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Originally posted by me on July 12 and moved here:

Hi,

Is anyone out there a Tour fan? I've been up super-early all this past week to watch it live and I'm going down to 3rd Place Books in Lake Forest Park tonight to hear Floyd Landis speak and to get a signed copy of his book Positively False: The real Story of How I Won the Tour de France. If anyone wants a copy, let me know and I'll pick up an extra copy and get it signed for you.

Did anyone see this morning's stage on Versus? Alexandre Vinokourov went down and skidded so hard that he couldn't catch up. He was over a minute behind the peloton at the end of the stage and there was a big oval chunk of his shorts about 4" wide by by 10" long exposing a big part of one hip and a huge road rash.

Tomorrow's stage should be interesting.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Response by Kurt M. on July 12 moved here:

Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

Is anyone out there a Tour fan?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Absolutely. In 1976, I was the only person I knew who had a subscription to Velo News; I've been an avid fan of the tour since the days of Mercx and Hinault.

I'm still trying to figure team strategies. Vinokourov and Kloden both crashing, and both likely w/broken bones, could well be out of contention for the win. Two favorites, out this early, is not good for team Astana.

Do you think Cancellara has the sand to maintain the lead into the mountains? The climbs are coming.......

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Response by Brian G. on July 12 moved here:

Originally posted by hausdok

Is anyone out there a Tour fan? I've been up super-early all this past week to watch it live....

Who are you and what have you done with Mike "Sports Are Dumb" O'Handley? Somebody dig up one of those infamous "fighting cricket" posts of his. [:D]

Brian G.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for FOOTBALL Season [:-footbal [:-weepn]

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My response July 12 moved here:

Originally posted by kurt

Do you think Cancellara has the sand to maintain the lead into the mountains? The climbs are coming.......

Nah,

not unless that yellow jersey has the power to turn him into superman. He didn't really show that much in the mountains last year. Besides, he doesn't have the depth in the squad to keep him up front for the entire tour. He needs to be happy with what he's got, try and not drop any time and conserve his strength over the next two weeks and then maybe, just maybe, he'll have enough reserve to put some distance between him and the others. He especially needs to save his strength for the time trials. That's what he's good at and that'll be his best chance to get some distance.

They've gotta be partying hardy in the Cancellara's caravan tonight after seeing Kloden and Vinokourov burn in.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Brian G.

Not sure I've ever said sports are dumb - just that I don't follow the typical US sports - baseball, basketball, football.

I do like to watch full-contact martial arts, extreme fighting; soccer, biking and lacrosse, oh, and yeah, fighting crickets.

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My response July 12 moved here:

Floyd did a good job,

I got over there and there was like standing room only. About 10-15 folks asked him questions from a mike up front and he stood there and very frankly answered all of them - even the ones about the doping scandal. I overheard his publicist talking to one of the store personnel off to one side. Apparently, they'd been told to expect maybe 300 folks. I'd say there was closer to 800 to 900, maybe more.

He's a quick-witted young man and he had the crowd laughing and eating out of his hand in about 15 minutes. Plenty of applause after many of his responses. After his talk, the line to his table was so damned long, they had to make about half of them go away for an hour so they'd have the fire exits cleared. After the first line was reduced to manageable size, they called in all the rest of them.

Tell you what, they should forbid people to bring those damned cell phone cameras into these things. After the first idiot pulled his out to get a picture, every subsequent techie in line pulled out his or hers and the damned line took forever to wind down.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Response by Brandon Chew July 14th that was moved here:

Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

Is anyone out there a Tour fan? I've been up super-early all this past week to watch it live and I'm going down to 3rd Place Books in Lake Forest Park tonight to hear Floyd Landis speak and to get a signed copy of his book Positively False: The real Story of How I Won the Tour de France. If anyone wants a copy, let me know and I'll pick up an extra copy and get it signed for you.

Did anyone see this morning's stage on Versus? Alexandre Vinokourov went down and skidded so hard that he couldn't catch up. He was over a minute behind the peloton at the end of the stage and there was a big oval chunk of his shorts about 4" wide by by 10" long exposing a big part of one hip and a huge road rash.

Tomorrow's stage should be interesting.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I've been an avid cyclist and fan of the tour since 1986, the year Greg Lemond won his first one. My wife and I toured Ireland by bicycle during our honeymoon in 1990, the year that Lemond won his third and final tour. The decisive move came on a mountain stage. My wife and I were watching this stage live on TV in an Irish pub (it was rare to see live TDF stages on US TV back then) among about a hundred drunk and screaming fans. In Europe, pro cycling races come a close second behind world-cup soccer. The level of excitement there was equivalent to being in a bar watching the superbowl here, or maybe more like watching the Kentucky Derby -- except the difference is that the cheering lasts for hours instead of minutes.

