I was sorry that Tom Boonen and Oscar Freire left the race without finishing. While I am a huge Robbie McEwen fan and I love the sprint stages, it’s always more fun when the competition is a little closer than it was this year, and Boonen’s and Freire’s departures sewed up the green for McEwen more easily than I would have liked. Plus it’s just sad to have riders not finish.
*One of the British OLN commentators (can’t remember if it was Paul or Phil) called Robbie McEwen “The Pimpernel”, and the name has stuck in the KP house. They seek him here, they seek him there, …, that damn’d elusive Pimpernel. One of my favorite books, BTW. But it was so much fun to watch the field sprint coming toward the finish and look for McEwen and not be able to see him, and then have him pop out from behind one of his Davitamon teammates, pour on the juice, and just crank through the crowd. I believe he won three stages and came in second or third in three or so more using this strategy. The field sprints reward the combination of timing and acceleration, and he’s got it in spades.