Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WHO can win this thing?

Oh my GOSH what a race this is turning out to be! Going into the most brutal stage of this years race, there are literally EIGHT guys who could conceivably have a shot...tho I agree spot on with Susie if I had to pick a few that I felt had a less than stellar shot. But even so, FIVE GUYS? And keep in mind the 'reducing' of the contenders we are discussing does NOT include who is LUCKY and who is not. Granted you often times create your own luck in cycling, but not always. Luck can be very take a quote from Shawshank, "bad luck was just floating around, and I guess it had to land somewhere".

All I know is that IF I had two days of vacation, I'd take them tomorrow and Friday! It will be total agony at work NOT peeking at ANY cycling site so I can come watch the broadcast as if it's live. And Rae...I am TOTALLY ticked that they have decided at the very beginning of the prime time broadcast to basically TELL you what to expect in the stage you are about to see! WHAT THE HAY? KNOCK IT OFF!!  I work HARD during the tour to NOT find out each days results...and then the very show I count on is doing it? Who's decision is this? Something to do with NBC?? They shook up things pretty much everywhere else...why not give away the stage at the very beginning.

Today's stage, I was thinking Andy looked much better than yesterday. However, tomorrow's stage is forecast for cold and wet...which seems to be his kyrptonite. Cadel looked calm and cool though...and I'm totally impressed...but can't help myself from wondering when the 'old' Cadel will show up...I HOPE he stays away and lets this calm and cool (and ATTACKING) Cadel keep riding! I like this guy!

Frank...he is the big threat of the Schlecks right now, but honestly I can't say that with a straight face. Unless the world goes upside down, he would need a BIG chunk of time to beat Cadel in the final TT. Andy is better but not THAT much better. Having Cadel in FRONT of him right now is BAD BAD BAD. Not where he should be. But tomorrow this will all change for sure. There WILL be attacks, and these 2 HC climbs WILL most assuredly open up dramatic gaps in the top 10.

And I know everybody is knocking Voeckler out of it, but he's been nothing short of a HUGE surprise to this point...and even though I'd tend to agree, you NEVER know! He IS the man in yellow...and it has been shown over and over throughout the years that it does indeed give the wearer the strength of 2 men. I expect him to fight like he's never fought before. He is not a fav, but I can't take away anything he's done so far...he's a real fighter and that's what I like to see. I would love to see Tommy D come up with a BIG ride tomorrow and move up a few places...THAT would be pretty cool! So I'll be rooting for him too....dang, it appears I'm rooting for pretty much everybody.....I just want a great race, with BIG things...I don't care WHO does the big thing. I want someone to step up and say THIS RACE IS MINE! But in all the unpredictability, I'd not even be surprised if it was Thor! (and HEY! Can't take away ANYTHING from Edvald Bo-whats-his-name! Gosh, I REALLY need to learn to spell that kids name, as he will surely be a star of the future. Heck..he's a star NOW at 24 years old in his FIRST tour! Way to go!!!) OH, and finally...Cathy, I think I would be jumping out of my chair if LEVI attacks and somehow wins the stage! Surely he has no pressure...I'd LOVE to see him do something to show what he's got. They'd probably let him go as he's so far down...I'd think he's got nothing to lose. GO LEVI!

OK..I'm beat (as always happens in July...funny how  mere spectating can take SO much out of you...they say the tour is all about recovery...well..I'm BARELY hanging in there! I can't fathom how THEY do it!) This race just can't get much more exciting! As Paul said tonight at the end of the broadcast..."can't we just turn the clock forward? I want the stage NOW!"

The course is laid, set Ludicrous speed! (Spaceballs)



  1. Good point, Cathy. I think you might be right that the Schlecks are feeling immense pressure as the leaders of a hugely expensive team built around one of them WINNING the Tour. That really is a lot to be put on their shoulders. I had seen that tweet from MB too and laughed. Saw one from someone yesterday announcing that they will be riding a tandem bike from now on through the alps and that the race organizers would be getting them rearview mirrors ;)

    Cadel is looking GREAT at this point and Matt is right - not sure who this new Cadel is but I'm a huge fan! Definitely cheering him on and wishing him the best 3 days of his career here.

    I had never really thought about it before, but I have NO IDEA why the TdF coverage doesn't use picture in picture to broadcast the race. That would only make sense and they obviously have the capability, as they use it with all of the team car shots. We miss A LOT of what is going on - especially on the climbs when there are so many groups and like today on the vital descents.

