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« The Haunted Fish Tank | Main | Rights and Privileges »

Over bar the shouting

The 2017 Tour de France is over. Over bar the shouting, that is. There is much shouting about Team Sky’s dominance. Cries of, “It is unfair to have a $40 million budget, when most teams have to make do with a fraction of that amount.” The French crowd were booing Chris Froome, not because he had done anything wrong, but because he owed his win to the strength of his team

Yes it is unfair, but then isn’t life unfair everywhere? There are always those individuals and groups who have more than others. What can you do about it? I might as well say it was unfair when I built frames and had to compete with the large import companies who had a huge advertising budget that I could never match.

Such an argument would be as futile, as it is to blame Sky for their success in obtaining better sponsorship than other teams. The French AG2R team operates on a shoe string compared to Sky, yet they were still able to challenge Sky on several occasions.

If France is so desperate for a Tour winner, why is the French government not throwing in some money? France is not a poor country, there has to be some large corporations that could sponsor a team like AG2R.

The problem is professional cycling shot itself in the foot, by turning a blind eye to doping for so many years. Sponsors do not trust the sport any more. But the Tour de France alone must do wonders for French tourism.

Team Sky dominated the race, Froome did not. To me he looked vulnerable at times, and he never won a stage. Uran did remarkably well, considering he had little or no team support. Dan Martin too. Warren Barguil’s attacking style was a joy to watch. Of course if he had been closer in the GC standing, he might not have been given the freedom he was.

And what if Alejandro Valverde, Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte, and Jacob Fuglsang, had not crashed out, what a different race that would have been. Would Froome have won, with the extra work load of running down these additional great riders? We will never know.

Roman Bardet rode a good race, as did his AG2R team, the only challenge to Sky. His time trial performance let him down, and I was glad he hung onto his podium place by a scant one second. It would have been sad to see him drop off the podium.

Mikel Landa will have his day I’m sure, especially if he changes teams. Wasn’t Michael Kwiatkowski amazing? Rode himself to a complete standstill on the Col d’Izoard, then two days later had recovered enough to almost win the time trial.  Beating Froome and only one second off first place.

Fabu Aru got a lot of stick for attacking Froome when he had a mechanical. I thought it was funny as hell. I burst out laughing when it happened. Aru was another who had little or no team support. What a different race it would have been if Fuglsang had not crashed out. These two Astana riders would have worked well together.

We have had a good Giro d’Italia, and Tour de France. The sport is better for having a more diverse talent base, instead of one or two riders riding unchallenged. Young riders are improving and Froome is slowing down, not sure he can win another Tour

Looking forward to the Vuelta. What say you?


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Reader Comments (14)

Call me cynical, but isn't this the only way pro sport can go? It's either ignored or ends up with so much money and attention paid to it it becomes a mockery.

Look at the America's Cup yacht racing. I'm not a sailor, but when I look at the current range of carbon fibre "yachts" I have to wonder what relevance they have to anything beyond the wealth of their owner/sponsors and the length of certain unmentionable appendages.

I'm a consumer fortunate enough to have a few grand spare to spend each year on cycling. I fail to see what relevance the TdeF has to me, If I want a battery on my bike, I'll wait until I need an eBike*. MTBs have become so specific you need three to go over a hill and down the other side.

*OK, I am a bit excited that an electric shift is coming for Rohloff hubs

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteveP

I enjoyed watching the Tour, and I think this year's was more exciting than most. The GC was closer than ever on stage 20, even with so many contenders crashing out in earlier stages. And I also got a kick out of the Aru attack; it's a race after all. I'd even be in favor of a race format that would make the final stage truly competitive for the GC and not just for the sprinters.

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Majors

I enjoyed watching it this year. I think Froome is a worthy winner, though I didn't realise Team Sky had that much of a financial advantage over the others. Hopefully the Vuelta will be on terrestrial TV here as I don't have satellite…

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStephen McAteer

I'm a life long fan so I've always watched the Tour since the first first time I saw it live in England in1974. But I have to admit that other than the mountain stages the race is getting to be a big bore. With the advent of race radios breakaways always get caught and there is very little, unscripted live-by-your wits type racing anymore.
Froome won without winning a stage which is a very rare event these days and arguably he wouldn't have without such a strong team. It would be fun to see them revert to national teams for one year. I know the sponsors wouldn't like it but it would add a different slant to the race and maybe throw up a surprise winner.

