Saturday, June 29, 2013

La Grande Boucle!'s THAT time of year again...JULY! One of my favorite (if not THE) months of the year! For one thing, it's SUMMER! That means we occasionally get days like TODAY, where it's actually SUNNY, and the STUPID WIND has died down to a reasonable level (10-12mph would be typical and fine) was just such a day....did our Saturday morning club ride and it was actually HOT (to me anyway). We don't get much HOT here...our houses don't even have AC...I had to haul down our 3 fans from the attic for these last 2 or 3 days (the REST of the west coast area is sweltering in triple digits...we hit the 80's which is pretty much the same thing for us). The babies are all lying around with their tongues hanging out, looking for the breeze and some shade (they aren't used to heat either). I've actually had to remove most of the huge pile of blankets Jeannie uses (she likes to feel a PILE of blankets piled on top of her most of the year, so she can push them on top of me at some point when she finally gets hot, and I die most every night under a mountain of blankets and fur-babies).

Anyway...I digress (but you can't blame me...we just don't get toasty warm weather very often so it's a big deal). It's TOUR time! In fact, it started TODAY! I would have gotten up early to watch it live, but I've been working 12 hour shifts all week, and my 3am wake-ups take a I slept in till almost 6am (ahhhh...THAT was nice!). The 1st stage was already in progress, but my DVR is set to record one of the shortened versions...there is NO WAY I'll be able to find time over the next 3 weeks to view the live versions...I'll be lucky to watch even half of the reduced ones (and Jeannie can't STAND to hear Phil and Paul's voices...I guess I've broken her over these last few I mostly have to watch the stages in the bedroom).

I think it's going to be a good year...Froome is the odds-on favorite, but I think (HOPE) there will be serious challengers. Contador seems to not be at peak form, but is he sand-bagging some maybe? He is surely a great TT'er, and he can climb like a goat when he's on form. Quite honestly, I don't think Froom could keep up with him on the climbs if he's back at his peak...we shall see soon enough. Andy Shleck? He just doesn't seem to have it any more....really lost it last year w/ that crash/injury. I'd like to think he'd be back to where he was a few years ago when it was he and Alberto gunning it out in the mountains. He has the team support...and I'll be rooting for him for sure. How about Valverde? Rodriguez? TJ and Cadel? (which one will get the full team support? SO far they are saying it's Cadel, but sadly I don't think he will be able to stay with Froome in the mountains, and TJ will be the guy with a chance...we shall see how long they wait to let TJ go for it).              

There is a Team Trial on stage 4...that will surely be's always good for some shakeup of GC contenders...they can lose a good chunk of time if they are too focused on mountains and not enough on the TT aspect. I'm really sad that Fabian isn't here...what a heartbreak for me..he's one of my all-time favorites. but at least Jensie is still turning the cranks...good for him! (our ride today was on the same roads to Avila Beach where Radio Shack saw the winds change on Hwy 1 and quickly broke apart the peleton, and Jens took a flyer off the front to win the stage)...I was thinking about that stage as we had the crosswind portion (not as bad though thankfully).

Who else could be a contender? Astana is rolling with Janez would be nice to see him step up his game and be a GC contender...he's capable I think. Lampre has Cunego, who is a formidable cyclist for sure..but is he GC quality? Certainly Garmin has their money bet of  Ryder Hesjedal, but I'm afraid he won't be in the mix for one of the top 3 spots...but he could surprise me...I'd like to see that for sure. What about Voeckler? He's always ready for an attack and stage wins, but not really a GC guy...(his tongue hangs out too far for that..what a character! I'll be waiting for one of his signature long-range solo attacks to make it to the end). Simon Gerrans on Orica is also a worthy name...but I don't really believe he has the firepower to podium. Who am I missing?

As to the Green jersey, Omega Pharma has all their money on Cav for stage wins...not even sure if he will be able to get the Green Jersey this year...I see Sagan doing what Thor did years back: going out front in the mountainous stages and securing a lot of mid-ride points, and still being in the top 3 at the finish...Cav will likely only be interested in the wins and can be beat in points by a dedicated hard rider like Sagan. The points race should be interesting...also I don't count out Matt Goss, and Philippe Gilbert will most certainly be a very dangerous man with a mission.

KOM? No idea...that is a surprise most every year. TJ is still young enough to be the White Jersey...but I see his aspirations a bit higher than that after his win at the ToC. He believes he has a shot at it all comes down to how Cadel rides, and how early the let TJ have the full team support.

OK...enough for the TDF primer post...I'm going to grab a sandwich and go watch today's stage! Then to bed early as I have a 12 hr shift tomorrow...the long days will be very I can no longer visit ANY cycling websites...I want each day's winners to remain unknown until I WATCH it. Which is always a hard thing to do. My long shifts will just make it that much harder.

