Well, that’s it, another Tour de France has come to an end.
As expected, charismatic sprinter Mark Cavendish again won on the Champs-lyses, clinching the green jersey competition once and for all. He also gave one of his flamboyant victory salutes, this time pulling his jersey off his chest in the universal “big booby” gesture. (At least it was universal when I was in middle school.)
This marked Cavendish’s 20th Tour de France stage win, and between that and his maillot vert, you can be sure there will be plenty of Mark Cavendish newspaper articles in the coming weeks for Tyler Farrar to pin to his bulletin board and throw darts at during the next few weeks.
But while Tour has only just ended and the yellow paint is barely dry on Cadel Evans’s house (it’s a little surprise from me and the Bicycling.com team—hope you like it, Cadel) I’m already sad that the race is over. That’s why I’m not even waiting until the final urine test results are in to start thinking about Tour de France 2012.
So can Cadel Evans do it again next year and join the not-really-all-that-exclusive “two-peat” club?
Well, the fact that he’s a seasoned veteran will work in his favor, since he has the maturity and discipline to avoid the lavish parties and exotic yellow sports cars and endless kangaroo meat banquets that have undone many an Australian Tour de France champion—or that would have undone them had there ever been any.
At the same time, Evans’s age could work against him, since at 34 he’s already the oldest Tour winner since Gino Bartali. In fact, between Evans and his teammate George Hincapie, they’ve ridden more Tours de France than most of the rest of the peloton has had birthdays. And when your roll-out chit-chat starts to include phrases like, “You know, I used to race with your grandpa,” and “Electric shifting is great, but I really miss my old rod shifter,” then you know your Tour-winning days are numbered in the extremely low single-digits.
Speaking of meat, the other major factor will be Alberto Contador and his upcoming date with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Arguably, Contador was beaten into fifth place at this year’s Tour not by Evans, Voeckler, and a pair of Schlecks, but by the weight of the Giro victory he already had in his legs. If the CAS clears Contador, he’ll skip the Giro altogether next year and focus on the Tour, in which case he’d be the favorite to win. And if they don’t clear him, he could retroactively lose two Grand Tours. Really, the only thing that can beat Contador at his best is a bad steak.
And then there’s the Frandy Schleck. Simply put, there’s really no way the Andy half can win the Tour unless he learns how to race against the clock. So, can two Luxembourgian brothers who between them weigh about a half a Cadel transform themselves into time trial winners in the space of a year? Tune into NBC’s new reality show, “Great Schleckspectations,” to find out.
Coming this fall, check your local listings.
Lastly, there’s Thomas Voeckler, who has already announced his intentions to train for next year’s Tour as an overall contender.
I don’t think this is a good idea.
Voeckler is the guy who races on sheer emotion, and who is not afraid to bet it all on a breakaway, and who pulled the radio from his ear on Stage 18. Transforming him into a calculated, conservative, “legitimate” Tour de France contender is like detoxing a rock star, or taking Tarzan out of the jungle, or putting pants on Mario Cipollini. There’s really no way it can end well, and at best breakaway addict Voeckler will manage deny his urges until the very last stage, when despite being the maillot jaune he lets it all ride on a solo breakaway and goes down in history as the guy who lost the Tour de France on the Champs-lyses.
If this Tour gives us anything, let it not be the Taming of the Voeckler.
Hat Tip To: Bicycling Magazine