Friday, July 27, 2007

TdF Stage 18: Keep On The Sunny Side

As rumors swirl of another prominent positive, let's just enjoy today, shall we? It was hard to know who to root for in the breakaway, for there were three compelling stories to choose from. There was Axel Merckx, the son of the greatest rider ever, coming to the end of his accomplished career. It sounds like there's a healthy attitude in the Merckx family, no one expecting Axel to be Eddy, but still, it can't have been easy to follow in dad's footsteps when they were so huge. Sentimental as we all were for him, it came as a heart-wrenching surprise to see him so emotional at the end. It was so touching to hear him talk of how he appreciated every moment of the day, especially the crowds lining the roads. We've heard that from a lot of riders the last few days, how it is so heartening in these tough times to see that people still love the sport. But especially for guys like Axel, who have the misfortune to have their final cycling days marred by all of the turmoil. So it is gratifying, and instructive, to see that he could put that aside and take all the good from the day. There was a nice moment when one of the scribbling reporters in the scrum around Axel suddenly realized that Merckx was getting emotional, and the reporter's face instantly softened and he was drawn away from his notebook for a moment. Yes, folks, let's take a moment to appreciate the humanity.

And then we had Michael Boogerd, exhibiting the renewed attitude of the Rabobank squad, flying the colors proudly and hoping for a stage win to salvage things for himself and the team. Also on his final Tour, he certainly did not want to go out on the negative note of the previous day. A valiant effort, and even without a victory, it lifted everyone's spirits. The funny thing about Dutch TV - they will cut away from anything to show a post-race interview with Boogerd, no matter what he did in the stage. Aliens could come from the sky and pluck the yellow jersey from the road, and we would still be watching the Boogey-man and his beyond-pearly whites. Not that I blame them, he's been a great rider for many years, and did a classy job this year.

Sandy Casar became an instant compelling story after yet another spectacular dog-meets-bike crash. (And what is up with that anyway?) His painful backside had a long, hot day in the sun, not to mention his elbow and shoulder and whatever else got scraped up. It showed great heart and guts to continue on in the break, and then pull out a thrilling win. After his close seconds, and a day like that, I was happy to see him hold them off in the end.

Interesting to see Levi in the sweeper spot today, I guess he could trust Predictor-Lotto to have his back.

Loved what I saw from Cadel Evans today. He's left the whining behind and even had a bit of swagger in his pre-race comments. Not in an obnoxious way, but in a relaxed, confident way. Very encouraging. And love the heads-up move to take three seconds from Contador and Leipheimer, that's a guy on his game, ready to take it all!

You could parse lost seconds until the cows come home, and I don't think the Kid is going to lose sleep over it, but it's just one of those little signs. And I always wondered if those 10 seconds Levi got penalized after the chain incident would come back to haunt him. We shall see.

Please, please let it come down to silly talk about seconds, and not syringes. I was supposed to have a hard time going to sleep tonight in giddy anticipation of the TT, but now I've got the sickening adrenalin rush of anticipating more bad news. Alright, time to think of Axel and keep on the sunny side.

1 comment:

cat2bike said...

Julie, just getting caught up on your posts. I forgot about that 10sec penalty; it DID make a difference! Axel and Boogie were awesome. I didn't see the interviews, and I've not been over to VN yet today, or last night. I think it's so cool that Robabank is paying the guys that ride into Paris the same money as if they had won the Tour. And Menchov dropped out before that was announced, hum, team loyalty at it's finest.