    Speaking of descents....
    Did you see Voeckler drop down that big cement step when he went off the road into that driveway?? Holy cats! I can't believe his racing machine could take that. And he calmly brakes to a stop - only a few feet away - and turns his bike around. crazy.

    HUGE day tomorrow! GO CADEL and Schleck 1 and Schleck 2! Hold off that "other guy" and give us some great racing!!

    BTW.....DZ has a really good write up of his accident on his site.

  2. Always makes it much more exciting to find oneself completely wrong about the results! ;-)

    Who is calling in sick tomorrow? Raise your hand, Matt!

  3. Ill be back later with more but let me just say now - if nothing else even MORE bol-dacious happens tomorrow (& it could, almost every friggin day has seen a bigger shock than the Casey Anthony verdict!) only two men DESERVE to win this year's Tour de France :


    Awesome, awesome, awesome!

  4. I am so lucky to have these 4 days off! and lucky to have the IA to talk TdF with!

    You know, I think that the "new" Cadel is just a guy who has finally got a team solidly behind him and is more comfortable with his own style and ability. The talent was always there!

    ****SPOILER ALERT**********

    You may have gotten your wish, Matt!

    I was so stoked at the finish, when Tommy V. crossed the line I threw up my arms too whooping and hollering! What a gutsy ride -- He did what he could do --have to admire him! How does he time trial?

    I wonder if the group let the stage winner (trying to not spoil it completely) get away like that because they were waiting for a certain contender to take charge -- but he couldn't. I was really annoyed that Liqui and Lampre didn't help in the chase -- they CAN'T win, and they blew their chances to even podium, I think, by just sitting on.

    Cathy I really appreciate your insights. Levi made a good effort, Lady Luck had it in for him this year-- but Zubeldia has again shown his quality -- although probably won't make top ten again this year.

    And Garmin -- oh my! I am sure this stage went way beyond their expectations! I kept one eye peeking for their blue helmets the whole way!

    On to L'Alpe!!!


  5. Haimar did move up to 14th but there is a minute gap in each of the places ahead of him, so I'm thinking it will be too hard to break into the top 10 but you never know. He only faded in the last 5k today, but then so did AC, so that was the culmination of a day of climbing. I still think Levi should go for it tomorrow. The entire stage is only 60 miles long and Levi came in 30 minutes down today. L'Alpe is perfect for him if he has the legs. I'm still hopeful! Would love to write up a report about a winning stage for us, although I can easily admit that it was quite FUN and special to write about today's stage too and we had no real part in it!

    Tomorrow's stage is critical now, more than ever. Today's stage winner has to go AGAIN because his gap to the other possible winner is not big enough yet to win the overall since there is still a TT on Saturday. I would think two min would be a more realistic buffer. Rest and recovery are vital tonight. I'm sure the team tried to get him out of post-stage press conference and off the mountain as quickly as possible. The obligations after the stage are sometimes daunting - taking more than an hour most of the time. That's time still on your feet, etc.

    HUGE respect for Voeckler. The look on his face when he finished was so priceless - his tank was completely empty, empty, empty. If he could learn to time trial, he could be a Tour winner. I'm sure he finally believes that now. It took this second go-around in yellow to reveal to him what kind of rider he really is. And to think he was almost without a team at the end of last season before Europcar stepped in. That sponsor has been repaid at least ten-fold.

  6. Also, more than half the peloton was outside the time limit today, which is why the directors always yell to get into the grupetto so the UCI will keep the big group in. Seems like the percentage for the cutoff was rather lean since there was so much climbing today, and big climbs, not little put-puts. I saw that they let Cav stay in the race but reduced his points for green.

  7. Sorry for the continual returns - annoying, I know!

    Translated tweet from AC: "Tough day today. It's these not so good moments that allow you to better enjoy the best ones. Thanks everybody."

    He also can have a go tomorrow if he has a good day. He can't win the Tour but he can rebound and have fun in the process of finding his way to Paris, this time not the winner. The pressure is off of him now. He can go with it.


    Stage 18 - Thurs (Today!)

    Do NOT READ if you haven't seen stage &/or do not want to know what happened!

    Alrighty, MY OH MY! 1st, I canNOT wait to read the comments of all those turncoat, anti-Andy fans NOW!

