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No Shelter for Contador

July 14, 2011

The continuation of the piece about what it’s like to be a LOC member for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has been underwater for three days — at least that’s fewer days of rain than the Tour de France has experienced this year.  Each time I have sat down to write it, a severe thunderstorm descended, unleashing thunderclaps that bounced me out of my chair and sent the cats slinking to the basement.  I either shut down the desktop or a power outage took care of it for me.

Today I decided to give it a go at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Sure enough, after sitting at a table near the Monet pond’s phosphorescent water lillies for 30 minutes, the heavy gray sky started to grumble. I moved to the covered greenhouse patio. High-pitched tornado warning sirens upped the ante for today‘s storm.  I ran to the main building, and now I’m in the library with a dozen other visitors seeking shelter (l‘abri).

On French TV coverage of the TDF today, as the yellow jersey group neared the crest of the Tourmalet, Jalabert commented that Contador was seeking shelter in the middle of the group.

It seems an odd description.  Taking that position in the pack feels more like hiding out to me, as much as one can hide on an alpine road devoid of trees.  Nearly all of the riders surrounding him were his competition, guys that would run over rather than shelter him.  The expression seems additionally odd to me because I would describe Contador as isolated in this Tour.  He is the most marked man in the peloton.  Signs of weakness abound, including questionable support from his co-équipiers.  All of this bestows upon him the prize of most likely to catch tomatoes in the face — and the slinging began with booing at the presentation.

It’s strange to feel a modicum of compassion for Contador. I refused to put him on my TDF fantasy team.  Really, what can I have against him? Sure there were some anti-team actions during past Tours that I took for arrogance, probably even snickered about.  Yep, his clenbuterol appeal hangs in the wings; this doesn’t bother me so much, given admissions by riders I‘ve admired. Yes, the rivalry with Lance pit me against Contador; I took a side.

After thinking through it, I can’t find a valid reason to not admire him as an accomplished champion in the sport.

Another thunderclap outside.  It makes me grateful I found shelter to I huddle in, reminding me of my own vulnerability to uncontrolled outside forces. How much more vulnerable are the guys in the Tour peloton, including Contador.  Bring on the thunder.

From → Pro-Cyclists

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