My answer to my first and preliminary question is: but you CAN'T avoid to judge! it's a very sophisticated and hard request to suspend your judging and try to 'take it like it is'. That means: don't consider your personal taste, culture and values so that you can get the intention and feeling of somebodyelse. Sometimes it's good but it's never easy. You watch and you judge: "GREAT!" or "WHAT A DRAG!". I'm personally few interested in sprints and must admit I love cycling but it takes me some effort to really follow - not just watch - a race Andy Schleck is not in. So we can't avoid to judge and judging has few to do with objectiveness. Oh my.... Don't let my start about 'objectiveness' itself!
Subjective judging is unbattable: "I didn't like at all the Tour 2012. The last one has been better but not as fun as Tour 2010 or 2008". That could be me. I can argomentate but basicly I have very personal reasons to think so or better: to feel so. And it isn't interesting, is it? Interesting is something you can share and debate, something 'objective' at some extent. That's why I put together some data. However also a personal memory is interesting when it's well written and you can almost 'touch' it, feeling yourself that feeling like in a transfert. That's the big art of writers: look by my eyes, feel by my heart, stay you, try me. Literature brings you quite close to that hard and sophisticated suspension of your judging, enlarge your soul without asking you to leave it apart. That's why I add a collection of personal highlights.
1. STAGEs victories are the daily show in a three weeks race and in the last Tour the show has been poor. That was my subjective impression and data confirm it: take off sprints, TT and GC riders' wins, you are left with Bakelants, Martin and Rui Costa. Trentin if you want. I'd add Sagan's in Albi. Froome's preponderance put the GC riders in need to use all stages to attack him and that made it hard for every break-aways.
Normally there are many races in Tour stage: a break-away for the stage victory - big mountain stages partially excluded - fights for KOM and intermediate sprints points - fight for placement by White Jersey contenders and Team Classification, finally the big fight for the Jellow Jersey AND for the final victory - those can also be two different goals: wearing the Jellow Jersey is a goal itself in terms of prestige and money. This year the fight for the final victory crushed all the rest. It isn't nice.
STAGE VICTORIES (and Yellow Jersey)
|Froome's on Ventoux|
|Mollema and Ten Dam|
|Danny Van Poppel|
Outsiders surprised me in a good way: Jakob Fugslang did the best tour of his life and all on his own because Astana has been inconsistent since the start. Bauke Mollema was 2nd when he got sick and normally the final week in the Alps would have suited him well: what a pity! Jürgen Van Den Broeck crashed in Corsica and quited: that's really a shame! Ten Dam was outstanding...till when he cracked. The young Pinot was just the shadow of last year rider: sick of a suspect mononucleosis he never started the game and abandoned too.
I was about to skip Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen! BMC duo has been really disappointing. Evans didn't recover well since the Giro - but even there he looked weaker - while I can't explain van Garderen's poor performance. Maybe he had reached too early his pick of form, in California. His Tour anyway has been less anonymous than Evan's: he often went in a break-away. BMC DS Lelangue payed the bill. His direction didn't seem effective in fact: handling wiserly the break van Garderen could have achieved a stage victory at least.
Some teams just didn't have a serious GC contender or their GC contender failed to be 'serious'. Lotto-Belisol - lost Van Den Broeck - and Argos pointed all on sprinters (Greipel and Kittel) while the OPQS of Cavendish had a good GC card in Kwiatkowsk. Cannondale got the big goal with Sangan's Green but their GC rider De Marchi looked inadequate: he's still young, tried some break-aways and a stage victory would have been a better aim. The team anyway didn't put on him a big pressure. Also by Moreno Moser I expected more. Europcar concentrated on the Polka Dots Jersey with Rolland and finally gained nothing. A bit better for the other French teams: Cofidis (Navarro 9) and AG2R (Bardet 15). I expected more by Garmin and Euskaltel (Talansky 10, Nieve 12). For Vacansoleil, Lampre, FDJ and Sojasur this Tour has been a disaster.
