Tag Archives: TDF 2010

Learning to Love Pain: Life as a Tour de France Rider

28 Jul


Other duties call, so I have not been able to write my TDF recap or “Ode to the Tour de France”.  Until I do, here’s something I read today that puts what we just witnessed at the Tour into some perspective.  Click on the link for the full article.

From the Guardian Bike Blog:

“Let’s start with the purely physical though, because the feats performed by the best riders are astonishing in any context. Over the full duration of the Tour de France, 2,263 miles this year, the winner will average around 26mph. That’s faster than many club time triallists can manage for 10 miles.”

“Cyclists talk about suffering a lot. There’s honour in suffering, in digging deeper than you thought possible and carrying on against screams of protest from every part of your body. It shows rivals that you can’t be broken and team-mates that their work and altruism was not in vain.”

“Top riders make a lot of sacrifices. No boozy nights out, no cake for dessert, pasta for breakfast. They leave friends and family behind for months at a time even in the off-season.”

“In rare free time you can’t decide on a whim to head to the beach or take the kids to a theme park for the day, because you have to let the UCI know where you will be in advance so that the drugs testers can find you.”

“This lifestyle isn’t just during the season, it’s permanent. It takes years to harden the body sufficiently to withstand a three-week race ridden flat out. Tales of talent gone begging litter the sport’s history, serving as reminders that a dream job is far from an easy one.”

TDF Stage 20

26 Jul

TDF Stage 20

Today was the final stage of the 2010 Tour de France. As I noted in my post yesterday, the final stage of the Tour is part processional, part bike race.

For the processional part of the stage, Alberto Contador and his Astana teammates enjoyed the fruits of their labor in the form of champagne. As is traditional, the yellow jersey winner and team rode together at the front of the peloton and toasted Contador on his victory.

Contador and his main rival, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) had a mock breakaway, taking off from the peloton. They had a good laugh, shook hands and then rejoined the group. The other excitement in the early part of the stage came from Team Radio Shack. They had new kits on with the Livestrong insignia and the number 28 on the back of each jersey. The number 28 signified the 28 million individuals living with cancer around the world. Unfortunately, Radio Shack didn’t get permission from the proper authorities (the UCI – sticklers for rules) beforehand, and were forced to remove the jersey or face disqualification. Radio Shack removed the jerseys until the stage was over, but then put them back on to go on to the podium to accept the Team Classification prize.

Once the peloton arrived on the Champs E’lyse, the racing began in earnest. There were two prizes still to be decided – the stage win and green jersey competition. After some false starts, a breakaway formed and managed to stay free for a while. Teams HTC-Columbia, Lampre, Team Sky and Cervelo worked successfully to bring the remaining riders in the break back so their respective sprinters could go for the stage win. Lampre had an interest in the stage win and protecting Allesandro Petacchi’s green jersey.

It was no contest – Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) easily won his fifth stage of this Tour and did it without a lead-out from his Team. In his three Tours, Cavendish has won 15 stages – incredible when you consider how many he may win in his career. He is the fastest sprinter in modern times and may be the fastest ever in the Tour de France. No one came close to matching his speed today – or any other day for that matter

Petacchi was able to hold on to the green jersey by finishing 2nd in the stage to Cavendish – collecting enough points to stay ahead of Cavendish in the green jersey competition.  There was no racing today for the yellow jersey, green jersey or white jersey – another unwritten rule in the Tour de France.

The final stage is never the most exciting, but the camaraderie between the riders, plus the ride into Paris, makes it a very enjoyable stage to watch.  Plus, it gave Lance Armstrong a chance to say goodbye.

The final podium:

1st Place – Alberto Contador (91h 58′ 48″)
2nd Place – Andy Schleck (00:39″)
3rd Place – Denis Menchov (02′:01″)

Yellow Jersey – Alberto Contador (Overall Winner)
Green Jersey – Allesandro Petacchi (Points Competition)
Polka-Dot Jersey – Anthony Charteau (KOM Competition)
White Jersey – Andy Schleck (Best Young Rider)

I will post a recap of the 2010 Tour de France later on this week – so check back. Sleep calls now.  Until then, read any of the 30-something posts I did on the Tour – wow, that’s a lot of writing for a lot of riding!

*Pictures are from Getty Images.

TDF Stage 19

25 Jul

There is only one winner of the Tour de France, but we have two champions – Alberto Contador & Andy Schleck.

Schleck narrowly lost to Contador today, riding a better time trial than most thought possible. Schleck finishes the Tour de France in 2nd place to Contador – for the 2nd year in a row. This year he loses to Contador by a mere 39 seconds – the exact same time he lost in stage 15 due to the chain slip. That controversy will not go away any time soon.

The war waged today between Contador and Schleck was similar to the war waged between the two on the Col de Tourmalet in terms of the magnitude of the battle and the way each gave both stages everything he had. Contador was so spent both physically and emotionally, that he nearly passed out – and he could not control the tears.

