We Are Not Animals

Schleck suffers a dramatic mechanical and the loss of his Yellow Jersey: Photo Bettini Photo

Of all people, a Velominatus knows that our sport is a civilized one; it is steeped in tradition and etiquette and rife with unwritten rules. High on the list of unwritten rules are those that outline acceptable behavior when various hardships befall the leader of a Grand Tour. One of the reasons such rules exist is due to the brutally difficult nature of our sport; in the context of stage races where crashes and mechanical incidents are a part of daily life and can have a major impact on the competitive landscape, such conventions and agreements form a foundation in the quest to find the winner of the events through athletic, tactical, and strategic superiority while minimizing the impact that misfortune may have on the final outcome. The Golden Rule in this case is that riders are never to attack the race leader when they suffer a crash or mechanical incident.

At the Giro d’Italia, on Stage 7 over the Strada Bianchi, the race leader Vincenzo Nibali crashed and was left to struggle behind.  The question was raised then, why did the leaders not wait for Nibali, the fallen Maglia Rosa, to rejoin before continuing to race? One reason might be that Nibali wasn’t considered a legitimate threat to take the final win.  Another reason was that the race was on in full force and as such there were too many riders already attacking at the moment of the crash.  Justified or not, the sportsmanlike thing to do would be to wait. They didn’t, and in the end it had little impact on the result (the winner, Ivan Basso, was also held up in the crash), but a small bit of our accepted etiquette died with the decision to continue on.

Today at the Tour de France, we saw a similar situation where the Brother Grimpeur the Younger distanced rival Alberto Contador before a mechanical eventually saw him lose his Yellow Jersey.  Schleck had to stop to right his dropped chain, and while he did so, Contodor came by him and pushed his advantage home, all the way to the finish.  In the end, Schleck lies a few seconds behind Bertie, and in truth the 30 second lead he had before the incident was likely not enough to win the Tour. Indeed, little has changed in the reality we face in the coming days: Andy must attack Contador if he is to win this year’s Tour.

One thing that has changed, however, is that Contador has proven something I have long suspected: he is a rider whose ambition to win is greater than his sense of sportsmanship.  Marko has written in these archives about the A.C. Enigma and his ambivalence towards this rider.  Bertie has given us little reason to love him, aside from his blistering accelerations up the steepest grades in the mountains.  He has also given us little reason to hate him, for we know little about him. For me, the greatest riders are those who perhaps do not win often, but they lose with class and dignity, and they fight. Riders who display dignity and respect for the sport and fellow athletes in the midst of dishing out huge helpings of  Rule #5 is what endears a rider to this particular heart. Jan Ullrich is the prime example of this; his sportsmanship on the slopes of Luz Ardiden in the face of an opportunity to win the 2003 Tour is unmatched.   Even after spending year after year being beaten by Armstrong into second place; he still had the overriding sense of sportsmanship to wait and resist pushing home the advantage when Armstrong crashed.

In our sport, a champion is one who holds the unwritten rules of conduct in higher regard than a trophy.  These are the athletes who understand that the very manner in which they set about achieving their results will be woven into the fabric of their career and weigh more heavily than the golden trophies of their victories.

At the end of the day, little has been decided in the outcome of the Tour.  The one thing that has been determined is that Alberto Contodor is not a true champion, for he would rather win another Tour de France than show his fellow colleagues (not to mention the fans of this sport) the opportunity to discover who is the strongest through head-to-head competition. Alberto Contodor has shown his true colors as a great rider for whom winning is more important than sportsmanship.

Tomorrow will dawn with a renewed opportunity for Andy Schleck to also show his true colors.  Will he protect his second place and race conservatively into Paris, or will he rise up to fight and try to win the Tour despite today’s setback?  I have a feeling that we are about to be treated to the latter.  I certainly hope so.

Alberto Contador did not need to wait today.  But he should have, for ours is a civilized sport, and we, fellow cyclists, are not animals.