The first week of the tour is usually flat, and showcases the sprinters, so I usually don't watch much of it on TV during the first week except for the last hour of the live broadcasts. It gets very exciting when the teams kick up the speed during the final 30 k or so, to position their sprinters for the win. I like the overhead helicopter shots during this portion of the race the best. You don't really appreciate how fast they are moving and how closely they are bunched together until you see it from above. Phil Liggett's commentary during this portion of the race adds to the excitement.

I've been busy this past week and haven't followed this year's tour action closely to date, but I did catch the portion of that stage where Vinko went down. Vinko's injuries don't look too serious. He'll just need to "dig down deep into his suitcase full of courage" [;)] and claw his way back up. Kloden's injury is very painful. Even though he's still in the race, I'd be surprised if he makes it through the mountains. He's probably riding to help Vinko for as long as he is able.

I'm amazed by the bike-handling skills of the riders. A little later in that stage during the downhill run into the finish, Popovych and Cancellara took a nasty hairpin turn too fast and wound up going off the road. I don't know how they managed to stay upright and not run into any spectators, and then re-join the race.

Lance Armstrong did something similar during one of the years he won the tour. A rider going downhill crashed right in front of him and he went off the road when he swerved to miss him. He wound up riding cross-country, cutting off the apex of the next hairpin turn lower down, and he re-joined the race without losing any time of significance.

The race is moving into the mountains now, where the real drama begins to unfold. At this point I try to watch as much of the live action as I possibly can, start to finish. The decisive moves in the race usually come in the second week, in either the alps or the Pyrenees.

Vinko was my pre-race favorite for the win. If he can't do it, I look for one of the Spanish climbers on one of the Spanish teams to do it. This year the race goes counter-clockwise around France, with the Pyrenees coming after the Alps. The Spanish fans and riders get really pumped up on those Pyrenees stages. Some day I want to go to Europe during the tour and get right in the thick of those crazy Spanish fans that line those mountain climbs.

Back to topic. Sadly, I can't remember the last time I sat down to read a book purely for pleasure. Over the years I've put together an extensive collection of literary classics. I imagine that "some day" I'll sit in my rocking chair and start reading them. That day hasn't arrived yet -- I'm still consumed by what seems to be an endless thirst for knowledge.

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My response July 15th, moved here:

Les,

They change tires constantly during the race. Every team has chase cars carrying extra bikes, tires, repair parts, water, food, mechanics, etc. The riders are in contact with their team manager via walkie-talkies. If a tire goes flat they pull to the side and the mechanic and a tire are there within seconds to change it and get them back on the road. If they have a problem with a durailer, you'll sometimes see a team car come up alongside the rider who's in trouble and the mechanic will lean out the window and make adjustments while they are moving. If the team leader's bike goes down and they don't have another bike for him, one of his domestiques - team mates who's role it is to help him win - will give up his bike and do what he can to finish on the busted bike.

One would think that they don't make much money, but domestiques can make $60,000 a year knowing that they'll never be expected to win a race and that their entire purpose in life is to be a drone and bring the leader home by protecting his wheel and making his job easier.

Changing bikes really doesn't alter the outcome that much. The stars all have 3-4 bikes for every task they do - the mountains, the flatlands, time trials on flats, time trials in the mountains. Winning is all predicated on who makes it the entire 3,000 miles in the shortest time. The guy who wins a stage today might be 2 hours back by the end of the tour but at the end of the race there's usually only seconds or sometimes as much as a minute or so spread between those who are the true leaders and are favored to win.

As I'm typing this, there's a breakaway consisting of 18 men about a minute and a half ahead of the peloton with about 100k to the end of the race, 55k of which is uphill on 3 category 5 and 6 climbs. Some of the most talented guys in the tour are hanging off the back just trying to keep up with the peloton, one or two sprinters are just hoping to finish under the time limit and know they're going to be left in the dust on the climbs.

It's a friggin ballet conducted by team managers sitting in cars studying computers and the gps position of every other rider in the tour, trying to predict what everyone else is doing and will do.

These riders are all taking in 7000+ calories on an average stage, all without a single gram of excess fat on their bodies.

Controlled, self-induced torture for 3 weeks.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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My response July 15th moved here:

Ouch,

The stage leader, Australian Michal Rogers, just crashed on a descent and trashed his bike something wicked. Rogers wiped out on a guard rail. David Arroyo was on his wheel, hit him and was catapulted over the handlebars and the guardrail and landed about 20ft. down the slope. Arroyo climbed back up to the highway, checked his bike, got back on and took off. Rogers had to wait for the chase car to give him another bike. Now he's trying to catch up. That's a $6,000 bike that some mechanic will have to work all night on now.

