Saturday, 8 June 2013

Criterium Dauphine Libere

Winning cycling stage races often seems to be about careful planning, having a strong team, careful calculation and a big chunk of luck. It is not so often about swashbuckling attacks by those at the sharp end of the General Classification. It is because of his flamboyant attacking style that fans can still love Marco Pantani despite his much documented flaws.
On Thursday Chris Froome with his Sky Team had  ridden themselves comfortably into the yellow jersey position when Alberto Contador attacked close to the end. Contador was way down on GC and no real threat to Froome overall. With tough stages to come, maybe the smart move was to let Alberto take a stage, ride just hard enough so he can do real harm to the lead. But Froome weighed it up and got after him, first catching then attacking Contador to claim the stage and the Jersey for himself. He also laid down a massive marker for the Tour. It was great watching two if the top contenders prepared to have a go at each other. On the mountain stages Wiggo, like Indurine focuses on limiting loses, Andy Schleck seems to be a follower when he isn't looking round wondering where Frank is.
Cycling has been compared to boxing, much of that comparison springs from the brutal physical demands, and the often cynical corrupt side to both sports. But like boxing in moments cycling can rise above the squalor and be something more. In cycling those moments come in the high mountains, when all but the best have fallen away, and the strongest at left to battle for the prize.