Watching the Tour de France coverage the other day, a couple of riders were accidentally shown by the cameras on a “natural break” (normally they show something else when the riders stop to take care of the biological necessities), and Phil Ligget was talking about how the riders won’t attack when a rival is taking a “natural break”. Paul Sherwin said that when he was riding, there was one rider who frequently attacked at those situations, so one day when he was off his bike for a break, the other riders stole his bike and pushed it a few kilometers up the road before abandoning it in a ditch. The rider had to wait for his team car to give him a spare bike, and maybe learnt a bit of a lesson about pay-back.
Then Phil told a story about when he was racing, and there was a guy who used to sprint on ahead until he was out of sight of the peleton, and then he’d hide and wait, and rejoin the peleton, and then enjoy being sucked along as the peleton tried to chase down this break that they couldn’t seem to catch sight of. He said this would continue for a few minutes until somebody recognized him in the back of the peleton. I guess this was before the days of race radios.
Just a couple of amusing anecdotes to while away the days before the race begins in earnest, with the first mountain stage on Saturday.
It’s nice to see Lance in yellow again, though.
I have a theory about this year’s race. The two time trials in the early flat stages of the race make it seem like it was designed to make Lance and his team have to get yellow earlier than they like and force them to defend it. And then the fact that both Saturday and Sunday’s mountain stages have long downhills to the finish means that no matter what Lance does in the mountains, the other “big men” will have a chance to catch him back up for the finish. I think Tuesday stage with two 1st category climbs and a mountain top finish will be the one that really shows whether this is Lance Armstrong’s tour again.