Gilbert. What. An. Animal. Kind of like Rossi until he smashed his hip then joined Ducati. Not only unbeatable but with the ability to destroy all comers. Our fave decimation being against the paSchletic brothers. Who can't watch this video and just feel sorry for their feeble none attempt to break Phil Gil?
The yet to be banned/let off Contador took the Giro, but this race was overshadowed by the terrible accident that took Wouter Weylandt. Amazing to see the peloton pull together to show solidarity and respect. The Leopard Trek team crossing the line as one on the following stage actually bought tears to our eyes.
One of the best tributes to Wouter is here, on the road.cc website. Much more beautifully put then we could. Must not forget to also pay our respects to the awesome Xavier Tondo who died in a bizarre garage door accident at his home in Spain during the Giro too. As a doping whistle blower we thank him and along with WW108 he shall not be forgotten.
We were to witness more catastrophic events in the Tour de Suisse. Another downhill crash almost took the life of Mauricio Soler. He suffered considerable brain trauma but is now well enough to be recovering in Bogota with aid from the Colombian government. Everything crossed he makes a full recovery.
Wiggins won the Criterium du Dauphine which meant he was obviously set to take the UK's first yellow jersey. Or was he? Though not a popular character here at Wagon Towers it was a shame to see his tour ended by a broken collar bone early on. And so on to Le Tour....
A wind buffeted opening few stages blew the peloton apart, and set us up for an amazing Tour. Bertie not being too fresh from the Giro made the race one of the most exciting for years. We saw the amzingly named Thor Hushovd wear yellow, and take two stage wins, and fellow Norge Edvald BH also took 2 wins. After a slow start Cav went on to take 5 more stages and the green jersey, even after being beaten by the Gorilla to one stage victory.
One our our favourite things to see in the tour was Frenchie Tommy Voeckler unexpectedly holding onto to yellow for so long, including through the Pyrenees, only to finally crack on the penultimate stage - the mighty Alpe D'Huez. 4th Place overall is still an incredible achievement and this image is one of the most enduring and appropriate for the tour, we feel:
Another highlight goes to Tommy again, this time highlighting his ability to get some air on his road bike, land well then control it to rejoin the race. Chapeau! (Watch from 1min 40)
Other memorable achievements include another Frenchman, Pierre Roland win on Alpe D'Huez, in a time that suggests that this generation of pro athletes might actually be racing without the chemical help that afflicted the sport in the past. Between 1999-2005.
This tour also gave us a new found respect for Contador. Instead of neutralising all competition as soon a the race gets hilly like normal, through bad luck in the early stages he lost time and his attacking from then on was admirable, but what we liked mostly was him twatting an idiot 'fan' dressed as a doctor. Maybe if the fan was dressed as a waiter serving up a rare biefe de lomo, Bertie might have been more receptive?
Cadel TT'd to tour victory and we quite like the whiney Aussie bum chinned champ. But we'd like him even more if he spoke out against doping. Did you see his brushing aside of a doping question at the post tour pres conference? Very disappointing. See the shocking footage here: Skip to 11min to see him clam up in a Frank Spencer style and deny he is in a position to comment on doping in the peloton. OMERTA?
Cav cav cav. What can we say? His year at last. No spurious race official decisions this time round, and Marky Mark took what he has earned. 2012 will be even more exciting as Cav has moved to Team Sky, and will not have the same lead out train he enjoyed at HTC. Saying that though, he won the road World Champs in Denmark for team GB proving he can still perform with a change of team mates. It will be exciting to behold. Shit yeah, Olympics too. We'll be there, cheering.
Was there a Vuelta this year? Oh year. Notable moments were a Euskaltel carrot winning in Basque country. And some bloke called Cobo winning. Who? And an African born Brit coming second. Chris Whoome? Wiggo in 3rd proved he has got what it takes to complete a grand tour without breaking himself too. One of the our most enduring memories of the tour was the appalling camera work. The opening TTT, no one knew what was going on. Seemingly every important crash or rider drop was missed. Great tv.
So thats about it from us. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Don't forget you can follow us on twitter @broomwagonblog for thoughts lacking of depth and understanding, and not just on cycling either. Ride safe!