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The drama of the Tour

15 Jul 2005

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn recently suggested changes for a race he dubbed the “Tour de Farce.” Zorn finds the current incarnation dull, in defiance to the estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide who would suggest otherwise. In fact, he’d rather eliminate the teamwork and group tactics that derive the very core of the race, opting instead to leave racer alone on the road, staggard by the time they earned in the day previous. “This would make it difficult to impossible for ‘teams’ of riders to work together to help their best rider, but who cares? Teams are antithetical to all forms of racing except relays.”

See, now that’s the problem when journalists try blogging. They start writing with a desire to simply be provocative without understanding what they’re talking about.

I, on the other hand, enjoy the drama of cycling – especially the deep allegiance of teams collaborating through individual glory. In yesterday’s stage coming down out of the Alps, Discovery rider Manuel “Triki” Beltran crashed out, but not before the director sportif Johann Bruyneel did whatever he could to keep the team together:

Somebody made a sharp move and there was a touch of wheels. Triki went down and hit his head pretty hard. But we put him on the bike and we went another 10 or 15 kilometers, but when we came up next to him in the team car, he didn't know where he was or what he was doing. Then I talked to the race doctor and he said, "Yeah, he is done now." So we drove back up there and I said, "Triki, you have to stop the race now. You cannot go on." And Tricky said to me, "What race?" And so we made him stop and get off the bike and tonight he will stay at hospital.

Call it unnecessary risk or deep devotion – either way it’s drama. And I like it just the way it is. ​

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