Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NON AGRESSION PACT

A very nice piece by Pedro Horrillo on the unwritten laws of the peloton:



In the peloton there is an unwritten law that must be observed. When the leader stops for a piss the rest waits for him, although first he should be able to interpret the race in order to stop at an appropriate time. Another unwritten law is, and that's the one I mean, when a rider gets into a break he has to work and pull together unless he is someone from the leader's team in which case, it is logical he doesn't . Yesterday Cunego broke that rule, and there are no reasons which serve as an excuse. There are directors who do not agree with such laws, so the responsibility may not be his, but what is clear is that the riders that act this way become outcasts for the rest. It still remains much time to go on the Tour, many mountain stages, perfect ground for Cunego, but he might pay the price any day in the last week.

There is much Tour to go yet, rather a lot, as yesterday's was only the ninth stage, but the first two riders agree. "This tour is about two, Contador and I, though there is still plenty of time and everyone is free to attack," said Andy in the press conference. "We had to work a lot," Contador said in reference to working with Andy Schleck, "with our pace and the Saxo Bank's [Voigt was great once again], we have left the other riders affected."

Another rule of the peloton is the non-aggression pacts when both parties benefit from it. Albert and Andy spoke at La Madeleine after seeing that their forces were equal and that the remaining rivals were left behind. And that deal proved effective when crossing the finish line of Saint Jean de Maurienne. Now there are 41 seconds between them, and the third and fourth, Samuel and Denis, are more than two minutes behind the second.

A Tour reduced to two riders. There are 181 in the race but the winner will be one of these two. I said in the preview, analyzing the route and participants, that I foresaw either a boring or an exciting Tour, without happy medium. And the facts confirm the second possibility as the right one, a fratricidal duel between the two rivals who yesterday behaved like friends. Peace will not last, the pact was short-lived, just one day.

Scrutinizing my memory I find the Rasmussen-Contador precedent in 2007. Then whatever happened to Rasmussen is another story. Or even further back, an Ullrich-Armstrong in 2003, or a Pantani-Ullrich in 1998, but here we have different riders altogether. I agree that Contador and Andy have different skills in the time trial, but both can be defined as genuine climbers, part of those with the blood boiling in their veins until they attack. I was told that also the 1984 Tour was historic, Fignon- Hinault. I remember bits of it. And another, in 1971, between Merckx and OcaƱa. According to what I have heard it was an historic war, because every day one of them won a battle bloodier than the previous day's. I missed it, I was not born yet, but this year's I won't. I hope not to be wrong.

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