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57 Replies to “We Are Not Animals”

  1. Spot on analysis. To take advantage of a mechanical by the MJ to aggressively attack is classless. It’s the opposite of Rule #5, and since Bertie is not a hardman, he has to grasp the MJ in any manner available, apparently. Who wears the MJ – AC or AS, should be decided on who’s the stronger rider and better strategist – not by a chain drop at a decisive moment. Then Bertie does his pistolero crap on the podium. Love the “boos” by the fans there!

  2. AS was pissed and he has a fair amount of fire in him. I do not expect him to ride conservatively at all, and suspect that the Tourmalet will be a very interesting stage.

  3. I agree with this article. Something in sport died today. Contador’s behaviour was shocking and unsportsmanlike of the highest order. He may win this TdF, but it will be a hollow victory, and certainly not a moral one. A plague on his house.

  4. This was Bertie’s ridiculous excuse: “We’d been marking each other and I was starting to think about attacking. I was told after I did attack that there had been an incident, but when I launched the attack I didn’t have any idea about what the incident was,” Contador said. “When I did find out what had happened we already had a big advantage and it was too late to do anything about it as we were all riding hard.”

    Umm…correct me if I am wrong, but AS had just launched an attack, Veino responded and was pursuing, and AC was third…he would have had to have passed AS after his chain dropped when he was lurching around. SO AC’s rationale is a bit sketchy to say the least.

    It’s amazing that AC is not getting more heat about this, frankly, other than on cycling forums…

  5. @KitCarson
    Exactly, the video above clearly shows AC pass and attack as Schleck is stopping; AC’s explanation really doesn’t cut it.

    It was interesting to listen to Paul and Phil get at it; Phil definitely held that AC did nothing wrong, but Paul was very much in question as to what had happened.

    I did my best to yell at AC to stop because he was being a “dirty slimy fuck”. You do see him look around and maybe pretend to slow down for an instant, but if anything, that shows that he definitely assessed the situation and made the decision to continue. The notion that he didn’t know what happened is ludicrous. As you say, he lurches around him to attack as Andy stops. Highly disrespectful to the Yellow Jersey, and these types of “excuses” are highly disrespectful to the fans.

  6. I spent the time from the incident to the finish shouting encouragement at Andy. He climbed so well to take 20-30s out of Cuntador in the last bit of the climb.

    I agree that AC knew exactly what was happening, the MJ is not going to stop suddenly in the middle of an attack except for a mechanical. Stephen Roche said the mechanical was probably Andy’s fault, I’m wondering if he’s losing some marbles in his old age… it doesn’t matter if it was Andy’s fault, it’s not how the MJ should be lost, especially when he’s the stronger rider.

  7. Ok… this is worse than doping

    I attacked before he had a problem with his chain and was a long way ahead when I heard what had happened

  8. Nathan – agree… My heart soared as Schleck got back on, the red mist descended and he put his all into climbing…. I just wish he’d caught them back… but him going past all the others like they were back markers standing still… Just awesome.

    Interestingly, Contador was loudly booed on the podium taking his maillot jaune by the (somewhat educated, I must say) crowd in Bagneres de Luchon… and would love to know what Schleck said to him as he went up to take his white jersey passing Contador coming off stage.

    On ITV4, Boardman said that Contador was right to attack, as Schleck hadn’t fitted a chainguard as he’d gone without to save 50g for the climb [is this what Roche meant?], so Contador had calculated it was his (Schleck’s) choice and his risk. Bollocks to that, I say. At best, Contador panicked… but then he had the remaining 3km of the climb to correct his error (and didn’t); at worst, he disrespected the tradition of the race, the maillot jaune, and brought himself into disrepute. I also didn’t see Menchov or Dirty Sanchez reining AC in either.

  9. @roadslave
    Roche said AS was changing rings (which AS now explains he wasn’t and it seems to be a freak thing) and hadn’t got the right gears to shift rings so the chain went too slack.

