Weekly Wibble: Sugar-Frenzied Playstation Cycling
Stuff and nonsense from the world of cycling. June 18: Seven things we learnt from a very exciting Dauphiné. Plus video of a swift Swiss descent, and a stat that will have Cav watching his back come Tour time.
We just didn’t want the Dauphiné to stop. In fact, why couldn’t they have flown to Leeds and got the Tour started right there, right now?
Residents wondering why a giant procession of bulbous, logo-emblazoned vehicles is pelting them with free tat. Team cars getting done for exceeding the 30mph speed limit. Pedestrians jumping out of the way of the peloton on the Headrow. Maybe it is best to wait till July 5 after all.
This race was Playstation cycling, only the controllers seemed to be a load of sugar-high nine-year-olds. Breakaways reigned and do-or-die attacks from daring contenders dominated: it was more open and unhinged than that door we foolishly assembled with Blu-tac and gaffer tape the other week (is it meant to be hanging off like that?)
But what can we draw from it? Some surmising:
1) There goes the fear. Chris Froome and Team Sky are still strong and resilient, but the likes of Contador, Kelderman, Talansky and Next Big British Thing™ Adam Yates tested their control with attacks and tactical probes like no other race before. The sense of futility in escape seen by rivals at the 2012 Tour has certainly evaporated.
2) Froome probably gained a few more fans from crashing and losing. His heavy fall was a reminder that he doesn’t have an Armstrong-esque knack for avoiding trouble (hey, being a fallible, human champion isn’t a bad thing in this day and age). Cycling is best and most endearing to the public when it’s unpredictable and winners change. That said, he probably lost those new supporters with the whole TUE business.
3) Giant-Shimano are excellent at sprinting. Niklas Arndt’s bunch sprint victory meant that they’ve had wins from seven separate sprinters this season. With 24 in total, only Omega Pharma-Quick Step have had more.
4) Short stages work. The cherry on top of this delicious Daupiné gateau was that enthralling 130-kilometre final stage up Courchevel. Take note for future Tours, ASO.
5) Alberto Contador will attack anywhere where he reckons he can get an advantage: uphill, downhill, the breakfast buffet in the morning. Ooh, can’t wait to watch him nip in front of Froome for that last croissant at the Leeds Travelodge.
6) The Tour de France is going to be amazing. Okay, it doesn’t actually mean that – the Dauphiné is like a plate of foie gras, all fattening, mountain madness, no side dishes. The Tour will inevitably be more of a mixed grill: teams will be bigger and cagier, recovery will come into it much more. But there seemed very little to separate Froome and Contador, pothole crash aside. If Vincenzo Nibali, never one to shy away from a ruthless attack, can get involved, we might just have one of the most elaborate, exciting Tours this century.
7) Follow that if you can, Tour de Suisse. Once again, the Dauphiné excited in a way its neutral, rule-abiding, Toblerone-chomping calendar-sharing cousin seemingly cannot. Frankly, it’s going to need fire-breathing dragons, 100-kilometre Coppi-esque solos and Peter Sagan doing the Macarena as a victory celebration to compete.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH UH HUH
1 – Number of times Chris Froome has won a points classification, after his green jersey win at the Dauphiné. Mark Cavendish, watch out.
1 – Mikel Nieve’s Dauphiné stage win was the first WorldTour win by a rider who was on the 2013 Euskaltel team.
Merckx montage, in honour of the Cannibal’s 69th birthday yesterday. We defy you to not punch the air after watching this.
The exhilarating descent of Grosse Scheidegg in the 2011 Tour de Suisse: little more than a spindly singletrack helter-skelter. 2.00 mins onwards for the good stuff.
Have a look round cycling shrine, the Madonna del Ghisallo.
June 11 - Hammered
June 4 - Plonkolan
May 28 - Attack of the Colombians
May 21 - Aru!