The crash was partly caught on camera. I hurt just watching it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Response by Brandon Chew July 15th moved here:

Originally posted by Les

Brandon,

Do those people use the same bike for entire race? Are they allowed to change tires, seat, frame, etc.? As you might imagine, I still ride a Huffy!

Les, Mike covered it well.

A typical day of racing runs four to six hours, non-stop. If a rider cannot make it to the finish line by the time cutoff (usually a percentage added to the winner's time), he's eliminated from the race. They usually don't go flat-out from start to finish (but sometimes they do!), and there are many races-within-the-race linked together by periods of more casual riding. During those periods of slower racing, they take care of things like eating, getting more water, heeding the call of nature, taking care of non-emergency equipment problems, etc. -- all without stopping. As Mike explained, when an equipment problem needs to be fixed in a hurry, a team-mate might give a rider his wheel or his bike, or he will wait for either a neutral support car or their team car to reach them. If a team leader winds up behind the race due to an equipment problem or to heed the call of nature, their team will usually drop back and then pace the leader back into the race.

A rider usually finishes the day's race on the bike that he started on, unless something happens that makes it unrideable. Mike explained a lot of the things they do to fix things that go wrong during the race. Each rider has a bike that is specialized for the type of racing for the day -- flat, mountains, or time trial -- and they use a bike each day that matches the type of race.

After a day of racing, they eat, get a massage, go to sleep, and do it again the next day. Twenty one days of racing to determine the winner. There are usually two "rest days" interspersed in there. "Rest" is a misnomer. They still ride for about four hours on a rest day, but they don't race. During a typical tour (21 days of racing) an average rider will burn about 124,000 calories (hint to those taking the TIJ weight-loss challenge). Since their body fat percentage is already in the single digits, they need to consume that many calories just to avoid losing weight (muscle mass).

I hope you guys don't mind the thread drift. I try not to make it a habit and we are in the chit-chat section. [:-angel] Maybe the moderator can split the thread?

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Originally posted by Brandon Chew

I hope you guys don't mind the thread drift. I try not to make it a habit and we are in the chit-chat section. [:-angel] Maybe the moderator can split the thread?

Done,

Vino cracked badly yesterday; so did Leipheimer. Levi blamed it on his chain wrapping around his dérailleur, but it didn't take them that long to get to him and I think he could have caught them if he'd wanted to. Crap, in the time he continued to coast down that mountain with the chain wrapped, he could have stopped, unwrapped it and taken off hard on the descent to make up for time. It's hard to believe he couldn't have fixed his own chain.

Rasmussen showed his usual mountain strengths. Hincapie could still do it if he started acting like a leader instead of a domestique, but I think the idea of winning it scares the crap out of him - especially after what happened to Landis and Armstrong with the doping allegations. After all, a quarter of a mil plus a year, without any requirement to win a thing is a pretty nice nut. When you win it, you take the winner's purse and divvy it up to all of the domestiques, mechanics, cooks, massage therapists and other supports staff and keep nothing, because, as the winner, you're expected to make millions from endorsements. Three days after Landis gifted his winnings to the team, the doping allegations came out and he got zip for endorsement deals. Even if he eventually prevails, he'll never be able to recover what he's spent on legal costs and lost endorsement contracts and the loss of income from suspension. I think George is a pragmatist; he probably figures a bird in the hand is worth a dream in the bush.

Vino and Levi are using classic steady as she goes tactics from The Book of Lance. Rest day today. Who knows?; they might come out tomorrow like Landis did on Stage 17 last year and wipe the mat with half of the peloton. With nearly two weeks to go it's still anybody's race.

For those unaquainted with the tour, check out Versus tonight at 8:00 pm. They'll have a recap of the tour so far from the prologue to end of yesterdays stage and bring you up to speed.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thanks Mike!

Yesterday's stage was the final race in the Alps. About the only thing that was accomplished during the stages in the Alps was that Vino went from pre-tour favorite to a long-shot. A very pleasant surprise was the emergence of Alberto Contador on the Discovery team. At 24 years old and in his first TdF, he's showing a lot of potential for the future.

Vino is still hurting from his crash last week, and he lost some more time to his main rivals, but I wouldn't yet rule him out completely (although he's clearly no longer a favorite to win). He'll gain a good chunk of that time back on Saturday's time trial, and will move up in the overall standings from his current 21 @ 8m:16s back. Kloden is clearly the better rider on the Astana team in the mountains. I think Astana will use the results of the time trial to decide whether to keep supporting Vino for a place on the podium in Paris, or to support Kloden for a stage win in the Pyrenees. I don't think Kloden has what it takes to win the yellow -- but again, the time trial will be telling.

