The final day of the Pyrenees in this year’s Tour de France shook up the Top 10 enough to put two Pacific Northwest riders in the top 10. (If you count Victoria, B.C. as the Pacific Northwest, which in this case we do!)
Our guess is this is the first time the Tour has had two Nor’westerners in the Top 10 this late in the race (if ever), but our crack research department is investigating just to be sure.
While we were bummed that Wenatchee’s Tyler Farrar had to drop out of the Tour with a broken wrist, our regional jingoism has been fed by the unexpected rise of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal and Bend, Oregon’s Chris Horner to 8th and 10th respectively after today’s stage up the punishing slopes of the Col du Tourmalet.
Hesjedal, who as we like to point out has the best first name in cycling and is a former mountain bike champion, finished fourth and Horner eighth in one of any Tour’s toughest stages, our theory being that the unseasonably cool and foggy weather put them right at home in the stage. Nothing like a little gray and chill to stoke the competitive fires of two N-Dub riders.
Coincidentally, Horner is Team Radio Shack teammate to two riders who were expected to finish far above him in the rankings — Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer. With neither having the stuff for Tourmalet, and Radio Shack’s team lead in the Tour on the line, Horner had the green light to ride off the front of the pack.
It’s long-overdue respect for Horner, who’s had some bad luck in his career and been left off Armstrong’s team in the past by manager Johan Bruyneel. Horner finished a noteworthy fourth in May’s Tour of California, though, and has always been considered a stronger rider than his role as domestique would allow him to demonstrate.
Whether their positioning will carry into Paris on Sunday may be in doubt, given the penultimate time trial on Saturday. But for now, it’s great to see Ryder and Chris putting the upper left corner of the continent on the Grand Tour map.