Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tour Talk Three: the MOUNTAINS COMMETH!

Today (Saturday, Stage 8) was a real nice warmup as to what we will be seeing tomorrow. The last 30k having two cat-2's and a cat-3 finish, SWEET! The breakaway broke-down and the lone Frenchman Blel Kadri (riding for AG2R) pulled away from Sylvian Chauvenell and then held off him AND the peleton for the summit finish. It was beautiful! And back at the front of the peleton Saxo Tinkoff wound it up and tore the peleton to smithereenes, with only a few able to hold onto that pace.

Alberto looked calm and collected, as did Nibali (though his team was pretty much out of it by this time). TJ was there, as was Andrew....the only man missing sadly was Froome, and that indeed is something we can only wonder how it would have been. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: although I was not on his fan bandwagon, the Tour took a real blow when he abandoned. I was SO looking forward to this HUGE shootout with all these contenders this year. And other than Frrome, my dream is playing out so far.

All the way to the end Contador and Nibali duked it out, neither blinking  or showing any weakness. And TJ was there, gave it a huge dig but fell back a bit...but was still very close at the end. The only man missing in this first GC shootout (other than Froome) was Andrew, who crashed AGAIN. Although he wasn't hurt, he did lost contact with the lead group and wouldn't regain it. What a huge blow, but he remains completely optimistic and is just the breath of 'fresh air' that I've been looking for as a fan. They call him the "Pitbull" but he comes across with the exuberance of a young kid on his first bike, still enamored with the cycling experience.

You really have to hand it to Nibali and the entire Astana team...not sure but I'm guessing their holding the Mellow Johnny for an entire week thus far is a total surprise, but they are doing a QUITE admirable job of it. I'd even go so far as to say they / he is exceeding expectations every day. I'm actually becoming a fan, never having really paid much attention to him before. Not necessarily such a fan of his 'management' though...I think it's pretty much a fact that Vino rode juiced his entire career. And that Olympic Gold still reeks a bit...THAT was certainly a fluke.  But that's all in the past, and certainly HIS country/federation isn't out to erase his winning past like SOME. That he's managing a team is pretty interesting I will say though.

But enough on that. I've been loving the end of the stages when it cuts back over to Todd/Bobke and CVV, as they've been having 'guests' on the set. And as much as I love having CVV in there, it's just off the chart cool when they have Horner in. And speaking of Horner, I did him a disservice by not mentioning him being in that lead group. He may not have been on the front with TJ/Andrew/Nibbles and Contador, but he wasn't very far away. And that's pretty cool too. It may be beyond the scope of reality hoping that he could podium in this Tour, but I do hope that. But he has some FIERCE competition with the much younger GC contenders. But what can I say...he's still my man! (as well as Jensie and Fabian).

I really enjoyed Chris (Horner's) discussion tonight as to what's happening in the peleton. He was asked what the peleton was like with Froome's absence, and did it slow down things down any. He said that Saxo spun the pace up to just about as high as it could possibly go, so no...whether it was Sky or Saxo pushign on the front, it was still quite insane. He is just such an awesome speaker...he will (I hope) be GREAT as a fellow commentator in the future when he does finally retire (I hope he will do another year, same w/ Jensie).

And today (Stage 8) was only a warmup...a tiny snippet of what's to come. Stage 9 brings a ton of climbing, and even that will pale in comparison when we start hitting the HC climbs down the road. The GC shakeup today was expected and complete....all the pretenders are OUT of the top now. All that are left are those with actual ambitions for a top ten slot, and for those few a podium spot. The problem is there are only 3 spots on the podium, and we have more contenders than that. It's going to be QUITE exciting!

Hang onto your hats ladies and genelemen, cuz awaaaaayyyyyyyyy we gooooooooo!

Game ON!


  1. Wellllllll....Stage 9 (the 'beginning' of the mountains...kind of a warm-up if you will)...TODAY is some real mountains....SEVEN pretty big climbs...(I think the last 4 including the finish-line are cat-1). Anyway, yesterday's stage really broke things open as to the GC battle, and it seemed to calm the peleton down everybody has their 'place' and the fighting to hold a position can stop...WHEW! I think they need to start having a big mountain stage around stage-2 from now on to get the seperation...THEN they can have the flat stages. Not sure if that would work or not, but it sounds good.

