Friday, July 22, 2011

It is still all to play for

Yesterday's stage in the Tour de France proved to be a turning point for the young Luxemburg rider Andy Schelck who confounded all of his critics by winning on the top of the Col de Galibier. On the second climb of the day Schelck left the rest of the contenders for the race and nobody seemed interested in following him. Gradually he build up an advantage of over 4 minutes and still nobody reacted. Damn it, he was even good downhill!

It was then left to the last kilometres of the race when Cadel Evans decided that he would have to chase Schleck on his own that the group tried to break down the lead. With his head down, his body rocking from side to side and turning a high gear Evans gradually whittled the lead down. Amazingly, Thomas Voeckler was able to dig deep, found the reserves to follow and almost collapsed across the line to keep the yellow jersey for yet another day –corks must have been popping all over France to see their hero succeed another day.

As it stands, Andy Schleck lies 15 seconds behind Thomas Voeckler, brother Frank is 53 seconds behind Andy with Cadel Evans tailing the older Schleck by a mere 4 seconds On paper, Cadel Evans is the better time trialler so the Schlecks really need to pull out more time today on the shorter ride over the Galibier and Alp d’Huez. if one of them is to win this race.

Only 78 riders finished within the specified time so the judges took pity on the 90 stragglers by imposing penalties rather than excluding them which means that Mark Cavendish now has only 15 points clear of his nearest rival in the green jersey points competition.

How nail biting will today and tomorrow be and how much better is the Tour this year without an obvious winner? Finally, wasn't it just great to see Eddy Merckx with his head out of the sunroof of the race director's car willing Andy Schleck on?

No comments: