Tour 2010: Stage 17

Well, we got our showdown between Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) on the final climb to the summit of the Col du Tourmalet. Apart from a couple of accelerations by Schleck, and one sharp attack by Contador, it wasn’t the knock-down-drag-out fight many had predicted: rather, it was an exhibition of nerve and professionalism in dreadful conditions by the two greatest climbers in the sport. Schleck took the win, Contador kept his yellow jersey, and barring catastrophe, the top two places in Paris look to have been settled. Perhaps best of all, relations between the two men, so strained in the aftermath of Stage 15, seem to be fully restored. And chapeau, too, to Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), who thoroughly deserves his eighth place on the GC after a brilliant Tour so far. Let’s hope he hangs on for the last three days.


Out of the mist
They come:
The ruler
And the one
Who would take his crown.
Their war,
Fought along
A front a mile high
And ten miles long
Ends here,
Half-lost among
The grey rocks and rainbow crowd.

Matched in strength and will
They watch and wait
Sticking close as brothers
As they tear themselves apart.

And at the line,
Their forces spent,
They lay their arms
Across each other’s shoulders,
Each knowing he has conquered,
Content to share the spoils.

Pau-Col du Tourmalet, 174km
Won by Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
Maillot jaune: Alberto Contador (Astana)

4 thoughts on “Tour 2010: Stage 17

  1. Excellent as always. That image of them after the finish, each with an arm around the other, was lovely. A reminder that, yes, they are great adversaries, but there is also great comradeship in the peloton – at all levels.

  2. It was the highlight of the day for me, really; respect for your rivals is the mark of a true champion. Not being a sports fan, I don’t know if this kind of comradeship exists in other sports; I guess cycling is unique both in its physical demands, and the fact that individual battles can last (as in this case) for three weeks, instead of 90 minutes or whatever.

    • I think a combination of shared suffering and protracted events definitely promotes a sense of comradeship. After all, there are few sports where you can have a leisurely chat while you’re competing!

      The first comparable sporting event which springs to mind is the decathlon, where there is generally a common bond and some real friendships between rivals. Compare that to the 100 metres, say, which is all about gamesmanship and disrespecting your rivals.

  3. Interesting. It always amuses me to hear Usain Bolt and others talk about their ‘strategy’ or ‘race plan’. It usually takes me 9.58 seconds just to remember what day it is.

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