Monday, July 9, 2007

STAGE 2 - BELGIAN WINS IN BELGIUM

STEEGMANS PREVAILS. The trek from Dunkirk, France to Ghent, Belgium was long, flat, and wet in parts. Three escapees spent most of the day trying to stay clear of the peloton. But, as usual, they were gobbled up about three kilometers from the finish. This set up a dramatic bunch sprint finish that was marred by a major crash and pile up. At the line, the Belgians prevailed today where they faltered yesterday. Gert Steegmans of QuickStep crossed the line just ahead of his team captain Tom Boonen, also a Belgian. So, there's joy in Belgium tonight. But we'll wait to find out the extent of injuries to the many riders caught up in the big crash.

BOONEN MOVES UP. Tom Boonen, the most highly-regarded athlete in Belgium, moved into the overall Top Ten based on bonus time for his second-place finish. He also moved one point ahead of Robbie McEwen for the sprint championship contest represented by the Green Jersey. One of the things to watch throughout the Tour's flat stages is this context for the Green Jersey, maillot vert.

2 comments:

David from DC said...

Alright, I'll bite.

I've been disinterested in road racing probably since 2005, or whenever Tyler Hamilton got the ax. It's just not fun getting all worked about someone's amazing performance, and then finding out that they were lying about drugs or blood. It's not even the cheating aspect I don't like, it's the lying. I used to think bikes make people better necessarily, but now I guess I think bikes can make people better, but not necessarily.

I didn't even know about the spring's allegations and confessions until I heard David Walsh interviewed on the radio. Now I'm compelled to research the whole thing and form an opinion. Yuck.

So, why do you think that governing bodies and labs and French press are all out to get folks. Unfortunately, being American, I'm forbidden to converse in any language but my own, so I can't actually read French papers.

I guess I'm personally struggling with lying, and coming to terms with myself, so somehow I have a stake in all this. Everyone who denies denies denies, and then admits, tosses one more grain of sand onto an enormous pile of doubt, and anyone who presents a glistening front of purity (as say, a superhero) must have an unclean side.

So, truth and reconcilliation. Compassion and unity. Can these things exist in the presence of cutthroat competition: has the desire to win completely eclipsed camaraderie, sportsmanship, and the rules of the game?

In the end, my love of cycling will probably rule the day, but I'm ambivalent about it none-the-less.

bikehiker said...

Hey, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I do the same kind of soul searching. Half the time I'm befuddled and angry at what's occurred and half the time I'm still hopeful and able to be fascinated with the sport.

Can the "sides" in this sport be reconciled? Or is the situation consigned, because of pride and the context of cut-throat competition, to finger pointing, suspicion, denial, etc?

I'd like to see the Pro Tour leaders, UCI, etc. sit down with cycling team leaders and cyclists together to hammer out a framework of issues to address, agree on how to address them, and commit themselves to commonly agreed-up outcomes. I just don't think UCI, ASO, WADA, etc. have acted carefully or caringly for all sides thus far. It seems to me they've taken a very knee-jerk, "my way or the highway" approach. Reminds me of a certain government leader. There is a better way.