Putting the '08 Tour de France to rest (cont.)
Most prophetic comment: Stapleton, on the subject of the selflessness of his team, said, "Bernie Eisel, Marcus Burghardt -- if those guys are in a break, they have a very good chance to win a stage themselves." Five days later, Burghardt won Columbia's fifth stage of the Tour, outdueling Carlos Barredo, who then pitched a fit and threw all the toys out of his pram. Five stage wins + four days in yellow for Kirchen = sensational Tour for Columbia.
Biggest Revelation (aside from Cavendish): Garmin-Chipotle team leader Christian Vandevelde established himself as the man this squad will ride for in next year's Tour, as well. Until this season a kind of super-domestique, paid to not ride for himself, the 32-year-old Lemont, Ill., native placed fourth in the final time trial, moving up to fifth in the GC. He'd spent the previous 19 stages proving that he could do more than race against the clock. When the Tour hit the Pyrenees, Vandevelde made every elite selection, often attacking the leaders when he found the pace un-ambitious.
He lost touch with the leaders grinding up the Cime de la Bonnette-Restefond, summitting 35 seconds after they did, which is not big deal, really. But his crash on the descent cost him another two minutes and, in all probability, knocked him off the podium. As he told Versus' Robbie Ventura, he's already looking forward to next year.
Costliest crash: CVV's; see above.
Scariest crash: Oscar Pereiro, winner of the '06 Tour following the disqualification of Floyd Landis, collided with another rider and flew "four or five meters," according to his director, midway through the 15th stage. Pereiro sailed over a guardrail to the pavement below, breaking his shoulder in several places.
Crash most beloved by Versus producers: A tie between Pereiro's and these four:
Stage 16: After summiting the Bonnette first, John-Lee Augustyn of Barloworld took a bad line around a bend and went barreling off the road and into space -- no guardrail -- tumbling and skidding 50 yards down a steep, rocky scree. His bike fell even further: He had to wait five minutes by the roadside for a new one, foiling his chances at a stage win.
Stage 13: Sven Krauss of Gerolsteiner collides with a traffic sign, sending his carbon-fiber bike pinwheeling 10 feet in the air, splitting it cleanly in two.
Stage 7: Lilian Jegou, a young French rider awarded the "most combative" rider of Stage 1, engages in unsuccessful combat with a roadside tree, fracturing his wrist and forcing him to abandon.
Stage 15: You know how the main bunch splits in half when it gets to a roundabout? On this occasion, at least 10 riders on both sides of the rain-slick roundabout ate it, eliciting these words from Phil Liggett: "Oh my goodness me -- on both sides of the road!"
Most arid humor: Asked to comment on the fact that six of his riders went down in that spill, Garmen director Jonathan Vaughters remarked, over the vehicle's In-Car Cam, "Well, we crash as a team."
Most aesthetically pleasing accessory: Yellow handlebar tape on CSC's Cervelo's for Sunday's ceremonial ride into Paris, then up and down the Champs Elysees
Most aesthetically displeasing accessory: The sub-skin suit hydration bladder sported by Vandevelde during the TT. It made him look like a dromedary.
Biggest revelation (TV side): Nothing against Al Trautwig, whose work I admire, and who stole all his scenes in Cool Runnings, but I think the broadcast was improved by Craig Hummer's presence on the set. While a few caviling nits in the blogosphere took their shots at him, I appreciated his solid grasp of the sport, and the easy chemistry he enjoyed with color man Bob Roll.
Most incisive Bobke-ism: I'll admit, I didn't hear his every utterance, but this is at least representative of the goods Bob Roll is bringing to the set every day. On the subject of the multiple feed-zone crashes at this Tour -- the ex-7-Eleven rider noted that, because their favorite sports are soccer and cycling, "Europeans are not that good with their hand-to-eye coordination."
Most expensive leak: Check out this item from the bottom of the "Jury report" following Stage 16 (courtesy of VeloNews): "Pineau (Bouyges-Telecom) fined 60 euros for inappropriate urination."
Enough already. I've come up with a Post-Tour plan to fill the void in my life. I'm headed out on a ride.