Question: has Carlos Sastre suddenly turned old and bitter or does he have a point?
The little Spanish climber, who’s always been a classy guy and true gentleman, is frustrated with the “oh, let’s wait, no attacking, please” attitude in this year’s Tour de France. “I think we’re turning cycling into a sport for spoilt brats,” said Carlos.
Cervelo owner Gerard Vroomen agreed with Sastre’s statement, tweeting “I’m all for courtesy, but let’s get some racing in or change it to a 23 day group ride waiting for everybody.” Christian Prudhomme, listen up, you do not want group rides in the Tour.
If Sastre was an unknown rider who’d never won a grand tour or consistently placed in the top ten, we could dismiss the comment. Sastre however is a respected and experienced guy. If he thinks it’s getting too hard to launch an attack without somebody crying mechanical or crash, it’s worth asking the question.
In auto racing, if your car has an engine or suspension problem, nobody stops till you get it fixed. In sailing, if you rip a sail, the rest of the boats will leave you behind and laugh at your misfortune. In world cup ski racing, they’re not giving you an extra run because you set the bindings too loose or your boot buckle snapped.
Generally any sport that’s heavy on equipment makes breakage part of the battle. May the best driver and sailor and skier win and too bad if your gear isn’t good enough, come back next with better gear.
That’s mechanicals and equipment, then there’s the spoiled brat part. This tour route was especially hard and even Alberto Contador admitted he rode conservatively. In was in his interest to minimize the number of attacks and the number of opportunities. He’s the boss of the peloton now and if he says wait, most riders will.
For his part, Andy Schleck seems to have a strong feeling about fair play, winning a certain way, respecting the unwritten rules of cycling. That’s his prerogative. When both Schleck and Contador wish to race that way, it becomes the dominant style. One that old school Carlos Sastre finds irritating and restrictive.
Twisted Spoke says other than feed zones and nature breaks, riders should be free to attack whenever they’ve got the legs. If you want to wait for somebody, great, that’s chivalrous of you and I applaud the sentiment but no complaints when others don’t share your attitude.
If a competing rider has a crappy bike and an incompetent mechanic, we say, too bad, part of the game, shit happens. Gaining an advantage in gear is part of the game — ask Lance Armstrong about that one. He nailed the technology side the the Tour de France every year.
Carlos, we feel your pain. It’s hard to turn a pedal in anger when you first have ask everybody else if they’re okay. You’re supposed to attack weakness, not wait for it to pass.