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Tour de France 2011– Wrap-Up

1 Aug

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universal sportsWe have a rule at our house that no travel, no company – no nothing in July – except watching the Tour de France (and of course, riding the bike). We had to breach that rule this year because my dear mother-in-law turned 80 years old the last weekend of the Tour. Surprised smile

We wouldn’t have missed that celebration for anything (not even the best Tour in forever) so we flew out during the very exciting Stage 19 – Alp d’Huez. We were able to watch most of the stage at home and then followed the remainder of the stage via cell phone and netbook from the airport and plane – we had Wi-Fi as it turned out!

Being the wonderful people they are, my in-laws recorded the Stage for us and we watched the wrap-up show that evening. We watched Stage 20 time trial live and then watched the processional of Stage 21 (including the exciting sprint) live too. No questions were asked, or looks of concern or disbelief observed, when I cried watching the podium presentations. I’m not so sure there weren’t others tearing up.

I’ve followed the Tour de France since the 1990’s and I do not remember a Tour like this one. If you like the sport of racing and the event of the Tour more than you follow/support one rider over another – you had to love this year’s Tour.

This Tour was more competitive and apparently cleaner than any Tour I can remember; consequently it was exciting and fun to watch! I loved the 2011 Tour de Franceand miss it!

Thank goodness for DVR and the internet. I’ve already watched Stages 18 and 19 over again. Love that Thomas Voeckler held on with everything he could muster, loved that Cadel Evans raced such a smart and brave race, loved that the Schlecks handled defeat with such class. I would have loved for Voeckler to have been on the podium, but seeing both Schlecks up there was nice too.

This was a Tour for the ages, and I hope a sign of things to come.

Viva le Tour de France!

2011 Tour de France-Stage 18

21 Jul

stage 18 tv euphoricBy now you’ve all seen Stage 18, don’t know about you but that was the most epic stage I’ve ever seen. Andy Schleck’s ride coupled with the off-the-chart ride by my favorite bike racer in all the world – the one and only – Thomas Voeckler!

As I’ve said here before, I’ve followed the Tour since the mid-90’s and nothing compares to what I witnessed today. As good as Andy Schleck’s ride was and it was, it can’t compare to what Voeckler did. Not for me anyway, and I don’t see how it could for anyone.

Schleck’s ride was something the invincible Lance Armstrong would have done. But, what rider of the caliber of Voeckler has done what he has done this Tour? I can’t think of one either. Sure there are probably some from back in the day, but none in the modern era.

I will never forget what I witnessed today. It will live on in Tour de France lore forever. It deserves to and should. I’m not ashamed to admit that when Thomas Voeckler crossed that finish line, managing to keep that Yellow Jersey against all odds – I cried. I could not believe he did it.

Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France is the single greatest sports event I have ever witnessed. Kudos to Andy Schleck and Thomas Voeckler, and Cadel Evans too for taking it on himself to cut his losses even though he hauled his rivals (except for Contador who cracked) up too. A special thanks to Evans for towing Voeckler!

Queen Stage indeed!

Princess

2011 Tour de France-Stage 17

21 Jul

The Tour de France is winding down, but the racing is heating up.

One thing about this Tour, descents are becoming as important as ascents. It’s usually the climbs that decide a race, this year, going downhill without fear or mishap is just as important.

The latest victim to going downhill was Tour de France leader, Thomas Voeckler. Voeckler took a couple of turns on the last descent wide and at one point ended up off road and into a parking lot of sorts. Truly amazing that it wasn’t worse, it certainly could have been. He ended up jumping his bike over a ledge or steps, then stopping on a dime – all without getting off his bike. A fan (also wearing yellow – how poetic is that), possibly Italian since they were in Italy, gave him a push and he was on his way.

Trying to gain time on his encroaching rivals, actually cost him time to those same rivals. Fortunately not much time, but the Tour is won and lost by seconds so they were costly – it remains to be seen how costly.

stage 17 tv

 

Once again, Alberto Contador, attacked on the final climb. This time all of the favorites followed, but it was on the descent Contador and Sammy Sanchez got away. They had a large gap on the Schlecks and Evans, and an even larger gap on the off-roading Voeckler, but somehow (the cameras didn’t show) all of the favorites managed to catch them at the finish. Voeckler finished :27 behind, but keeping the Yellow Jersey. He is 1:18 up on his nearest rival, Cadel Evans. It could have been much worse.

In other news…. Norwegian, Edvald Boasson Hagen, won the stage. He narrowly lost to fellow Norwegian, Thor Hushovd yesterday. 


Tour de France Fantasy Cycling Challenge

Only 69 points for our 4loveofbikes team in Stage 17: Thomas Voeckler (50) and Nicholas Roche (19).

2011 Tour de France-Stage 16

19 Jul

Lots of excitement today, possibly the most exciting stage yet in terms of racing among the favorites.

Defending champion, Alberto Contador, decided to use the stage to gain time on Andy and Frank Schleck. It worked, he gained 1:06 on Andy Schleck and :18 on Frank (currently in 3rd at 1:49) and the Yellow Jersey wearer, Thomas Voeckler.

When Contador attacked Cadel Evans, currently in 2nd place, 1:45 behind Voeckler, Evans followed as did Sammy Sanchez (currently in 5th at 3:26). Evans overtook Contador and Sanchez in a nail-biting descent. He also showed his bike handling skill and nerves of steel when he bombed down towards the finish. He finished 3 seconds ahead of Contador and Sanchez.

When Voeckler crossed the finish line in the group with Frank Schleck you could see him look around for Andy. Andy Schleck wouldn’t come in for awhile, finishing 35th in the stage.

If you’ve been reading my posts, and I’m not sure anyone actually does, then you know I’ve had Andy pegged as not in good enough form to win the Tour this year. Further, his attacks are high in quantity and low in quality to separate him from the GC favorites. Or, at least that’s what we saw on Plateau de Beille.

Voeckler couldn’t keep up with Evans, Contador and Schleck but he minimized his losses to the two and maintained his time on the others. He raced within himself, knowing the toughest days are ahead. Just exactly what a smart bike rider does, especially when they are in Yellow.

Every stage my admiration and fondness for Voeckler grows. There is no one tougher in this year’s Tour. I will be a sad fan if and when he loses the Yellow, but I expect it will happen. My goal is to see him on the podium. I imagine it’s his goal too.

Last, but certainly not least, Thor Hushovd, truly the God of Thunder, won the stage!  His second this Tour! Excellent Tour for Garmin-Cervelo this year!

Can’t wait to see what unfolds in Stage 17. Vive le Tour!


Tour de France Fantasy Cycling Challenge

For the Love of Bikes team (4loveofbikes) had a decent day and scored 148 points in Stage 16 thanks to Ryder Hesjedal (82), Thomas Voeckler (50) and Phillippe Gilbert (16).

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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