#bikeschool: The Grand Bouclé has been Boucléd

A resurgence of French riders dominating at the Tour always invigorates the fans and in turn the race. Although we had to wait until stage 19 at the top of Alpe d’Huez for Pierre Rolland of Europcar to take a French stage win, the 9 days Thomas Voeckler spent in Yellow was truly inspiring. Every fiber of my being wanted Tommy V to hang on until Paris. He personifies everything that I love about the sport of bike racing and the fact so many said that the man wearing Yellow coming out of the Pyrenees should win in Paris gave Voeckler a superb chance to hang on. It wasn’t to be but alas, the French were well represented in the race and as a result the country and fans went made for the Tour.

Thor Hushovd is a particular favourite of mine and he wears the stripes of the World Champion with pride, guts and sheer brilliance. His two stage wins, in particular his first into Lourdes on stage 13, were superb and I had chills watching him ride to those finishes. Like Cadel before him, Thor really ‘races’ the Rainbow Jersey which is what we all want to see.

By having Thor Hushovd and Thomas Voeckler in Yellow for so long it meant that the ‘real’ GC contenders were left to battle each other on the road without the pressures of the Yellow Jersey. The lack of Yellow in the locker of one of the GC contenders might seem moot but the responsibility of leading the GC and wearing the Golden Fleece brings with it certain responsibilities of the rider and his team. This can mean sometimes that the racing is quite predictable as the leaders’ team is sent to the front of the peloton to chase down breaks and they are generally the ones tasked with taking the race to the others. By keeping the Yellow Jersey away from the biggest GC hopefuls meant they were able to battle each other with a little more freedom, which was shown by the fact the media focused a lot on the mistakes the riders were making due to the added pressure.

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