What the tour has meant to me over the last several years has been, “Which rider has what it takes to take second?” The last time the tour winner just eeked one out was Cadel Evan’s win in 2011. It took Andy Schlecks overwhelming show of weakness in the time trial to keep him from celebrating on the Champs. Celebrating from the can upon learning of Alberto Contador being stripped of the title lacks the panache of doing so in Paris, unless of course he was on the can in Paris when he became the defacto winner. Paris just makes everything more special.
Winning the tour in court is like not winning the tour at all.
Chris Froome dominated early in 2013 making the last week almost unwatchable. Nairo Quintana saved the tour for me. The year prior to that, the drama came from two teammates in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome being on the same page, but reading different editions of the same book.
Contador and Armstrong dominated tours prior. When they rode, The fight was always for second. Its not those two riders faults that the drugs combined with their gift was far better than the other riders drugs and similar gifts.
As much as every fan loves their team to dominate, legacies tend to take away the anticipation of seeing something different. Beyond any allegiance that I have to a team, I want to see a great match. If a team I support dominates another team, I don’t enjoy it as much as seeing both teams trying to dig just a little deeper than their rivals. I want to sit on the edge of my seat and sweat it out. That’s sport.
This tour is at this point no different. Unless Vincenzo Nibali crashes out, or we get a good old fashioned (but not old enough) blood test that shows that his awesome form isn’t really his, the race is already determined. I’ve followed him since the days of him carrying Ivan Basso’s, drugs and believe him to be clean.
If the directors weren’t so busy targeting races other than the greatest race on the planet, we could actually get a really good show. I can’t imagine in any other sport, teams shelving their best players or players using the a championship as a tuneup for another lesser race. I want Quintana, Wiggins, Millar, Gilbert, Boonen, Cancellara,Betancur (Columbian dude). Seems like cycling on that level would call for giants of the sport. I’ll always be enthralled with the desire that it takes to punish yourself like that, regardless of who lines up, but if the product could be better and I can see that; I have an issue as should most fans.