My Dirty Little Secret
I’ve just been spending a bit of time browsing the ever informative The Science of Sport site.
I find myself agreeing with them that likely this is a far cleaner peloton than we’ve seen for a long while. I’ve seen a lot of mud slung at Tommy Voekler along the lines of “How the hell’s he hanging with the big boys? He must be doping to raise his performance to their level.” Joining the dots as JV says.
However, given the inability of The Schleks, Contador, Evans and Basso to put more than a few token seconds between each other on mountains where we’ve seen the race blown to smithereens on many occasions in the past, I’m starting to think that Voekler is in the form of his life and more conservative preparation has brought the big five’s performances down to a level he’s managing to cope with.
Do I think Voekler can win Le Tour and give the French Nation it’s happiest July since 1985? No, I don’t. I think he’ll have a bad day or just succumb to fatigue but I’ll be cheering for the cheeky chappy and his animatronic tongue, because amongst a grey characterless elite laid low by actual human limitations and unbolstered by pharmacuticals he and the Europecar team have been a breath of fresh air.
Kudos are also due to Vaughter’s Garmin-Cervelo team. The TTT win was a planned victory achieved and Thor’s win in Lourdes in the Rainbow Jersey was the stuff of legend.
The dirty little secret in the title? I’m starting to worry cleaner Grand Tour racing might actually be a bit boring.
Update: I need to clarify that I’m fascinated by this Tour, there has been some cracking racing. Spectacle and drama a’plenty. When the time came for the Heads of State to play their cards though there was more than a little of the damp squib about it. I think this is the result of a cleaner Tour. Instead of the extravagant, no doubt “juiced”, demonstrations of force that help define a Tour in a more cohesive way than just the story the individual stages tell we have a clash of men too scared, or too equal to take the race by the scruff of the neck. They may well be marshalling their strength for The Alpes and I’ll be proven wrong in the most glorious way possible. It doesn’t help that, added together, the famous 5 may struggle collectively to have the personality of just one of the greats of the past.
I think that all of the really great Grand Tours have a story that ties the whole thing together or a rivalry that sets it on fire. I’m still searching for that this year. It may come in an Alpine Clash of the Titans or it may come when Tommy V hangs on to yellow in Paris. I’m looking for the difference between a good Tour and a great one.