Tour offers first boring wet jersey contest

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Funny to read now: Bicycle.net’s pre-stage analysis, where Stage 13 “may reveal just how far some riders are willing to go to fight for the Tour de France yellow jersey.” Um…let’s just say, not very far at all.

Cyclelicio.us: “Nocentini’s last day wearing yellow.” And I agreed when you posted, Richard. Based on everything we know about professional cycling and the Tour’s great history, yellow should have changed hands today.

Instead, the whole peloton was yellow…as in cowardly, as in yellow-bellied.

OK so yes, it was raining, and raining hard. And it was cold. We’ve all been there. Still, one has to wonder, seeing the peloton go through the motions day after day, if this bunch of shoulder-watchers just is not a competitive group. The pack’s excuse-making is just another reason for a champion to make hay. Would Hinault or Lemond or Merckx or any of the great names of the past have just sat in the pack and pedaled along when an obvious opportunity was at hand? Do any of this year’s riders deserve a nickname like the Badger or Cannibal? Only the sprinters seem to have nicknames, because they’re the only ones really putting out.

A great rider would have at least tested Astana today, throwing himself off the front on one of the 15-percent grades to see what happened. The other benefit to launching attacks when everyone else is sitting back: You up your fitness level for next time. The way things are shaping up, with no one even trying to assert himself, this year’s Tour could be decided more by chance — a random crash, bad weather, a flat tire — than true worthiness on the part of the winner.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain this coming week in the Alps. Otherwise the 2009 edition of the Tour de France will be just one big mass poor-mouthing about how this or that or the other prevented anyone from launching an attack. Cadel Evans was right: We got a buncha whiners on our hands.

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