A lot has been written and Twittered about the events that eventually denied George Hincapie his second chance to wear the maillot jaune at the Tour de France.
If Hincapie had been able to hang with Sergui Ivanov, rather than finishing at the back of his breakaway chase group, then this whole point would be moot, but since he couldn’t then we must look at other events.
Astana chased the break early in the day, but it appeared to me that they chased to keep the break’s lead manageable, and then shut down with 50K to go.
AG2R started chasing at 50K to go to try to protect Rinaldo Nocentini’s lead. This is understandable, but the team was not really weak enough to pull it off.
Garmin started chasing hard with about 10K to go. Their nominal reason was, at least according to a Jonathan Vaughters Twitter post: “Wiggo almost lost 15 seconds the other day due to a split. We can’t have that happen again.” Yet, all they had to do to protect Bradley Wiggin’s place is to keep him at the front of the pack; they didn’t have to chase the break.
Of course, it is a race, and the object is to finish as quickly as possibly and as close to the front as possible. On the other hand, today is a hard mountain stage, and it makes no sense for Garmin to waste energy by chasing hard, when all they really needed to do was ride tempo.
There will be lots of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” about the entire situation, but it won’t change the fact that one of the nicest and most well-respected guys in the peloton was denied a chance of a lifetime.
And that’s the biggest shame of all.