Friday, June 14, 2024
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The VV View: a Funny Old Week


It’s been a funny old week – it’s always the same, there’s that void after a Grand Tour and it’s hard to fill.

Dumoulin ‘done good’ to win; if you’re as old as me you can remember the last Grand Tour win by a Dutchman, Joop Zoetemelk in 1980 in the colours of TI Raleigh; he’d won the Vuelta the previous year and as well as his Tour win finished in second spot six times – with a record 16 Tour finishes off 16 starts.

His predecessor as a Dutch Grand Tour winner was the cool, bespectacled Jan Janssen whose 1968 Tour win was also preceded by a Vuelta win in 1967.

Dumoulin is now being touted as The Netherlands next Tour de France winner – so he can look forward to a year’s worth of pressure from the Media.

But the Giro isn’t the Tour; we can come up with a dozen names that could win the Giro but never the Tour – Hesjedal, Menchov, Di Luca, Salvoldelli, Simoni, Garzelli and we could go on.

All good riders and Giro winners but they were never Tour winners.

Funny Old Week
Tom Dumoulin. Photo©SkySports

That said, Dumoulin rode a great Tour last year with a time trial – at which he is the current master – win and that mountain stage into Andorra, very impressive.

VeloVeritas’s resident pundit and soothsayer, Viktor reckons the 2017 was a watershed, the end for the ‘lightweight climber’ and the start of a new era of big, strong Indurain-like testers dominating.

He has a point in that now there are much less ‘goodies’ in the ice boxes; the days of 150 kilometre solos are behind us and the ‘mega’ stages which the organisers serve us up are actually counterproductive because everyone – except the breakaway artists who are well out of the GC – sit and look at each other and wait on the last ascent.

But here’s also the fact that if the Giro had finished with the usual sprinters’ stage then the Columbian would have won.

The ‘Lazarus’ award has to go to Spaniard ‘Mickey’ Landa, he saved Sky’s race for them and showed the form that had Martin and I touting him as a future winner a year or two ago when he won two stages and was third to Contador and Astana team mate Aru – but he more than had the legs to leap frog the Italian.

Funny Old Week
Tejay van Garderen. Photo©Lapresse

Viktor’s favourite rider, Tejay van Garderen may have won a stage but proved once again that he’s no Grand Tour GC threat.

Van Avermaet and Oss are the only two worth a toss in that BMC team and they all get paid too much, etc. etc.’

Yes Vik.

My two pence worth on Quintana’s ‘failure’ is that he and Movistar were trying to get the Giro win without his reaching an absolute peak – trying to be ‘economical’ with the Tour in mind.

But they underestimated the big Dutch chap.

It’s good we’ll have another realistic contender for the 2018 Tour de France; let’s hope that ASO include plenty of chrono kilometres.

And what’s with MC Hammer getting involved with bike racing?

It sounds hideously complicated – and surely we already have too many races?

It’s a long time is 18 years – and even by my standards of piles of books which I’ve bought but never read it’s a long time to get round to sitting down with ‘Yellow Fever.’

Jeremy Whittle takes us through his 1998 Tour de France – yes, the ‘Festina One.’

I can identify with much of it having been there through Strasbourg and the exclusion of most of the favourites in 2006; and that was just the start – it was also ‘Floyd’s Year.’

Then there was Rasmussen, Moreni, Alberto, those Saunier Duval boys, not forgetting ‘Lance, the Return!

But what’s sad about the book is how the late Marco Pantani is painted as the race’s saviour.

When his house of cards fell we learned that he was no better or worse than Lance or Floyd or Tyler or Bobby J or any of the rest – but death has imparted sainthood upon him.

Lance will outlive me but it would have been interesting to see how he’s remembered once he goes to that great big chemist’s shop in the sky.

Bjarne Riis and Jan Ulrich feature heavily in the book – I was amused when we were told that US Postal’s drug taking methods; ‘were the most sophisticated ever.’

Laying on a the floor of a bus parked up on a mountain with a blood bag taped to the bulkhead doesn’t sound that hi-tech to me, I mean, Telekom had some of the finest medical brains in German universities behind their ‘preparation.’

You only have to look at the way races develop now to see that if there’s kitting up it’s nowhere near as obvious as it used to be – how the hell did we believe our eyes when we used to watch Postal riding tempo, day in, day out?

As well as ‘Yellow Fever’ I’ve been working down through that unread book stack and in the last few weeks have read ‘autobiographies’ of three of the biggest names in English-speaking cycle sport in the last 30 years; two of whom are still very much involved and I daresay the third one will slip back into the sport soon enough.

All three of them had ‘mistakes’ made by their doctors/the authorities/the Media – or only did it ‘just the once’ when it comes to the ‘D word.’

To paraphrase The Bard; ‘Methinks the ex-pros doth protest too much,’ but I guess they have to play it that way…

Funny Old Week
Sean Weide.

And to close on another note of sadness, we learned the other day of the death of Axeon Hagen Berman PR Manager, Sean Weide.

Most recently he organised our interview with Eddie Dunbar who won the U23 Tour of Flanders.

Over the years he must have organised dozens of interviews for us from Axeon back through BMC to Champion Systems and Rock Racing.

We’re going to miss him and would extend our condolences to his family, colleagues and wide network of friends in the sport he loved so much.