I lost complete interest in bike racing when Leige Baston Leige ended and didn’t become a fan again until the Tour. I watched hours of video from the cyclocross season with Flemmish commentators that I couldn’t understand, then I watched almost all the classics, then “poof” nothing. Apparently I missed an exciting Giro and even more exciting Tour of California. In the past I’ve paid for the NBC Sports web feed of the Tour and watched nearly ever stage to completion. Luckily I remembered I liked cycle racing the day after the Tour started.
My strategy for watching the Tour was a different this year. I downloaded the 30 minute ITV4 stage recaps, these 30 minute recaps feature about 20 minutes of racing and some features with Gary Imlach, Chris Boardman, David Millar. Another change this year is that Shauna joined me in watching these 30 minute shows and got kind of into it. She asked lots and lots of questions so I could pause the video and explain all the minutiae of stage racing. Explaining jerseys, stage wins, and the overall classification was one thing, but trying to explain team dynamics and breakaways was another thing all together. At one point when there was a group of riders over 10 minutes up the road she couldn’t understand it. “Why isn’t Nibbles up there?” she asked. Nibbles was her nickname for Vincezo Nibali, who became a favorite.
Something that has been bothering me since last year was the media’s reaction to Nibali’s win last year. It seemed to me that the media discounted his win rather unfairly almost like it was his fault that Froome and Contador crashed out. They didn’t seem to notice his brilliant ride on the cobbles last year and the fact that he was the best rider of the tour that managed to finish the race.
The most exciting day in the Tour for me this year was stage 19, Froome had some issues with his bike and slowed down, but it looked to me like maybe he was cracking and drifting to the back. Nibali launches off and wins the stage breaking the unwritten rule that you don’t attack the yellow jersey when they crash or have a mechanical and he got a bit of flak for it. Now I’ll just say, I’m not the biggest Chris Froome fan, he seems like a great person and a fantastic rider, but his riding style is so mechanical, sometimes I think he might as well be riding a watt meter. In a way I really wanted to see Nibali win this year to prove all those who discounted his win last year, seeing him win that stage with an aggressive attack made my day. As for Nibali’s attack, he was 8 minutes down on Froome, he was racing for the stage win, and he was looking for an opportunity to attack when it happened, it was an honorable attack in my mind and if Froome wanted to he probably could have pulled it back anyway, so why whine about it.
I’d say that several people were saying what goes around comes around when Nibali had a flat tire on the base of the Alpe De Huez, it was nightmarish bad luck, and maybe a bit of Karma but I wish he wouldn’t have been there on the final sloops of the Alpe. At least we had Quintana throwing everything he had a Froome and getting some time on him. I was equally glad to see Pinot win a stage, I’m always glad win the French win a stage and Pinot is turning into super climber, horrible descender, but great climber.
One final note on the Tour de France 2015. The expected showdown between Talanski and TeJay went poof. Then TeJay went poof when he got sick and dropped out on stage 17/ I really want to see TeJay do well, but as a rider he doesn’t really excite me, it seems like in the mountains he just follows until he can’t follow anymore. He’s a great defensive rider, but he’s going to have to learn to be there on the final kilometers of the climb if he wants to make the podium. Good luck next year!