  10. This is not the same as the Ulrich/Pharmstrong events.

    Andy didn’t crashed, he just mishandled his bike and droped his chain, it was not a “mechanical” because the bike was fully operative, it was just operator’s error.

    And also, when Chavanel was in Yellow on the Pavés and he suffered 2 flats, nobody wait for him…. and guess whose team profited of the situation to recover the yellow Jersey then ?

    Also at the same stage, Bertie had a mechanical, he broke an spoke and had to ride Kms on an untrue wheel… nobody wait for him too and for that reason he lost the 30 seconds that made Andy the race leader later on.

    AC just recovered those 30 seconds today.

    The race is even again.

  11. I don’t know how it is for others, but I know that when I attack in a race, I don’t see much except the road right in front of me. I don’t pay much attention to the other riders that I’m passing.

    If you watch the footage, it’s clear that Contador was on the attack well before the chain actually dropped. I’m inclined to believe Contador when he says he was quite a ways ahead before he actually found out about Andy’s mechanical. What he did in spite of having found out, however, is where the unsportsmanlike conduct lies: The fact that after he found out, he continued his attack in spite of it.

    Logically, what he did makes sense, and like Ligget and Hesjedal said: That’s racing. Andy needs to put some extra Rule #5 in his bottles and take the jersey back. You didn’t see anybody wait for Lance when he crashed this year, and Andy already got his break on the Cobbles when Faboo organized a the neutralization of the stage.

    On the whole, I’ve been disappointed with the sportsmanship in this Tour. This generation of racers has no respect.

  12. @Omar

    Yes, if you look righ the video, Andi has the problem and slows down, AC comes from behind and passes him, and when Andi stops with his chain problem, AC is away and don’t look back so he couldn’t know what was going on.

    A droped chain could be set back in 3 seconds. why Andi took so long to do it ?

  13. @Salsa_Lover
    All good points, except I think it’s clear from the video (above) that the mechanical wasn’t his error; he’s out of the saddle and something happens that causes the back wheel to pop up entirely. After that, he sits down and tries to use the front shifter to right the chain, and that’s where it looks like he’s trying to shift. I don’t know what happened, but it does appear it’s a fluke of some kind.

    Chavanel had a bunch of flats on the Pave, but I think that the stones dictate another atmosphere altogether; they’re so hard to rider over, you can’t hear anything in the radio and slowing down is a very hard thing to do over a terrain that requires speed in order to pass safely. That said, though, it’s tough to see the Maillot Jaune be lost that way for sure. Of course, Bertie’s mech with the spokes on the stones is a tough one, too, but I don’t think he lost much time there as he finished a few seconds behind Veino’s group, which was the one he was already riding in – that, and he wasn’t in the jersey, of course. I liked seeing the Pave in the Tour, but in retrospect, I suppose all this points to the notion that having such a stage in the Tour doesn’t really make sense. You don’t want to see differences in time made on such routes. Grand Tours are three week races, not classics.

    All that said, it’s a good point that they’re even now, and that’s a fair point in a sense; neither rider has proven dominant over the other, with each taking 10 seconds on an uphill finish.

    With that in mind, I wait for tomorrows stage with renewed anticipation.

  14. Chain drops – crowd falls to a hush
    But Bertie decides he should rush
    So though now he’ll look very
    Much like a canary
    To me he’s just become “Thrush”

  15. Most of you have probably seen the video of the guy that is rolling to the finish line with a nice lead and wrecks himself as he does his victory salute while the guy in second comes cruising by as the former leader tries to remount his bike. To me the guy in second should have stopped at the line and let the “winner” cross the line and claim his rightful victory. To me it would be a hollow victory knowing that I was thoroughly beaten and yet won because of a comical misfortune.

