It's that time of year again...
This past weekend, the Tour de France ended.
And as usual, it has rejuvenated my inner biking animal.
This year was absolutely crazy.
It started with most of the overall General Classification contenders (known as the GC riders) crash spectacularly.
First because of some lady who wanted to say hi to her grandparent with a huge sign...
Pretty much the entire Peloton went down.
The rest of the first week went similarly, with many contenders having some pretty significant crashes (not caused by spectators, but just as unfortunate).
By the first rest day, 2020's 2nd place rider had dropped out due to his injuries, as well as one of the premier sprinters. Others were minutes back, with a lot of racing to do, but with their hopes of winning the overall slipping away.
However, there were also a lot of emotional stories.
Like Mathieu van der Poel racing his first Tour, and honoring his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor. His team wore a retro jersey on the first day, and on the second day, he won the stage, on even led the race--putting on the Yellow Jersey, something his grandfather never did.
You see, Poulidor is known as "The Eternal Second". An excellent bike racer, his career just happened to coincide with two riders who were just a little bit better--Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. He finished in 2nd place 3 times, and 3rd, 5 times.
A few years earlier, or a few years later, and he would have most likely won the Tour. Instead, he did not even get the opportunity to wear the Yellow Jersey for even one day.
14 Tours x 28 days per tour = 0 yellow jerseys.
van der Poel honored his grandfather by wearing it for 8 days before pulling out to prepare for the Olympics.
The other story of the Tour was the comeback of Mark Cavendish.
Cav (as he is known), is one of the premier sprinters of his generation. Up to 2016, he had won 30 stages of the Tour.
He did not win any since then.
In fact, in December of 2020, it looked like he was going to retire, since he was a rider without a team.
But, he former team, Deceuninck–Quick-Step offered him a job. They already had a sprinter, but saw Mark as a mentor.
Instead, Mark started to win races again.
A week before the Tour was to start, the team told Mark he was going to the Tour. It seemed that their premier sprinter was injured, and couldn't race.
Mark had not really prepared to tackle the 3 week race, but he went anyway.
He ended up winning 4 stages, and tying the record for stage wins held by Eddy Merckx. He almost beat it on the last day of the race on the Champs Ilysees, but was just nipped at the line.
The other story...there was no mention of Covid.
Now the Tour is over...but in just a few short days, the Olympics will begin. And cycling will be some hotly contested events.
Many of the riders at the Tour will be heading to Tokyo to race. Some in the road race or time trial. Others in the Mountain Bike races, or even on the track.
Sure the Tour is over, but the racing isn't. Hopefully it will be just as awesome as the Tour, without the crashes.
I love the Olympics more than the Tour.
All the events are great! I will try to take time and watch a little bit of everything.
Thank you Tour de France for putting my spark back in me just when I needed it...and just in time for the Olympics too.
Vive la Tour! Vive the Olympics!