Reverence: The Ghosts of 2am

The Prophet had never been dropped by anyone in a race-threatening situation during his entire Grand-Tour career. But he was dropped on this, a relatively minor climb to Pra Loup due to a combination of circumstances involving a chest injury, overconfidence, and savvy Frenchmen who could read the road surface well enough to understand what side of the road to attack on.

He had never lost the Tour, but Merckx was dropped on the short but steep climb to Pra Loup and refused to quit the Tour in 1975 because you don’t quit the Tour de France. He would rather lose than quit. These are the sentiments of a champion who has not only known, but become intimately accustomed to, the sensation of victory: reverence for the race he once dominated and the one he can not quit.

He came second, and thereby legitimized Bernard Thevenet’s victory. Reverence.

For non-Velominati Americans, Cycling is the Tour. From Greg LeMond – the only American to win the Tour three times, to Lance Armstrong – the only American to lose the Tour seven times all at once, to Floyd Landis – whose legacy was too short to excite the American Public but long enough to take down the greatest legacy in Sports History.

Tejay Van Garderen was sitting solid in 3rd place when he fell ill and had to quit the Tour de France, something no rider does with a light heart. So long as your name isn’t Mario Cipollini. Dropped every time the ride pointed uphill, he had little choice but to climb off. I have had races ripped from my grasp when I was at my peak for reasons I couldn’t control and, to this day, they are there when the Ghosts of 2am come knocking. I can only imagine what Tejay is thinking tonight.

Nothing feels as good as winning, and nothing haunts you as deeply as quitting. To quote a legendary cheater, “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.” Which just goes to prove that just because you’re an asshole doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

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65 Replies to “Reverence: The Ghosts of 2am”

  1. @Shatterhand

    The family made a few futile attempts to understand why daddy was silent during the following drive home, but soon realized that he had simply too much to process to bother himself with trivia such as everyday life.

    This.

  2. @ped

    @Gianni

    apparently, not so well soken

    Shocked Nibali protested his innocence, claiming he did not know the race leader had ground to a halt, shrugging: “Froome was very angry at the finish, but that’s his problem.

    “I cannot even tell you the words Froome said to me. They are too harsh to repeat.”

    He’s been coached by Sky to be polite on camera, but he’s still just human. Nibali knew damm well he had a problem, and took advantage. However, he obviously had something left in the tank and may well have broken away at a later point in the race, so I’ll let him off this time. If he does it again, it’ll be the naughty-step and forced to wear the Columbian Women’s kit for the Giro next year.

  3. @Minnesota Expat

    @@BacklashJack

    And then there’s a perfectly healthy Cavendish quitting because there were too many hills and he lost his pack mules.

    Did Cavendish get in the team car?! I don’t see it anywhere and that would be unlike him. Say what you will, he might be down a couple hours, but he’s a competitor and would be looking forward to the Champs-Elysees. 

    According to letour.fr, only withdrawal yesterday was by Michael Anderson of Tinkov-Saxo.

  4. Was sad to see TJ go out like that(as it would be for any rider),he always seems a bit fragile though.

    And Nibilis’ starting to annoy me on this tour what with the bidon throwing and now attacking Froome’s mechanical(notice Valverde,Nairo etc didn’t).

    Also like G’s talk of being like a cheap Ikea nail being hit with a hammer yesterday.

    Oh and Frank that asshole quote reminds me of the Dudes reply to Walter in the Big Lebowski “You’re not wrong Walter,you’re just an asshole”

  5. @@BacklashJack

    And then there’s a perfectly healthy Cavendish quitting because there were too many hills and he lost his pack mules.

    Pretty sure I remember hearing discussions of Cav being crook the day he & Kennaugh (among others) got shat out the back on a cat 3 climb straight out of the gate.

  6. No doubt Cav was sick the last week. If you watch the aerial shot of the last sprint he’s barely able to hold wheels and close gaps. Credit to him for not quitting though.