    Back in the 90’s Gary Ellis dominated the national AA Pro BMX scene. Then came Christophe Leveque – a French pro that was smooth and stylish. Leveque tore up the pro ranks and was a shoe-in for the ABA #1 pro plate. The only problem was that the ABA had a rule that a foreigner could not be the AMERICAN Bicycle Association #1 Pro. At the Grand Nantionals Leveque won all his motos and mains and finished the year with more point than Ellis. They called Ellis down to award him the #1 plate and the keys to the new Jeep. Right then and there Ellis had the chance to go down in (BMX) history as the greatest/classiest pro of all time. He could have called Christophe from the stands and handed him the keys and the plate and said “You earned this, I didn’t.” But Ellis didn’t do that. He kept the Jeep and ran the #1 plate all next year. He missed out on what a true champion is. By the way, the next year the ABA changed the rules to allow for foreigners to win the #1 pro title and two years later Leveque won the title two years in a row.

  16. this isn’t about Contador respecting Andy Schleck, it’s about him showing respect to the Maillot Jaune and 100years+ of Tour tradition, history and unwritten rules (wouldn’t it all be much simpler if they were all Velominati?).. particularly in this tour, in this mountain range, in this year. When he wins, like we knew he would, his win will be diminished and this will be his legacy. He didn’t need to do this. But Frank – like you, I await Tourmalet 1 “Assassins!” and Tourmalet 2 “The Return!” with great anticipation.

    Cyclops… Love your BMX story… reminds me of that Ryder Cup when the American holed out on the 17th “to win”, and the entire US team + wives stormed the green… before the Euro had even been allowed to try and putt his 30footer to level… the classy thing would have been to say “My bad, I’ll give you a gimme… let’s call this evens, and I’ll beat you on the last hole… let’s go to it” instead, the US guys all settled down, the Euro fluffed his putt, and the US victory was diminished… and that golfer (I can’t even remember his name) missed the chance to be known as the greatest sportsman whoever lived.

    I’m also hoping my t-shirt arrives for Thursday, as am hosting a Pau-Tourmalet BBQ, and it would rock.

  17. After many years of playing top level football, I came to believe in the soccer gods. A bad call was always righted by subsequent play, the deserving team invariably won, etc. I believe there are also cycling gods, and they are frowning this evening. Grimpeur will come back flying tomorrow. Whether or not he wins the Tour, I hope some element of justice is served.

  18. I was just reading some of the riders and managements opinions regarding the Port de Balès chain debate. I think this is well said and pretty much covers my opinion of it….Cervélo team owner Gerard Vroomen had this to say on Twitter: “Contador just gained a great chance to win, but he lost the chance to win greatly.”

  19. My two cents:
    When the blood is rushing, it is pretty hard to think in a nice considered manner like we are doing now. Whilst Schleck was no doubt ahead of AC when he dropped his chain (bizarrely, there was no shift, no nothing to cause the chaing to skip, just power to the drivetrain??? “I was riding so hard that my chain started hurting so much that it jumped off for a rest”), Contador was definitely responding at the time and was going a bloc. So maybe he clearly sees a dropped chain, however a dropped chain usually is righted pretty easily (Schleck did panic and cost himself seconds here) so he is not going to suddenly stop to a halt. I think not immediately stopping is certainly forgivable as things were happening pretty fast.

    SO I don’t hold AC too accountable there, but I do believe he missed the chance to right something later on, ie. should AC have taken “affirmative action” somewhere on the hill once he realised the severity of Schleck’s problem? I say yes and to do that he would have needed to call a halt to Menchov, Sanchez et al.

    A TRUE patron of the peloton would have made this call and matters would have been righted – or maybe a good DS would have made the call to AC or other DS’. So whilst I don’t think Cuntodor was Dick Dastardly, he missed a chance to mark himself as a true statesman of the sport. Wasn’t quite a hanging offence, but not far short.

