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It is not about unwritten gentlemanly rules.

It is about respect.

Respect for your competitors and particularly your rivals. Respecting them with your actions to say: “I know you have prepared as long and hard for this as I have, I’m not going to take this cheap advantage of you. I want to beat you fairly.” …unless you enjoy playing the role of foil. Then by all means, race dirty!

Sure, it is bike racing. There are written rules and while you can’t push your rival off their bike, you are allowed and have every right to capitalize on your competitors mistakes and errors. Which I do all the time. You ever sprinted against me? I don’t play nice. If you drop your chain in a sprint, I’m not going to sit up and ask if you are OK.

So there are plenty of haters with their opinions, being vocal on the interwebs. Even some riders I greatly respect have a different view than my own:

“learn to shift Schleck!”
“all this gentleman’s agreement talk is BS!”
“shit happens, that is bike racing!”
“if you mis-shift during a sprint, no one waits for you”

Yet, if you pay close attention, Schleck was not shifting when the chain fell off the inside of the small chain ring. (SRAM and Specialized are going to have a field day blaming each other for the mishap) He had been in a gear and applying the watts to make his attack stick. He was riding away from Contador with Vino on his wheel, they had a few bike lengths (a couple seconds time) on the Contador group. I read that Contador “had planned to attack, I was ahead before I knew what had happened to Schleck”. Which I find hard to believe, you can count 4-5 full seconds from the time Schleck’s crank locks up, he stops pedaling and looks down; to the moment Contador launches an attack. Contador clearly sees Schleck fumble, stop pedaling and launches right after. Good instincts and response time from the Pistolero but don’t kid yourself that he was not precisely aware of where Andy was at the second Andy attacked the bunch.

It becomes not a question of “why wait?” but, why attack? Should Contador have waited? No, that is not what I am advocating. But, to attack at that moment? Why was Contador not on Schleck’s wheel in the first place? If you were feeling good enough to launch a move, why wait until your opponent has a fluke problem?

Not classy. And, a potentially desperate move. I see it as a sign of weakness that Contador played his card at that moment. He is afraid of Andy and he just let Andy know it.

Some will say it is just bike racing and anything goes. But, I would not be able to live with myself if I won because I attacked when I noticed my closest competition had suffered a BS mechanical. You do not need to wait, but you do not need to attack.

I tell my riders:

“Everyone can attack when it is easy. You win races by attacking when it hurts, you attack when it is hard, when your legs are burning, when everyone else is breathing hard and you are suffering. That is when you attack.”

Contador’s only valid rival in the race had stopped pedaling his bike and was futzing with his shifter when Contador attacked. I consider that attacking when it is easy.

I want to see that skinny bastard Schleck attack tomorrow like a demon. He will drop Contador, in anger. And it will hurt. He is gonna get those 8 seconds back and then some.

Allez Luxembourg!!

Discussion

12 comments for “It is not about unwritten gentlemanly rules.”

  1. well put molly, this is what i’ve been saying all day!

    Posted by nate | July 19, 2010, 7:13 pm
  2. Great, timely post. I’ve been discussing this move all day, like Nate. And it’s interesting what other people say. Even cyclists are saying “how pithy that cycling is the only sport where you don’t take advantage of an error.”

    For instance, baseball. Outfield fumbles with a pop fly, the runner on second doesn’t slow down, he goes faster. Same with football…you bobble, I hit harder.

    I know cycling is a different sport and I am a cyclist. But I wonder if that’s not part of the game that needs re-consideration.

    Posted by joeyTWOwheels | July 19, 2010, 7:48 pm
  3. Very well said Molly, and words to equal what I was thinking! What in your opinion do you feel was the major malfunction with the bike?

    Posted by Guy | July 19, 2010, 8:16 pm
  4. It looked to me like Vino sat up–and seemed surprised to see Contador accelerate past him.

    This was a dumb move. Contador was likely going to win anyways–but now he’ll never get the same level of respect for the win. In fact, he’ll lose fans and favor, which is both bad for his ego and for sponsorship deals. Bad move, Contador.

    Posted by MarvinK | July 19, 2010, 9:09 pm
  5. [...] Molly Cameron on Contador’s attack today in Le Tour when Schleck had dropped his chain: Everyone can attack when it is easy. You win races by attacking when it hurts, you attack when it is hard, when your legs are burning, when everyone else is breathing hard and you are suffering. That is when you attack. [...]

    Posted by markhealey.org » Blog Archives » Attack when it hurts | July 19, 2010, 9:15 pm
  6. Well said.

    ‘…i won’t cry, I lost the jersey, but it’s not over…My stomach is full of anger and I want revenge…’

    I got goosebumps when Andy said that after the race. Not a big fan of his until today when I heard his reaction to the events. Can’t wait to see him show contador what class is.

    Posted by Michael | July 19, 2010, 10:31 pm
  7. [...] can argue the point if you want, but I’m not alone in my position on this. In fact, even Alberto himself seems to have realized the possible [...]

    Posted by Gear Ratios | Cyclocross, Solar Physics, & Life in Belgium | July 20, 2010, 2:46 am
  8. Thanks for this Molly; this is one of the reasons you are BIG in my estimations!

    Posted by chris | July 21, 2010, 2:21 am
  9. 39 seconds?! What a cruel joke. Alberto proves you can win but still lose.

    Posted by cyclocross wheels | July 24, 2010, 11:29 am
  10. Contador’s attack was like school in the summer time = no class. Excellent post Molly.

    Posted by Doug | July 25, 2010, 7:49 am
  11. Schleck’s father thought Contador was right to do what he did , that’s good enough for me.

    Posted by Steponas | September 3, 2010, 1:52 pm
  12. Is it not worth considering Johny Schleck’s opinion on chaingate ?
    This is the link , he says clearly that AC should not have waited for AS , and that one does not give presents at this level of the sport , chains coming off are a part of the sport.

    http://mediathek.daserste.de/daserste/servlet/content/4958342?categoryId=&goto=&moduleId=723230&pageId=&show=

    Either close the discussion or make it clear you will only tolerate posts that agree with your own.

    Posted by Steponas | September 6, 2010, 5:27 am

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