Allez! Tour Spoiler Ahead.
Last week in my column for the Oregonian, I went public with my prediction for the Tour de France GC. And today in the opening stage, my boy did me proud.
Now, I’m not sure being in yellow from the get-go is necessarily the smartest strategy, and it will be interesting to see how things unfold, but I have to say that the stage victory today was absolutely flawless.
Alejandro’s bike – all screaming yellow and red – is easy to keep track of in the peloton, especially from the aerial views. As Kirchen accelerated away, I tracked Valverde and watched him time a perfect counter-attack. Still, Kirchen’s gap looked convincing.
I held my breath.
“Who is that guy!?” Sal sat up, disrupting the cat.
“Valverde!! Valverde!! No f—ing way! He’s going to take it… look at him! I knew it!!!”
The acceleration, the perfect timing, the brilliant way that he sat in until just the right moment – whether or not today’s victory was strategically smart, there’s no denying it was magnificent.
To top it off, one of my personal favorites, Thomas Voeckler, got away in the early break and managed to take the KOM jersey by the skin of his teeth. That kid won my heart in 2004 when, as a veritable nobody, he won and defended the maillot jaune for an unbelievable 10 days. I don’t know if he has what it takes to stay in the polka dots, but I’m glad he came out firing.
Valverde is on a veritable tear, having just won the Spanish National Championship a week ago, and the Dauphine Libere just over a month ago. This impressive run is either the kind of physical display that indicates a great hero, or a great doper. I can only hope that he lives up to the faith that I’ve put in him.
I’m among many who are watching this year’s Tour with a guarded optimism. We want it to be real and clean. We want to have heroes again.
The “Take Back the Tour” advertisement is going to get old fast, but the image of Floyd receiving the jersey played in reverse is a kind of brilliant commentary.
PS – Apologies if you read the original post with “Valverde” in the headline and it was a spoiler for you… Fair warning, I’ll be posting about the tour – possibly right after I watch it. In the future, I won’t put the winner in the headline and I’ll put a spoiler warning in the headlines instead.