    That being said, fuck I hope Schleck nails the Spanish sonofabitch to the wall – or failing that, that AC wins the Tour by far more than the 39 seconds he gained today – so that this doesn’t become an issue forevermore.

  20. @Marcus
    I agree. The classy thing for Thrush to do would’ve been to tell Denis and Sammy to ride tempo until Grimpeur had rejoined. He didn’t. That ain’t classy. In fact, he seems to be using them as part of the excuse. Even less classy. Right about now, Bjarn will be saying to Andy “Don’t think about the lack of class – think about the reasons for it. He’s scared of you. Go get your jersey back from the sonofabitch.” And I hope he does. Big time.

  21. Couple of good and sensible quotes from Bruyneel and Riis below. They don’t seem to think Contador did too much wrong – but equally, as pakrat noted above, he missed a chance to mark himself as a great. Imagine how cool it would have been if AC had waited (even if Menchov et al went off) and he and Schleck had worked together on the way down? Would have been one for the ages, regardless of who wins in Paris. But how long do you wait? So there are at least two sides to this story.

    “In the heat of the race and the finale, you cannot say to Contador, ‘wait for Andy.’ Andy didn’t wait for Contador on the cobblestones, either,” said RadioShack’s Johan Bruyneel. “You can’t say to Sammy Sánchez, I’ll let you go because I’ll wait for the yellow jersey. No, there are no gifts in this race.”

    Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis was trying to remain upbeat about Schleck’s overall chances despite the bitter twist of fate. The squad huddled inside the team bus immediately after the stage to discuss their feelings and plot a game plan to try to bounce back.

    “Sánchez and Menchov were going full gas. It won’t help to criticize. For us, it would have been better if they had waited, but we cannot expect any help in these circumstances,” Riis said. “I think Contador waited at the beginning, but it took awhile before Andy was on his bike again. How long can Contador wait? I don’t know. Of course we’d have hoped he waited more. I don’t want to create a polemic, but how many guys crashed today? Nobody helps them, nobody waited. That’s how it is.”

  22. @Marcus
    Really well said, mate, and a great little quote in there, too:

    I was riding so hard that my chain started hurting so much that it jumped off for a rest.

    New term for a dropped chain, that.

    I think you’re absolutely right about the blood pumping and making it hard to think clearly; but it’s precisely that which defines those different “champion” qualities. Ullrich and Armstrong were locked in battle as well, yet Der Kaiser backed off in the midst of it. Granted, there was no debating that something serious had happened.

    Thanks for sending that along; that was the right thing to do by him – to apologize like that. As a case in point, I’ve never known Cav to do that, and I think it goes a long way towards correcting the situation. But he’s not giving back the time, and it still doesn’t change what he did in the moment.

    But therein lies one of the major problems we have in a sport like this: the fans see one thing from the tele and the pros are in the midst of it. Whatever the rationalization may be, we judge them based on what is tangible to us. Generally, that tangible bit is what we’ve seen with our own eyes, and how we interpret that.

    What I saw today was not the actions of a champion.

    In Nordic ski racing, we did mostly time trials. The convention was that a faster, passing skier from behind always had the right of way; the skier would let out a howl and the other skier was expected to move to the side. I was lapping a less experienced skier who didn’t adequately move to the side. I clipped my ski tip on his and he (briefly) interrupted my rhythm. I still won the race, and he didn’t cause me to fall, but I called him a “worthless piece of shit”, right to his face.

    I still regret that to this day, and it must have happened…15 years ago. I can rationalize it by saying I was consumed by the competitive fire (I always was) and I was always a good sportsman off the skis; always respectful and humble. I doubt the other skier remembers this event, but in my heart I know I was wrong.

    I regret that action because that behavior – especially during the intensity of the race – is not becoming of a champion.

  23. In the haze of my gun-destroying ride today, I realized through a self-imposed mechanical that this all is possibly frank’s fault. I shall explain myself:

    There’s no doubt that most of the professional Hardmen frequent this blog. One knows at the very least that Jens probably has The Rules tattooed on his retinas in such a way that he can only view the world through Them.

