Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tour de France 2008 Stage 5: Take One For The Team

There's no I in Garmin-Chipotle or Columbia. Oh, okay, there is, but that's just a technicality! Awesome teamwork by Columbia today, working with the other teams to keep the gap manageable, and then sending every rider to the front for a good old-fashioned dominating train towards the finish. I really don't need any more reasons to love George Hincapie, but he keeps coming up with them. He hammered back up to the racing peloton after a presumed mechanical, caught on, worked his way up, and then hammered smack on the front in the final Ks. Columbia is supremely lucky to have him, and they know it.

Mark Cavendish made it all worth it, getting that first Tour win in fine fashion. He walks the talk, and gives all due credit to his team. I do believe he has matured over the past year, learning all the time from guys like Hincapie no doubt. Credit Agricole's work didn't go for naught either, as Thor Hushovd did well enough to take over the green jersey.

From the young stuff to the old hands - a nice routine day like today in the brilliant sunshine is always good for some fun camera shots. My favorite from today was Erik Zabel and Jens Voigt chatting and laughing. Zabel doesn't win many these days, but he's always just off the mark. He may be battling for green yet.

Garmin-Chipotle's team spirit is evident in everything they do, but especially poignant in this tale from David Millar about very nearly getting caught out in the split on Monday. His diaries are a must-read, he tells great stories with great passion. He often talks about what a new and wonderful experience this team is for him, to have others depend on him, and to depend on and trust others. More good stuff on the team, and their significance, can be found in this Bicycling article by Joe Lindsey.

It seems like media saturation on Garmin-Chipotle, but people are still missing the message, so I hope it continues. I hope more people start to realize what it was like before, and the significance of what the clean teams are doing. Columbia is lucky to have George, and cycling is lucky to have Doug Ellis, Jonathan Vaughters and Bob Stapleton. Just as we hear about the great environment on the Garmin-Chipotle squad, Michael Barry tells us Team Columbia is also a very happy place to be. And they're winning races left, right and center, so it turns out you can do both!

Both teams will be on full display tomorrow up to Super-Besse, I can't wait!


Max said...

I agree that Mark has matured. He was so cute repeatedly thanking "the lads" and specifically mentioning Kim sacrificing his jersey for the stage win. And how cool was it to see George fighting from all the way off the back to take his turn at the sharp end of the peleton at the crucial moment. Mark kept saying "us" and "we". It takes such enormous balls to be a sprinter at the top level and it is nice to see that he can balance the arrogance needed to compete with an appreciation of what it takes to put him in a position to win with 300 meters to go.
Thanks for another great post.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. You (and Max) are right that MC has really matured or changed his attitude purposefully. He drove me insane last year, and I was even thrilled for him when he won yesterday!

What an awesome stage today! CVV on the attack on that tough piece of road was so great to see and he should be really proud of his ride today.

You're so right that Columbia seems to be rocking it. White, Green, AND Yellow jerseys on the team!! Amazing! This Tour has been such a fantastic one for the fans this year, I think. Especially for the two American teams!