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Archive for July, 2010

TDF Stage 20 Arrivee a Paris

Driving distance from Longjumeau to Paris Champs Élysée is about 24km, but the boys on the bikes have to do a total of 102.5 km, by the time they fly around 8 loops on the most famous avenue in the world before the final sprint.

Today is when Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll dress in suits to welcome the boys home and celebrate with celebs and cycling personalities. Yesterday, Contador increased his overall lead from 8 to 39 seconds, a blow to Andy Schleck. Then again, a lot of the top ranked cyclists finished down in the 100’s, weird turn of events. We already know who will wear the final jellow jersey of this year’s Tour; but another jersey win is to be determined after the sprint, the coveted green. Andy will, once again, stand on the podium, albeit, once again, not on the highest block. Still, he did earn a top position, and that’s an achievement in itself. Maybe next year…

Team Radio Shack came out wearing the number 28 on their backs in memory of 28 million cancer survivors, Livestrong being one of the strongest fundraising organizations for cancer research. Were it not for his survival, we wouldn’t have Lance and his most incredible Tour career, even though he was already an Olympian and world cycling force to be reckoned with. But, the race organizers ordered them to put on their regular jerseys, or they would not be able to race this stage. Kids, don’t do this at home – changing jerseys while on the bike is for the pros. Lance pulled over to the side to put his on. Then, they were stopped by referees because they didn’t have their numbers on their backs. Well, perhaps this was a matter of trying to act first, ask for permission, later. But, Radio Shack can’t afford to lose the team place, so they had to stop and fix their jerseys. So the rest of the peloton is riding slowly until everyone is together, even stopped by the race organizers, until Lance gets his numbers on, but they couldn’t wait too long. It’s a good thing the neutral zone is fairly long through town. Have you ever tried to pin a number on with gloves? I can’t do anything with gloves on, even the half finger ones.

I never got to see the finish in Paris. My first time there, I was on my way to Grenoble, and barely got to see the peloton fly by. That was back in the days when Eddie Merckx dominated the Tour. The next time, I missed the finish by about a month. Oh, well, back then, I really didn’t understand just how important the event was to the French, as it was such a foreign concept to race on a bike around France, over mountains and dale, for 21 days.

Well, as Paul Sherwen says, they’re going to miss Lance in the Tour, as “he has always provided a little drama.

TDF Stage 19 Trials and Tribulations

Time Trials Bordeaux -> Pauillac

On the Left of Gironde
lay the trois grands chateaux
of Latour, and the Rothschilds Lafite and Mouton…

hmmm…Pauillac lamb and a glass of Bordeaux would be in order for dinner tonight…

Tis the last trial for Lance. He parts the starting chute in just a minute.

While the winner of the time trial isn’t always the same one who takes the yellow, we will most certainly know who will claim – or keep – the maillot jaune going into Paris.

OMG! Contador has dropped down to a 2 sec lead over Andy!!
Yeh, well, it’s over, now. Fabulous Cancellara screamed the time trial. Contador won the Tour by virtue of having gained time over Andy in the time trial. We can go home, now.

Armstrong’s TDF Teammates, past and present

So, I asked Bobke a question that remains unanswered, probably because it would take some effort to research. But, I wanted to know which riders in the 2010 TDF had ridden in prior TDFs with Lance, when and on which teams. A table of teams and riders won’t fit here, so, a list of the riders:

TDF Teams
1992–1996 Motorola
1998–2004 US Postal
2005 Discovery Channel
2009 Astana
2010 Team RadioShack
Read the rest of this entry »

TDF Stage 18 Sprint to Bordeaux

I got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new bike…

Contador got to ride his brand new specialized bike through the Aquitaine region, where grands chateaux and wineries welcome the Tour for the 80th time. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, of course Bordeaux would be hosting A-list celebs, like Cameron Diaz and that Tom guy (being nice and biting my tongue). How sweet of Contador to give Cameron his bouquet as he motioned the two actors onto his podium.

Before that photo op, the comeback kid, Cavendish, claimed his 4th stage win of the Tour. Otherwise, nothing really changed in the GC standings. Sadly, unless something terrible happens to the guys up the time ladder, poor Levi doesn’t have a chance to win an individual spot on the podium in Paris, but Radio Shack could clinch the team spot. That would be nice for everyone, it would be nice for Lance.

I’m off doing some research for the end of this significant Tour…

TDF Stage 17 The Tourmalet takes no prisoners

The telling statement after the last day in the Pyrenees: “…it was Schleck winning the battle, but Contador most likely winning the war.” (Brian Pinelli, Versus)

The weather was ridiculous for the 11.5 mile climb into the clouds – cold, foggy, wet. What a day for the final high mountain climb for Lance. Tourmalet takes no prisoners, though, nearly claiming Spanish E-E rider, Samuel Sanchez in a crash that left him stunned and motionless for a few minutes, then he finished in 5th place; pushing Levi down 6 notches to 13th place.

The battle between Andy Schleck and Contador has taken a different turn, both claiming that all is again well between them. So, did Contador “allow” Andy to take the stage win? Oh, who knows, and who really cares, anymore.

Think about this: Johann Bruyneel, who had a less than spectacular Tour career as a cyclist (although he did wear the yellow jersey after Stage 7 in 1995), has proven to be the most brilliant of modern day Tour team directors, winning 9 out of 10 participations (7 of those with Lance, 2 with Contador), and that’s just the TDF. Lance, who’s not having the best farewell Tour he could have hoped for, holds the record for consecutive wins. Contador, whether or not you agree with his behavior or attitude, could very well claim a third consecutive Tour win.

And then, there are the mountain sheep…

The Worst Teacher I Ever Had

How many nuns does it take to change a light bulb?

…was a nun (technically, a sister of an order that shall remain nameless), who "swore" that I'd never make it to college, largely because she could never mold me into her idea of whatever I was supposed to be. Coincidentally, she retired, shortly after I showed up at her office with my acceptance letter from a rather prestigious university and notice that I had been funded by grants and scholarships all the way through Grad School, AND – I got to skip the first 2 years of otherwise required courses (because I had already done them in h.s.). Success is the best revenge.

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TDF Stage 16 Lance No Pau Boy

Well, he tried, and valiantly. Perhaps he waited just a little too long to kick in. Perhaps he made the wrong move to the wrong side inside the 2K stretch. We can afford to be birds eye critics. Nonetheless, that he even stepped up to the plate to sprint in with the kids was admirable. It sort of looked like he sat back just before crossing the finish line, though, I suppose at the moment he realized it was all for naught.

I know, there are those among you who will still refer to Lance as an old man. A little perspective: Big George is older, and he’s riding his 15th Tour, and he’s not the oldest, either.

Lance Armstrong is over in about 4 or 5 days,” he said. While that may be true for his TDF career, it won’t be true for other events, another marathon, a triathlon (his roots).