Now that the Tour has finally finished, I have a few leftover thoughts about the overall race. This race was, in my opinion, one of the best that we've had in recent years. It was full of drama, excitement, angst, and energy. Sure, some of the lows of the race (like Hoogerland getting thrown into a barbed wire fence) were terrible... but the great things that came out of the race were unbelievable.
- This was a tour of heroes. Husholvd won the jersey and defended it proudly... even through some of the stages where people thought he'd lose it. And then he won a "mountain stage" into Gap, something that nobody expected. Voeckler showed that he was not just a talented rider but also that he has one of the biggest hearts in the peloton. That man fought and fought and fought to keep his yellow jersey. When he finished at the summit of the Galibier to keep the yellow jersey by 15 seconds over Andy Schleck, I think every one of us cheered him on. And whatever people may say about Contador, that man has a lot of fight in him. It was a daring and courageous move for him to attack on Stage 19 so he could try to salvage something from this Tour. I think he won the admiration of a lot of fans for his effort that day.
- I think Andy Schleck grew as a cyclist during this Tour. I get the sense that he evolved over the course of the three weeks. The first two weeks, he spent a lot of time cycling defensively... always looking back at his rivals and being conservative. But his brilliant attack on Stage 18 was one that people will remember for a long time. He'll remember that and, having done it once, will do it again in the future. I think he learned during that single stage how to be aggressive and that will serve him well in future Tours.
- Cadel Evans was a deserving winner. Watching him, I felt sympathetic when he was put in situations over and over again where he had to do the bulk of the work by himself. Many of the other GC contenders refused to help him so he shouldered the burden and went after the victory. When I was watching the final award ceremony, I got the sense that the Schleck brothers deeply respected Cadel's victory. How can you not? Watching him get teary-eyed and so emotional... you KNEW that this meant something for him. There was a sense that he appreciated how precious the victory was. And that was beautiful to watch.
- As a final note about riding the Etape... there is something very cool about knowing what it feels like to ride into Alpe d'Huez, take that final left turn, and see the finishing line. Having done that makes seeing the stage on TV that much more amazing.
Finishing with a note about Hoogerland... that rider is a stud. This t-shirt is appropriate.