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Anyone following this? To me it's been more important to watch than the World Cup and Wimbledon, especially with Murray going out.

 

I thought the first three stages in Britain were immense with the size of the crowds being spectacular. The second in particular stage was superb viewing, cycling-wise, with a an incredibly compelling finish up the "Cote de Jenkins Road".

 

For stage 3, I cycled 126 miles (round trip) to see it with my own eyes in Essex, near Saffron Walden, a bit south of Cambridge. You don't really get to see that much but it's worth the experience and a great day's cycling. Watched it all on the telly with a beer or two afterwards.

 

Since going to France it's started off a bit dull except for stage 5 with cobbles which completely fractured the GC classification, creating huge time gaps, but also unfortunately causing the retirement of Froome, Britains only hope (and even favourite) for the win. Nibali has really taken advantage here and moved into an excellent lead over his remaining contenders, with Contador in particular, now needing to do that much more when the mountains come along.

 

Another long, dull one in prospect today, with only the winds likely to create any real drama. Sagan and Tony Martin seem to be the favourites for the stage win. So it's getting a wee bit frustrating waiting for the competition to ramp up the excitement in the GC again.

 

Tomorrow will start flat but the stage has a sting in the tail at the end with three short, but sharp climbs of about 10%. Will be interesting to see if Contador, Valverde and Ritchie Port try to take a bite out of their deficit here. Out of the three, it probably suits Valverde more but I expect Nibali will be pretty keen to defend his yellow Jersey and indeed his sizeable lead.

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Haven't been watching much yet, but I'll be trying to catch some of the Saint-Etienne > Chamrousse and Grenoble > Risoul stages as those are bad ass mountain stages that will sort the men out from the boys and open up massive gaps in the GC. Saint-Etienne > Chamrousse includes sections which total over 10km worth of climbing at between 9.5% and almost 12% gradients. There's a stretch towards the end of Col de Palaquit which is 11.7% average over a kilometer.

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I have to admit to possibly being the only person in the UK that is not in love with cycling. As much as I admire the endurance of the cyclists I can't get too bothered about watching a sport that delegates one rider from a team of 10/12 to win the event. Seems to me that it's a team sport where only one person gets the credit. If they all had the same bike and rode individually then I'd take more interest

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I have to admit to possibly being the only person in the UK that is not in love with cycling. As much as I admire the endurance of the cyclists I can't get too bothered about watching a sport that delegates one rider from a team of 10/12 to win the event. Seems to me that it's a team sport where only one person gets the credit. If they all had the same bike and rode individually then I'd take more interest

 

I take your point but it's the team (of 9) aspect that makes the sport so interesting with all the tactics. Racing in a cycle race just for yourself does not have the same depth of strategy and would be akin to watching a load of double marathons for hours on end. Cycling is different as drafting vastly reduces the required effort and the fact that if you use a lot of energy at any point, you don't get it back. So you can't just sprint off on your own and try and lead to the end like Seb Coe. You will be caught by the peloton or a smaller chasing pack when they think it's time as they will take turns at the front and haven't "gone into the red".

 

The team works for one guy but it's basically the team winning, with only anomaly is the notion that individual gets the publicised credit. However, motor-sport is pretty much the same and arguably more extreme in that sense. It's a small thing to dislike a sport for IMHO.

 

However, I don't get the point about everyone having the same bike, it's part of the game in most sports where equipment comes into it including football (lesser so but boots in particular), and of course helps fund all sports on the sales it produces. But like tennis and golf, and unlike F1, they all have pretty high quality equipment with not much advantage for one bike over another. Do you think all tennis players should use the same racquet and all golfers should use the same clubs? Maybe they should but I think it detracts from it. In motorsport, I've never been very interested in one marque series. Seeing all the same cars is a bit boring. It would never work for the top of the sport as which would you choose? Where would the innovation come from?

