Tour de France '07 – Cancellara and a Clean-Looking Race

Jul 10 2007

I may never have been madder to be stuck at work than I was today – and lets keep in mind I had to try and piece together the 2003 race while listening to the old streaming OLN voice feed. I mean, yes, the yellow jersey occasionally wins flat stages, and short-effort TT guys do pull one over on the sprinters from time to time – but to have the maillot jaune pop free of the peloton in the final K, eclipse a waining break, and hold off the sprinters by a wheel on the line? The headline at Pez sums it up perfectly – what a way for the peloton to finally enter France.

Maybe it’s all part of being Swiss, but man, does Cancellara have versatility or what? At the ’04 Roubaix, had the savvy to make the first race-cracking move, and followed it up by hopping into the winning break. His attack at the same race in ’06 was so decisive and perfectly-timed that only a rogue freight train kept the remainder of the event interesting. Uncowed by the strongest classics racer in a generation, he took Boonen to the line in a 4-up at E3, and even mixed it up in a group gallop to defend his jersey a the Tour de Suisse. Oh, yeah, he’s the world TT champ, too.

Dynamic abilities aside, Cance may have also been aided in his efforts today by the reassuringly slow pace. Even for a 230km stage, 36 kph is downright…human. Could all this talk of a clean Tour finally be coming to something? Or was it just the after-effects of a hundred bumps and bruises, brought on by Erik Zabel’s untimely twitch? I’m skeptical that the absence of Thomas Vaitkus alone could have sufficed to pull so much wind out of the peloton’s sails, so here’s to hoping that the sport has finally put the drug-friendly attitudes of the 1970’s behind it.

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