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJW

"But the Tour de France alone must do wonders for French tourism."

Not really. Loads of Dutch and Germans turn up in camper vans pre-loaded with food and drink so they don't spend much locally.

Not much different from the riders, I suppose, who also turn up pre-loaded. I believed in Armstrong - now I don't believe in any of them.

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSimon D

Not only did Froome win the tour without winning a stage, he also competed for Great Britain in the Olympics in spite of never having lived there.

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTiree

Make most of the Tour like Stage 13, Bastille Day. Though the shortest, it was the most exciting road stage. Yes, you can get everything done with less miles, less time spent on the road.

Just like the Belgian Waffle Ride, what is the point? The Wafer gives you everything in half the miles, and at the finish you have time for eating and drinking and aren’t dead tired!
As a viewer (because TV broadcasting is where the money is), I would look forward to such stages.
Hey, ASO, see how good you can make the Tour, not how long or difficult you can make it.

July 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Ho Hum! So what new?

July 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

This year's TdF was better than the last few Froome wins, because the competition was closer. I know it's a team sport, but since there's only one winner, I sort of feel that Sky has found a way to legally 'dope' by building a really strong team around Froome to protect him better than any of the other teams can.

It's sort of like politics in the USA: huge amounts of money may not win you the (political) race, but it will certainly help make it easier for you to beat your opponents.

At any rate, the TdF this year probably did not crown the strongest rider, or the most exciting - but Froome rode a strong, well-planned race and did what he needed to do to win. Team Sky showed how a team can protect their leader and push him to win even when his opponents are (arguably) stronger.

I didn't watch it all, but I did watch a few interesting stages. It's a pity Contador is done and some of the other favourites crashed out. It could have been closer.

July 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterYohannM

Agree with your analysis Dave. The Froome/Sky performance seemed to me economical, doing just enough to win without having to dig too deep. Get a lead on the main rivals in the prologue and with the main contenders not really challenging on a relatively easier 21 stages, it was easier to keep that lead, with a time trial on the penultimate day as insurance.

Froome didn’t sparkle in the Dauphinee with the same speculation as the tour, is he a bit off?. I don’t buy it. I think Sky and Froome would seriously like to win the Vuelta after not doing well in last years edition after winning the Dauphinee then a harder tour, and the memory of the Froome/Wiggins Vuelta debacle which neither won.

It might be a tall order if he is raking it in at the post tour criteriums, with just a month in between the races, plus some of the usual suspects trying to salvage something of note for the season. But what is helpful is this years Giro winner Tom Domoulin isn’t at the Vuelta, Can’t wait to see how this theory pans out.

July 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

I guess my problem with the TDF is, it gets to be the same old same old almost every stage. A group or single rider gets away and rides his balls off, then is caught at the last min. So I only watch and pay any attention to the mountain stages with a uphill finish. Even the sprint finishes are usually dominated by one or two riders. It's kinda like watching pro football. College football is much more interesting. ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY involved in pro sports. It seems the more you have the better you are. But then, that's true of life also OR IS IT??? Thinking back to my racing days in Birmingham England in the 1940s 1950s, I always rode my balls off, Win or lose. I never thought about prizes or money. Just did the best I could. The BEST PRIZE I ever had, was in 1950 age 17yrs, finishing third in an NCU Championship 25 mile TT to senior riders, Baz Francis First and Bob Maitland 2nd, Having BOB MAITLAND (who also rode the TDF later in life), come over to me after the race and saying shaking my hand "GOOD RIDING CRUMP WELL DONE" Meant far more to me than any prize or money BUT I did get a MEDAL that I still have also we Midland C&AC took the team prize

July 27, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/40692045 - I found this after searching on keywords in the comments. Seems like personalities are as important as results, who would have thought that? I rarely watch cycling on TV but I can, and that in itself is astonishing as are all the other technological feats involved in the race, communication, and commenting on blogs. The bicycle may be pretty close to its origins but look at how we watch it. Carbon fibre has nothing on fibre optics. We live in a fast changing world but don't notice. This blog has deep roots, as readers we appreciate that. Thanks Dave.

July 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

I believe we will soon see why Froome failed to win a stage this year. I think team SKY are getting him to peak for the Vuelta. Froome is desperate to do the double and, if you peak for the TdF, you can't hope to win the Vuelta.

August 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLee Hargreaves

"Over bar the ..." Is that a British thing?

I've never heard that phrase before.

August 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTBR

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