The final tally in Paris wasn’t what Johan Bruyneel or the electronic gizmo folks had in mind.
Option number five, Haimar Zubeldia of the Basque country took 16th place overall. Double that futility and you have Levi Leipheimer in 32nd place, a real downer for the man from Santa Rosa who came into the Tour having won the Tour de Suisse.
In a symbolic finishing touch on the bad luck that dogged the team all Tour, Leipheimer needed a bike change during the Grenoble time trial.
Crashes, broken bones, lost time behind pile-ups, a concussion, lacerations, hematomas, a bad back — you name it, it happened to Radio Shack.
Chris Horner, the winner of the Tour of California, came into the Tour with his confidence and his form at an all time high. He hit the deck hard and barely remembered where he was — France, Bend, Oregon, Mozambique.
Janez Brajkovic also crashed out and headed to a hospital and Andres Kloden suffered through a number of crashes and injuries before finally succumbing.
They came into the Tour de France with a four leader approach and lost three to crashes and another did some guardrail surfing and lost big chunks of time.
Perhaps it’s time for a change of roster and the infusion and support of younger talent. We don’t have the answer but Horner is 39 and Leipheimer is 37 and Kloden is 36. All three had successful years leading up to the Tour but at a certain point one does begin to wonder.
That’s plenty of mileage and maybe it’s time for the old diesels to head for the garage.