    ANYWAY...tomorrow (Tues) is a rest day, and the day Jeannie and I fly to Hawaii for a week (woo-HOO!!!)

    Susie, if you are interested in doing some 'guest-posts' to keep things live here, I'd REALLY LOVE to have them (uncensored write it, I'll post it)! Write it up and shoot it to me in an email (mchapek'at' and I'll slip them in....I'll have my laptop and will have email, but I very much doubt I'll see even a moment of racing from the 15th thru the 22nd. Feel free to shoot them to me daily if you want even.

    Gotta run.....duty calls....I have this one final day before we fly tomorrow. Later gaters!

  2. *****SPOILER ALERT!*****

    Well, this Tour has finally gone down the crapper & for ONCE it has nothing to do with doping! Damn RAIN!!!! :( :( :(

  3. Susie - I will add more later, suffice to say now that I agree... let's hope there are some good surprises and it gets interesting in the Alps/Pyrenees! Barbara

  4. Holy crapsicles! Forget cobbles...RAIN!!! RAIN is the devil this year! I can't freaking believe it! It had shaped up (I'm talking about 2 weeks ago) as being one of the best tours in ages...with a BUNCH of actual contenders! And now, the top TWO are out! And Talansky fell apart and lost another 10 minutes today! He's pretty much out. And who is in 2nd place? Riche PORTE of all people! I would have NEVER in a MILLION ZILLION YEARS predicted that! After Froome went out, I thought Sky should just pack up and go home (still think NOT bringing Wiggo was a HUGE mistake)...but got to give Porte huge credit...he's stepped up in a BIG way!

    HOWEVER...we haven't really seen the BIG mountains yet...sure, a bunch of cat-1's with some 2's and 3's tossed in here and there...but we hit those HC's in the Alps and Pyrnees, and we'll see what's what. I'd say it's pretty much Nibble's tour to lose at this point.

    OMG!!!! Yes Susie and Barbara...we just took a 2nd huge turn for the worst. DAMN DAMN DAMN!!! This GREAT Tour has slid off a mountain of crashes, and will end up being won by the last man standing (so to speak)...the last GC man anyway. That said, Nibbles is riding like a man can't take anything away from him there. Sure would have liked to see what Alberto (AND Froome) would have done in a shootout today though...but can't get that back...what's done is done.

    And away to the rest day, and my travel day. I'll be sucking down Mai-Tai's tomorrow night on my OWN rest day!


  5. Still just gutted. Can NOT believe it! And the Tour started off so magnificently!

    Not since 2006 have ALL the top pre-Tour faves been out of the race & back then, that happened BEFORE the race started! Before the 1st Rest Day! I think this is a result of the rain, Rain, RAIN almost every damn day since they left England (IRONY!) AND that the course was perhaps too demanding altogether. That super hilly Stage 2 when the peloton was just getting "broken in" (boy, is that the right turn of phrase here)? The Stage 5 cobble clearance? The 3 mountain-type stages BEFORE the rest day & BEFORE the Alps & Pyrenees?

    And other sad news is the unsurprising withdrawal of Cancellara. Damn! I'd barely even seen him. He wants to rest up for the Worlds. In SEPTEMBER. Can't blame him really, there's no one close to the podium on his team & every mile sees one more body hit the floor before it goes off to the hospital for surgery. SAVE yourself, Spartacus!

    If any good can come of this year's Tour is that sponsors realize the need to DITCH the BLACK & bring on the DAY GLO jersys!

    About Nibbles - that he is on Vino's (gawd) team makes me more than "curious". Still, he did win the Giro & the Vuelta & been on the Tour podium before, so he's got "credentials". And even though he did zoom by J-Rod yesterday there at the end, at least he didn't look like an alien being like Froome did last year on the 1st mt stage.

  6. The good news is that Tejay is making a comeback! After he crashed hard the 4th time & lost all those minutes, I thought his podium hopes were over. Heck, he's back up in 7th! If he keeps riding like this in the mountains & avoids any more rendezvous with the tarmac, he could get up there! With or without the next GC "fave" crashing out. Hmmm, perhaps being the targeted TDF winner this year is akin to SI's cover! JINX!

    Too bad about Talansky though. His crashes have really hurt him physically & he's way too far back. Of course, if it rains like this in the Alps AND Pyrenees, all bets are off!

