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July 06, 2005

le Tour Update

DMC at Ridgecrest Blog has a couple of really good Tour de France updates.

The first is something Tour fans already know. Lance Armstrong is a class act.

Today Lance Armstrong showed up for the big roll out wearing his normal Discovery Channel jersey, not the yellow jersey of the race leader that he was entitiled to wear.

. . .

After the rollout the race referees told Lance that he would have to wear the yellow or risk being disqualified from the race. So Armstong is racing with the yellow jersey pulled on over his discovery jerset. Let's hope it doesn't get hot today.

So there you go, in a day of overpaid, over egoed proffesional athletes we have one here that tries to take the high road and do the right thing and the race officials have to get involved and drag him back into the muck.

The second update concerns a questionable judgment call on the part of David Zabriskie's team leader, Bjarni Riis.
To Bjarne Riis, you made a tough call ordering the team to ride on withour Zabriskie. But was it the right call? YOu should have left a rider behind to help him. To bad you don't respect the yellow jersey as much as the guy who was wearing it and the man today who is reluctantly wearing it today.
Go check out Ridgecrest Blog. It's good stuff.

Posted by annika, Jul. 6, 2005 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Sports


Bjarne Riis made a tough call, but the right call. The man CSC is setting up to win the General Category of the Tour is Ivan Basso, not David Zabriskie. In order for Basso to do that, it was imperative that he, and CSC, lose as little time as possible against DSC and Armstrong in the team time trial, preferably none at all. And in the end, remember, CSC only lost to DSC with two seconds. Had CSC won, they would have received a time bonus, but also proved to the world, and themselves, that Armstrong's team was not invincible; both points would have given CSC a considerable moral boost; both points were well worth 'sacrificing' Zabriskie's yellow jersey for. In essence, Riis was faced with the choice of trying to keep Zabriskie in the yellow jersey for an extra day now or giving Basso a chance to win the entire Tour de France.

As for Lance Armstrong's refusing to wear the yellow jersey out of 'respect' for Zabriskie's plight: it's funny, but I don't remember Armstrong having any problems whatsoever with donning the maillot jaune in 2003 after his main rival Jan Ullrich had a nasty fall in one of the individual time trials thereby screwing up his (Ullrich's) chances of winning. What's the difference?

Last year, Armstrong eschewed the tradition which has the previous year's winner wearing the yellow jersey in the prologue/first stage, claiming that he wanted to 'earn' it. Puh-lease! My theory is that hanging around Sheryl Crow is rotting his brain. I had much more respect for Armstrong when he was a brash and upfront and somewhat sense-of-humour deficient Texan rather than some lovey-dovey and somewhat sense-of-humour deficient Hollywood type.

PS. You wrote somewhere that you were thinking of buying Robert Ludlum's book The Bourne Identity because you really liked the film. If you haven't already, don't. While the film is excellent, the book is a sorry waste of space ... unless one is a die-hard fan of Alistair MacLean or airport novels with funny embossed fonts on the cover. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with either, but neither has the sass and class of the film.

Posted by: bettiwettiwoo on Jul. 6, 2005

Betti makes a good point about Riis's logic for abandoning Zabriskie. Zabriskie was going to lose it sooner or later and CSC knew this. Zabriskie winning the yellow jersey during the prologue was a bonus for CSC, but it wasn't in CSC's master plan for the Tour. A CSC rider in the yellow jersey was a bonus battle won at the beginning of the three-week war.

As for her asking, "What's the difference?" about Armstrong pulling on the yellow jersey after Ullrich's crash during a TT-that was in 2003 and there are two huuuge differences between that incident and this year: It was the final TT of the Tour and it was seen as Ullrich's last chance to take the race lead from Armstrong. Further, and more important, Ullrich wasn't in yellow at the time and Armstrong already was.

There is precedent for a rider refusing to take the yellow jersey after the race lead has crashed out: During the 1971 tour, Louis Ocaña crashed out in the mountains while in yellow; Eddy Merckx refused to wear the yellow jersey the next day as a sign of respect to both Ocaña and to the Tour. I believe that also happened once in the fifties, but I may be mistaken. Merckx did wear yellow the second day after Ocaña crashed out.

Going back even further in the Armstrong-Ullrich rivalry, you might remember when Ullrich endoed in the mountains--Armstrong held up the lead group until Ullrich got back on his bike and rejoined the group, instead of chosing that moment to take advantage of Ullrich's accident.

When Armstrong said he wanted to 'earn' the yellow jersey I believe he meant it but not the way you think--I think it was a way to pump himself up and play some mind games with his opponents. We'll never really know for sure, so all we can do is speculate.

One thing that *is* known for sure is when Armstrong was going for his second victory, the TDF refused to let him wear the yellow jersey for the opening prologue, claiming the very short route (less than ten k, as I recall) wasn't actually an opening prologue but the true opening of the race. Another French class act, you bet.

Posted by: Victor on Jul. 7, 2005