Green-Edge is a special case: they won the TTT and kept the Jellow Jersey for four days (Gerrans, then Impey) but all in the first weeks: when the fight for the GC started they disapeared. GE best placed rider is Impey: 74 at 2:26:37.
|Andy Schleck on the Pyrennes|
RSLT won a stage with Bakelants, kept the Yellow Jersey for two days and strenously fought for the Team Classification. In terms of GC three riders in the top 20 (Monfort 14 Bakelants 18 and Andy Schleck 20) is a quite good result. Monfort isn't a rider who can win a Tour - in my opinion - and Andy wasn't strong enough to fight with the best in the race.
I went so deep to show that basicly Froome hasn't got any opponent. He won because he was the strongest and he was the strongest because other strong riders this year weren't in their normal shape. Team Sky was less strong than last year but still able to work in that amazing 'new' way: total dedition and a scientific approach. It works but 1. kill the race 2. risk to 'kill' the racer too... Not everybody tollerate the Sky-model, many go away (Cavendish, Uran, Dowsett...), somebody seems to have 'cracked' (Wiggins). I try to stay neutral but looking Froome's face after the Tour... he didn't seem all right to me. Probably he was simply very very tired. He said he's going to target the Tour for many years. Wiggins instead said he isn't sure he'll ride a Tour (or Giro or Vuelta!!) again... and he was there last year, in that stunning lightspot. Lets see.
|1||Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling||83:56:40|
|2||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team||0:04:20|
|3||Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha||0:05:04|
|4||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff||0:06:27|
|5||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff||0:07:27|
|6||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:11:42|
|7||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:12:17|
|8||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team||0:15:26|
|9||Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:15:52|
|10||Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp||0:17:39|
|11||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step||0:18:59|
|12||Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:20:01|
|13||Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:21:39|
|14||Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard||0:23:38|
|15||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:26:42|
|16||Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff||0:26:51|
|17||Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha||0:32:34|
|18||Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard||0:35:51|
|19||Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling||0:39:41|
|20||Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard||0:41:46|
|21||Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Lampre-Merida||0:45:08|
|22||John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:46:00|
|23||Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:48:07|
|24||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar||0:52:15|
|25||Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step||0:54:00|
|26||Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:54:25|
|27||Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team||0:54:34|
|28||Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||0:56:33|
|29||Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr||0:57:06|
|30||Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard||1:02:43|
|31||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step||1:03:41|
|32||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar||1:12:42|
|33||Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp||1:13:08|
|34||Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||1:14:59|
|35||Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team||1:20:39|
|36||Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard||1:24:22|
|37||Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||1:27:57|
|39||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team||1:30:14|
|40||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff||1:34:17|
|45||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||1:38:57|
|Sagan in Albi|
|1||Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling||409||pts|
|2||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step||312|
|3||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol||267|
|4||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano||222|
|Pierre Rolland and his Red Dots|
|3||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar||117|
|5||Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||98|
|6||Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||98|
|7||Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling||72|
|8||Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling||72|
5. YOUTHS: Quintana best youth of this Tour? for sure. He was expected and didn't miss the date. But just because he was expected and given that he never attacked on his own it's hard to consider him the 'revelation' of this Tour in the way Pinot was the 'revelation' of that one of Andy Schleck of the Giro 2007. Bardet impressed me more. His team couldn't aim to the final victory and he earned his 15 place by lucky break-aways and good individual performances. I think we'll hear from him. Danny Van Poppel impressed me a lot. He didn't finish the Tour because his team fairly stopped him: he's 19 and a very promising sprinter, it made no sense to force him up and down on the Alps. But he has been the true 'revelation'!
|2||Ag2R La Mondiale||0:08:28|
|5||Belkin Pro Cycling||0:38:30|
|7||Euskaltel - Euskadi||1:30:34|
|10||Cofidis, Solutions Credits||2:07:11|
|11||Garmin - Sharp||2:13:32|
|12||BMC Racing Team||2:26:23|
|16||Lampre - Merida||4:06:47|
|18||Astana Pro Team||4:58:00|
|Cannondale's forcing in Albi stage|
|Andy Schelck & co. in Sarenne descent|
|Andy Schleck in Avranches|