Evans great in good Tour

July 24, 2011

Yesterday I tweeted that I thought the Tour had many great moments but it wasn’t a great Tour. Almost every individual stage was exciting, but they didn’t string together into a 3 week battle for yellow. That was reserved just for the last week.

Reactions came in thick and fast. Many thought it was the best Tour in ages, others commented that Evans didn’t win it in an exciting way. Counter to what you may expect based on my tweet, I actually expect with the first and disagree with the second.

It WAS the most exciting Tour in years. We’ve had too many Tours in the last 20 years that were decided after one week, so it’s exciting when it goes down to the wire. Last years did too, but Andy Schleck and Contador were so far beyond the rest that spectators were left wanting. 2008, 2006 and 2003 also had close finishes. So to me it was definitely not a bad Tour, I thought it was very good, but memories of the late 80’s where the yellow went back and forth between contenders keeps me from calling 2011 great.

However, I do think Evans won it in a great way. He gets criticized for not attacking enough, but I think that’s unfair. First off, he does attack. It’s true he doesn’t do 20 short bursts like some others, but when you think about it, you only need to do that if your first 19 attacks don’t stick. When Evans goes, he makes sure it matters.

Comments that he didn’t go on long attacks in the mountains, that he didn’t win the way Contador or Schleck would win it, sound silly to me. Beautiful sports is when somebody maximizes his potential, which means Evans winning it the way Evans should win it.

He may not have had a very attacking Tour, but he’s had a very active Tour. When one opponent exposed Contador’s weakness, he exploited it. When another exposed Andy Schleck’s weakness, he exploited that. Those he couldn’t distance in the mountains, he disposed of in what everybody saw coming, the final TT.

Evans made the most of his own abilities, some of his opponents did not. That’s not good riding, that’s great riding.

My one disappointment is that I would have loved to see what Wiggins could have done, a rider with his style could have made GC extra interesting.

What do you think of this Tour?

11 Responses to “Evans great in good Tour”

  1. Cyclosophy Says:

    I agree. It’s been a good Tour, but I would like to see a continuous clash of the titans type battle for yellow. So many riders seem to rider in a defensive, cautious manner and it can be boring.

    I want to see audacity and courage, but unfortunately there is too much at stake these days. For example, a rider is in third place on GC and his team is looking to renew their current sponsorship for next year. Should he attack and try to move up, risking the loss of his podium place and that valuable visibility for the sponsor? The more money involved, the more cautious the teams become because sponsors increasingly want guarantees of a certain level of return on their investment.

    Cadel has indeed ridden a great race. He has made the most of his ability and made the most of every opportunity to take time. He has owned his race and calmly taken control of his own destiny. His team have also done a great job of supporting him, and their belief in him has made a great difference to Cadel. I’m a proud Aussie today!

  2. Jason Gilman Says:

    Good thoughts, I think losing so many top GC contenders like Wiggins and the top half of RadioShack probably did hurt the possibilities for total tour greatness. The Garmin-Cervélo/Thor storyline has been outstanding though (awesome BTPs to come I’m sure!) and Cadel has been pure class. Gilbert showed me some things too. Even a Tour that is merely good is a tremendous source of midsummer entertainment, emotion, and drama!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with you — Cadel rode within himself and his abilities for 3 weeks straight. Champions know what they can do and what they can’t. Then you have someone like Voeckler who exceeded his “abilities” and expectations day after day. Though the Maillot Jaune didn’t change (one of your premises for an exciting GC Tour), there was suspense in when/who/if it would change. Not sure how you can’t glean some excitement from that.

    My concern about this particular Tour is that the seminal event that opened up the GC race was the Stage 1 crash, not anything inherent to the Tour parcours or race tactics. Not a reliable way to count on exciting GC for the future! Yes, the Classics-like uphill finishes during the first week helped, and I hope the Tour keeps them in for the future. But until a more ambitious (not unsafe!) parcours paired with less uber-conservative GC tactics from teams occurs, I’m not expecting any more Tours like this for a while. But who knows??

  4. Steven Says:

    Could the Tour have been better, sure, but any event in hindsight could be better. That is just the nature of sporting events and for humans to keep wanting more.

    Contador not crashing in first week “could” have made a difference. Brad not crashing (and I admit I am a big fan of Wiggo) also “could” have made a difference.

    To me personally, Evans looked the most focused throughout the entire Tour, but really became evident in stage 4’s fight to the line with Contador.

    To watch an individual who has experienced so much disappointment dating back to his 2000 Sydney Olympics MTB campaign as well as through his Tour campaigns to date fight so hard in this years event, was exciting. Watching Contador get through the Tour injured and tired from the Giro and compete day to day without complaints and attack in the mountains was exiting. Watching Vockler defy the climbers on their own turf and keep hold of the Maillot Juene longer then anyone expected was exciting. Watching Gilbert and Hushovd perform at simply amazing levels was exciting. The list could go on as each rider who competed in this years contributed to an eventful Tour filled with excitement.

    To me TdF 2011 was exciting and I will respect the riders and crews efforts throughout the competition, by simply filing this in my memories as yet another TdF thought out by amazing athletes pushing the abilities to their limits.

    Once again a great race with a special twist, the first Australian winner.

  5. Ian Walton Says:

    He attacked to win a stage. What do people want. He hauled a peloton back up the Gali.. Countered on A d’H.

    Good tour if not GC great for 3 weeks. Exciting for all interests – attacks (TV), Green (Cav, Gilbert) and yellow in the final throws.

    Prudhome must be happy. I was. Am.

  6. Gerard, I think you got it right. As individual stages go, they were good – excellent.

    As far as the GC battle went, it was the story of Hushovd & Voeckler hanging on beyond anyone’s expectations that were thrilling. Outside of Andy & Alberto’s audacious attacks in the Alps, the real GC battle was a bit of a snorefest.

    Waiting for the last 2 days in the mountains, for me, isn’t too thrilling. Wide open races are great,when a contender seizes control, and there is an active battle, but waiting to the end, while sound from a strategic standpoint just isn’t too excitign to watch. It might have been different if a contender went on the attach in the Pyrenees.

    Unfortunately the days of jersey swapping (think LeMond & Fignon) are probably long over.

    Evans victory was well calculated and well earned, but wasn’t exactly inspiring. Sure he won an exciting stage, but it really wasn’t too consequential in the fight for GC. He did exemplary work on the Galibier, but defensive riding isn’t nearly as exciting as naked aggression.

  7. RacePace Says:

    Great tour, the yellow jersey battle was nicely supported be Hushovd and Voeckler holding on to the jersey much longer than anyone expected, then finally when the final mountains came it was over to the favourites.

    I do think that the individual stages were possible more exciting than the yellow jersey chase up until the last few days but like it has been posted earlier too many of the tour outsiders were knock out to early on.

    Don’t forget Eddy B H had a couple of great rides to spice things up too… I wasn’t sure if he was going to live upto his hype of a year or 2 ago but I’m beginning to change my mind.

  8. Chris Says:

    A very exciting tour to watch! Interesting tactics from all teams.

  9. Andrew S Says:

    Tdf 2011 was the best tour since Armstrong’s last win. Evans, Schleck and Vockler rode heroically–showing infinitely more courage and extraordinary rides than in the last four tours.

    Hushovd was amazing.

    The only thing missing was Vino.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Loved it, You are 100% correct.

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