Nibali Wins Tour de France

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 edition of the Tour de France. It was quite the tactical and expertly executed performance by Nibali. Absent of a defensive mindset, he was aggressive when he needed to be and refused to give an inch especially in the mountain stages.

With the win, Nibali joins a very select group of cyclists becoming only the sixth rider in history to win each of the Grand Tours. The others are Eddie Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Girmondi, and Alberto Contador.

Though Nibali pretty much was in control of the tour from the early stages, there were some exciting moments through out the race from Germany's Tony Martin dominating the Time Trial, to Alexander Kristoff of Norway powering his way to two stage wins as well as Lithuania getting its first ever stage win thanks to Ramunas Navardauskas, to New Zealand racer Jack Bauer's heartbreaking collapse seconds from a stage win, all the way to the battle between Jean-Christophe Peraud, Thibault Pinot, Alejandro Valverde and American Tejay van Garderen for a podium finish. All ensured it was an exciting race. Peraud and Pinto claimed the top two spots after each having beaten the Spaniard Valverde in the TT.

The reemergence of French riders was another exciting part of the overall race. Note a Frenchman has not won the Tour since Hinault in 1985 but with this young crop the drought may end soon.

The performances have been encouraging. Along with two stage wins at the TdF, three French riders placed in the top 10. Moreover, Pierre Rolland finished 4th at the grueling Giro d'Italia with France claimed three stage wins there.

Peraud's second place finish is a wonderful story. At 37, the former mountain biker saw this year as his last chance to win a podium while having endured numerous bad fortune including crashing out twice last year and breaking his collar bone. He's a classic case of perseverance paying off.

Last, been reading some comment that the abandonment of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador all but gave the win to Nibali.

Horse shit.

First, that's racing. Part of it is to stay on your bike and that takes skill. Sorta like how Gretzky avoided injury during his career. While he had protection from other players (Semenko), he was also an intelligent hockey player who knew when and how to place himself. Same in cycling and for that, Nibali is incredibly sharp; probably the best.  Second, it's a part of sports as a whole. Teams always lose key players. Depth and execution then takes over. Again, Nibali had that in spades having earned the nickname 'The Break Away Killer' for his ability to break away from the peloton with complete power. Third, he was already leading when they left and musing on about what it would have happened later in the climbing stages is moot. In any event, Nibali finished 2nd overall in the Mountain classification given the impression even Contador would have been severely challenged if not beaten Nibali was that good. Same with the Time Trial where Nibali placed 4th.

His victory was an awesome display of a cyclist combining all the skills that make a great rider from mountain climbing, to attacking, to tactics to time trial sprinting as well as showing abilities in the cobble stage.

Above all, Nibali did not benefit from having a powerhouse team (like Movistar and Sky) to back him up. His Astana team mates did an incredible job of supporting him but when it came to the final crunch kilometers, Nibali was on his own. That alone is a great measure of his talent.  He was a throwback to great riders climbing and racing in solid solitude unlike the carefully manufactured individual champions by teams of today.

To detract from his victory because two riders abandoned is absurd.

Quick word on the only two Canadian riders Svein Tuft and Christian Meier

Though Tuft finished 130th, his performance in the time trials was outstanding as he placed 15th.  Meier ended in 121st spot.


Nibali's win was the first for Italy since 1998 and 10th all-time. Here are the top nations in terms of General Classification wins, Podium finishes, and Stage wins.


France 36
Belgium 18
Spain 12
Italy 10
Luxembourg 5
Netherlands 2
Switzerland 2
UK 2
(Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Australia): 1

*Best finish for a Canadian 4th - Steve Bauer.

PODIUMS (including wins):

FRA 36-31-32 = 129
BEL 18-15-18 = 51
ITA 10-16-14 = 40
ESP 12-5-12 = 29
LUX 5-6-3 = 14
NED 2-10-2 = 14
GER 1-8-1 = 10
SUI 2-4-3 = 9
USA 3-1-3 = 7
AUS 2-2-0 = 4
GBR 2-1-0 = 3
DEN 1-0-1 = 2
IRL 1-0-1 = 2


FRA 681
BEL 445
ITA 284
NED 173
ESP 122
GER 73
LUX 70
UK 59
AUS 34
SUI 34
NOR 18
DEN 17
USA  14 (excludes Arms.)
POR 13
RUS 12
IRE 11

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mysterious and anonymous comments as well as those laced with cyanide and ad hominen attacks will be deleted. Thank you for your attention, chumps.