Johan Bruyneel's Blog
8 July 2012 at 22:00

2012 Tour de France Blog #2 - Having The Highs Outnumber The Lows

I try not to think about last year's Tour de France very much. But when I compare this year's to last, I can't accurately put into words how much better I feel.  The Tour is all about highs and lows - no team or any one rider or any one staff member can go through 21 race days without experiencing some lows.  Unfortunately for some, the lows outnumber the highs and for the lucky ones, the highs outnumber the lows.  After the first week, I'm happy to say that for Team RadioShack the highs outnumber the lows:
- Starting the Tour by winning the Prologue and taking Yellow.  
- Exemplifying GREAT TEAMWORK throughout the entire week to keep Fabian in the top position.
- Realistically, our chances of winning the individual GC are not very strong, however as I stated in my first blog - our main goals entering the Tour were to win stages and take the Team GC.  Though we won the Prologue, we remain hungry for more.  In terms of the Team GC, we are currently leading and hope to retain that position throughout the remaining two weeks. In addition, Tony Gallopin sits in 2nd place for the Best Young Rider's White Jersey.
Other Tour related topics:
- I've been asked a lot about the decision to not pull back riders when Frank Schleck got caught up in the crash.  Under the circumstances, I support our team directors' decision.  Frank was at the doctor's car and then was in a group with other leaders - Brajkovic, Valverde, Scarponi.  So having Jens, Tony and Monfort come back would have resulted in little to no difference in time gain to the other leaders.  For each situation, you have to look at both the positive and negative consequences for that day and the entire race … And make an immediate decision, faster than most people have ever had to make (Not to mention all while driving a car).
- As anticipated, it looks like it will be a Cadel vs. Wiggins showdown for GC.  Both are looking very strong, however at this point in the race, I'd have to give the advantage to Wiggins.  And I say that because of the time trials that lie ahead where I think Wiggins can gain or regain time on Cadel (if he loses the jersey in the mountains).  If Wiggins rides the TT like we expect, he should be able to gain enough time on Cadel where he can then focus on following Cadel's wheels in the mountains.  Easier said then done of course, but Wiggins looks to be riding well uphill so far.  I will say that Cadel has the right mindset in looking for every opportunity to attack the Yellow Jersey.  While Cadel is a solid TT rider, he knows where he stands compared to Wiggins in the race of truth.  But let's remember - there's a lot of Tour left and nothing is ever certain in cycling.
Tour of Austria:
I'm very happy for the team in Austria.  Congrats to Jakob Fuglsang for capturing the overall win and the entire team for the Team GC title.  It's been a great July - the month that matters the most in our sport.  Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts, but it's somewhat amusing that no one is now saying that it was a good decision to send Jakob to Austria.  At the Tour, he would have been one of the support riders and in Austria had the opportunity to be the leader and add a nice overall victory to his and the team's palmares. 
I do want to address the fact that Jakob will not ride any more UCI World Tour races.  Let me say this - It's nothing personal against Jakob.  It's a decision based on how the UCI has structured the points system. No team is going to invest in a rider (have them gain points) and then have that rider take those points to another team.  And if we put a rider  who is going to go to another team in a World Tour race, the other riders on the current team also miss out on the opportunity to earn points - so in a sense it's a double punishment against the teams.  We've gone to the UCI asking them to change the system to benefit both the riders and the teams.  It's a logical ask, but unfortunately the system remains as is.  If you look at my role - which is to look out for the best interests of the entire team and organization - I think you will understand the decision.
As for me, people ask if I miss being at the Tour.  In some ways, yes.  In some ways, no.  I would have loved to be there for Fabian's Prologue win and the Yellow Jersey.  I miss the camaraderie of the team and the fans support outside the bus and on the road.  What I don't miss - the long transfers, sleeping in a different bed every night, being away from my family and the criticism from people who want to undermine our sport and not focus on the riders and the beauty of the race. It's a totally different race when watching on TV from a distance compared to being in the heart of it all.  I'm enjoying that perspective. And sometimes those different perspectives are needed.
Until next time - JB


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