So that’s it, le grand tour is over and as expected Vincenzo Nibali took the Yellow Jersey and Marcel Kittel sprinted over the line first for a second year running. After two years of British cycling-mania, we hand the winner’s jersey back to the continent, where it would inevitably end up.
And Vincenzo Nibali couldn’t have deserved his victory more, don’t think this piece is a sly-scowl at the fact we lost the Yellow Jersey, this is merely an observation on a strange tour of crashes, abandonments, big time leads and plenty of other surprises on the way. It’s been crazy one for many reasons, one being that we’ve seen so many top riders leave the race: Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish to name a few.
The bad weather on the early stages meant that seasoned riders were slipping, sliding and crashing all over the place, losing valuable seconds and taking hits both physically and mentally. People started to give Nibali a hard time about being so far ahead, using the big star drop outs as excuses for the Italian’s success. This of course was wrong, because if we remember, Nibali was ahead before the likes of Froome and Contador dropped out.
It’s safe to say that it’s been a tour of up and downs, highs and lows and downright shockers, and it didn’t end with a crescendo of celebrations for us Brits as we’ve become accustomed to over the last two years. All this, paired with the start of the Commonwealth games last week, meant that our eyes were given another sporting focus: Bradley Wiggins on the track. The tour is over, and we weren’t even there to see it.
Abandoning the tour – picking off the riders one by one.
It was a photograph that many of us couldn’t imagine being posted up on Twitter just a few days into the Tour de France. Cavendish’s eagerness to succeed and pick out the gaps in the finish line landed him with a race-ending crash which required surgery.
Cavendish was never going to win the Yellow Jersey, but could’ve been at the forefront of the action in the sprint finishes. The blow was the first of many to follow in the tour, and was soon followed by Chris Froome, who after slipping and crashing badly numerous times, had to quit ahead of the cobbles on stage 5. The Damage to Froome’s wrist meant that the impact of riding the ‘hell of the North’ cobbles could have caused permanent damage, putting his cycling career in danger.
The Commonwealth games – just bad timing?
The Commonwealth games started last Thursday, and with Bradley Wiggins starting back out on the track after laying low this year, the public focus has slightly switched towards this sporting event.
The 2012 Tour de France winner took home a silver medal for England at this year’s Commonwealth track event, which was a positive boost for British Cycling amidst the abandonments and crashes of the Tour de France.
What we should learn from the 2014 Tour de France
The 2014 Tour de France has been a reminder that the event and the sport is one of the toughest around, that you can claim glory one year, but you can’t control the bigger beast that is cycling. Only a few have hit massive streaks, the Merckx’s of this world, who won the tour five times in six years.
The Tour de France can take the public main stage when we’re winning, becoming the new World Cup. But it inevitably swallows up those who try to control it for too long, and the Vincenzo Nibali’s will be chosen to ride out the tarmac and cobbled monster that is the Tour de France.
See you next year.