Who looks good
I'll get to the the big names but a mention has to go to Thor Hushovd first off. What a cyclist he is. For seven stages he wore the yellow jersey proudly and with strength - hanging on to it despite most people believeing he would never survive when the roads starting heading upward. He has certainly done justice to the rainbows we wears accross his chest. Andy and Frank Schleck are in prime position to strike later this week, they both look fit and fresh and so far have been happy to sit back and let others sit in the limelight - a good tactic perhaps? Cadel Evans is having a dream start to the Tour, second in the TTT, a stage win in Mur-de-Bretagne, and this year he seems like a new man - calmer and more confident that in years passed. He looks dangerous. He will mark Voeckler in the next week and I expect that he will strike on some of the higher cols - perhaps the infamous Tormalet?! Thomas Voeckler also looks great - like Thor - he'll hang on to the jersey for some time I think. Also look out for Tony Martin and Nicholas Roche, both look good for podium positions.
Who looks bad
Well, this years tour has been sadly marred by terrible crashes and unfortunatly many of the big name GC riders have had an early exit. As Stuart O'Grady said, "it's Tour de Carnage". Bradley Wiggins, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Alexandre Vinokourov and Christopher Horner are all out early. What's the reason for the crashes? Maybe there's too many riders, some of the skinny roads were perhaps a bad choice, and a nervous peloton are all possible answers, but one thing is for sure, changes need to be made to make the riders safer. No other sport makes the playing field so dangerous for its stars. And as for the car that knocked into Hoogerland and Flecha, I think this highlights some problems with the support cars, there are too many of them and they often drive irresponsibly around the peloton. I hope Christian Prudhomme, TDF Director, enacts some changes for the sake of safety for the future. Of the riders still in action, Cancellara has failed to impress so far, for someone so strong I would have expected more, and Contodor of course is looking terrible, though he has been involved in four or five crashes and is sufferring from a sore and swollen knee.
This is a tough one! The first stage was great as a spectator, it was brilliant to finally see the 'Grand Depart' that everyone had been waiting for for so long, and the win by Gilbert was awesome - he showed that he is certainly one of the best Pro cyclists in 2011, adding to his already substantial list of wins for the year. The Team Time Trial was great also, I have to say that the TTT's are always my favourite stages. the speed is crazy, and to see BMC (a team not known for their time triallists) come in second was just an awesome effort. They showed what can be done when you step up to the plate and push that little bit harder. It also showed definitively that BMC are united in their goal of snatching the yellow jersey for Cadel. Nevertheless, the best stage for me so far has to go to stage four. As an Australian, I'm a big supporter of Evans and I think this could be his year, watching him stick it to the world's no. 1 rider, Contador, and beat him by a whisker was just awesome. I was yelling at my TV cheering him along, whilst sitting in the dark alone in my living room at 2 o'clock in the morning - luckily my fiance is a deep sleeper! And seeing Contador raise his arm in celebration only to realise he'd been beaten was hilarious!
The first week has been full of moments that will be discussed by journalists and cycling fans alike for some time. Cavendish's record breaking wins (he is now in the top 10 of most stage wins in the TDF), Hushovd's valiant defence of the yellow jersey, Voeckler's strong ride to put him in yellow by 1:49, the crash that saw Vinokourov break his leg (and most likly end his career) and Van Den Broeck break his shoulder and a few ribs, and the car that knocked over Hoogerland and Flecha - an accident that turns my stomach. The defining moment for me, though, was Contador losing 1:20 in stage one. After he was so dominant in the Giro, Contador was the undisputed favourite and for him to lose so much time (mainly as a result of a large crash) in the first stage was totally unexpected, and all of us still, 9 stages later, are wondering if he can possibly come back from this. We will see soon enough.
And another thing...
- Who the hell are Saur-Sojasun and Vacansoleil-DCM?! What happenned to Skil-Shimano and Geox? Too many French teams I say! Bring on GreenEdge Racing - the new Australian PRO team that is bidding for a Tour spot in 2012.
- Enough of the ads already! SBS, the Australian broadcaster that brings the Tour to Australia have a limited amount of advertising partners and the same ads being shown over and over again during the coverage is getting a bit old. I think I know the words to the IG Markets ad off by heart now, and I'm going to launch my shoe through the tv if I have to watch another stupid Skoda ad!
- Team Sky have got the award so far for the worst outfit, the black with the boring green, its ugly! But as far as ugly gear goes - that award has to go to Team Sky's Kask helmets! I've never heard of 'Kask' but I certainly wont be rushing to check out their cycling gear based on the look of their construction site'esque helmets!
I'd love to embed some tour pics here but haven't had any luck locating any royalty-free pics of the Tour. If you know how to find some please email me!
What's your defining moment, your best stage so far or best rider so far? Comment below!