At the back of the race

The Tour de France’s lanterne rouge was Lampre’s Italian rouleur Adriano Malori. He seemed to battle on but didn’t suffer from any big illness or injury but he’s a heavier rider who spent a lot of energy helping Alessandro Petacchi to secure the green jersey. Here are a few other observations on the race:

Most anonymous rider
Many riders were almost invisible in the race and I say this as someone who scans the internet and watched almost every hour of TV coverage. I’ll pick Wesley Sulzberger, only because he’s got such a recognisable name, he sounds like a Jewish comedian from the Bronx or a Hollywood film mogul. But I never heard his name mentioned once. It’s no bad thing, a name can pop up because they get in a crash so going un-noticed is also a sign of a professionalism.

Most anonymous team
This is a hard one for 2010. Milram saved themselves with their ugly fluo yellow helmets, the colour clash at least made them visible. A shame they’re retiring from the sport, they could invest in hi-vis waistcoats for next year and we’d actually notice them. This is the strategy adopted by Euskatel and Liquigas’s approach, even if they floundered, Sanchez apart, at least we saw the bright kit on screen.

I thought Footon would vanish but Valls Ferri impressed, although they’re the team with the smallest prize pot, just €13,492. Rabo were stealthy all race, Menchov made his way onto the podium without anyone really noticing but this triumph means we have to recognise them. Sky and Katusha have massive budgets but modest results, but were saved by tiresome hype and Rodriguez respectively.

So the award goes jointly to Cofidis and BMC. Cofidis were the only French team not to win a stage and they rarely got in a breakaway. The colour red was also invisible with BMC, only Evan’s technicolour dream jersey stood out; even the Captain America outfit didn’t help Hincapie, I never saw him in a break or near the front of the bunch. BMC got the invite because of Evans and they’ll need to convince ASO they’re worthy of a repeat invitation, especially if Evans is no longer world champion.

Best moment
Remember this an event that takes 90 hours but it only provides a few minutes of scintillation. So boiling it down to moments can be hard, I actual enjoy the gradual way the race takes shape, the flat stages and the way things fall into place over time.

But if I had to pick, for me it was the Tourmalet. I know many wanted to see a rider crack and others wanted a final sprint but we saw two riders test each other all the way and Schleck did all he could. The stage to St Jean de Maurienne, over the Madeleine, was also another big moment when many favourites cracked and we saw Contador and Schleck literally rise above the rest.

Worst moment
Maybe it’s just my involvement on the internet but I found the race was dogged by angry controversies. Chain-gate, Cancellara-gate, Renshaw-gate, there were more gates than Heathrow airport. These issues boiled up fast and thankfully died down equally quickly but that’s the downside of the Tour, everything on the race gets massive media coverage and the bad stuff is past of this. Look on the bright side, if the worst story was a headbutt or a dropped chain, ASO will be rubbing their hands. No doping scandals, no children crushed by the caravan or killed by speeding gendarmes.

Best thing
The weather. It was hard for the riders at times but watching the French countryside roll past in glorious sunshine is just amazing. Hats off to Jean-Maurice Ooghe and his TV production crew for the stunning images, the French tourist office can’t buy adverts like this. If you haven’t ridden in France, what are you waiting for?

Worst thing
Nothing. I love the Tour and the 2010 was the 20th edition I’ve followed closely. The only problem is the cold turkey sensation for the next few days…

7 thoughts on “At the back of the race”

  1. Evans wore yellow for a day, and might have lasted a bit longer were it not for his cracked elbow. Might not be the most impressive result, but it's not bad either, and doesn't make for anonymity.

    I think the Madeleine was the best moment – the two strongest guys rode away from the rest. Schleck's chain was certainly the worst moment. Had he not had that problem, we probably would have seen more agressive riding from both riders in the next few days, and there would not have been a question hanging over the whole thing.

  2. Maybe I'm being hard on BMC, but it's more that the team were invisble except for Evans. His rainbow jersey and yellow jersey was great, but it only made me forget the red and black of BMC, as if he was on another team.

  3. Ballan in the break and second on day Voeckler won, Burghardt among the last to be taken back on Tourmalet? Kroon in the Champs Elysee break?

    Barring Casar's stage win I barely even registered FDJ in the race. Pauriol at least showed for Cofidis occasionally. But I still don't get how either of them merited an invite.

  4. Hi Alex, yes I know they showed a bit but still, not in a memorable way. Casar got first on the big Alpine stage, plus second in the Pyrenees and whilst his team mates were low-profile, he carried the team. A question of expectation vs reality I suppose.

    And anway, it's all in jest. Any rider finishing the Tour is a legend of the sport and I salute them all. That doesn't mean we have to abandon a sense of humour though…

  5. I have to agree with TheInnerRing. BMC was bleak. And they have been before. Except for Evans, who rode a great Giro, nothing. Ballan nothing, Hincapie well his Captain America outfit was at least noticeable, Kroon nothing, Burghardt the same. He then went on to win two Tour de Suisse stage in an impressive way, but that was after the nomination for Le Tour. Maybe he peaked to early as he speculated and he was not the last to be get caught on the Tourmalet, Ivanov was still there. Sky was pretty weak too but one couldn't get past them thanks to all the media buzz around them. And of course Cofifis. It was like they even haven't been there. The were even less present than Milram and had an even less recognizing outfit.

  6. Re. The last post it wasn't Ivanov last on the Tourmalet in the breakaway it was new Russian champion Kolobnev. My pedantry could not be contained 🙂

    Great blog by the way InnerRing – keep up the good work!

  7. Thanks anon. I'm a pedant too at times, only I type too fast as well.

    If anyone ever spots a mistake on here, don't forget to leave a comment or email me and I'll gladly fix it.

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