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When I first started following the Lanterne Rouge in this year’s TdF I had mixed feelings about it. I wasn’t sure if others would be interested and I didn’t know if there would be much of a story or character attached to that poor last rider. Then along came Kenny and all questions were answered.
I’m sure you all heard the news that Kenny was dropped just four kilometers into today’s stage. He was forced to ride alone and crashed on the decent of the day’s second category 1 climb. Kenny was taken to hospital with a badly cut knee and was forced to abandon. I’m not so sure that he would have made the timecut anyway after loosing contact so soon into the stage. But he would have tried is heart out nonetheless. It was his dream to have a go at the sprint on the Champs-Élysées.
The way I see it, Kenny is an icon for determination that the rest of us should aspire to (play sappy music here). He’s not the most naturally gifted rider in the peloton, but his sheer grit more than makes up for it. People’s true colors shine when things get tough or don’t go as expected. He didn’t let ego get in the way and quit the race just because he was riding most of those mountains alone. He battled on with absolutely no excuses (Cadel, take note. You could learn a lot from Kenny)
“There are some better climbers than me in the race,” van Hummel joked. “I’m a sprinter and generally riders like me tend to struggle in the mountains. In the Pyrenees I had a few guys with me but they’ve all gone home now.” “I can hear all the fans cheering me as I ride and it’s spurring me on.If I can make it tomorrow then maybe I can make it to Paris. I want to sprint on the Champs-Élysées.”
One good piece of news is that Kenny has signed again with Skil Shimano until the end of 2010, so it’s hopeful that we’ll see him back next year. He has unfinished business to take care of.
Will we continue to follow the Lanterne Rouge without Kenny? I don’t know. I’ll have to sleep on it. Yauheni Hutarovich just doens’t have the same ring. Hell, I can’t even pronounce it…not to mention he has a horrible haircut.