    Ok, last night while I was watching Stage 17 & I flipped open my Velonews TDF guide to today's stage, I said out loud - "boy, wouldn't it be awesome for someone to attack on the 2ND mt & not wait for the Galibier?!" It would be BOLD. It would be AUDACIOUS. It would be BODACIOUS! But whooooo I wondered. AC? They would all go after him for sure. Frank? Andy? After the last 2 days where their Tour win AND podium chances took major hits & they endured MUCHO criticisms from just about every cycling fan, cycling media, AND so-called cycling experts (ex-riders & current team managers, TV & website analysts, etc), I thought it JUST MIGHT be one of them but it looked too CRAZY - there would still be 60K or something to go!

    But, there went ANNNNN-DAAAAAY! I wonder when the LT team really decided to try this gambit. Think it was before last night? And it worked so freakin PERFECTLY for them too! Getting TWO guys in the break, both to help him if/when he got to them. And then for the other GC faves to do NOTHING! Who would have thought the latter?!

    And then I was screaming at the TV when no one would work with Bulldog! And I'm in total agreement Rae, about Liqui & Lampre but I'm not just irritated, I'm disgusted! Poor Cadel had to DRAG that entire bunch of worthless GC losers up the entire FRIGGIN Galibier! Well, Frank didn't have to work as his brother was up the road, so I guess I'll excuse him for that, but I was NOT happy when he then sprinted around Cadel at the VERY end so he could come in 2nd. Yes, yes, not against the rules & he needs time on Cadel too, but I sure won't be cheering for HIM tomorrow!

    I thought Cadel was just AMAZING. And Andy was AMAZING. Major props for them. MAJOR! The rest? Pfffft, not so much. Well, I was happy to see Tommy D finish in 9th I think AND Ryder AND CVV right behind (& WHOO-HOOOO, it DOES look like they might win the Team GC!), & Voeckler was unbelievable to ONCE AGAIN finish with the top GC guys even if he did look like he was gonna stroke out at the end, but as for Basso, Cunego? $#%^$.

    And I won't harp on this, but yes, I almost LEVITATED off my sofa in ecstacy when Contador & his collaborator Sammy were spit out the back. (Although I STILL don't count out the podium for AC! If his morale is not shattered & if he even WANTS to be on the podium but not on the top step, he COULD still do something bodacious of his own tomorrow &/or do a killer TT! It all depends on his desire or legs.)

  9. MORE Stage 18 SPOILAGE!

    And yes, even though I don't like Voeckler, I have to admit that IF he SOMEhow can actually throw his leg over his bike tomorrow & ride UP 3 more climbs & finish yet AGAIN with the GC faves & then have the best TT of his life, then, yes, I would be happy to see him on the podium (in 3rd). :)

    The thing that aggravates me the most about Voeckler is not him as much as the way he is being treated by the French media. This guy has NEVER riden any stage race as an overall contender & here he is having the most SHOCKING ride of all time & is there even a HINT of something OFF? Let's say an AMERICAN, one who actually has some history of contending in stage races had done the same thing, would we not see in L'Equipe every freakin day that he has to be a DOPER?!

    Yeah, not a sooo-prize that the French media are acting this way but it irritates me just the same!

    Anyway, can you IMAGINE how INSANE Alpe d'Huez will be tomorrow?! It could be even crazier than 2004! A French guy in yellow with a chance to podium. It will be apocalyptic. They will have to hire more security & maybe put more barriers along the road. OH, do you not just HATE those idiotic runners?! Stay off the freakin road!

    So, what do we see happening tomorrow? I am very worried that today's AWESOME racing by Cadel & Andy may hurt them for tomorrow, but hopefully, that won't be the case. Let's see, Andy & Frank both need to put more time into Cadel so one or both MUST attack. But if Cadel can stay with Andy, it should be ok for him. HOWEVER, Andy may sacrifice himself, use himself as bait to fool Cadel into doing just that while Frank shoots off the front, just like Sastre did in 2008 & steals the Tour! Don't let him go, Bulldog! Sure, sure Frank sucks in the TT, but Sastre FLEW like the friggin wind when he wore yellow in 2008, going MUCH faster than he ever had before (or since I believe).

    Man, I wish there was someone Cadel could work with. If Tommy D was just a bit stronger, he'd be perfect. Maybe Sammy still hasn't given up on the podium & Cadel could use him. What do you all think? And of course, AC may do a 'Hail Mary' which would be the ultimate shock to end this SHOCK of a Tour!

