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This slideshow is meant as a tribute to all the brave riders who participated in Tour de France 2010.
To those who made it to the finish line in Paris, to those who unfortunately didn’t make it, to the big stars, the fallen legends, the lieutenants and all the riders who day after day did a tremendous effort to help their captains make it to the top.
This is a tribute to everyone who made Tour de France 2010 one of the most exciting races in years.
Before we start I would like to share with you a little bit of my own relationship with cycling and especially the TDF because my interess in cycling started with the Tour de France.
It all started back in 1993 – I was twelwe – and almost by coincidence I stumbled over Tour de France. I think it was my father who followed the transmission on TV which that day happened to be a transmission from one of the mountain stages. And I was completely sold. It was dramatic like an intense movie with drive and a very high pulse.
I remember seeing Indurain, Rominger, Jaskula and…oh yes, a Dane by the name Bjarne Riis. The fact that he did so well in the 1993 edition kind of started a TDF trip in Denmark back then.
But for me it was especially looking into the eyes of the the riders when they were exposed in a kind of way that almost seemed inhuman. That was breathtaking. Because unlike the movie you know that the gun is not loaded with loose gunpowder…you either die or live to become a hero.
And so, that one day in July 17 years ago I got addicted to Tour de France.
I always look forward to the TDF and I have many great momories of spectaculor battles in beautiful scenarios. And the surroundings are exactely one of the things that make the race. I’m not just talking about the flat road or the mountains – I’m also referring to the weather conditions: Extreme heat, rain, wind or even snow as we saw it in 1996 on top of Col du Galibiere. Conditions the riders cannot change but only try to submit or take advantage of the best way possible .
The above was just a very brief description of my relationship to the Tour de France and my entrance into the world of cycling. Actually I could write a whole novel about that but that is not the purpose with this little slide show.
The 2010 edition of TDF did certainly not lack on moments of excitement …on the contrary. One of the reasons was definitely the very close match in the top of the GC. When nothing is settled it forcees the riders in the leading positions to continuously attacking the opponent and it leaves them more vulnerable and more emotional. Very few people master the art of showing a pokerface if they are under constant pressure. And when you are only talking about a gap on seconds to your closest rival then you are indeed under pressure and you are forced to either attack or defend youself with everything you got.
I was truly entertained this summer and was left in a kind of no-man’s land when the three week’s drama had ended. It always feels like a bit of a ”cold turkey”. Like I said before: I’m addicted, and the first week after it’s all over, is my week of rehab.
Winner of stage is Sylvian Chavanel who went away in a solo break out.
But we witness a lot of drama after a mass crash in one of the wet and slippery descents.
The brothers Schleck, Contador and Armstrong among others crash and the peloton split into three minor groups with the Schleck brothers in the last group. Cancellara in the front group is able to calm the race down in order to merge the different pelotons. He succeeds and the race of the peloton in the end gets annulled. The only one not involved in the drama is stage winner Chavanel. He rides his own race that day.
A lot of comments were made about the annulment and it was truly a spectacular scenario. Of course it could have added a little more excitement to the race if the peloton had continued under the circumstances. But I’m really surprised though to see the authority Cancellara possesses.
One of the most exciting stages of the Tour because of its sections with the cobblestone. It is not for no reason they call it “Hell of the North” when they do the Paris-Roubaix in springtime. Winner is Norwegian champ Thor Hushoved who was also one of the favorites for this stage because of his great technical skills on the cobblestones.
I’m really amazed though by the way Andy Schleck is able to follow the wheel of teammate Fabian Cancellara…really amazing – he shows us a different side of himself. Besides Schleck the front group also counts favorite Cadel Evans
Unfortunately Fränk Schleck crashes in one of the difficult cobblestone sections and is forced to exit the Tour with a broken collar bone
Both Contador and Armstrong suffer from either technical defects or crashes and they end up loosing time to Schleck and Evans.
I must say this: I don’t like to see when riders crash…unfortunately it is an inevitable part of the race and it’s drama. The most dramatic crash I have witnessed was definitely Fabian Casartelli back in 95. I thank God that it hardly ever ends up that way…
Sylvian Chavanel wins his second stage and takes over the yellow - again. First weeks battle for the yellow has definitely been between Chavanel and Cancellara and it has been rather interesting to follow their internal battle.
