Archive | June, 2013

2013 Tour de France-Stage 2

30 Jun

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Today’s stage finished with no major crashes, no bus incidents and no revelations of doping – a successful day at the Tour.

Particularly successful for one Jan Bakelants of RadioShack. Bakelants was in a group of six riders in an attack just a few kilometers from the finish who managed to separate himself from the others and then managed to hold on to take the win and the yellow jersey. I hoped the fast approaching peloton would catch him resulting in a bunch sprint, but they ran out of road.

Stage 2 was another day of frustration for the sprinters. It was a lumpy stage and except for Peter Sagan, too difficult as they were all dropped from the main group on the climbs.

French team, Europcar was very aggressive, attacking at different points of the stage with various riders – including Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland. I liked their tactics and that their efforts were rewarded with the polka dot jersey for Rolland.

For the craziest, nonsensical move of the day the award goes to the guy most pick to win the Tour, Sky’s Chris Froome. For no tactical reason whatsoever Froome attacked apparently to chase down Europcar’s Gautier – why we don’t know – but then his attack kind of fizzled out and he was swept up by the peloton.

The winner of the Tour de France has to have patience and the ability to stay focused on the overall plan. Which means attacks come and go, but as a favorite your only true challenges come from other favorites – not riders hunting for stage wins – those you let go. I thought the move made Froome look silly.

Stage 3 is the last day for the Tour on the incredibly beautiful island of Corsica. Another lumpy stage, it looks like the kind of day for a guy like Sagan or a one day classics kind of rider. I like the terrain of the first 3 stages, not your typical pancake flat opening stages we usually have.

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2013 Tour de France-Stage 1

29 Jun

Chaos and crashes.

The first stage of the 100th Tour de France, the greatest race in pro cycling, was much like the current state of professional cycling: chaotic.

For starters there was the Orica-GreenEdge team bus getting stuck at the finish line. First time the Tour has been disrupted by a bus, I believe.

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Because of the busted bus/finish line the Tour decided to quickly move the finish. Team cars and riders were informed of the change on the fly – and at this point the peloton was flying. They were only about 15 kilometers from the finish, about the time the sprinters teams were coming to the front to crank things up and position their sprinter.

At the last minute though the bus was moved and Tour officials decided to go back to the original finish. Again the riders were told through their ear pieces  while going around 40 mph. Not good. It was a bad decision in my mind. Once the finish was changed they should have stuck with it, although I can understand why they made the decision they did.

Not only was it the first stage of the 100th Tour, but also one of the very few times a sprinter gets the yellow jersey in addition to the stage victory.

Mark Cavendish (Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) all were imagining themselves in yellow. Although all had a chance to win and capture the leader’s jersey, Cavendish was definitely the favorite. Cavendish has worn green, but never yellow, and he’s possibly the best sprinter ever.

Instead of watching the fastest maneuver and sprint for the win and the yellow jersey, we watched them get taken out by a crash. All of the commotion with finish line changes surely played a part. Regardless of the cause, it was awful. What a horrible start to the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Cavendish was caught out in the crash, Sagan went down and was banged up, Greipel had a mechanical. Instead of having one of the most memorable starts to the Tour we had a chaotic scramble to the line and carnage behind.

Carnage is becoming a theme for the Tour de France.

Trying to minimize the damage, Tour officials awarded all finishers the same finishing time. In addition to the sprinters involved in the crash, Tour favorite and previous winner, Alberto Contador went down and injured his shoulder as did others.

A disappointing finish to what we all expected to be a spectacular one. A disappointing beginning to the Tour.

Tour Time

28 Jun

Don’t know about my fellow race fans, but my excitement level for the Tour de France – and racing in general – is not what it has been in the past.

Last year was an opportunity to make a serious effort to cleanup the sport of professional cycling, but instead things are pretty much the way they were. It amazes me that every time there is a doping scandal and subsequent “cleanup” we’re all supposed to believe – and many do – that the sport is now largely free of doping.

As the tests improve the drugs improve and until we take the watchdog function away from the UCI there will not be much impetus to get serious about anti-doping efforts.

But… the Tour is the Tour. Doping or not it is the most thrilling and spectacular sporting event there is. So like you possibly, I’ll be there watching and cheering the riders most apt to be clean: Garmin-Sharp, Tejay Van Garderen and… ?

I will not be cheering for Chris Froome and Sky, the latest version of the dominant Postal team of the 1990’s.

It probably goes without saying I’ll be cheering Thomas Voeckler and hoping he lights up the race like he has in the past.

Enough of what I think, here’s a preview of the 2013 Tour de France -Vive le Tour!

 

6/16/13 Ride

16 Jun

No storms today, just heat and humidity. Oh how we’ve missed you…. Not.

We rode 32 miles with a good average speed, 15.5. I seem to be recovering.

Fingers crossed.

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