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Tour De France "Fair Play" and "Etiquette" rules

Beyond all the "official" rules that cyclist have to worry about when participating in a grueling event like the Tour De France (like not putting cortisone cream on a cold sore, or having a bike that's too light)...rules that, if broken, could cost them their jobs and, in worst case scenarios, their professional careers...racers have to worry about all these "Fair Play" or "Etiquette" rules that the peloton has "adopted" know...writing down the parameters, talking about the issue, etc., etc., etc.  Now, although I like the concept of these rules, I think in many ways their inherent nature sets the riders up to fail since the actual rules that are being cited AREN'T WRITTEN DOWN ANYWHERE!!!!

The most recent example is that Alberto Contador just took the leader's jersey (by an eerily familiar 8 second margin no less) over Andy Schleck (who has the best name in pro sports) due to the fact that Schleck's chain fell off and he lost time putting it back on.

Now, all I did was read the recaps and of course none of them mentioned at what point in the stage it was that Schleck's chain fell off (great journalism guys are brilliant...always leaving out VITAL pieces of information like a pack of idiots).  My assumption is that it must have been close to the end of the stage because Schleck didn't eventually catch up with Contador, and really they were only dealing with less than a minute of total time.  But this begs the question, at what KM marker are you allowed to just continue at full speed even if your rival has a technical problem?  1 km out?  10 km out?  If people are going to make a big stink about this, there should be some ESTABLISHED rules with some NUMBERS!

I guess for me, I don't think it's good to set the precedent that a guy can't attack when somebody else is having an issue.  I mean, if you're trying to win the TDF, you've got enough problems without worrying about how everybody else is doing.  The other reason for this is that hypothetically, if you're having a bad day, you could fake some kind of mechanical issue so that your chief rivals had to stop and wait for you.  Now, that'd be absolutely classless...but so is doping...and so is flopping in the world in the end I think it's FAIRER to just RECOGNIZE that if your bike falls apart, nobody is obligated to wait for you (if they do...great...but if not you should just concentrate on your own business).  I mean, you didn't hear Tony Rominger crying when he had like 50 flat tires in (what year...1996 or so?) to lose to Indurain...then again, he'd have probably lost if everything had gone perfectly for him.

So really, although the media is making a big deal about this, I think it's more or less a non-issue.  In the interview I saw with Schleck (on yahoo) I got the impression that here was a man who was upset that he had lost the yellow jersey, but he wasn't necessarily "furious" with Contador.  And all this nonsense about Contador's actions "tainting" the yellow jersey are a bunch of baloney.  Contador had to work like a beast to even be in a position where a dropped chain was even a factor (Schleck would have needed to drop a chain, break spokes on both his wheels, and pop a couple tires to bring Armstrong back into relevance).

All that said, I'd like for Schleck to win now more than ever...but we'll see.

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