days later it was Alberto Contador who
headed to his team car. The Tour de
France was just 10 days old and already
it had been turned on its head with a
series of crashes that impacted every
top contender—except one.
Following his Stage 2 win, Vincenzo
Nibali had already worn yellow, but
it was his commanding performance
on the muddy cobbles of Stage 5 and
climbing brilliance on Stage 18’s ascent
to Hautacam that defined his quiet but
formidable effort that allowed his entry
into cycling’s super-elite club as a
winner of all three Grand Tours
possible. Nibali’s coronation on the
Champs Elysees marked the first time
an Italian had stepped onto the top spot
since 1998 when the late Marco Pantani
won the race.
However, when the storyline visited
the theme of national pride, it was the
host country of France that had the
most to crow about. Finally. The last
time a French rider had gotten anywhere
close to the podium in Paris, it was back
in 1997 when Richard Virenque finished
second. This year they put three riders
in the top 10, with two on the podium.
Talk about a renaissance!
Despite all the heartache, broken
bones and diminished dreams, the 101st
running of Le Tour once again reminded
everyone that it stands among the great
sporting events in the world. Never
without ample amounts of drama,
controversy, bravado, intrigue and
inspiration, it should remind all of us
how lucky we are to call it our own.