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The 2015 Tour de France

Hugh T

After the attrition of last year’s tour and the dominance of Vincenzo Nibali the anticipation of an exciting 2015 was intense. The 2014 Vuelta was a precursor of possible things to come between Alberto Contador and Christopher Froome. The only wild card was Nairo Quintana no one really knew the kind of challenge he would represent to all the top contenders.

All the players showed, unfortunately the Grand Show we were all waiting for never materialized. Froome established and imposed his dominance on Stage 10 on the assault of the summit Pierre St Martin and never looked back. The tour was over. Same thing for the green jersey even though the rules were changed the outcome was the same. Peter Sagan showed that he is deserving of the green jersey no matter how much tweaking the tour committee bent the rules.

What wasn’t over is the everyday drama which played behind the scene and eventually spilled out for all to see and hear. Oleg Tinkov, the Russian version of Donald Trump on a daily basis needed to chastise Peter Sagan. Once he realized that Alberto this year wasn’t up to the task of challenging the big three then he was all in for Peter proclaiming that he Sagan was the strongest rider in the tour.

Vincenzo Nibali needs to find a new team. A yellow jersey winner not only needs a team behind him but the full support of his manager. Perhaps since Mr.Vinokourov doped most his career or paid someone to let him win he just doesn’t know what it is to have bad days on the saddle. It has happened to all the top riders through cycling history and never did we hear team manager hurl out their dirty laundry for the public to hear.

Bottom line you don’t abandon your top rider and cause dissension within the team. Jakob Fuglsang was put in an impossible situation when told that now all hopes of the team were on his shoulders.

We’ve been watching doping so intensely and scrutinizing the riders that we’ve not noticed the big pink elephant in the middle of the peloton, corporate. That’s right corporate has now taken over cycling. Never in the times of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault would we have witnessed what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s all dictated by the big corporations whose bottom line comes first. Yes Lance doped so did all the others. Did anyone notice corporate sponsored all of these athletes equally. Once the scandal went public corporate bailed on the very people whose legs they rode on while it was all good pretending they knew nothing of what was happening in the buses and hotel rooms.

What the riders get compared to the profits and notoriety that Nike, Trek, Specialized and all others is a pittance. Yet it goes by unnoticed and the riders are expected to perform at the highest levels.

The tour itself is money making machine and is also guilty of taking advantage of the athletes. It is the sole responsibility of the organizers that the riders should have more than adequate facilities to rest and recover after riding up and down mountains  125 miles a day in over 100 degree heat. To come back to a hotel with no air conditioning is inexcusable.

What the riders get compared to the profits and notoriety that Nike, Trek, Specialized and all others is a pittance. Yet it goes by unnoticed and the riders are expected to perform at the highest levels.

Cycling use to be about the athlete and his machine and it should remain so. We, who love the sport, need to support our heroes of cycling.  Not the disgusting display of the audience (can’t even call them fans) and the poor sportsmanship (team managers and owners) we witnessed on this year tour and on television.

Shame, shame, shame on all of you that spat, threw urine on the riders. They cannot be cyclists, if they were they would respect the dedication and devotion these athletes commit themselves year round to reach the peak form for such grueling events. They do it for themselves their families who also sacrifice time away from them while training or away for events.

We’ll we ever see a finally like we did when Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon battled to the last day on that now famous time trial, perhaps not. Cycling must remain about the riders not about the ones who profit behind the scenes.

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