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Date Posted: 14:44:57 08/04/03 Mon
Author: Mark
Author Host/IP:
Subject: Re: Tour comparisons?
In reply to: Site_Goddess 's message, "Tour comparisons?" on 10:02:54 07/30/03 Wed

I think there's a good point in asking that Janna, there were some parallells in this Tour with previous editions that have struck me, and undoubtedly many other people too.

The most remarkeable one for me, that has been pushed back a bit with the "rebirth" of Jan, were the dramatic similarities between Beloki and Ocaņa, as I expressed in a previous post on this message board.:) Both being about the only riders that could challenge a great champion in their time, and both making a crash on a moment things are finally looking up for them. (I've not mentioned Ullrich as a "challenger" cos he's only once been at the starting line in good shape in Lance's 5 Tours...needles to say he has ENORMOUS potential, more than Beloki and yes, Lance for that matter. (imho, ofcourse) But that's just my view and I'm straying from the basic point) Keeping in mind Lance's problems and Beloki's flashing start of the Tour, I would reckon he'd put up a huge challenge. When hearing the USPS saying "thankgod there weren't any real attacks in the early pyrennees stages", I can only imagine what an attack-prone Beloki might have achieved. But that's all a lot of "if-ing", ofcourse.

But with Beloki off-stage, it was all about the battle of the titans eh, King Lance and Der Jan! It reminded in some ways of other Tours dominated by duels between two champs, actually overshadowing all other events...during Luz D'ardiden, with Lance riding in the attack and Ullrich doing all the chasing on his own, and picking up Mayo while he's on it; I caught myself thinking "well, it's about those two alone eh. If you think of it, those riders struggling in Ullrich's wheel, the Vino's and Hamilton's that have been dropped, they're nothing but extras in the epic show these two champs are putting up. And in truth, not any of them gave the impression to me that they could for even a minute.

Tours with duels like the infamous Lemond/Fignon one in 89' and Roche and Delgado in 87' spring to mind. The former because of its excitement value, the latter because of the tactic genious displayed by Roche, which also had a large impact on this Tour. I think it's safe to say that we've been privileged witnesses to one of the all time greatest Tours. :)

Another, not so momenteous or even very positive parallel I'd like to make is that between Virenque winning the polka-dot jersey this year, and Jalabert doing so the last two years (and you can even throw in Botero). We've apparently come in an era where limited climbers win climbers' rankings. Granted, Virenque used to be a climber of some calibre, but that's been a while and, well, was in a questionable state, if you know what i mean. But in the last three years, i haven't seen Virenque nor Jalabert in front ONCE in a decisive part of a mountain stage with the likes of Armstrong, Ullrich, Mayo, Beloki, and who have you. Compared to Bahamontes and Van Impe, Virenque has problems getting over a bridge. Those were true climbers, that had no option but to climb, or they'd never win, like a Dierckxens or a Durand have no option but to choose for long solo attacks, being lousy climbers and sprinters. ;) (they even made a Belgian national championship especially with a very steep climb in it, to be able to honour van Impe with a Belgian champ title in the last years of his career lol, that shows) I guess what i'm just trying to say is, climbers don't win the climbing classification anymore, and it's a pity. A Mayo in polka-dot would be a thing to see, i reckon.

The green jersey has been rather exciting this year, just like last one. Seems like Zabel's loss of pure speed and the therefrom following lack of telekom race control have made the green jersey battle a bit a free-for-all, but a riveting one, at that. I'm straying a bit off the original point i suppose (Tour comparisons), but it's remarkeable how the amount of teams focusing on a sprinter has dropped. As far as i can tell, only Lotto and FDJ.com were in this Tour, and FDJ never really did much to keep the pack together or to lead in the mass sprints. All the other teams seemed to be counting on a GC man and riding on half power for him. In conclusion: confusing, and dangerous sprints with many (would-be) contenders. But with a green jersey winner we'll undoubtedly hear from in the future, just take a look at the UCI rankings, there are only 3-4 riders under 27 in the top 30, and God knows it's not easy for a sprinter on a team that isn't exactly world-class to collect UCI points.

Well, that was it, my views on this Tour and how it related on past ones. I'd be thrilled to hear other ppl's views and/or comments on mine, always glad to speak cycling eh? ;)

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