Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
Chris Froome, ostensibly one of the best in the world, has yet to win a bike race in 2017. He looks destined to win a fourth Tour, and may accomplish this without winning a single stage. Only six other champions have won the Tour without taking a stage — the most recent was Oscar Pereiro in 2006. (When Floyd Landis infamously said “I’m gonna say no,” when asked if he doped.) History aside, Froome needs to reassert himself as the peloton’s alpha dog. Here’s my plan: He should win on the Champs-Élysées. Think about it — nearly every sprinter is out of the race due to crashes, sickness, or the UCI jury, so he may have a decent shot at victory. Of course another way Froome could exert his dominance is to go the Bernard Hinault route and punch a protester during Friday’s stage. It is the Tour’s longest day, so surely some French laborers, somewhere along the 222km route will be picketing. Last year, he grabbed beers for his Sky mates on the final stage. Froome could take it up a notch and drag a pony keg behind him to really get the party started.
Or Froome could just win the stage 20 time trial. Yep, that would work for me.
TDF sprinter rematch on Zwift
Marcel Kittel abandoned the Tour de France on stage 17. He was the latest star sprinter to miss the Champs-Élysées. What a shame. Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Démare, and now Kittel — all out. Fans have been robbed of some great racing this Tour. Fortunately, it’s 2017, and there’s a way we can arrange a rematch. Cav recently tweeted that he was hopping on the Zwift virtual training app for a ride. I say we get all his top sprint rivals online for a virtual showdown. And here’s the best part: If they’re racing on the Internet, Bouhanni can’t hit anybody. He might smash his TV though.
Primoz Roglic won his first stage Thursday, and he did it in his debut Tour de France. What is the secret to his rookie-year success? Maybe it’s his background as an elite junior athlete. No, not a junior cyclist … A ski jumper! It is time for cycling to recruit fresh talent in unexpected places. Maybe the Pro Continental teams can start trolling obscure Olympic sports like modern pentathlon or whitewater canoe to find talented athletes. If Fortuneo-Oscaro wins the 2020 Tour de France with a former French curling champion, we should stop putting so much pressure on junior cyclists.
Cycling is on the brink of the silly season, when riders switch teams (or don’t … but threaten to in order to get more money). This week, the biggest rumor was that Nairo Quintana would leave Movistar. I’m indifferent about whether or not he’ll leave. But I’m very excited that this rumor is floating around. Why? It’s an all-time pro PR move on Quintana’s part. Everyone is bagging on him for failing the Giro-Tour double attempt and tanking at the Tour. Sure, the Colombian quelled this rumor at the end of the week, confirming he’ll ride with the Spanish team through 2019. But he managed to change the storyline — or at least his agent did, planting some stories in the media. Maybe Alberto Contador will emulate the Colombian’s genius PR move with some rumors of his own. Will he start producing his own line of “Pistolero” firearms? Is he going to throw a lavish retirement party for fellow Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia in Mallorca? Could he go vegetarian in 2018 to improve his climbing?