Sky have WAG (wife and girlfriend) WAR on Twitter. Click the link – read the story – it’s better than a doping scandal.
Out of nowhere Barreda found a spare wheel – and used it for some smack down on Costa. The two fell to the ground right after this photo was taken and traded fists-in-faces until they were pulled apart. Now that’s racing!
Sadly I read the news today that Lance Armstrong is truly calling this his last year in the Tour de France. Understandably, it takes its toll year after year. I assume that George Hincapie may follow. No matter the outcome, it’s certainly going to be a lively 2010 race. Much more lively than the white ball event going on in South Africa. Nothing against sports with little white pills that are chased around – mind you. BTW #Germany.
Ok then. Viva la Tour!
Fans are crazy in World Cup play – but nothing compares to the Tour. Nothing. Imagine 1,000,000 people lining an Alp climb …. with the ability to touch some of the most important athletes on the planet. Now imagine for moment the crazed fans of World Cup play having that kind of access …. ha! The fights resulting from opposing teams would outflank many military units.Think about it.
Watch the Tour. See the suffering. Feel the pain. Witness the drama. Only then will you know what real athletes experience on game day. Oh sorry, 20 days straight. In fact, with one prologue event and 20 stages, the 2010 Tour will cover a total distance of 2,263 miles. Their average speed will approach 26mph. Whew. The “not worthy” phrase will be echoed again and again long after the Tour concludes in late July.
Viva la Tour.
The Tour is coming and trust me, it will be bigger than the game being played in South Africa. Sure, I recognize the world is watching the games in South Africa, but it has none of the human suffering or drama of the Tour. In just a few days it begins. Viva la Tour.
What was missing (and thankfully so) were doping scandals and crazy accusations about dopers. There was nothing, nada, zip, zero – not a peep. Many of the pro teams believe the bio passports are working. It’s common knowledge that race officials are testing more often and so are the teams. For example, Astana budgeted almost $700,000 to test its team members for the 2009 race year. Other teams have followed and sponsors are sleeping a bit better.
While Levi was out of the race early due to a broken hand, the final standings were very close to what I predicted two weeks ago. Had Levi been in the mix, I believe the Schleck brothers might have fared a bit differently. As evident with a third place finish it is obvious that Lance Armstrong is STILL ‘tha man.’
Think about it: he left the sport of bicycle racing on top of the charts, and four years later he re-enters it by snagging a podium spot his first year back. For those that watched the race-action closely the last three weeks, Lance was clearly capable of dealing out the “see ya later” look when and where needed, but he raced for the team – led the team – and held it together to end as a team.
News reporters are already talking about the 2010 race. Lance will race for a different team and so will Contador. Lance has several advantages over Contador, but one significant advantage that is worth mentioning. Lance is smarter and a true team leader. In 2010, the unique combination of race knowledge and the ability to lead make him (Lance) a definite favorite.
Okay then. Ride oneth.
As I stated yesterday – as was born today – Contador will win the 2009 Tour de France and Lance will finish second with Levi in third place. There is no doubt that the Team Astana, banned from the 2008 Tour, will rise like the Phoenix to surface as the come-back kid of cycling. My only hope is that Contador can keep his legs from running his mouth and that Team Astana stay just that – a team. Again, ride oneth because Saturday isn’t a cake walk my friends. I do believe you’ll see some break-away riders who are “let go” as they are not in contention with the leaders. Afterall, Stage 8 (even with two Cat 1 climbs and a Cat 2 climb) includes a lot of technical downhill shiznet. This plays very well to terffic bike handlers like Lance.
My prediction is that Contador will stand tall as the winner of the 2009 Tour with Lance and Levi along side. Lance in second place and Levi in third place. And for once in history, a single team will be talked about as a team.
Go f’ing figure that it took an American to put “team” into a sport that’s been dominated by the words “I, me, mine, I” – which isn’t surprising to those who understand it’s a FRENCH race. The press continues with its onslaught of crappy-crap related to “who is the leader of Astana.” All the while Lance is out front hedging Astana’s bets of remaining calm in the midst of an all-out racing war.
The FRENCH believe that the strongest man is the leader, and leadership can change during the race depending on who is strongest. It’s a warped philosophy that, in my opinion, has kept the FRENCH from winning its share of the Tours the past two decades. The American bicycle racing philosophy, on the other hand, is 180 degrees away from “I, me, mine, I.” Our philosophy and working model doesn’t originate around the “strongest” – it originates around the person most capable of leading. Typically it is the person with the wisdom to lead and the common sense to follow when required.
When the difficult climbs come, you’ll see him (Lance) follow, or set tempo and win. But Lance cannot climb with Contador every day. Yes, if we backed up five years, Lance would/could do it. But it’s 2009 and Contador has more current racing miles in his legs than Lance. The other factor is age. Like it or not, there is a 10-year age difference between the two. And you can bet that a decade makes a huge difference in what the human engine can produce. OK then. Even with the differences, Lance Armstrong is the leader of Astana. Fact.
Love him, like him or hate him – Lance IS the leader. I would add, however, that every man on the squad is leading in some form or fashion.
