Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How's Ryder riding in the Tour? (fanboy alert)

...Pretty well... but not with top ten results like last year.  And he may not go there this year.

Ryder Hesjedal, again the only Canadian in the Tour de France, is part of a very strong team, Garmin-Cervelo.  Last year he was lucky and strong in the opening days, went to the front as teammates crashed out, and soon had the whole team working for him.  And he came through, placed seventh overall.

This year he was less lucky near the start, got caught up in one crash and banged up in another. Meanwhile his team has done tremendously well. Sprinter Tyler Farrar won a stage, and Thor Hushovd wore yellow for nine days. Garmin won the team time trial and was top team for the opening third of the race. Teammates Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde are well placed in the standings, David Millar and Hushovd not far behind.

The Tour is a team sport.  When your team mates are stellar and you are only okay, well, you support them.  So in Tuesday's stage, there was Hesjedal way back helping sprinter Farrar get over the hills. Today he was pacesetting at the front to position Farrar for a competitive sprint position.  The result is inescapable: you wear yourself out helping out, and then you drop back. So Hesjedal lost time yesterday, and came in near the back today (though losing no time or standing).  He stands 51st overall, 15 minutes behind the current leader, about 12 minutes behind the major contenders.

Tomorrow the big dogs start to bark. they go up into the Pyrenees, and the time differences between contenders and supporters will start to become huge. Ryder showed last year he could climb with the best of them.   And if he is getting back into form, who knows?  But last year he had the team behind him.  This year he's as likely to be supporting teammates.  Go Ryder anyway.

Fewer drug scandals in the Tour this year, but the crashes!  Ten percent of the competitors are now out of the race, and the list of concussions and broken collarbones, femurs, ribs, and wrists has been truly horrific.  It's a road race, yes, but the organization seems less concerned about injury prevention than it should be.  The Tour is an endurance race, but this year it's too much of a survival lottery.

(I sorted out my quarrel with my cable company and have adjusted to TSN.)
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