Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bawl and Chain

As was eluded to on Monday's post, Stage 15 of the Tour de France was a bad day for Andy Schleck. Bad, bad, day. To recap, Andy Schleck was leading the Tour de France ahead of Alberto Contador by 31 seconds. On the final climb of Stage 15, Schleck attacked, dropped a chain, and was forced to dismount and fix the chain himself. Contador, being the self-serving wienie that he is, took advantage of the situation and rode on. At the end of the stage, Contador was ahead of Schleck by 8 seconds.

You see, bicycle racing has some unspoken rules of etiquette. Many circles believe that if the current leader of a race crashes, or has been struck with a case of mechanical bad luck, it's not appropriate to attack. The unspoken rules state that it is best to ease-off a bit (not necessarily stop) until the leader can recover from the crash or mechanical issue. (Due to my arm-chair-only participation, I'm not all that versed on what these etiquettes are all about, so maybe some of you can enlighten us all.)

This little dilemma of ethics has brought on quite the controversy. As conversations have unraveled, it appears the carnage brought forth by the events, and the opinions that lie thereupon, may end the friendship of Versus announcers Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett. (Either that or it's me capitalizing on the drama. Again.)


Get a load of the dialogue between Sherwan and Liggett during Stage 16's pre-race show:

Phil: "He didn't have any choice, in my opinion. I've got no problems with what Contador did whatsover. Look, what do you want -- the Tour de France as a bike race or do we have to wait for everybody who has a problem?"

Paul: "When you're riding a bike, Phil, if somebody stops, halfway up a climb, you know they haven't stopped physically. [Phil constantly talks over Paul here] You'd know they haven't stopped physically. And that is not a physical stop, that is a mechanical stop. And I'm sorry, I've been a professional bike rider and I know, when someone has a mechanical..."

Phil: "I've been a professional bike racer myself, Paul, and at that moment in time..."

Paul: "Yeah, but you've never ridden the tour, Phil. You've never been in that situation!"

Phil: "Well, no, I haven't. But I've been in other tours Paul."

Paul: "Like which?"

Phil: "The Tour of Ireland, for instance."

Girls, girls, girls!!! Pipe down!

During the conversation, Phil did make a couple of excellent points.  One of which was the participation and standings of Sammy Sanchez and Denis Menchov.  Contador and Schleck aren't the only guys racing the tour.  If Menchov and Sanchez continued to attack after Schleck's chain dropped, Contador would need to follow them.  If Contador did wait for Schleck, Menchov and Sanchez could likely ride themselves into winning.

The other comment Phil made was this, "You can't keep stopping when it goes wrong for your rival. That would be silly."  He's right.  If the racers stopped for every little mishap, it would cease to be a race.    

In this particular blunder, however, we're talking about Alberto Contador.   A man, who, in my humblest of opinions, has proven himself a wienie.  A short...  skinny... wienie.

Do I need to mention that a short, skinny wienie is worthless?



C.C. said...

Contador knew about the unspoken rule in earlier stages because when Schleck wrecked he stopped and waited for him as did many other cyclists. Contador was the first to stop in that instance though. The unspoken rule, at least what my brosef tells me who cycled in another life, If a cyclists slash rival is plagued by misfortune such as a mechanical issue or a crash then one is to wait for him to get back on the bike. If the race leader has to el bano, everyone is supposed to slow down. Due to it being unspoken though it often leaves room for we saw on Monday.

rjmatheson said...

I'm curious. Is the unspoken rule that you not attack the GC (overall) leader, or the stage leader? Other than slowing down for a fellow rider to answer the call of nature I think it's silly to have to wait for any other type of stop. What if Contador was actually 3rd on the GC, and he and Schleck had gone off the front when this happened? By stopping to wait for Schleck Contador would be giving up any time gain he had made on the read 2nd place rider. There are too many situations I could think of where stopping for the leader only hurts the riders who happen to be next to him at the time. Anyone else further back or potentially way off the front would continue riding, and gaining time, without a second thought.

lifein360 said...

I think calling him a weinie is putting is incredibly lightly. I'll keep this comment light but I would have used much much more colorful language. ;) I just don't expect any sportsmanship from this fool.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Yes, there's an unwritten rule that you don't attack the race leader when he's unable to respond, such as peeing, having a mechanical, whatever. There are also rules about not chasing teammates, giving your wheel to a teammate in better position, blah, blah, blah.

However, any such courtesy is just that: a courtesy. It may be expected, but it's not required. If the courtesy is not extended, then shut up and race. It is a race, after all.

Do I think Contador should have waited? Yes. Do I think he's a jerk and worthy of boos and whistling for not having done so? No. He will pay the price for his decision. His win will not be as well-regarded because of that attack.

But the guy who should be really pissed about this hierarchy and expectation business is Chris Horner. He would be the highest-placed rider from the USA were he not expected to wait around and help the pathetic and tiresome LA or the perpetually disappointing Levi.

Jessica said...

I read this post to the husband on the way home from church today. He laughed, especially at your commentary regarding the announcers drama. I too dislike that Contador and I'm quite sad at the outcome.

p.s. could you write a post explaining why the last stage of the tour isn't really a stage at all, but merely a leisurely stroll into Paris. Chaps my hide that whole thing.

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