    Because of that, I figure it went down like this:

    Jens (in the big ring): Hey, Andy Schleck, I was reading, again, our favorite blog the other day. Specifically, I was reading an entry by one frank from July 11, 2010.

    AS: What’s that Jens? Sorry, I was too busy climbing.

    Jens (shifting to yet a bigger ring): Ah, yes, of course. I was saying check out the entry from July 11, 2010, by one frank on our favorite blog. It’s called, Reverence: The Double Shift. I’ve been practicing it all night on the trainer I keep in my bed.

    AS: The Double Shift, you say? I like the sound of that…

    And you all can see where things went from there. As I–myself inspired by frank’s Reverence article–was wiping the chain oil off of my hands this afternoon after the old hop-off-the-bike-in-a-fit-of-winded-rage-so’s-I-can-put-my-chain-back-on routine, the epiphany was made clear: Andy Schleck, too, was fully stirred by frank’s inspirational Double Shift article, and the world of cycling is yet again changed forever.

    All jokes aside, I, too, was watching, heart racing, audibly cheering AS on. Love the blog, everyone!

  24. Those who compared this to what happened on the pave are dealing with apples and oranges. In the context of this stage and part of the race, and what was happening at the time, it’s totally different. Hell, back on the pave, Huevos Lancheros was still leading Bertie til he flatted. All hell was breaking loose on the pave, and let’s not forget that AS lost his brother on that stage as well.

    At this latest stage we have two men – the two favorites to win the race – locked in a tight duel, and it’s in this context that Bertie shows himself to be a douchebag. NO, we don’t expect him to “stop”, but he was looking over his shoulder – the man is not an idiot, and it’s clear from the video that he must of been aware that the MJ was having a mechanical. It’s not credible for everyone to say that “no one knew what was happening to Andy”.

    ALSO – it’s not totally clear that this “chain dropping” was due to some fault of AS, as many are implying. In this case, no matter how you slice it, it was not an action worthy of a true sportsman and Velominatus. He saw that the MJ was in serious trouble and then went on a vigorous attack. Rationalize all you want, but actions speak louder than words. There’s a reason he got booed and so many people are disgusted by this, no matter what the talking heads say…

  25. @Seth
    Brilliant. I also had to manually replace my chain after fucking up an attempted double-shift on the weekend (warming up for hill repeats on an 8% – 10% grade in honour of the Montee Jalabert climb – except it was freezing cold and pissing with rain, there was no runway at the top and I didn’t climb very well for my weight, so that as homages go it was a rank failure). I cursed Frank (and my gullibility) accordingly. But I hadn’t made the – in retrospect entirely obvious – mental connections to see that Frank is equally to blame for the Grimpeur’s misfortune.

    Frank, if Our Boy Andy loses time again, and it turns out that the reason is that Jens had told him to wrap 3M electrical tape around his seat post and the tape had failed and his seat had slid down and his stroke had been ruined as a result, so help me I will fly over to Seattle and hunt you down …

  26. good to be back fella’s, from vacation in colorado w/no electronic devices, no internet, just a singlespeed mtn bike.

    This is a conundrum for sure.

    One, is the brilliant foresight of AC’s enigma. Brilliant prophecy without a doubt.

    Second, was it a cheap shot or good racing? I would say it was more a cheap shot than not. Either way, AC will wear the feather in his cap for better or worse. And, if he gets booed enough, perhaps he will think more on it…or not.

    Third, will history remind us of this later on?? I doubt it. Some things of the grandeur scale one could recollect, but the moment of a chain slip, a yell from the DS and AC runs like a billy goat on speed…I doubt the sport will remember that long. We tend to wax over this stuff too easily IMHO.

    Nonetheless, I was expecting to see it come down to the TT, but AC isn’t content to wait. It will be interesting to see what comes up next.