But the battle is far from over and the peloton will soon reach the mountains…I personally can’t wait
We have reached the mountains. This year the Alps come before the Pyrenees.
Suddenly we see other riders in the front: Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Dennis Menchov…
The day turns out to be incredibly hard for Lance Armstrong. He crashes three times during the stage and looses more that 11 min. After the stage he declares that his race for the overall victory is now over. We have witnessed it several times: A great rider - or king I should say - taking a large fall: I could mention Greg Lemond in 1991, Miguel Indurain in 1996 etc. It is an inevitable part of the game…that a new generation in time will come and take over, but still the images of these situations are images that will never vanish from my memory. I’m touched every time it happens and I can’t help feeling a kind of sympathy for the falling legends.
From the new generation - Andy Schleck shows his strength and wins the stage in front of Samuel Sanchez.
World champion Cadel Evans is now new man in yellow
Stage 9 gives us a good indication of who we can expect will be the combaters for the overall victory. A lot of interesting things happen this day and the top of the GC is starting to take form.
Contador and Schleck are both very strong and they have now started their mutual battle. They attack on Col du la Madeleine and no one can follow the two on the climb. Everyone's eyes lie on them. Especially Cadel Evans pays the price for their attack and he ends up loosing several minutes and the yellow to Andy Schleck
French Superman – Sandy Casar who went away in an early break away wins the stage.
Anthony Chateau who was also in the break away takes over the polka-dot jersey.
I myself was unfortunately not able to see this stage I had to read about it in the paper the next day. So I really missed out on some great performances. But that’s life.
This day is a rather calm day for the riders in the top of the GC. A breakaway reaches the finish line with more than 14 min in front of the peloton.
Sergio Paulinho from team Radio Shack is the fastest in the sprint in the breakaway group. His victory also is an opportunity for Radio Shack to maintain the team’s position in the battle for the team GC who by the moment is lead by Caisse d’epargne
Mark Cavendish wins his 3rd stage. He is truly the King of Sprinters. Impressive!!
His lead out man - the fast Mark Renshaw - gets suspended from the race do to a headbutt between him and Julian Dean in the sprint
How will Cavendish handle the upcoming sprints without his lead out man? As last year Cavendish proves that he’s just on a higher level that the rest of the sprinters. He is really fast and I don’t think the suspension of Renshaw will be a problem for him. He will just figure out another strategy.
This stage includes the steepest climb of the Tour 2010
Contador takes a chance and attacks Schleck who is not able to follow him. Joaquin Rodriguez wins the stage in front of Contador. Schleck looses 10 sec. to Contador and the difference between the two riders are now only 31 sec.
After this stage I’m only dreaming of the Pyrenees…
Stage 13 is rather flat - nevertheless it has a climb not very far from the finish line. After catching the three escapers Alexandre Vinokourov breaks out from the peloton on the small climb, cheats all the sprinters and wins a beautiful victory. He is one of few riders who masters the art of breaking away and cheating the sprinters in the final even also in terrains without a little climb close to the finish like we saw it on Champs-Élysées in 2005.
The peloton has reached the Pyrenees and Christophe Riblon wins the first stage in this beautiful scenario.
We witness a kind of funny tactical match between Contador and Schleck – two combaters who only keep an eye on each other. Dennis Menchov takes advantage of the situation and gains time on both Schleck and Contador.
The two riders in the top of the GC should not forget about the riders in the 3rd, 4th and 5th place because they will definitely seize the chance of advancement whenever it comes.
An unfortunate day for Andy Schleck. He looks incredibly strong but during a rather optimistic attack on Port de Balés his chain drops and Contador of course sees it as his opportunity and attacks and leaves Schleck behind.
The stage is won by the popular French Champ Thomas Voeckler.
Contador takes over the yellow jersey and is now new leader of the race with only 8 sec to Andy Schleck who fought bravely on the last descent trying to minimize his time loss.
You can say a lot of things about what happened on the stage that day. Should Contador have waited until Schleck’s chain had been fixed? I’m not sure myself but I’m sure of one thing: This is just one out of several episodes that makes this race incredibly interesting to follow. The question is now: What will Andy Schleck do? - more hard stages in the mountains are yet to come and he is now forced to attack.
