Tour de France '07 – Stage to McEwen, Dots to Millar

Jul 8 2007

You all know that I’m a pretty solid fan of Robbie McEwen. But I’ve gotta say, today’s win – not that amazing. Yes, getting McEwen back to the field after a crash 20km to go was an impressive team effort by Predictor-Lotto, but speaking objectively, this is what the other eight guys on the team are for. The fact McEwen was returned to the field with enough time and energy to sprint as normal shouldn’t be considered any more impressive than an offensive line holding back a pass rush on a tough 4th down conversion. Yeah, it’s hard work, and it’s a prerequisite for a win, but if the team is a good one, it happens more times than not.

And honestly, how hard is it really for Robbie McEwen to move back through the field? Ignoring the fact that he’s among the best bike handlers on Earth, let’s say there’s 2km to go in a Tour and you’re just some domestique, hammering as hard as you freakin’ can to keep up. Then Robbie McEwen taps you on the shoulder. You know he’s going to get around you one way or the other – might as well make it easy for everyone involved and move aside, right?

Certainly having no dominant train to string things out simplifies things for McEwen, too – Quick.Step was a best a four-rider wick in a road-wide candle coming into the final meters today, the they burned out with about 300 to go. Everyone sat up, waiting to jump out from behind Robbie Hunter’s unlikely long sprint attempt, and McEwen, because he is one of the best sprinters of all time (record outside of May-July is irrelevant) laid out a perfectly-timed jump and put a bike length on everyone.

Still, as much as I think the “OMG McEwen!” stories are dumb (and about to get dumber, if his x-rays come back with word of a break), I’m glad they quashed the Vino vs. Kloeden storyline, which looked set up to be the non-news of the Tour’s first week. Nice also to see David Millar get into the Polka-Dots. I don’t believe him that he just attacked on a lark, but after the massive crowd support, it would have been a shame to see the UK riders return to France empty-handed.

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