Friday, July 13, 2012

13 July 2012: Continuing

So David Millar won stage 12 of the Tour, being part of a long all-day breakaway and pulling away at the end to win the stage. The fourth Tour stage win of his career, but also the fourth different British stage winner this year. And what with Wiggins still in yellow, Froome in second (and according to many commentators the stronger rider of the two), Evans seeming to struggle and Vicenzo Nibali seemingly offering the only real opposition, who's to say it won't get even better for the UK?

The Froome situation is the most interesting. Yesterday he seemed to struggle a little at times, then bounce back, but when Nibali accelerated it was up to Froome to bring Wiggins back up to the wheel of Nibali. He did so, and immediately Wiggins was on the wheel of Nibali, Froome accelerated himself and went off on his own. Then... he pushed his earpiece into his ear, slowed down and went back. Why? Because Wiggins had not been able to hold on to Nibali, so Froome had to go back and help again.

As discussed a couple of days ago, it looks as if team orders are the same as the Vuelta last year, which cost Froome victory in the race. Harsh, but that's what teams are about. Wonder what will happen in the Pyrenees...

Also Millar's victory points interestingly towards the Olympics, which remains Mark Cavendish's aim, although he'll have his eye on a couple of flatter stages left in the Tour, including Paris of course. Why interesting? Because the four different British stage winners this year (Cavendish, Wiggins, Froome and Millar) are the core of the five-man Olympic team - add new British champion Ian Stannard (I know we could do better - Geraint Thomas or a fit Ben Swift would be a better fit, I'd suggest) and that's the team that will try to get Cavendish to the line first in London next month.

And it's also the same core of the team that won Cav the world championship last year, Millar captaining the team on the road and Wiggins draggings the peloton through the last kilometer.

Final thing - of course Millar is only in the Olympics because the British Olympic Association had to change their rules on drug cheats. Millar took EPO back in 2003 (and possibly before) and was banned for two years, quite rightly. Since then, however, he's been one of the most vociferous opponents of drug use in sport and spends a lot of time working with young people to warn of the dangers of it. So - not saying the banning decisions are right and wrong, but Millar (unlike certain other people) has been open about what went on in those days (and probably still does to a much smaller extent now), and is trying to do something about it.

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