Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vive Le Tour! The King is Crowned!

It's all over now. The champagne has been drunk by the happy winner, while cycling along during the last stage of Le Tour de France, a longstanding tradition, for the last one is largely a ceremonial stage. The winner has always been decided by the penultimate day of the race and the only thing that may change, barring some disaster of course, is the winner of the maillot vert (green jersey) as the sprinters fight to be first across the finish line on the Champs-Élysées to gain the most points and try to take this coveted prize.

It is taboo to mount an attack on the leaders during the last stage and thus Alberto Contador, the 26 year old Spaniard, won Le Tour for the second time, although frankly he had such a commanding lead that it would have been virtually impossible to overtake him even if they did. In second place was one of two Luxembourg brothers riding Le Tour, 24 year old Andy Schleck, with Lance Armstrong, a grand old man at 37 years, taking the third spot on the podium.

Yesterday's stage was most interesting as it was one of the most demanding of this year's race and it occurred in the schedule at the very end, after three weeks of very grueling cycling. It would have been hard to overtake the leader but Lance Armstrong was very vulnerable in his third place spot as two riders could well have toppled him off the podium. But he is nothing if not a great competitor and he held on to the spot at the end of this stage.

The 167 km stage began in Montélimar but it ended in an extremely difficult 2okm climb to the top of Mont Ventoux, also known as Mount Baldy since it resembles a barren moonscape of white rock, well above the tree line. So difficult is this stage that for more than 25 years it was omitted from the race, but this year it came at the end of the long race which made it even more demanding.

Besides the jockeying for positions this past week, the big surprise came in an announcement by Lance Armstrong that he would be riding again in the 2010 Le Tour, but as leader of a new American team, sponsored by Radio Shack and it is expected that Johan Bruyneel will join as manager. Next year he will no doubt have better conditioning since he will ride for the whole season, but then again he will be another year older. It will also be interesting to see who will ride for this new team, as Lance Armstrong convinces his favoured choices that he is capable of winning another tour. I think with his third place finish this year he has shown that he still has the ability and the drive to pull it off and with the support of a strong team, he could well win it next year. But there will be plenty of riders who will be trying to stop that happening. It will surely make for a very interesing Tour of 2010 as his presence in the 2009 race has done.

Congratulations to Alberto Contador, the winner of this year's race, but also to all 156 riders who completed the course. You are all winners!


Carver said...

I enjoyed this post so much. They are all winners indeed. I am so glad that Lance made it to the podium. He really is a marvel.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

It all passed completely without note in my circle of family and friends.

So I am one up now as I now know a Spanish guy won it.

I also know the Norwegians came in first and UK came in second in the race to the south pole, but I followed that. ^_^

Alice said...

A wonderful sporting event which we watch every year - in the middle of the night. We watch it as much for the scenery as for the cycling.

Better luck next year, Cadel Evans.

jams o donnell said...

Congratulations to all of them. I was pleased to see Bradley Wiggins do well.

Liz said...

Armstrong is a true champion.

Eurodog said...

I went up the Mont Ventoux by car and I cannot imagine cycling up there. Or down for that matter. I admire those cyclists.
I heard a program on Canada on the BBC in the middle of the night. They talked about the poor whale which was found on the bow of the cruise liner, the fires around Vancouver, Canada's own Madoff story, a murder investigation involving a car found in a canal. It was really interesting. This was meant to send me back to sleep but it did not.

jmb said...

Thanks Carver, I'm glad too. I just hope one day he is not toppled from his drug free podium.

Well you obviously have other interests Miss Moggs and I was not following the race to the South Pole but would have if I had know about it, :)

We are lucky Alice as we catch the end in the morning and a reply of the whole thing at night.

Jams Bradley Wiggens did do very well so congratulations go to him.

Liz I think he is a true champion too and a bloody marvel.

How interesting for you Eurodog. It look like a very interesting place to visit geologically but not to live there. Sorry the bad news from Canada kept you awake.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well, as you know, I hate all sport,jmb but you make this sound interesting!