07 July, 2010

Annual Tour Whining Contest

Every year, there's a stage that causes the riders to complain that the racing is too dangerous. This year, it was Tuesday's Ardennes-classics-style stage to Spa and Wednesday's Roubaix-style stage to Arenberg. I think the racers are getting whiny over this. These courses aren't inherently dangerous, though it seemed that on stage two there must have been quite a bit of oil on the road, it's the riders not giving a centimeter and taking too many risks that's the problem.

The Tour is supposed to be won by the most complete racer. Some years that includes racing over cobblestones. It shouldn't be just about time trialists and climbers. I understand that many racers want predictable stages and boring races. They don't want to have to think too hard about racing until it's absolutely necessary. These racers want to let the sprinters and long breakaway riders have the flat stages and the climbers the mountain stages. But it's a more exciting, more complete race if the racing isn't so predictable, if the teams have to think hard about every stage. it would be great to see a rider who's not a great climber or time trialist win the race because he was savvy enough to take advantage of the stages where people weren't expecting the race to be made.

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