Tour De France – it was Epic

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True drama includes the hero touching the whiskers of defeat and having to climb a mountain to overcome adversity to achieve victory. He should slay the toughest dragon. The outcome of the contest should not be decided until the end to hold the audience in suspense and to pull for the hero in his travails.

The tour had all of this. 11 different changes in the lead, a TDF record. Floyd Landis had the tour in hand in the most celebrated stage – L’Alpe-D’uez only to suffer total defeat falling an unsurmountable amount of time behind with a total collapse in stage 16 and the Col du Galibier. His mountain to climb was himself and the doubts of failure where some would give up and the Stage 17 the very next day with 5 climbs including the Cole des Saisies. He slew the dragons and pulled himself from 11th place, virtually out of the race to only 30 seconds behind in the final time trial. It was described by as possibly the greatest stage ever at the TDF. All this after he disclosed the fact that his right hip was dead and he will have hip replacement surgery after the tour.

On this final competition day, he rode the solo time trial like a champion and took the yellow jersey, with the race being decided on indiviual talent. So the Maillot Jeune goes to the man with the biggest heart and will to win. It was a great story with a hero, a mountain to climb, a dragon to slay and suspense to the end.

Now 19 of 25 leaders who have led after the L’alpe-Duez have won the tour, they rode over 89 hours over 3800 KM from speeds of 8 to 90 KPH. And it was the Star Spangled Banner that played in Paris for the 8th year in a row and the 11th time in 21 years.

The tests of Men

It’s not that I haven’t been working, in fact I’ve been getting it done, but I’m going to be distracted tomorrow night when I watch the results of the next stage.

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I’ve pretty much mentioned it in most of my TDF blogs so far. These are the defining moments in your career. In Formula 1 you look to Monaco as the jewel, Olympics for a lot of sports, Soccer/Futbol has the World Cup.

Winning the Tour is the overall goal, but the Yellow Jersey in Paris goes straight through L’Alpe-D’Huez. Stage 16 has a higher climb, but make or break for the winner should happen here. The Pyrenees were tough, but the Alps after 2 hard weeks of riding 6 hours a day are a killer.

Sharks teeth, TDF stage 11

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These mountains look like sharks teeth, and that is what it did to the riders today. Even Lance Armstrong said he wasn’t a fan of the Col du Tourmalet.

In the end, it was an American, Floyd Landis of Team Phonak in the lead, with another American Levi Leipheimer finishing 2nd in the stage to finally have a good stage at the tour.

Stupid move of the race?  Thomas Voekler attacking from the peloton to try and get to the leaders, only to hit the wall like a bug against a truck (lorrie) at top speed and fall back and back and back.

So much for the Pyrenees, a flat stage today, then off to the Alps for more manly riding.

The Men and the boys

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Today is the first stage up the mountains in the Tour de France. In other words, this is the first real day of the race. Sure we’ve had the time trials, prologue and a few sprints, but to contest for the yellow jersey, climbing mountains is the strategy de jour for winning.

Remember back when you were a kid on your bike and think of the biggest hill in your neighborhood. It was the most grueling few seconds you had on two wheels. Now, do that for 6 hours at 100 times the difficulty and you get what 170 of the best bike riders in the world will face. Then do it everyday for a week strait, it is a new definition of pain. This is when you have to reach inside yourself and ask how bad do you want something….like a yellow jersey.

No Lance this year. We’ll see who the new victor over self and mountain will be. Today they clime the Col de Soudet at 1540 meters in height. A minor 1000 meter climb up the Col de Marie Blanque after that should kill off any pretenders.

But it is stage 15 up the legendary L’alpe-D’Huez that will define the men vs. the boys, don’t miss it.

Holiday Happenings

Nathan’s hot-dog eating championship:

Takeru Kobayashi defends his title for the 6th year in a row by downing a new world record 53 and 3/4 hot-dogs in 12 minutes, narrowly edging out Joey Chestnut (50 dogs) and maintain his status as the champion eater in the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Sadly for the viewers, there were no “Reversals of Fortune”. There are 17,120 calories, 830 grams of Fat and 24,075 mg of sodium, versus a daily recommended intake of 600 in that many dogs.
Tour de France.

Through 3 stages of the tour, there has been 3 different Maillot Jeunes or yellow jerseys….That’s the leader for NASCAR fans. It will be back and forth until stage 7, the time trial. That’s the first separation of the men vs. the boys. Three riders fell and broke collar bones in today’s stage, the scourge of tour riders.
Muslims rioted in Paris again. Riots, work boycotts, whatever.

The Space Shuttle took off successfully.

Today is my mother’s 83rd Birthday.
And the Webster word of the day is of course, Yankee.

The Tour de France – about to start

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Well, it’s finally here, the crowning of the next king of cycling.  The Tour de France start on July 1st, and fortunately for me, I have a DVR and can see it later on OLN tv…I just have to stay out of the blogs before I watch.  It’s always funny to hear Bob Roll mispronounce the Tour dee France…
It was easy the last 7 years, we pretty much knew who was going to wind up with the yellow jersey, it was just a matter of when he wanted it to happen.

So will it be Ivan Basso winner of the Giro d’Italia, Jan Ulrich – the last Tour winner before Lance, Floyd Landis?  Will it be Team Discovery, Phonak, Deutsch Telekom in the team championship?

The flat stages can be a bit boring, but the sprints at the end are good.  The team time trials are a ballet of coordination and aerodynamics.  The individual time trials are mano-o-mano, but the test of manhood is in the mountains.  Anyone who has ridden a bike uphill knows it’s tough, but do it for 6 hours against the best in the world?  The winner has a big set of stones.