  7. A little bit late to chime in, been traveling…

    @Frank   Your point about Cipo reminds me why I could never respect him as a rider, despite all of his wins.  I know there’s a lot of Super Mario manlove around here, but he just annoyed me.  Any rider who knows going into a race that he (or she) is going to abandon should just stay home.  Cipo rode in to France, paraded around in disco zebra skinsuits doing some kind of self-promotional  freakshow, then quit when there were elevation changes slightly more than a freeway overpass.  Want to win one day races?  That’s what the Classics are for.

    Anyway, it’s a shame about TJV, but overall I really enjoyed watching the race this year.

  8. @MangoDave

    A little bit late to chime in, been traveling…

    @Frank   Your point about Cipo reminds me why I could never respect him as a rider, despite all of his wins.  I know there’s a lot of Super Mario manlove around here, but he just annoyed me.  Any rider who knows going into a race that he (or she) is going to abandon should just stay home.  Cipo rode in to France, paraded around in disco zebra skinsuits doing some kind of self-promotional  freakshow, then quit when there were elevation changes slightly more than a freeway overpass.  Want to win one day races?  That’s what the Classics are for.

    Anyway, it’s a shame about TJV, but overall I really enjoyed watching the race this year.

    I’m with you on that.  Always bugged me that he never had any intention of going beyond week one.  Always made me wonder what the Saeco train thought as they plugged through the mountains.

  9. @markb

    @ped

    @Gianni

    apparently, not so well soken

    Shocked Nibali protested his innocence, claiming he did not know the race leader had ground to a halt, shrugging: “Froome was very angry at the finish, but that’s his problem.

    “I cannot even tell you the words Froome said to me. They are too harsh to repeat.”

    He’s been coached by Sky to be polite on camera, but he’s still just human. Nibali knew damm well he had a problem, and took advantage. However, he obviously had something left in the tank and may well have broken away at a later point in the race, so I’ll let him off this time. If he does it again, it’ll be the naughty-step and forced to wear the Columbian Women’s kit for the Giro next year.

    Now that’s a skin suit.

  10. @Teocalli

    I don’t think he NEVER wanted to complete the Tour – before the race began he used to talk up his Maillot Vert chances bigtime and swear that this time he’d make it to Paris, and I believe he was in the main genuine when he did so.

    I just think when push came to shove and they got to the big climbs he realised he couldn’t actually be bothered with it all…

  11. @Oli

    @Teocalli

    I don’t think he NEVER wanted to complete the Tour – before the race began he used to talk up his Maillot Vert chances bigtime and swear that this time he’d make it to Paris, and I believe he was in the main genuine when he did so.

    I just think when push came to shove and they got to the big climbs he realised he couldn’t actually be bothered with it all…

    I agree with your sentiment for sure, but then at the same time I wonder how he finished the Giro so many times, which in my estimation would be harder to finish from a sprinter’s point of view.

    As you say, he couldn’t be bothered. An Italian Playboy in France must feel a bit like Superman on Krypton; no super powers.

  12. WWED?   (What Would Eddy Do?)

    As much as I was rooting for TvG — as any red blooded American would do — I think he doesn’t have the killer toughness it takes to win or place on the podium of a GT.   Would Eddy have quit if he had the sniffles?  Would TR have?  Heck, as someone else remarked, he was shot and still gave the speech.

    A few days before, TvG was talking about how podium was the goal, how he’d be very happy with a podium result.  Contrast with what Nibali and Contador said at the same time: anything but yellow is failure; I’m not racing to be on the podium, I’m racing to win.

    Hopefully what happened this year will toughen up TvG mentally and he’ll be able to rise to the next level.

  13. @frank

    Until fairly recently the Giro stages – even the mountain ones – were run off as a procession until the TV coverage began with a couple of hours to go, meaning the grupetto never struggled to make the time cut in the way it sometimes does in the Tour.

    Also the Giro of the 80s and 90s was definitely regarded as easier in general than the Tour, the odd stage apart. I idolise the guy, but can you imagine Andy Hampsten actually winning a Tour? Or Berzin, even super-charged? Even Moser needed a lot of help to win his one…

    Italians avoided the Tour like the plague for exactly this reason in those days – 2x Giro winner Saronni, anyone?

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