On the podium, accepting the overall leader’s yellow jersey Contador seemed exhausted and sort of in shock. He knew without a doubt, that he came very close to losing the Tour de France today.

It wasn’t that Contador fell short, but rather Schleck was that much better and maybe even more importantly, completely confident in his chances. He was not afraid of Contador at any time this Tour. Every time Schleck battled Contador and won (either time gained or an equal finish) he gained more confidence.

That confidence was on display today in the way Schleck rode the time trial. Contador, one of the best at time trials, beat him by only 31 seconds. If you have been watching the Tour, then you’ve heard Paul Sherwen, Phil Liggett, Bob Roll and others, all say that Schleck needed at least one minute, and preferably two, over Contador prior to the time trial, to have a legitimate chance at winning.







Few Tour de France victories have been this close – with two such evenly matched opponents. They are similar in age, personality, strengths and amazingly, are close friends. You don’t see that very often in the world of competitive sports. Their relationship is refreshing and is a testament to the high standard in which they compete. We are fortunate to witness this intense, very top-level bicycle racing in the Tour de France this year – and hopefully, for many years to come.

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) the time trial specialist finished first and took the stage win. No one, time trials better than Cancellara – that’s a fact.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) rode a very good time trial and took over the 3rd place podium spot from Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi). Menchov is one of the top time trial riders, so it was not a surprise that he beat out Sanchez.

Canadian rider, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) had another strong ride today – possibly the biggest surprise of this year’s Tour – he will finish his first Tour in 6th place overall. American rider, Chris Horner (Team Radio Shack) a long time domestique, surprised everyone and took 10th place overall – the highest place of any of the Radio Shack riders.


Today lived up to all the billing and then some. Schleck almost pulled off the biggest upset since Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon in 1989 to win the Tour by a mere 8 seconds.

Contador showed how tough a competitor he is too. He knew he was behind Schleck at the first time check – many riders would have folded under the pressure. Not Contador, he rose to the occasion giving it everything he had – to beat his rival and friend – by 39 seconds.

It was an awesome finish, to an awesome Tour.

*Pictures are from Getty Images

Stage 20

Tomorrow’s stage is more of a processional than a race – at least for the GC top finishers. Only the sprinters and the riders in contention for the Green Jersey will race tomorrow. It is every sprinter’s dream to win on the Champs E’lyse.

Contador and his teammates will enjoy a little champagne and accept the congratulations of the rest of the peloton. The last stage of the Tour is a time for riders to talk, enjoy the accolades of fans and relish in their achievement of finishing the Tour de France. Every rider finishing the Tour de France takes great pride in the fact that they finished the most grueling bike race – and in many people’s minds, (mine included) – the most grueling sporting event there is.

Vive le Tour!

TDF Stage 18/Stage 19 Preview

24 Jul

The 2010 Tour de France is winding down. Today’s stage was a good transition, for me at least, to take us down a notch or two from the excitement and heroics of Stage 17. Good preparation too to prepare me for no more Tour after Sunday – always difficult for a few days – withdrawal pains.

Back to the Tour – as predicted, today’s stage ended in a bunch sprint and with no teammates around him, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) took his fourth stage win of this year’s Tour. It was a very impressive win by Cavendish – even if the stage lacked the drama of the previous four.

Stage 18 provided a day of rest for the riders – sorely needed (pun intended) – especially for the top five riders in the GC.

Stage 19

Tomorrow’s stage is an individual time trial. Different then the prologue, the time trial tomorrow is 52km. Because of the length of the time trial and the fact of tired legs after three weeks of racing, it will not favor a time trial specialist like Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).

Most people give 2nd place Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) very little chance of gaining 8 seconds on Tour leader Alberto Contador tomorrow. And, to be honest, the odds are against Schleck – but anything can happen – especially in the Tour. A flat tire, a crash, weather – any of which could affect the outcome of the time trial – and the outcome of the Tour de France.

Without something like that, it is likely Alberto Contador will keep or extend his lead – thus winning the Tour. Also likely, is that 4th place Denis Menchov (Rabobank) will take 3rd from Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel – Euskadi). Menchov is very good at time trials – Sanchez less so. Taking 3rd in the Tour de France is a huge prize for any rider so Sanchez will be highly motivated to keep his 21 second lead over Menchov.

Another thing to consider is Contador has not won a stage yet in the Tour de France this year. The expectation is that the Tour winner should win at least one stage – to honor the jersey and show he is a true champion. To survive the Tour de France and be in the top position should be proof enough that a rider is a champion, but because of this, I think Contador will ride lights out for the win tomorrow. Contador has become very proficient at time trials.

My personal hope is that Lady Karma will visit Contador, and Schleck will end up in that beautiful yellow jersey and win his first Tour de France.

One thing is for sure – tomorrow will be exciting.

*Pictures are from Getty Images

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