  27. @Souleur
    You know how when you read the posts at this site and you use your “Outside Voice” to holler everyone’s screen name and then mutter along outloud in what you assume to be their voice or at least their accent as you read what they have to say as your rush to come up with something witty to reply with?

    Yeah, so, whenever I see your screen name, I yell out in my best obnoxious French accent, “SOU-LAY-RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRAH!”

    Good to have you back, but no one in the two adjoining offices will feel the same way.

  28. @Souleur
    Oh – and now that I’ve finished reading your post – you’ve touched on an important bit: what role did the DS play in this? No doubt Andy was acting on orders from the car, and for certain the Astana DS knew what was happening. It’s an interesting detail.

    To be a fly on the faux-wood paneling inside any of those Skodas. One thing is for sure, as Paul said, AC was acting out of panic more than anything else. And Andy should remember that.

  29. frank: thanks and you have an interesting take on ‘souleur’

    I just tried to take a screen name, make it mine and own it. So…as a Rouleur in the saddle, who is also a fundamental Cognoscenti at heart, I wanted to wear a deeply seeded virtuous name reflecting this…so…’Souleur’ it was.

  30. Contador is a weasel – that was no way to take the yellow jersey. He saw what was going on and took advantage of it. That was lame.

    If he does win the Tour, it better be by minutes – otherwise its a tainted yellow jersey.

  31. You blokes are kidding yourselves. Just because Schleck has a bit of personality, he gets a separate set of “benefit of the doubt” rules. He was given a life by Contador on Stage 2. He then attacked the fuck out of Contador who was stuck behind someone else’s crash (not anything to do with him in the least) on Stage 3.

    Schleck’s gear change leading to a slipped chain was amateur hour. His inability to put it on for half a minute or more was first-time-on-a-bike hour. He can bleat on about revenge and respect all he wants. He is a whining piece of shit who is happy to attack people hit by problems outside of their control, but moans when it happens to him. He was at least partially in control of the situation. There are not separate rules for cobbles and hills, and nor should there be. The Tour de France is a bike RACE. Not some hand holding let’s be friends hand shake affair. Yellow Jersey or not, he is expecting everyone else to subscribe to Andy’s rules, which are “play fair towards me, and I’ll do the same.”

    I hope Contador pins him to the wall tomorrow on the Tourmalet. He is by far the best bike rider in the race, and has handled this with grace, as he handled Schleck attacking him on Stage 3: it’s bike racing.

    Lance was flipped over the front of his bars going up a hill. This was clearly something well outside of his control, and Ullrich slowed for him. Totally different circumstance to a bloke not managing to keep his own chain on his own bike.

  32. @Hawkeye
    You’re right about it being a bike race; the only thing you’ve got wrong here is that it wasn’t a flubbed gear change – it was a nasty fluke. Here’s a pretty interesting article by Zinn (with whose frame fit theories I disagree with) talking about what might have happened:

    I also think it’s interesting that up until this week, everyone blamed Spartacus for getting everyone to wait for the Schlecks, but now Contador is taking credit for it because it benefits him. Stage 3 was a different scenario, though, with the race and the attack already well under way and people falling off because of it, ala Merckx in ’71. That Bertie was stuck behind the crash had less to do with misfortune and more to do with being too far back in the group.

    I do have to say that either way, Bertie has handled this gracefully; the YouTube apology was a class act, and something I hope we start seeing more of. Cavendish should watch that video and take some notes. And, he didn’t do anything wrong; he just didn’t behave in a sportsmanlike way. He could have been a Legend, but instead, there’s a big question mark.

  33. @Frank
    My sentiments exactly. Bertie does seem to get the credit here for Faboo’s act. And as far as the cobbles go isn’t that the point of the cobbles? You have to be placed right to be successful and everyone knew what was going to happen on that stage. It was the one true wild card that could have helped the pharmer. He wouldn’t have waited, Bertie nor AS waited for him on that stage, it was all fair on the cobbles.