 

But to get back to the accolades, giving it to individuals means there is a lot of credit to go round in cycling rather than just to a team. In the TDF, there's the yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys which are awarded every day, not just at the end. There's stages, intermediate sprints, climbs and a time trial to win and you even get a bit of kudos just for being in a break at the front before being swallowed up by the peloton and finishing nowhere. Why not give people personal glory when they deserve it - as they put the most in to achieve it? If it wasn't for this then Cavendish would be a nobody who finishes something like 150th out of 198. There is a team prize as well if you prefer to concentrate on that.

 

The winners always give the rest of the team credit as do the commentators and the higher up in the pecking order you are, the more credit you get, so the likes of Froome and Porte are well known before they become GC contenders.

 

I think that the only crime here is that the cycling world prefers their heroes rather than a more faceless team.

 

I think the British National Time Trial Championships might suit your thinking where it is completely the individual and no collaboration is allowed.

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With Contador out, Nibali is now a massive favourite. Only Valverde is left out of the top pre-race contenders and he was well beaten today and is 2'47" down. Richie Porte is closer at 2'23" but has never really previously shown that he could come out from under Froome's shadow and I'm not sure he'll have it in him once the big Alp stages come along. Talanski, who was a dark horse, looks pretty out of it, and the young gun Tejay Van Garderen hasn't shown much and is almost 4 minutes down.

 

It's weird seeing the main GC pack being ripped apart before we even get to the proper mountain stages.

 

Looking ahead it should be an interesting Vuelta with Quintana, Froome, Contador and Wiggins all likely to feature.

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I really don't get the interest in a bike race where the only interesting thing that happens is when there are huge crashes (bit like F1). However I have been turned off TDF forever due to the generations of drug cheats that somehow we are to believe are now ancient history. The apparantly greatest ever rider was a cheat.

 

Some of you fellow-Gersnetters seem to really know your stuff on this, so can I ask if you truly believe that this race is clean? I would guess that a lot of general sports fans like me would take a lot of convincing before they could ever give the TDF any credibility as a sporting contest again.

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With Contador out, Nibali is now a massive favourite. Only Valverde is left out of the top pre-race contenders and he was well beaten today and is 2'47" down. Richie Porte is closer at 2'23" but has never really previously shown that he could come out from under Froome's shadow and I'm not sure he'll have it in him once the big Alp stages come along. Talanski, who was a dark horse, looks pretty out of it, and the young gun Tejay Van Garderen hasn't shown much and is almost 4 minutes down.

 

It's weird seeing the main GC pack being ripped apart before we even get to the proper mountain stages.

 

Looking ahead it should be an interesting Vuelta with Quintana, Froome, Contador and Wiggins all likely to feature.

 

brilliant posts, cal - and you actually make this stuff sound interesting! :)

Any advice on where a novice would start if he wanted to get into this more?

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I really don't get the interest in a bike race where the only interesting thing that happens is when there are huge crashes (bit like F1). However I have been turned off TDF forever due to the generations of drug cheats that somehow we are to believe are now ancient history. The apparantly greatest ever rider was a cheat.

 

Some of you fellow-Gersnetters seem to really know your stuff on this, so can I ask if you truly believe that this race is clean? I would guess that a lot of general sports fans like me would take a lot of convincing before they could ever give the TDF any credibility as a sporting contest again.

 

I cycled a lot when I was a teenager and got to cycle in some of the parts of France where the TDF has passed through over the years. Mainly in the Drome which is in the Rhone-Alpes region and also in the nearby Ardeche on the other side of the Rhone, but also in flatter regions like the Loire valley.

 

That's basically where my interest in this bike race began, but these days I only watch a few mountain and alpine stages plus some evening highlights along the way.

 

With regards to the doping, personally I think that whole subject has been blown completely out of proportion in the world of sport, especially in cycling and athletics.

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With Contador out, Nibali is now a massive favourite.

 

I managed to catch Nibali winning (stage 10 was it?) on Tuesday evening before the Tour's rest day yesterday and he timed it to perfection. Didn't even look fatigued on that 20% gradient leading up to the finish line. I think it's going to take an accident or illness to stop him winning it.

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