Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Tour de France

Crashes, rain, more crashes, more rain, cobblestones, more crashes, more rain, and more crashes.  The 2014 Tour de
France reminds me of LeMans in the days when the favorites to win were just guesses.

I'm watching the Tour this year for the first time since the doping scandals.  It's the helicopter shots of the lovely French countryside that have always appealed to me.  (And when the weather permitted this year, they have again been gorgeous.)  While the athleticism and skill of the riders is admirable, I don't understand bike racing.

The Tour has always reminded me, vaguely, of LeMans.  Even in the modern era of 24-hour sprint races by major manufacturers with mega-budgets and nearly bullet-proof race cars, LeMans involves surprise, disappointment, and persistence in the face of adversity.  In that way, the flavor of both races is similar.

But the first week+ of this year's Tour reminds me of The Good Old Days at LeMans.  Appalling weather.  Many of the favorites crashed early or were otherwise surprisingly eliminated.  Teams imploded.  Strategy and tactics were revised--several times--on the fly.  More than most Tours, 2014 appears to be a case of "the last man standing."

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