I love that a Brit won the TdF last year.
Growing up watching the race, we rarely had a UK prospect in the field and with a heritage that feared Europeans (they kept invading us dammit), we were forced to cheer for Irish or Aussie riders for years. We had Chris Boardman and Graham Webb but where was the verve, the passion, the personality of our European counterparts? They rode ‘ok’, they seemed like very nice guys but explosive finishes or last minute surges…? Boardman seemed doomed to win the prologue and then crash out on stage 2 as a career move (he did it twice), and Webb was already retired before I was born. Graeme Obree. a Scot, had a bike obsession (and slight madness), but it reigned on the track rather than the mountains of France and Sean Kelly dominated the classics but never really made his mark in TdF territory (well, he was competing with Merckx). Wiggins rise and growing domination in 2012 was nothing short of history making for us Brits last year.
We almost felt proud.
Finally we could root for the Union Jack, and when Wiggins pulled it out again for the Olympics and destroyed the field.. well, I for one felt a little nationalistic. Sure he’s probably juiced as the rest of them, but hey, boy can ride. Plus those side burns and his Paul Weller-esque obsession make him ok by me. Dude even rides a scooter. (hmm… he is single?)
But this year I’m facing a Wiggins-less 2013 TdF, which means I need someone else to root for. Does this mean no ‘wow’ for us Brits??
I’ve been BMC obsessed for the last few years, not least because of Taylor Phinney (our Boulder home town boy) and Sky Pro has Chris Froome (yay UK) who could be interesting, but I guess I still like seeing my old dudes pulling hard up the mountains. I love knowing that David Millar (UK) is going to look strong and then crash and burn out by stage 9; Cadel Evans (AUS) will be on everyone’s top list but will fade coming down the hills; and of course, Contador (Don’t care) will dance up the mountains like it nothing. And thats before we even get to the Schlecks (one of whom I will marry, even if I have to carry his stick man self up the aisle). Which is to say, while we might not have Wiggins to watch.. we sure do have a lot of other fun riders in play. Or at least lot of great drama to watch for the next 3 weeks.
I think my money this year its probably on the kids. (and given that most of them were born when I was in high school, yes, I can call them kids). Peter Sagan looks strong (not least because in my mind, he should be on NPR hosting ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’, NOT riding up the Pyrenees) and Lars Boom deserves to win on name alone (c’mon the headlines just write themselves). Gerriant Thomas needs to be on my list (us Welshies need to stick together), and Tejay van Garderen rode awesomely well in the Tour of California but can he handle the hills? Ah the drama.. I’m salivating already.
Yes I’ll miss Vino/s gritted teeth, Cavendish’s finger banging finishes and of course good old George Hincapie who almost, coulda, shoulda but didn’t ever win it. I’m grateful that this years’s tour isn’t stunk up by the ghost of Lance or the mass doping fueling exits of whole teams and that we can hopefully, finally, just focus on the cycling for a few weeks.
Now. Time to go re-watch Stage 3, and please you Facebookers… NO SPOILERS.