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Archive for Contador

Tour de France 2011 Day 1 Passage du Gois

We’ve waited a year for this day, the beginning of the toughest bike race in the world, both physically and mentally. We will have to wait another month for what could be the toughest decision in the world of pro cycling, the determination of Contador’s status.

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.

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…

TDF Stage 15 Port de Bales Battle

The controversy of the day: Contador’s attack when Schleck is “down.” Personally, I don’t think Contador gives a flying leap about anything but his own goal, fairness and sportsmanship tossed off the cliff. He was boo’ed as he took the podium and the yellow, Schleck boiling quietly. Perhaps it was a stroke of bad luck, but perhaps Contador should have stood down a bit and waited for the yellow jersey. Archaic or not, the Tour has embodied good sportsmanship and cycling “etiquette.” A dying attitude to some.

The great moment of the day: Voeckler taking the stage. I have liked this guy since 2004, when he rode 10 days in yellow. Good for him, and for making the French even happier this Tour.

More b.s. from LeMond about Lance, more huff than substance, as usual. Is Greg simply jealous because a stupid hunting accident robbed him of an opportunity to go for another yellow jersey in his day? Give it up, Greg, you’re looking ridiculous.

TDF Stage 14 Pyrenees Factor

Revel -> Ax-3 Domaines

Team Astana is as the front, giving Saxo Bank concern. Contador can climb. He has won all 4 of the Grand Tours he has participated in. He has won the last 2 TDF in a row. Will this be the day he puts the stamp on his podium position as the race goes into the Pyrenees? The HC Port de Pailhères may tell.

Let’s watch, I’ll be back…

On one of the group rides I’ve done this year, my buddy asked how fast the riders in the Tour go. She and I were averaging 17mph, our top speed just over 20mph (the top speed I’ve ever reached is 25mph, but that was on a short 10 mile stretch). The boys can fly down the flats around 35mph – and they do more than 100 miles per day averaging more than 25mph.

Anyone want to practice reading French? The official site for TDF has a guide with interesting bits of info about towns along the route, significance to cycling, local agriculture and historic landmarks, etc. Go to Guide and select the étape. Fun reading!

UPDATE
Lance fell off the back of the peloton during the first climb. The HC has been conquered and the descent has begun. One more, shorter but harder, climb ahead to the stage finish.

Riblon takes the day!