Early in yesterday's race a yellow lab tried to cross the road. As you can imagine, having a dog wander into the middle of a bike race is not a good thing. Riders were swerving and jamming on the brakes. A dog in that situation doesn't exactly walk in a straight line. One unlucky rider was trying to stop and broadsided the dog. The impact turned his front wheel into a pretzel and catapulted him over the handlebars. Dog and rider appeared to be unhurt. The same could not be said for the bike.

Now they head for the Mediterranean coast and have three relatively flat stages. On Saturday is a time trial and after that there are three days of hard racing in the Pyrenees. The time trial will reveal who the real contenders are for the yellow jersey. The current wearer of the yellow jersey, Rassmusen, will drop like a rock. He's great in the mountains but not good in "the race of truth".

For the USA, I like the chances of Levi Lipheimer at this point. Although he hasn't stood out yet in this year's race, he's riding very smart. He's currently sitting 9th @ 3m:53s and hasn't had to work very hard yet. On yesterday's stage the Discovery team was riding very well. On the final climb and on the descent toward the finish, they had two riders (Contador and Popovich) off the front. This put the onus of chasing them down on other teams, and allowed Leipheimer (who was well-placed in a break of his own) to gain some time on his rivals while other teams did the work. He was disappointed, though, that the chase was disorganized, so it didn't work as well for him as it could have been (meaning he could have put even more distance between him and his rivals). Leipheimer should be in a position to challenge for the overall after the time trial. Evans, Contador, Moreau, and Kloden are the riders to watch who are ahead of him. After the time trial he's got three tough stages in the Pyrenees, and he's got five guys who are climbing extremely well to support him (Popovich, Contador, Gusev, Paulinho and Hincapie)

Not much will change in the overall standings between now and Saturday's time trial. Today's stage was typical for this portion of the race. What usually happens is that either one guy or a small group of guys, none of whom are threats for the overall, will break away early, and the peloton will wave and let them go. Then the peloton will work just hard enough to make sure the time gap doesn't affect the position of their team leader in the overall standings. Meanwhile the riders in the small group will be pulling out every trick in the book as they fight among themselves for the win.

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Yeah,

You have to give Vino credit for effort. I was actually thinking of sending an email to the Kazakhstan head-of-state to thank him for guaranteeing that they'll back Astana for the next ten years. He may never win the tour, but if that stubborn SOB ends up being the team manager we're going to see some great things coming from Astana.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If there's enough room for someone's head, these guy's will put themselves and their bike into it; it's amazing to watch.

Evanston hosted a stop on the International Cycling Series yesterday; I got these shots @ turns 3 & 4......

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I dunno,

It makes no sense to me that lightning would strike twice like this. Vino isn't an idiot and after Landis' situation last year everyone, including Vino, knows that the focus is more than ever on doping. Knowing that he's going to have to pee in that cup immediately after the race, and knowing that his result would immediately be under the microscope, this doesn't compute.

Doesn't it seem really, really odd that the very same French lab that made allegations that Lance Armstrong was doping by publicizing incomplete results, and then publicly leaked a positive A test with Landis' results - Chatenay-Malabry - has been the one breaking the news in all of these sensational cases?

Why is it that all year long, during other competitions, and with the doping agents showing up at their doors unannounced at all hours of the day and night to have them pee in a cup, that the urine of these guys never tested positive in any other labs used by WADA anywhere in the world - except for at Chatenay-Malabry? That's a pretty odd coincidence, don't you think? I sure do. My cop's radar is up on this one.

Here's where I'd be if I were an honest French cop seeing this going on - I'd be investigating every single employee at Chatenay-Malabry, as well as the pee collectors that have been carrying the results to that lab, looking for a connection to a big player in gambling. All one has to do to contaminate these results is coat the inside of a pee cup, allow it to dry clear and then use that "special" cup to collect the urine from the fellow you want to burn.

My theory is that Landis winning the tour last year probably put a serious kink in the wallet of some player who had huge bucks riding on someone else winning. If that were the case, some money placed in the right place to convince one of the pee collectors or a lab technician to manipulate a result, in order to dethrone Landis' would have reversed a perp's losses.

When whoever it was got away with it once, he, or she, figured that they could get away with it again. Perhaps it's not even an outside player. It could even be one of the lab techs at Chatenay-Malabry laying off money on a bet with a bookie and then making absolutely sure that he or she gets the result necessary to plump up that bank account by targeting those that need to be burnt - in this case, Vino.

I think they're looking in the wrong direction. Jeez, how I'd love to be able to get out there and dig into this one.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Certainly possible; maybe even likely.

When I read the original investigative series on Landis, the lab sounded pretty fishy.

Mike, get your people on this immediately.

Although, on second thought, you don't really think there's organized crime in France, do you? I mean, the island of Corsica has always been a den of honest trade, no? Marseilles is a haven of good will, forthright honesty, and citizens always doing the right thing, or so I've heard.......[:-apple]

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