The Tour de France is two-thirds finished and aside from a bit of a boring first week, it's not been the typical Sky/Froome snooze-fest. The 9th stage into Roubaix proved to be the quite enthralling, for a flat stage, perhaps all of the flat stages should go through 13 sectors of cobbles going forward. As for the Alps, they provided a bit of action though don't ask most of the sprinters, some of them might still be out there. Here's a few takeaways from the first two weeks of racing.
SPRINT STAGES ARE BORING
They're a necessity, this is clear, and for some teams this is the only chance to get a stage win so by all means throw them a bone. However, there's got to be a more engaging way for these to be incorporated into the parcours (cobbles!!!). Create a short-cut that only stays "open" for a certain amount of time, if the breakaway gets there before it closes, who knows, maybe they can win the stage. Sounds far-fetched, but alter the script a little bit. The viewers think these stages are boring, and the peloton thinks these stages are boring.
For all of the talk at the Tour of California about this year's Tour being the sprinter showdown of the century, it hasn't lived up to the hype. At least as far as Gaviria vs. Cavendish vs. Greipel vs Groenewegen vs Sagan vs Kittel vs Bouhanni (JK!) goes. Too bad of that list, only Sagan is left.
CVNDSH S FNSHD
The guy is a legend, anyone who gets custom Nike in-the-style-of-Ronaldo-football-boots cycling shoes is on a different level, but maybe his team should have been trying for Eddy B this year. Up until the start of this Tour, Cavendish seemed to be on track to tie or beat Eddy Merckx's stage win record, but that number looks to be out of reach now. Poor Cavendish looks like he's lost his edge, and this year has been full of set-backs it seems...might be time to turn in your wings, Cougar.
To his credit, when it was evident he wouldn't be making the time cut on Stage 11, instead of climbing into the broom-wagon, he chose to ride it out to the finish.
ZIPPERLESS JERSEYS ARE WEIRD
Sometimes things are a certain way because they're better that way, plain and simple. Cycling jerseys with zippers fall into that category, no doubt. Pactimo, however, is trying to challenge this FACT, and have created a zipperless jersey, and it looks as bad as it probably feels.
Can we please get a video of how these things go on, Pactimo? Also, how is one's crucifix supposed to sway from side to side without the ability to unzip, whilst also showing the stark contrast between one's arm and torso skin pigmentation, cyclists work hard for that, don't take it away from us.
ROMAIN BARDET & JOHN DEGENKOLB
Aside from the picture atop of the page, and some excitement on a flat stage, Stage 9 gave us a couple of riders to root for: Romain Bardet doesn't have a lot to show for it in the GC, but the fact that he's still only 3:21 back of G$ after stage 14 says everything. Allegedly, on Stage 9, he suffered 3 punctures, and who knows what other mechanicals. TV coverage showed him frantically pushing the button on his junction box button on at least one occasion. He could have easily ended up like Teejay Van Garderen losing around 6 minutes and ending his shot at a GC podium spot.
John Degenkolb, who along with some of his teammates was hit by a car a couple of years back, got his first ever Tour de France win at Roubaix on Stage 9. His first major win since his accident, one that given by his post-race interview meant quite a bit. Good to see him back.
Here's his post race interview:
WHERE'S THE WOMEN'S TOUR?
Women's racing is no less exciting than the men's, so why is it that the Giro Rosa, a 10-stage race in Italy, and quite possibly one of the biggest women's races has to compete with the first week of the Tour de France? Why not piggyback off the logistics, coverage, crowds, and exposure the men get for the Tour de France, and create a women's version?
Currently, there's quite a bit of meaningless coverage of the men's race, particularly the flat stages, even some of the mountain stages - why not devote the first half of the coverage to the women's race, and the other to the men's? Seems like an easy way to get the best racing from both men & women, without any of the fluff. You can likely still get all of the aerial church and castle shots while showing both races. There's no downside to this, and none of the excuses as to why this isn't happening already seem like good ones.
That's all for now.