Deep Thoughts and an Apology: Stage 16 TdF

I’m feeling very emotional right now. I’ll even put it all out there and admit that I cried a bit. There were a few reasons for this emotion, but mainly I’m feeling very…uneven…over Nibali and his attempts to break Sky. I adore Nibali. I so wanted him to do well at this Tour. But the fact of the matter is that Sky and Wiggins are too strong. They are too strong for everyone. Is that Wiggins’s fault? No. Is that Sky’s fault? No. I think Sky has done it perfectly- they have a super strong team with lots of guys right on the top of their form. I mean, to have a team with two guys who could win the whole thing?? How awesome is that for them?! But that makes it not awesome for the other riders and, to a point, for us as viewers. When Sky can sit on the front of the whole race, whether on flat stages or mountain stages, and shut down any moves from anyone- that’s a bit boring for us and a bit demoralizing for everyone racing.

This is why it was so exciting for me to watch Nibali try and do something. And why it pains me so much when it all comes to naught. Today’s stage was seen by many as the last time to really attack and gain some time in the mountains. We all know Nibali is only so-so when it comes to time trials. And we all know he needs as much time as he can get before that time. So when he attacked today, I was so happy! Not only is it more exciting, but I thought maybe this would be the time he was able to break Wiggins and/or Froome and get away. Although he attacked, once, twice, three times, each time Froome or Wiggins would grind away and reel him back in. And I got angry. Angry at the situation, angry that they were so strong that my Nibbles couldn’t do anything to stop them. Angry that the Eurosport commentators were complimenting Wiggins on his strength and tenacity to take up the slack from a (possibly) weakening Froome to bring back Nibali when Nibali was doing everything in his power to change his fortune in this race. Nibali was the one doing all the work- all Wiggins and Froome had to do (and all Sky has been doing) was sit on and respond to attacks. I’m fully aware that it is not the yellow jersey’s responsibility to attack, but rather to defend, but it really irked me that Nibabli was not getting any credit for animating the race or fighting for his place. Many say today was the last day for anyone to make a concentrated attack so when the end of the stage came I found myself getting a bit teary for Nibali. I never thought I’d find myself doing that, but there you go.

So I said something on Twitter that I’m not proud of. I won’t post them here (because I’m embarrassed by them), but you can see them in my timeline (because I’m not a tweeter deleter, @bloomingcyclist). And some people were mean to me because of it. But others defended me and helped explain what I was trying to say. Today I saw the worst of Twitter and the best of it.

And honestly, I was so distracted by all that drama I barely watched the rest of the stage. But here’s what I do remember:

  • Cadel was spat out the back again, but this time Tejay didn’t wait for him. Not sure if this means BMC has given Tejay permission to ride for the white jersey, or what, but Cadel did have have plenty of teammates around him. Regardless, he seems cooked and fell to 7th today.
  • Valiant effort by Chris Anker Sorensen to keep up with Voeckler, but when he’s got his tongue of power out, there’s no beating him. And Voeckler took his 2nd stage win!

Le sigh. The Tour and its drama is almost over. As much as it stresses me out, I don’t like that idea.

Videos of today’s stage at CyclingFans and full results and recap at CyclingNews.

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Posted on July 18, 2012, in Tour de France and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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