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Archive for July, 2009

TDF 2009 Stage 21 The end and the beginning

Let’s celebrate the end of a good Tour. Was it predictable? Perhaps. Was it disappointing? Maybe. Nonetheless, hats off to Contador for his magnificent defense of his 2007 yellow jersey, and to Lance Armstrong for his extraordinary comeback. Congratulations to Johan Bruyneel and Team Astana for making this Tour as exciting for us as for them. The Schleck brothers are equally deserving of their dedication to each other’s successes. But, while I admire Cavendish for his sprint skills, in my book, he doesn’t hold a candle to Thor Hushovd in the class department.

Trivia Remember in the beginning of the Tour when I mentioned there are two Japanese riders in the Tour? And, so they do. Here’s a video on Yukiya Arashiro (BB-B Telecom) from July 18, and some shots taken around Fumiyuki Beppu (Skil-Shimano). Both ride into Paris today making history as the first from their country to actually finish.

So, today we say au revoir as the Tour ends, then look forward to 2010 with another return, the next time with his new Team Radio Shack, his loyal director Johan Bruyneel, and his new resolve without the distractions of dealing with an upstart competitor. We’ll have to wait a year to see if Lance can make another record win with a third American team.

Notes of a consummate tourist Last night, my sister and I were talking about Paris, as she has been there most recently than I and said that the city was in preparation for this final stage when she left. Some day, I would love to be on the Champs-Elysee to watch the final stage, as once I was in Grenoble to witness the Tour for my first time back in the heyday of Eddie Merckx.

TDF 2009 Mount Ventoux takes no prisoners on Stage 20

So, the order remains the same:

  • Contador retains and wins the Tour overall (unofficially)
  • Andy Schleck earns 2nd spot on the podium
  • Armstrong keeps his 3rd place on the podium

Well, at least he’s up there, and I have a feeling that, after the TT, just keeping a spot on the podium is all he would hope for. He remains among the GC contenders and other riders who have yet to conquer old “Baldy.”

One can’t blame him for holding his tongue. It was obvious from the start that Contador was going to play his own game. While we can’t blame him for vindicating himself for not being able to defend his jersey last year, we still have to question his sense of teamwork. I think he probably lost a lot of allies – even though he gained a couple in the Schleck brothers – in the peloton.

Well, give the talented youngster his due respect and accolades. Then, see what he’ll be able to achieve without Bruyneel, next year.

Undeniably, that Armstrong could come back this strongly after 4 years out of the game is more than remarkable, it’s astounding. I can’t wait until July 2010!

Meanwhile, there’s the ceremonial ride into Paris tomorrow and anticipation of what Cav from Man will do.

TDF 2009 Stage 20 Day on Bald Mountain

Nicknamed “Bald Mountain,” or “Baldy,” Mount Ventoux is not a particularly high mountain, belying it’s other nickname, “the Giant of Provence.” But it is arid, its limestone slopes devoid of trees and vegetation, mean, and can be seen from just about all parts of the Provence.

It has gained notoriety for stage finishes in the Tour de France, and this year of the “epic Tour,” it will most likely be where the final stamp on the maillot jaune will be hammered.

It should be an exciting day. I’ll be back…

TDF 2009 Stage 19 Wasn’t that special (not)

No change in the GC standings, and Lance remarks again about his new forthcoming pro cycling Team Radio Shack.

The news of the day, though, is Cavendish streaking ahead of Hushovd at the finish line, as if to stick it to him that HE’s the faster sprinter. Well, Cav, who’s still wearing green, while your green is only envy?! If you hadn’t been such a buttface to Thor, perhaps things would have turned out differently for you. Meanwhile, grow up!

TDF 2009 Go tell it on the mountain Ventoux

Stage 18 is done. Lance is back in a potential podium finish. Nearly 4 minutes are tough to make up in a TT, but he did extraordinary work, as usual.

Peeps are grumbling about Contador’s rather immature move yesterday, isolating himself from Kloden (it probably didn’t matter to him that he also isolated himself from Lance). Talent, sure; brains, apparently not. Well, he’s still young and wild.

We’re looking toward Ventoux. Lance gave one stage win to Pantani on that mountain. He knows that mountain. So far, Contador has demonstrated wings on the climbs. Lance had those wings, once, too. Maybe he’ll shake them out.

Or, maybe he’ll just laugh at this Tour as being just a training run for 2010!

Tomorrow, Stage 19. This should be interesting. 🙂

Get ready: Armstrong’s Team Radio Shack

It’s (almost) official: Team Radio Shack will be Lance Armstrong’s new pro cycling team, sans Contador, but (unconfirmed) with Bruyneel at the helm.

Following a disappointing couple of stages and a 3rd place standing today for Armstrong, the announcement was just released over the airwaves that his new team will compete in the 2010 Tour de France. The official announcement is expected this evening.

See Lance’s video announcement on Livestrong.

TDF 2009 Stage 17 What a difference a day makes

I really miss being able to report up to the minute on the Tour and having to come in with hindsight.

Has Armstrong ever been 3 minutes behind the lead in a Tour? I can’t find the stats, but I think he has and made up the time. This year is another story. However, he did say he’ll be back in 2010, and THAT will be another story. If Lance does join another American-based team, will Bruyneel follow or stay with Astana and Contador? Frankly, can Contador win without Bruyneel?

It sounds like Cavendish was behaving rudely and rather childishly toward Hushovd, and Thor proved he deserves to be wearing the green. Well wishes to Jens Voight for a speedy recovery from his nasty crash. Poor Denis Menchov just can’t stay on his bike. What a day!

Tomorrow will be the individual time trials, an opportunity for Lance to demonstrate his legendary skill. Let’s wish them dry roads (remember Jan Ulrich’s horrible crash into the barriers?).

1- Contador
2-3 The Schlecks
4 – Armstrong

Looks weird, doesn’t it!