10 observations from the 2012 Tour de France

10 observations from the 2012 Tour de France
Richard’s Blog


10 observations from the 2012 Tour de France


The old guard changeth in so many ways


Posted 22 July 2012


Bradley Wiggins and Sky Procycling team dominated the 2012 Tour de France with a show of controlled, sustained power that will have sent a shiver of apprehension down the collective backs of the professional peloton. The 99th edition of the race and the first with a British winner may prove to have heralded a new direction for a sport with a long history and the traditions to go with it. It has certainly given followers of the sport plenty to chew on. Here are a few thoughts.

The winning team
1: A British rider can win the Tour de France. Contrary to a belief until recently seemingly ingrained in the British cycling psyche, all it takes is a team with the right approach to the event and it turns out that not one, but two Brits could have done the job this time around. Who’s to say a British top three isn’t on the cards?


2: Bradley Wiggins is class both on and off the bike. After a steady start in the prologue, “Wiggo” rode not one, but two perfect time trials. The effect of the first was as devastating as Lance Armstrong’s attack on the climb to Sestrieres on stage 9 of the 1999 Tour and Wiggins was able to back it up with impregnable authority in the mountains. Off the bike, his somewhat intemperate but heart-felt response to suspicions expressed on Twitter concerning the validity of his and Team Sky’s results said as much as his unassuming and generous appreciation of the race and of his achievement in winning it. And the French like him.


3: Cycle road racing has a new template. Within Team Sky, the sport’s traditionally feudal hierarchy has been partially dismantled and, if the sight of world champion Mark Cavendish carrying bottles and the Yellow Jersey pulling on the front to set up the sprint has dismayed some of the old-school purists amongst retired professionals, it has provided newer fans with a wonderful example of how selfless the sport can be. And, on the evidence of the past year, selfless works.


4: Dave Brailsford is a genius, but we knew that anyway. It turns out he was right; the “aggregation of marginal gains”, along with everything that it entails, can be applied as successfully to the near-chaos of the road as to the more controlled environment of the track. A cobbled classic next, please.

It’s all in here – except the result


5: Until Vincenzo Nibali cracked on the climb to Peyragudes, there was nothing between him, Wiggins and Chris Froome uphill. The fact that the 2012 Tour route was widely held to favour the time triallists over the climbers was irrelevant to the result, since Wiggins was able to climb as fast as any “climber”, Froome possibly excepted.


6: Downhill attacks may work on occasion, but it’s best not to expect being – on paper – the fastest descender to be a decisive weapon unless the opposition is notably slow.


7: Shorts are getting longer. Maybe it’s because quads are getting smaller. “Cav”, at least, is keeping the faith – and his shorts, short.


8: Black socks still don’t look good on a bike.


9: The wearer of the yellow jersey does not have to ride a specially-painted yellow bike until he reaches the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.


10: Mark Cavendish can win a sprint pretty much any way he likes right now.

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