    It's too bad TWO guys can't stand on the top step in Paris, but I really want Cadel (BULLDOG!) to win, Andy in 2nd. Andy's still young, he's got a possible 5-9 more years to pull out the win (or wins). This is probably Cadel's best chance & he has ridden a great race. Smart & tenacious. Either way, I know I will shed some tears. They are both proving to be great champions.

  10. Well, I'm not going to have computer access again until Saturday afternoon after the Time Trial, so I won't be able to see yall's chat til then. :(

    As always, it seems like this race has been going on for at LEAST two months & yet, it seems just like yesterday that all the teams came trodding out into that faux Roman coliseum for their introductions.

    Hands down, the Tour de France is the most awesome (single) sporting event ever. If someone came up with the idea now, they would be laughed out of the room : Couple hundred cyclists riding around France, exposed to the elements of Mother nature AND human nature, being followed around by motorcycling photographers & TV camera operators & flying helicopter cameras. And oh yeah, the road signs & barriers & Starts & Finishes have to move every day along with hundreds of international media. Suuuuure.

    It's crazy. It's fantastic. It's AWESOME.

    The past 5 years' Tours have actually been very disappointing for me, for various reasons, & I began to wonder if my love for this race & this sport had run its course. I realized last night that I have been watching the Tour on TV a year longer than Andy Schleck has been ALIVE & boy, do I feel OLD! Last year's Tour was especially devastating & then beginning this year's race with someone whose presence I felt made a mockery of the so-called 'anti-doping' process, I thought I might even stop watching. The 1st week's carnage & the utter destruction of Team Radio Shack's GC hopes almost, almost pushed me to that point. And then something odd happened. Watching Horner being taken to the hospital, not even cognizant of what was happening or that he had finished that day's stage, you knew he would not be able to continue. The guy is almost 40, THIS possibly his ONLY chance to be a GC contender at the Tour de France & the chance was taken away before he could even show the world. For a fan, that can just crack you. I ached for Horner's lost chance. I shed a few tears. But then (here's the odd part), I felt released. Released to just enjoy this magnificent spectacle & be thankful that Horner WILL be ok & that all the bewitched (jinxed? cursed?) Shackers & all the other GC faves who saw their Tour chances destroyed before even the 1st Rest Day will heal up & (most will) come back to fight again.

    So, even with a shaky start, my love for the Tour de France has been renewed. I once again canNOT imagine even contemplating a July not 'spent' in France. :) :)

    Thanks for being here everybody. As always, you have made the Tour even MORE AWESOME! See ya Saturday!

  11. Hmph, had another long comment but the posting process ate it.

    in brief: it is a shame there is no extra help for Cadel; AC has the Spaniards and Basques, the Schlecks get help from other Benelux riders at times I think. Stuey certainly won't! Who else is from Aussie or NZ and able--maybe Sky should think of the good of the Commonwealth!

    I cringe every time I see runners flailing alongside the racers, an accident tryng to happen.

    I am not aware (but I don't read french) of VdV, Hesjdal, Horner, Wiggins etc being suspected of doping in the French press after their unexpected results--have they? And it is not like Voeckler has come out of nowhere (he has won a few smaller stage races, one days, and also stages in the TdF plus some high finishes.
    The late attack is his trademark as we have seen!

    I think it is possible to enjoy more aspects of the race when not focused on one team or rider--at least for me! Of course, I do hope to see good results from the guys on my fantasy teams!

    the outdoor sensor for my thermostat read 105f this afternoon in the shade! walking outside now is like trying to swim through a hot, wet blanket!


  12. HOLY HAND-GRENADES BATMAN!! WHAT A DAY!!!! I'm only sad that I had to WORK all day and watch the entire 5 hours tonight! But I held on all day and had not a whiff of what happened, so it was live to me! I was jumping off my couch when Andy attacked! I was quite worried about how long he would be out there, but having teammates up the road, and then the breakaway(s) ended up great! If this was actually planned, I'd think Lance and Johan would be's something right up their sleeves! LOVED IT! I had a very hard time NOT ff'ing thru the stage to find out what happened! Gosh, I don't recall being SO excited during the Tour in quite a while!