The standings today attest to one other significant point: when a team acts like a team it dominates like a team. Four of the top 10 cyclists thus far are from one team: Astana. In my mind they’ve already won the greatest bike race – or the greatest test of man’s endurance – on earth.
It’s relatively easy to climb (via bicycle) the roads in the Pyrenees or in the Alps. Riding up is relatively easy. The difficulty of climbing is exponentially elevated by the riders who push (and pull) hard on their pedals. Thus, pace is what makes climbing difficult. It’s the high, average mph – and certainly multiple accelerations along the way. Dare not think it’s easy. It just looks easy.
It’s inspiring. Even with the issues over doping, the Tour is powerfully inspiring. You realize that the feat these men perform is completely beyond the grasp of ordinary mortals. It’s almost like studying theology. You need to attain the first degree of initiation to understand that you don’t understand anything.
The wittiest comments ever written about the Tour were by the young Roland Barthes, and it’s no accident that he developed a real theology of cycling. In his essay about the epic known as the Tour de France, there is a passage in which he describes Mont Ventoux as one would describe an evil deity, one that demands sacrifice. Barthes equates the heroes of cycling with Homer’s warriors in the Iliad. As far as he is concerned, the original duel, between Hector and Achilles, is repeated among the riders on the mountain. Anyone can fight on flat stretches, but those who remain capable of fighting a duel on the worst of mountains already deserves to be called Hector or Achilles.
Just keep an eye out for Didi. He’s part of the lore we call the Tour de France. Race on.
The efforts by climbers (or any rider for that matter) in the Tour goes mostly unnoticed. It’s difficult to detect the real effort going on when they climb steep Cols. The fact is, they do make it look effortless. But what’s going inside their minds and bodies is – well – beyond what I can comprehend.
Suffering includes climbing some of the highest paved roads in the Alps and Pyrenees and covering inhumane distances under the summer sun. Many will crash and push on despite being covered in road rash. At night, their leg muscles will be so tired that it will be painful to climb the stairs in their hotels. To suffer is the currency of racing. To a Tour rider it means willing to risk life over and over. These are just simple rules of the game.
Glory and pain – the synonymous symbols of the Tour de France.
The most difficult sporting event in the world produces some interesting numbers ….
(does this guy have a mirror??)
Imagine starting the race with a real stage – with a jersey as the prize? Tour organizers have changed the game and I believe it also created a visible difference in the race itself – and in the teams who were gunning to capture the jersey (even if for a day). Shorter stages and no time bonuses make a huge difference in the mental outlook for every team. Sure a stage will be shorter – but the pace will be faster. And yes, there are no time bonuses – so every second counts. Sound familiar? Well, it’s more like American style racing that’s simple: when the gun fires go like hell until crossing the finish line. Then, rest up and do the same thing the next day.
Except in this case do it again 20 more times.
The news is news and after the first day the yellow jersey was won by Valverde, now in his 4th Tour. He also leads the green jersey competition, which Philippe Gilbert will wear on Sunday. In what seemed like a turbo-move, Valverde made time on all the contenders, from 1 second on Evans, 7 on Sastre and Menchov, up to 3:04 on Mauricio Soler, who crashed late in the stage. His dramatic surge at the end suggested one thing: he’s in the race to win, not just the stage, but the overall win. Thomas Voeckler takes the first King of the Mountains jersey, by finishing ahead of Bjorn Schroeder, with whom he tied on points, and Riccardo Ricco is the first leader of the white jersey competition
Viva Le Tour : – O
Two days – and the Tour de France will be upon us. Astana will not be there, but the world will still watch. All 80+ hours.
ASO has officially blocked (old news btw) several teams from starting in the Tour. The big victim this year is Astana.
Sure, Astana had (past tense) a bad reputation in the cycling world. Last year there were scandals surrounding Vinokourov, Kasjetsjkin, Mazzoleni and Kessler. (Russian hitman squad on two wheels.) It was a public secret that the team was really old-school cycling and didn’t comply to the new ethics that much. But after last season several things changed. For starters, Astana hired new management, a new cycling director and several Discovery team riders.
Only the name has stayed the same.
Many sports reporters felt that Astana’s absence from the Tours would negatively affect the brand image of the Tour dramatically. It has done nothing except create venues for press events. Does anyone care? Hell yes they do. Will the race be watched as it has been in prior years. Even more so. Why? Because it’s the greatest sporting event on the planet – requiring much more than fancy bikes, gel paks and a comfy bed at night.
It requires butts with hardened calluses, legs that seek ear-popping climbs, and men who ride four or five hours on their OFF days. If you believe “football” (either variety) or rugby or ______ fill in the blank is tougher, just get your happy ass out of bed and ride 120 miles today, and tomorrow and the next day. Oh, and make sure you keep up. The average speed is 26+ and they don’t stop for pee breaks, flat tires or bee stings either.
Viva Le Tour.
The Devil does love the Tour de France, and contrary to rumor, is a very nice guy, actually. Didi the Devil is the alias of Didi Senft, a cycling fan whose unmatched passion for the sport compels him to don a full devil outfit–complete with shiny metal fork–and attend professional cycling events across Europe. He jumps for joy when riders are suffering. His spirits lifts others around him to yell a little louder, “THREE DAYS AND COUNTING!”