While the scandal, drama, accusations and denials continue, the Tour de France goes on. Yesterday, Black Friday as it’s being called, I wasn’t even sure if I’d want to watch the race or care anymore. I was that stunned, as everyone else was. Alas, CNN is covering it now on cable, NPR has ran multiple features, and more updates have been published from the NYTimes and Cyclingnews.
Despite all the bad news, the good news is that OLN has upgraded their studios, graphics, and overall coverage to look more like ESPN2 than Waynes World and Americans could sweep the podium. Without the big names, the race is wide open and TDFblog will cover all the action, including the Americans, in detail.
How does the Tour Work?
I’m often asked about how stage races like the Tour work and explain that cycling is very much a team sport. You can think of like a football team, with the goal of moving the ball down the field, toward the end zone. A cycling team’s goal is to get their leader to the end of the race, with the lowest expired time, which puts him at the top of the General Classification (GC) and in the yellow jersey.
A team consists of stars and domestiques. Domestiques are the worker bees of a team, responsible for looking after the team leader and the other stars. The stars are climbers, sprinters, or ride for GC, like Lance did. In the Tour, the leader is a well-rounded rider that can climb and time trial. The team’s main purpose is to protect the leader, so he saves all of his energy to attack an opponent in the mountains and be fresh for the time trials.
The Tour is like a chess game, with many strategies being played out. It’s also a big show, the superbowl for the rest of the world. At times riders will breakaway and the peloton (group of cyclists) doesn’t chase them. This is because those riders are not a threat to the GC, are out there getting TV exposure, and going for a sprint or stage win.