Who are your picks for the podium? I have no good reason but I have to admit I'm NOT rooting for Froome...there's just something about him. I'd LOVE to have Andy be back but I just don't see it...never been a HUGE Purito fan but against Froome I'll be rooting...and the route is set up this year to make it pretty exciting most of the way easy crusing for the win for sure (I forget the stage, but they go up Alp d'Huez TWICE on the same stage..first one side, then the other! How cool is THAT!)

Be careful in your comments please as to each day's winners and I won't get to see the stages until evening every spoiler alerts until at least a day after (give me a chance).'s GAME ON!!

Cheers, and VIVA Le Tour!


  1. WOW, what a CRAZY stage today! I won't give it away here (in my NO spoilers policy, until at least the next day)...but it was pure madness in the closing K's. Welcome to the first week of the TDF!

  2. So glad you're not on the Froome wagon! Even though I think Wiggins is an ass, I did NOT like how Froom acted at last year's Tour & haven't liked him since. And speaking of Wiggo - a 'leg INJURY' announced a MONTH ahead of the TDF is what's keeping the defending champion from competing this year?! How dumb do they think the public is? Froome's ego is worse than Sastre's the year after he won the Tour & remember how that turned out for him? I would love it if Froom doesn't even podium.

    I'll be rooting for Caddle (i.e.Cadel), Andy, & even Contador. I'd be satisfied with ANYone other than Froome. Would be ok if Teejay got on the podium too, although I'm still irritated with his less than exemplary "work" for Cadel last year. Yeah, he was so concerned about Cadel that he wasn't even "aware" of the tire blowout from the Tack Attack last year even though he was only about 4 feet from Cadel when it happened.

    Don't know how Ryder will do as he mysteriously imploded at the Giro. (Not that I was able to SEE any of it except a few of the videos of the last few K on cyclingnews, but I read a bit). He withdrew before halfway I think. "Illness". One of the things I HATE about Garmin is Vaughter's PATHETIC delay til 3 days before the damn thing starts to even announce the team. Is that REALLY necessary?! Very sad not to see Tyler there this year. Have to wonder if he'll stay with that team.

    Also, very upset that Spartacus CHOSE not to ride the Tour. At least Jensie is there. And I was screaming for the Shacker to hold off the peloton yesterday, although thanks to Phil, I kept screaming 'GO MARKEL!" What a way to win your very 1st pro race! At the TDF & into the Yellow jersey!

    And what about Stage 1?! Talk about your 'unscheduled BUS STOPS'! The thing is - although I'd NEVER seen that happen before, I wasn't even shocked! Tour Insanity as usual! And with those narrow, twisty roads, it's a miracle there weren't worse crashes. As beautiful as its been for the TV viewers, I bet the teams can't wait to leave Corsica.

    Speaking of viewing, I wasn't able to see ANY of the LIVE footage today via cyclingfans or Steephill. They were all blocked. Just can't pay almost $40 so I can sneakpeak NBC's here at work, so guess I won't be able to see or even listen to LIVE action except on weekends & July 4th. However, I MAY take a vacation day on the stage where they go up Alpe d'Huez TWICE. Bet the Alpe will be even MORE insane than usual! I usually take at least 2 mornings off so I can watch the critical MT stages but since I wasn't even sure til Saturday morning if I was going to watch ANY Tour this year, probably won't this year. Also, I waited til 5:00 on Friday to go to B&N to buy Velo's Tour Guide & they didn't have it. Had to get Cyclesport's & I HATE it. Guess it will be 12 years since I didn't have Velonews TDF Guide beside me on the sofa to write all that day's results & shockers, sniff, sniff. My own damn fault for waiting so long, but I'm still so angry with & at the sport, that I wasn't sure I'd watch until I actually started watching.

    BTW, except for Bob & P2, do NOT like NBC's coverage. Who the hell is that girl doing the pre &post stage interviews? Could they find someone who knows LESS about cycling? Apparently not.

    1. Hey Susie...long time no see! I thought you had moved to the Moon or something!

      I haven't even watched yesterdays (Stage 2) finish yet..worked a 12 hr day on Sun, then we had friends in town and went to dinner when I got home...and went to bed early (the 2am wake-ups so I can be at work by 3:45am are BRUTAL!) I saw very little of stage 2...gonna try to watch 2 days tonight..(yeah, right..we'll see how that goes...gonna have to start that FF early this year). As crazy as it sounds, I wish Voeckler could TT better...I'd LOVE to see him top 5...or better yet podium..THAT would be insane! He is just such a character...kind'a a French version of Jensie...he certainly isn't afraid to throw caution to the wind and take a flyer!