As briefly mentioned before, a lot of things were said about Contador’s attack on Schleck as his chain dropped on stage 15. But even though the press and some others (mostly the press I think) try to create an image of a quarrel between the to riders in the top of the GC because of what happened the dispute doesn’t last very long. Contador personally apologizes to Schleck who accepts his apology. And so, if there ever were any hard feelings between the two champs they are now gone and thereby: end of story. The only battle going on between them is continuously “just” the battle for the overall win.
Stage 16 - another hard day in the mountains. We se legend Lance Armstrong in a long impressive break away trying to win the stage but in the end victory goes to French rider Pierrick Fedrigo. Both Schleck and Contador decides to stay in the peloton during this stage.
The legendary stage with finish on the mountain of Tourmalet. We celebrate the 100th anniversary of the great mountain and today it is the scene of what we can expect to be the final battle between Contador and Schleck because this is probably Andy Schleck’s last chance of taking back the yellow so we all expect an attack from him.
Samuel Sanchez - 3rd overall - crashes in the beginning of the stage but bravely continues and maintains his position.
Carlos Sastre attacks a bit after the crash of Samuel Sanchez. He sees this stage as his option. During a long time he lies on his own between the peloton and a breakaway group in the front but on Tourmalet a wildly chasing peloton lead by Saxo Bank catches him.
Schleck – as expected - attacks with 10 km to the finish. Unfortunately for him, the only rider strong enough to follow him all the way is Alberto Contador. Schleck wins the stage and we have truly witnessed a fine match between two great champions. When Schleck couldn’t drop Contador from his wheel he started a psychological match without any success because Contador doesn’t take that kind of bait. But it is rather lovely to see the riders playing in all facets. Lovely stage!
Just as we thought it probably couldn’t get more exciting Andy Schleck shows us that he has certainly made his mind up about fighting to the very end. Normally Contador would be the favorite of the two for stage 19’s time trial but wings are all of a sudden growing out of the back of the young Schleck.
He actually starts the TT gaining time on Contador and at one point he is only 2 sec behind the man in yellow. In the end he ends up only loosing 31 sec – I thought that was very impressive.
The images of a very exhausted and relieved Contador after the TT is also one of the situations I will remember for a very long time. It showed us he had a very hard day.
Fabian “Hercules” Cancellara is without no doubt the fastest this day and wins the TT in a very convincing manner.
I always have to see the whole transmission. During this stage the riders get the opportunity to give us a different kind of show. I wouldn’t miss out on the chance to see their creative and spectacular ideas. We experience new ones every year. And it is so nice to actually see the riders so relaxed before the big final in the Champs Élysées.
This year, the attention in the first part of the stage especially goes to Team Radioshack and their clothing. The team shows up wearing a new kind of jerseys – a black one with the number 28. They do that in order to draw attention to the fact that 28 mil. people worldwide suffer from cancer. In that way we are all made aware of the important work of the LiveSTRONG foundation created by Lance Armstrong himself. The TDF commissionaires though do not approve of the “little” stunt and the team is asked to switch back into their normal jerseys. After a smaller quarrel between Armstrong and the commissionaires the riders agree to change. Armstrong though, is not satisfied but he certainly sends a message to all the spectators and draw attention to his very important work with his foundation.
As a last demonstration of, and celebration to the ongoing battle we have been witnessing over and over again between Contador and Schleck during the past three weeks they give us their own little show on the road as we approach Paris. A little attack from first Contador then a contra from Schleck and then again from…
To every one I failed to mention: You have definitely not been forgotten and I certainly don’t underestimate your importance to the race. This contribute consists of highlights but you all deserve a big medal for your effort.
I apologize for the moments when words were not sufficient to describe the situations. I have had my share of days of jumping in the sofa or simply walking up and down the living room floor with the adrenaline pumping in my body and even days when I could hardly dare to look at the TV screen.
And why do I as a spectator get adrenaline? Simply because I cannot stop living in the race and with the race. As said before: It is more that just a exciting movie…it’s reality. And it goes on and on and on…
I’ll see you next year in 2011…
Author: Inge Messerschmidt, Copenhagen, September 2010