    Hell, even Vino slowed for AS until Bertie caught up and kept on rolling. I like that it has been spinned that he was counterattacking at the moment…. he was simply in panic mode.

  34. @frank
    Fair dues. He didn’t screw up on the bike. He did go on like a pork chop off it though, and he only has the opportunity to be bleating about losing the yellow jersey on the back of the generosity of his opponents earlier in the race.

    I think Stage 2 had a lot of GC hitters crapping their pants wondering what the feck just happened, and Faboo shutting the race down was an easy solution for them to take, especially when they were probably so thankful to get back onto the bunch. Bertie (and Good Cadel in particular (he didn’t bite it from memory and was right up the front), and Armstrong, and a couple of others) DID choose to not attack further though once they’d shaken themselves off. And it was sporting of them. How many chances does one dude get in a race?

    Would Schmuck have done the same if it was Drac asking people to wait for Bertie? I doubt it. Faboo would have been gleefully charging off after Chavanel to defend his jersey whilst carrying the brothers Schmuck in his wake.

    In the end it matters not. My money’s on Bertie giving young Schmuck a lesson in bike riding tomorrow after he’s already given him one in class. And then rubbing it in on the TT by well over a minute.

  35. “If you draw your sword and you drop it, you die.” – Ryder Hesjedal regarding Shleck’s dropped chain and Cantador’s attack.


  36. @Hawkeye

    Would Schmuck have done the same if it was Drac asking people to wait for Bertie? I doubt it. Faboo would have been gleefully charging off after Chavanel to defend his jersey whilst carrying the brothers Schmuck in his wake.

    Well, that’s just speculation. But, it’s feasible. I think all of them would have wait, but the only fact we actually have is that they did wait, and at this point it’s becoming unclear whose idea it was and what others would have done.

    @Salsa_Lover, @Hawkeye

    “If you draw your sword and you drop it, you die.” – Ryder Hesjedal regarding Shleck’s dropped chain and Cantador’s attack.

    Touché. More from the whole waiting game, from Mediocre Cadel:

    If we waited every time something went wrong, we’d still be at stage 3 by now, waiting for someone to adjust their underpants.


    But lets not loose sight of the fact that we’re not talking about G.C. favorites waiting for one another any time a crash happens. We’re talking about the tradition of never attacking the Maillot Jaune when they crash or have a mechanical.

  37. @frank

    frank I agree with you wholeheartly, about tradition, honour, class and all.

    But, in this particular event, there was no crash nor mechanical.

    Andy just went to attack on the wrong gear, clumsily droped the chain and then freaked out for 30 seconds.

    he simply brought it on himself.

    Conti could have been generous and wait for him, I agree this would have been a beautiful beau geste.

    But is is a race and they are there to win it.

  38. For the past year or so, I have had the odd sense that Cadel Evans is becoming the new Jan Ullrich. I know some other site RKP stated something like this, but he really has eaten a couple servings of Rule #5 lately ; while never talking shit about his team like he used to (even if his old/new team was helping/slacking). Even with the World Jersey, he still follows Rule #67 and respects the efforts of his team.

    He has gained respect from me lately. Hell, for all we know, he may become the next Poulidor.

  39. @Nathan Edwards
    I reckon you don’t dominate a peloton of pro riders through class! Reckon it’s more a mixture of front and… sounds like punt…

  40. Sorry if this has been mentioned before, but does Passage du Gois mean anything to anyone? Cyclingnews.com reported it as those teams in the front group put the hammer down to maximise their gains. Four GC contenders lost over six minutes that day.

    A bit of perspective is required here. It’s a fucking race. By all means when the peloton is rolling along don’t attack if the MJ has a problem, but if the race is on then all’s fair.

    A lot of current Pro cyclists would struggle with the word “sportsmanship” given the era they raced through and the things they got up to.

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