      Anyway...I'd best get viewing...sorry you won't be watching much of it this year...I'd already upped my Dish package back in March for the Classics (and then I was sent on travel for 5 weeks and missed almost all of them!). Oh well..LOTS of cycling to go...(I was also sad Garmin left off Tyler...WTF?? And with Ryder being not his best, maybe Tommy D gets the Captains chair? I'd like to see that!

      Oh..that shut my fingers up and get on it...

      WELCOME BACK!! Missed ur' rants!

  3. Hey Matt, not on topic re TDF, but I know you are a follower of FatCyclist and he is a champion of World Bicycle, if you connect through Trek's site, Trek will match any donations to WBR during the month of July. Thought you might want to post this on Fatty's site!

    HI SUSIEB! I agree with you about some of NBC's talking heads...except I think that, although he doesn't display much personality, Scott Moninger is contributing info nicely. I like the reports from the motorbike as well. Seems NBC always just feels that they have to have a girl, any girl, doing some interviewing.

    I hear that this is the last year for Phil Liggett -- who do you think could or should replace him? Has to be someone who can comment the whole race, not just "color" here and there (but maybe Paul can handle the main commentary with a color person, the way that Eurosport does)

    You noticed that DZ didn't go to France either? Still recovering from injury, or just not motivated? We don't think of him as a strong climber, and that is the type of team that they took, but it seemed to me in the past 2 or 3 years he has been contributing strongly in that respect. Obviously Garmin is hoping for GC placement rather than stage wins this year, and frankly, neither DZ nor Tyler were likely to win a stage I think.


  4. Just got back from work (and my Tues after-work ride)...going to go watch the TTT in a few...just wanted to do a quick comment about Stage 2...OMG! When Jan (Radio Shack, though it was AFTER the finish I think when P&P finally got the right name!) took a flyer off the breakaway, I was yelling at the TV! He was looking so good, but the peleton w/ Sagan was bearing down on him SO that last 100 yards I thought I was going to die..that I could WILL him over the line before being caught (even though the stage finished the day before). The look on his face when he nipped them at the line...first the HUGE double-fist pump, and then the shock and disbelief (much like Big Georges on that Queen stage he won so long ago), that was priceless! I was SO happy for him AND RSTL (Radio Shack Trek Leopard)! And then yesterday the team did GREAT keeping him up front and kept him in yellow for a 2nd day...gosh, what a great thing...young rider, 1st tour, and BAM...not only wins a stage but gets YELLOW for TWO DAYS! Just awesome!!!!

    OK...gotta go watch the TTT...just had to post how happy I was for him and the team!

  5. Jan is very tenacious - always wants to go! When he was riding the last kilometer in stage 2, I was yelling, "Go! Go! Faster! Go Faster!" and the dog was very concerned. My husband wondered later what the neighbors thought was going on! ;-) It was a great win and good run in yellow. Yay!

  6. Hi all, it's Barbara! Monday night when P2 were talking about that beautiful red-cliffed hill along the water in Corsica, and saying how it reminded them of Chapman's Peak in Cape Town... and then Phil talked about the huge bike race/ride they have there in March with 40,000 people - Guess what, I RODE that this year!
    Here are my pictures...

    Enjoying the Tour so far, although I think the Ted King thing is so sad... and according to Bicycling magazine, there was a case to be made for letting him continue. (Trying not to say too much for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.) Heartbreaking interview with him at the start of today's stage.

    Vive le Tour - there's just nothing like it!
    (And I'm not liking NBCSN's coverage either - but at least we have P2 and Bob Roll. Could use more of Bobke.


  7. Hey Matt, Rae & everyone! Hope Janann is able to watch the Tour & will be chiming in soon too. Seems like yesterday & yet YEARS ago we were watching Spartacus look mahvelous in Yellow for a week.

    Ok, where was I. TTT- even more shocking than Garmin not finishing in top 3 (actually, without DZ, should not have been a surprise) & more draw-dropping than BMC finishing so far back (bet Cadel must have been thrilled) was Greenedge winning! GREENEDGE?! Still, they seem such a fun group, how can you not cheer for them? They remind me of Garmin in 2011.

    Very happy that Cav won a stage & what a masterful sprint that was! Can't decide if his crash at less than 35k to go is what kept him from winning yesterday or that his team failed him in the final 4k. What do you all think? He had to expend so much energy just to get back to the group & fairly close to the end. His team was doing great from 10k-4k & then seemed to disappear. Of course, the way he acted on his bus afterwards is why it is often a CHALLENGE to root for the guy. The other thing I don't like about Cav is that if he is not winning or about to get ahead with 10-20 meters to go, you can literally see him let up. Does he want to win the freakin Green jersey or not? Does he not realize that if he had finished 2nd (would have if he hadn't acted like a prat) & Sagan 4th, he would have helped chip away at Sagan's lead? I know most here are Sagan fans but I am NOT. He ruined the Tour of Calif (for me anyway) last year & can't stand his voice! The latter not his fault of course, but it drives me crazy. Plus, I've never understood why this guy's results have never been questioned. This of ALL sports, some guy so completely dominant is just suspicious to me. Not saying I think he's definitely doping, just not rushing to crown him the new king. I've been thrilled he's kept being denied the wins so far in this Tour. I know he'll probably win multiple stages again this year, I just won't be overjoyed when he does. Who knows, maybe I'll warm up to him in a few years. Took that long to start rooting for Cav.

