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.