The Tour de France has begun with unprofessionalism beyond category
Tour de France viewers and spectators yesterday experienced what may have been the most unprofessional and disorganized start of a Tour de France in its entire history.
The Tour de France organizers allowed a team bus, which had reached the finish area three hours later than other team busses, to pass under the finish line scaffolding only to witness the bus getting stuck in a metal-on-rubber sandwich known from less significant races.
The Tour organizers have more than one hundred years of experience to draw from and must have become acquainted with the law of murphy. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Despite this valuable knowledge the Tour organizers made an hors catégorie failure by allowing the bus to pass under the scaffolding.
That a bus is allowed to get stuck under the finish-line scaffolding in the centennial edition of the Tour de France makes one question if the event will live to see its 200th edition, or if La Grande Boucle is past its prime having fallen into a deep sleep like the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit. Competing Grand Tours Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana have gained major popularity by renewing and reshaping their events with stunning success in recent years, while Le Tour has rested on its laurels.
The Giro d'Italia organizers' decision to allow serial dopers and tainted teams to take part in this year's Giro offered the Tour de France organizers the perfect opportunity to prove to millions of cycling fans around the globe it is still the benchmark event to beat when it comes to professionalism and perfection. So far, however, Le Tour has failed.
Not only did the bus incident - and the derived decision to move the finish line to the three kilometer mark when the peloton was less than ten kilometers from the finish, then repealing the decision - leave viewers and spectators with a taste of lacking professionalism. More importantly, it was also disrespectful to the professional cyclists taking part in the Tour de France.
The improper handling of the bus incident resulted in so much confusion, disorganization and panic in the peloton that many riders crashed. Some riders may be forced to abandon the Tour because of the incident, others have spent a sleepless night in bed and will suffer from major pain when they contest stage 2 of the Tour later today.
The absurd decisions of this year's Tour de France, however, did not end here. The Tour jury and organizers decided to neutralize the stage by handing the same finish time to all riders. This may, at first seem fair to many, but it is discrediting to the few general classification favorites such as BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans, who had spent valuable energy on positioning themselves at the front of the peloton to avoid crashes and be able to take advantage of valuable time gained resulting from crashes taking place before the riders reached the three kilometer mark, after which time delays caused by crashes are always neutralized.
Evans should have been granted the valuable lead seconds he rightfully earned yesterday, while other general classification favorites and outsiders such as Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) should have been punished for sitting far back in the peloton, arriving at the Tour in deep and inappropriate slumber. Evans' professionalism turned out to be worthless, because Tour jury and organizers didn't possess the courage needed to make the right decision. Insted they favored the interests of the event over the interests of a former Tour de France champion and World Champion.
Speaking of slumber, while I mostly enjoy and respect professional riders' decisions to let loose and relax behind the scenes, Hesjedal's decision to ride stage 1 of the Tour de France wearing "funny glasses" showed his apparent disrespect for the Tour, the team sponsors and the many fans who are following the former Giro d'Italia Champion in this year's Tour and who may have taken their savings to the bookmaker in recent weeks to bet on him winning the Tour.
We won't forget the footage of Hesjedal wearing funny glasses while two Garmin-Sharp riders were working hard to bring him back to the peloton after he crashed because he had chosen to assume the large crash risk, which comes with slumbering at the back of the peloton. Perhaps, however, yesterday's bus incident and time neutralization proved Hesjedal right when it comes to disrespect for the Tour de France? Tomorrow's stage 2 of the 2013 Tour de France ends in Ajaccio, birth town of Napoleon Bonaparte. He's surely rotating in his grave. Perhaps a French rider will change his mind later today.
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