    Sad about Ted King as he seems such a great guy but what I DON'T get is the shock over it. Of COURSE the TDF will throw you out if you don't make the time cut. At least if you're not star. What I don't understand is WHY he & his team were shocked. Have they never watched ther Tour?! The thing that does botther me is that it doesn't seem absolute how his time was clocked. Maybe from now on, someone on all teams' staff will stand at the finish with a phonecamera to photo the guy & the timeclock as he finishes a time trial.

  8. Before I forget - tomorrow (SATURDAY)'s LIVE broadcast is on NBC, not NBCSN. Repeat - NOT on NBCSN but on NBC.

    Ok, I apologize to Cathy up front - but WHAT is the management of the Radio Shack team trying to do?! They announce the day before the Tour is to go up into the mountains that their #1 guy's BROTHER can NOT come back to the team next week after his suspension ends? Way to motivate! Seriously, what is going on here? Do they already know Andy will be leaving the team at the end of the year & think he has NO chance to podium at the Tour? Here I thought things were finally starting to come right again, what with TREK announcing they were taking over sponsorship next year & Andy riding better than he has since the 2011 TDF. All I can think is the team WANTS him & his bro off the team & if under contract, this way HE'S motivated to find another team to BUY him out of it. What do you all think? Maybe the team directors are 'paying' Andy back for what they perceive is his lack of effort the past 2 years? Have to wonder now if part of the reason Fabian is not at the Tour is that he knew this was coming & since TREK have made it clear that HE is their # 1 guy for the future, well, things would have been TENSE on the bus, the dinner table, & on the road around all those hairpin turns. I thought the old CSC-Leopard guys were close. The wheel turns.

  9. OH! And today FINALLY I was able to view one of the LIVE feeds on Steephill! It was one of the French ones so didn't understand a thing, but at least I got to see some of the action the last 30K!

    Are any of you able to click on the 'English' feeds from cyclingfans or steephill & actually see the action? I keep getting "404 FILE NOT FOUND" or I get to the site, see a commercial (but of course...) & then the screen states that I'm in the wrong country to view. Don't understand as I've been able to see action from more than one of the English sites for the past 6 years.

    I do get to watch the live action daily on NBCSN til 8:30 when I have to leave the house & go to work. And of course, I watch the nightly taped version, but I got so used to being able to sneak LIVE peeks at the last 30-40k, that it was awful not being able to see ANYthing since Sunday (not counting yesterday). Fingers crossed I'll keep being able to see that feed or MAYBE even get the 'English' ones back!

    I won't be coming into work this weekend & still don't have a home computer so won't be able to chat about the weekends MOUNTAIN stages til Monday. Only Sat's is a mt-top finish but Sunday goes over more mts. Any predictions? I just want Froome to get passed like he's standing still. It's gettin HOT in heyrh... turn on the A.C.!

    Yep, cycling fandom is a mercurial beast. ;)

  10. Yes, I've been getting the 404 message a lot lately. Are the euro broadcasters on to us "pirates?" (or maybe it is NBC putting the kibosh on the English language feeds).

    I am just watching today's replay after getting home from work, and semi-caught Andy's statement of surprise. What surprises ME is if this was really a surprise to the Schlecks. Really do wonder tho what the problem is with those guys-- CSC was my favorite team when I starting watching cycling and I was really torn when most of my favorite riders dumped the team.
    Now, I wonder what this will mean to Jens. He had said before (a year or two ago that he was sticking with Andy). Will he retire this year?

    My heart broke for Ted King, really. Seven seconds! It seems that his team made a huge mistake in not getting the timing chip onto his bike; and didn't really go to bat for him! He had his strava record to back up his time but the jury wasn't interested. Since they bend the rules more than once every race regarding time cut-offs, they could have let him stay in on the exceptions of courage and question of timing. That is what had everyone hoping. Not surprising, but very very disappointing.

    Cav is a great talent but I haven't warmed up to him yet! other than respecting his talent. After I witnessed him being such a jerk to Bob Stapleton behind the podium at the Tour of Missouri, making it clear that he didn't want to be at that race (the stage of which he had just won) I have not taken much delight in his wins.