The Tour de France was once the dream destination of the cycling greats, today dominated by the former Sky team. The competition prefers the Giro d'Italia more often.
France's sports press has always sung their Tour de France, which they have been hosting since the very beginning, with poetic verve, but since the British have decided the race by the cycling team Ineos (formerly Sky), the reporters have again on a new Level lifted. Day after day, in July, they create beautiful pictures, which are either filled with skepticism, cool respect or glee. For example, when Sky in the previous year ripped the action again and the sports paper L'Équipe He said that the British were like a bear, "who dips his paw into the roundabout like a honey keg, and then licks the honey from his claws, while the rivals crawl like ants between his fingers."
But no matter how the reviews turned out, the overall win has been in the hands of Dave Brailsford and his pet-heavy selection for six of the past seven years. The team leader from Wales, bald skull, piercing gaze, has kind of bred his winners in the lab, thanks to an army of experts, coaches and a team that pushes the pace of the race so hard that you can hardly escape an adversary. And those who dare pay double and triple the next day for their efforts. The tour, which always drew their fascination from the sufferings and legends of Eugène Christophe patching his broken wheel fork behind the smithy on the Tourmalet, which was marked by cartridges like Bernard Hinault, who beat demonstrators off the streets, or the aggressiveness of Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador – she has become an exhibition of the calculus.
Variety? Is hardly in sight. Christopher Froome wants to make the yellow jersey in Paris for the fifth time in July, it would raise him to the rank of Hinault, Anquetil, Merckx and Indurain. His teammate Geraint Thomas in turn has to defend his victory of the previous year. Egan Bernal lurks behind him, 22. Chemical giant Ineos has replaced Sky as a potent financier; The group is highly controversial, as is the team after various scandals on prohibited practices (denied by the team).
In Italy, the drivers are still admired, pelted in France with peanuts
At any rate, the more exciting tour will not take place in France this year, but at the Giro d'Italia – where all those who do not feel like being crushed by Ineos during the July tour come together: Primoz Roglic, the former Ski jumpers from Slovenia, who until Thursday carried out the leader's pink jersey, Vincenzo Nibali, again the great hope of the hosts, Tom Dumoulin, who has already left after a fall, Simon Yates, the last year's victory late and spectacular lost to Froome. "My biggest passion at the moment is the Giro", the Briton had announced before the start in Bologna that the tour was just leaving him cold. Pardon, Monsieur Yates?
Is pink now about the new yellow?
The Giro was almost always in the shadow of the Tour, he rolled out in 1909, six years after the premiere in France. In Italy it was the Gazzetta dello sport, who acted as organizer and also wrote down the stories of the race, in black letters on pink paper. First and foremost, of course, the epic duels that Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali delivered on the gravel roads as Europe threatened to sink into the flames of war. There was also Alfonsina Strada, who in 1924 was the only woman so far to ride one of the three big country tours, and who did not mend her wheel fork in a smithy, but at least her broken handlebar with a broom handle. Every race needs its legends to assure its size.
But the tour was still a bit bigger, more powerful. Meanwhile, the Giro and the Gazzetta even had to worry about whether the race would celebrate its 100th anniversary two years ago. Three years ago, the last purely Italian team entered the highest cycling league, the elderly heroes either followed their heyday or were posthumously exposed as blooddopers (like now Alessandro Petacchi, who denies everything). Urbano Cairo, publisher of the Gazzetta and co-organizer of the race, recently demanded state support that the Giro is a national cultural asset, as the President should at least award the winner.
However, the poll numbers among the class cyclists, who usually opt for one of the two power-consuming loops, have greatly improved. "The Giro is suddenly the heavier and more varied course, also because there is no team like Sky that controls everything," said Mario Chiesa, sports director of Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team, most recently the French Le Monde, Even Sky and Froome did not manage to tame the entire race last year at their giro trip: many mountain stages are not only heavy, but longer than those on the tour; the best riders in the mountains are often on their own for a long time. The weather is more unpredictable in May, this year it is so miserable that the queen stage over the 2618 meter high Passo di Gavia is in danger. For organization and atmosphere are meanwhile much better tempered, balanced Le Monde "In the tour, the driver is the zoo animal, which is pelted by the audience with peanuts." The Giro is like a museum in which the drivers are admired as exhibits. " Oh, and the food is better in Italy too.
An era change? For now, rather a snapshot, the testimony of overwhelming dominance. Anyway, France's sports press can warm up.
Sports (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) SZ