    And I could not BELIEVE that the entire group of contenders let him go! Sure it was a long ways out, but just imagine IF Cadel had followed! It would appear that Alberto couldn't..which I was wondering as it is SO unlike him to let a true contender away in his domain. So I wasn't actually surprised to see him shot off the back. I WAS actually pleasantly surprised by how strong Cadel was. I thought SURE that Andy would break him, that as it got steeper and steeper Andy would turn it around and start taking time back...but it didn't happen. Andy was wiped and he barely crawled across the line...but considering the audacity of his attack (I'll forever call it "Andacity") there's no wonder. Cadel did have help down and across the final valley, only really lost all hlep that when the climb started...where's Andy had one helper, and that one Quick Step guy a little..but his helper Maxime Momfort was pretty wasted and he still turned himself inside out for Andy.

    Ahh...I'm glowing..and basking in the warmth of one of the finest and exciting (if you are a Andy or Cadel fan) stages in AGES! I can hardly wait for tomorrow, but I'm also scared that Andy gave too much today. But I love the thought of Frank jumping ahead, maybe giving HIMSELF enough time to hold a podium spot.

    MY fav podium this year? Andy, Frank and Cadel (in that order, sorry Susie). I think it would be too cool for school to have Andy and Frank one/two...and it wouldn't bother me to see Frank/Andy/Cadel...or Either of them on top and then Cadel (I'm a fan but not THAT Much of a fan...I saw glimpses of the old Cadel here and there today...when he played it SAFE and didn't follow Andy, and again when Contador pulled out and he was flabbergasted as to who was going to help pull Andy back...but I give credit when he FINALLY realized he'd get no more help he just did the job....can't take that away).

    Oh my gosh...I'm GIDDY! And now I must sleep, as the alarm goes off VERY early...thankfully tomorrow's stage isn't so long...I need some SLEEP! July is always great but SO tiring. I did manage to slip in a quick 12 mile TT tonight...just to see how I compare with last year. I'll have to look up my time, but I did pretty good considering the wind was blowing (imagine THAT!)

    GO ANDY! GO FRANK! GO CADEL! (and maybe Levi can come thru tomorrow and do something special..RS has certainly had a crushing Tour this year). And Tommy D, and Christian too I mean..GO GUYS!

    OK...BED TIME! I'm WHIPPED! ONLY 3 more days! ONLY THREE MORE DAYS! Gotta hang in there!


  13. OH, and today's code word was "attack"! How VERY fitting! I still can't win a dang thing though...

  14. Yes! What Matt and Susie said! Loved your thoughts about the pain and beauty of being a Tour watcher, much less rider, Susie. What a GREAT stage today.

    I was amazed by both Andy and Cadel and think that I'll be pleased as punch if either stand on the top step in Paris. They are the ones taking chare of the race and both of them deserve whatever success they get!

    Not that I'm not super impressed by Voeckler - it is really amazing what the human body can do that is beyond all limits when the mind / heart are determined. Bravo TV! Heroic defense of the jersey today.

    Rae - I was doing the same thing - counting the blue Garmin helmets each time they showed that group. I was THRILLED that all 3 Garmin guys finished ahead of AC!! They have GOT to be pleased with their day for sure. I'm hoping that they can keep that team win - even with both Schlecks looking like they'll be top 5 if not better.

    So, the entire Grupetto was outside of the time cut today - what is going to happen tomorrow?? Cav is going to have to work like a maniac (as well as his team) to keep that Green jersey. I'd hate to see him lose it that way....

    Gosh - tomorrow will be EXCITING!!! Can't wait!

  15. If Cadel wins, the good thing about it would be to see Andy Rihs get a legitimate tour win. I'll never forget how excited he was in the car in the TT behind Floyd in 2006 when he won the Tour. This could be his only chance as a winner, too as I fully expect Evans to leave the team for the new Australian team at the end of the season. I'm not really a fan of Evans but I can't really pin point why, so I don't vote for him on the top step in Paris either, Matt!

  16. Just checking in after Stage 19... these last two stages have been AMAZING! I was exchanging emails with a friend this morning while she was watching it live and I was sitting in meeting after meeting... she kept telling me this stage would not disappoint, telling me how many kms were left, etc., driving me nuts so I almost hit the web to find out. Glad I didn't, because this stage was really fun to watch - almost as much fun as last night!

    According to Jensie's blog, the Andy attack yesterday was all in the plan. I love that he did what he had to do, after asserting that not only does he want to win, he plans to win.


    Like half the country, we are having beastly weather - "real feel" was 115 today - so maybe I'll stay in and watch the TT tomorrow instead of riding my bike. Yeah, probably not.