For cyclists this is the event we've been waiting for - Tour de France
Roadcycling.com will be analyzing the Tour de France stages twice a week.
50 billion Euro in Europe. So yeah, they might have a few Euros to spend on a sport.
Stage 1 was going to be the typical Tour stage: break away gets an advantage of several minutes, gets caught, and in the last 20 kilometers the racing begins. Yes, the Tour stayed on plot, but the wrinkle was the kicker to the finish line, a sharp climb. Not particularly steep at a six percent average gradient, but it was enough to ruin Cavendish's chances of a stage victory. He pulled the ripcord when the terrain got tough. Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-QuickStep made a stab at victory as he was only seven seconds behind the yellow jersey, but he got nowhere.
However, it was Fabian Cancellara who broke away in the last one and a half kilometers. Bridging up to the powerful Swiss was the emerging super star of pro racing Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale.
As much as Fabs flicked his elbow Sagan wouldn't come around. It was Milan-San Remo all over again. And just like in Milan why should anyone in those closing meters take a pull for Cancellara?
Let's look at this logically. Cancellara is in yellow and his RadioShack-Nissan team wanted to defend. Going up the road is the best way to do that. Sagan (or someone in his team car) knew that, so while a stage win would have been nice for Fabs, keeping yellow was a priority. Sagan kept his cool and stayed on the rear wheel, pouncing in the last couple hundred meters taking the win. Cancellara kept the leader's jersey.
I don't want to hear any whining from people that Sagan should have pulled. Bike racing in the closing kilometers goes from cooperation to a knife fight - each rider waiting for the moment to stick it to the other. At the age of 22, Sagan has 17 UCI wins to his credit. Think about that.
That wasn't the only controversy of the day. A new rule was implemented by the ASO. The squad leading the team classification must wear a yellow helmet to denote that award. It seemed more like a punishment. There is no other way to say this but the yellow ruined Team Sky's kits. The clash of colors was horrendous and with that much yellow in the peloton (Cancellara - wearing the yellow jersey was also wearing a yellow helmet) it took away from the significance of wearing yellow - one of the most sacrosanct colors in professional cycling and the trademark of Le Tour.
The yellow helmet rule reminds me of kids who participate in a sport and no matter how they finish, they all get a ribbon for participating. Yellow is not to be given out lightly to a classification. It should be reserved for only the individual who is wearing the leader's jersey. Previously the leading team had a yellow outline on their number bibs. That was fine. Return to that, we'll pretend that the yellow helmet rule never happened and never speak of it again. Shhhh!