By Dave Land, posted 17 July 2017
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Dave makes a stand for sportsmanship, and generally being sporting.
The hysterically aggressive noises of the massed ranks of the social media jury have been getting themselves worked up since last Sunday. It looks so clear on the television. Aru attacked Froome, whilst Froomey had his hand up due to a mechanical issue. It looks that Quintana attacks with Aru (surprising no-one), but the rest of the GC guys shout Aru down (Porte and Martin in particular), and he waves an angry hand when he finally acquiesces.
David Millar, on ITV, exclaimed that they were respecting the yellow jersey. A neat touch, which takes it away from Froomey’s dominance, as a leader. And one that has precedent. Millar thought this was a great thing to do.
Dan Lloyd, on Global Cycling Network, got really angry that there is always this kind of debate. The Giro D’Italia, saw Quintana attack whilst Dumoulin needed the toilet. He wants these moral decision written down so they all share them. We can all agree that writing something down doesn’t mean cyclists will adhere to it.
Millar seems like a lone voice – until now. Other commentators all claim that anything is fair play. Apparently, you should attack whenever you can, too bad on the other guy – yellow jersey or not. One article compares the Tour de France to Formula 1: if the car breaks down, no-one else stops to allow the driver to re-join the group in a new car. What about a crash? It’s too bad if you have a crash. Froomey didn’t then wait for Richie Porte after he’d crashed (would have been a long wait – that was truly horrible). However, people are forgetting that Tom Dumoulin had, in fact, waited for Quintana after he’d crashed in the Giro. Quintana, as we know, agrees with the commentators. This is elite sport, there is no room for sentiment, or sports-persons-ship, or morals, or playing fair, it is a win-at-all-costs global event, just like Formula 1.
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What should sport do at an elite level? For us, it should show the rest of us what humans can do. It should be an exemplar of how we could live, how we could be, and what a better world we would live in if we could decide disagreements by having a bike race. It absolutely should take ‘sporting’ seriously. Naturally enough, the same people complaining about being ‘gentlemanly’, are the same people that bemoan the loss of old-fashioned values, who complain about globalisation, and Team Sky. There’s a lack of clear thinking going on.
It is not right that we strip out any sense of decency in a simple bike race, for the benefit of entertainment. Indeed, one could argue that waiting for the yellow jersey, or indeed another rider suffering misfortune (it isn’t all about the GC leaders) adds something to the race: it is about respect.
Well done GC for chasing Aru down. What a great thing to do. However, it shouldn’t be a rule – how would you police it? It should be a test of individual morals. Those that will win at all costs have got a range of alternative tactics at their disposal anyway. As minor as it might sound, we utterly applaud riders that have some morals, and some respect for others they race against. Sometimes they win; when they do, they do it by just riding the bike.