- By Jens Voigt
Today was another long day and again, in this modern day and age I don’t understand why there are longer stages with aggressive racing. Or to say it as a spectator, ”It makes a boring and long race to watch!” Have shorter stages. It makes riders attack more and it will create a better show for the viewers.
Today I noticed two things I have never really experienced before. Now these are just my observations. But I want to let you folks have some inside views into the peloton.
The first thing was that when the breakaway was already out and Team Quick-Step missed it, Jerome Pineau attacked alone behind the breakaway of seven riders. So there is this breakaway out there with seven riders and then Jerome alone behind them at 55 seconds, and the peloton at 2:30. He would probably not catch them alone so the team car calls the breakaway (I don’t know if they talked to the riders or to the directors of the teams who were present in the breakaway) and asks the break to wait for Jerome.
Of course the breakaway says, “No, why should we wait?” And Quick-Step goes: “If you don’t wait, we chase the breakaway down!” And the breakaway still says, “No, we don’t wait.” So Quick-Step sends the whole team to the front of the peloton and starts riding pretty much full-gas to chase.
Well, the peloton immediately becomes a kilometre long and it gets stressful because there are crosswinds everywhere. And soon the breakaway loses the poker game and gives in: “OK, we wait for Jerome Pineau.” And Quick-Step stops chasing.
That was the first thing today that told me you are never to old to see new things. And I am sure all the modern technology we have really helped to get some quick and direct communication to make quick decisions.
And then there was GreenEdge, who started chasing behind the breakaway, maybe in the hopes that Matt Goss would be able to get over this vicious and steep climb called the Mont Saint Claire with 25 kilometres to go, or perhaps to set up the stage for an attack by Michael Albasini.
And that brings me to the second thing today that noticed is new in cycling. The way team GreenEdge was riding was different than the way I have seen other teams riding or how we rode in the first week of the Tour when Fabian was in yellow. They went really fast through villages and on smaller roads where the peloton is all stretched out long.
I guess they were thinking, “If we ride and it hurts us then it might as well be painful for all the others!” And since they have some skillful descenders on their team it was pretty fast on some downhills today and the boys went pretty hard out of some corners. So I don’t want to imagine how much that was hurting someone in position 100 or even further behind.
Now this style may be very effective but it is really stressful for everybody. It is either really professional or really unfriendly. I’ve got to say team GreenEdge did ask for some help from Team Lotto and Liquigas. But both teams refused to help, so I can imagine a certain frustration within the Team GreenEdge.
Hmm… maybe that’s the third thing, actually, that there is less cooperation between the teams. Before it was always some sort of agreement, like, “Yes we are a big team and we believe in our sprinter and we send one or two riders to help out with the chase.” But now they say, “No we won’t work. We have already a stage win, or, all our guys are tired, or, we want to save some energy, whatever.”
So yes there are a few new developments in modern cycling and just to make it very clear, I am making no judgment here. I just wanted to let my readers have a little bit of an inside look into what’s going on, in a stage like today.