    I'm not totally surprised by Richie as he was Froome's main guy last year. I'd thought he was supposed to be given the GC leadership in another GT. Did that happen? I wasn't able to pay much attention to the Giro this year. Still, the Alps/Pyrenees are a different beast than the Vosges. AND we've got 2 more weeks! Seems like a nice guy, but I don't know much.

    Hey, did you see that ex-UCI honcho McQuaid was at the Tour today & NOW says Lance was a VICTIM of a USADA witch hunt? Perhaps the screw is beginning to turn! About damn time. Oh, & that 3 of Menchov's Tour results were stripped? Although, oddly not his Giro win. Too bad they didn't strip his 2008 TDF result - CVV would hop on the podium!

    And thank you so much for the invitation, Matt! I just don't know when I'll be able to get here to write everyday, so will probably just keep commenting. Hope Janann comes back soon. And Rae! And would love to hear more from you Barbara as soon as you can.

  7. Well....Hawaii is toasty. And just a bit humid...but NICE! As are the Mai-Tai's!

    Thanks for the updates worries about just putting comments...all are appreciated. If you hadn't mentioned Fabian's departure I wouldn't have known...didn't see anything on Velo News on it...sad but expected I guess. Fabian and occasionally Frank were about all I've seen so far...mostly Fabian. Where has the REST of the team been? Though with their lame jersey's it's hard to find them apart from other teams. Take a hint from or hate their kit, there's NO denying finding their guys in the peleton! Did see an article today on Velo about Trek looking to get a REAL GC guy for next year...saying that it appears that the Schlecks are out. I can see that...been pretty dang unproductive these last few years, that's for sure. Though there's nothing saying Andy will even come back from this knee injury. Looking where he and Frank were just a few short years ago, it's hard to believe how far they have fallen.

    Also interesting news about Menchov's results being stripped....who prosecuted him? Hadn't heard a whisper about this in the works.

    As to the McQuaid/Lance thing....isn't there some conspiracy theory that McQuaid was complicit in some of Lance's issues (failed test/coverup, etc)?? This will just add fuel to the fire on that front I'd's not like McQuaid was beloved and estemeed by the cycling world in general.

    And so....stage 12 tomorrow....more mini-mountains...seems like a lot of mini-me mountain stages this year...lots of 'warm-ups' for the REAL mountains to come. Reading the Velo News article on Talansky yesterday (stage 11) was heartbreaking...I was SO hoping he would be a contender. Now we're left with TJ to do something, and Porte too I guess....otherwise Nibbles will run-away with this one.

    Gotta run...heading to dinner. Later gaters!

  8. Tour update – Over the last 3 days we’ve seen a pitbull being tenacious (but alas, ultimately put down), a shark being a relentless man-eater, & the sky finally falling on… Team Sky; in other words, it's Wild Kingdom at the Tour de France!

    Nibbles the Shark is looking pretty much, er, uncatchable. And alas, no one in the peloton is named Brody, Hooper, or Quint. Ba dum, ba dum, ba dum, badumbadumbadumbadum! However, his top mt minder (Thumper) crashed today & will be compromised for at least the next two mountainous days as he heals. This may give hope to the closest 4 guys & Tour viewers everywhere (NObody wants to see the race virtually over before they even get TO the final mountain stages, this year in the Pyrenees)!

    I’m assuming the BIG news in France will be that 2 young French guys are currently sitting 3rd & 4th, neither embarrassed on the 1st high mountain stage, & perhaps, can it be – a French guy may again be on the podium in Paris? What is French for “whooo-hooo!”? And maybe we can start seeing crowds that do NOT pale in comparison to Yorkshire's? I know the weather was a big part, but the fairly sparse French crowds for most of the last week has been embarrassing I thought.

    I wish I could get more excited but let's be blunt - WITHOUT the top 2 faves, this Tour is toothless, with or without The Shark. Also, Nibali apparently was BARELY OUT OF BREATH WHEN HE WON THE 30K HC finishing mountain stage? I do not find this good news.

    Oh well, I think I'll be seeing some SUNFLOWERS on tonight's coverage & that always makes me smile.

    OH & Frank finished in the top 10 in today's stage so MAYBE he's getting his climbing legs back & can compete for a mt stage win. That's Team Trek's ONLY hope in what has been an utter failure of a Tour for them. Don't think they were expecting TOO much this year, but boy, this is bad.

    At least one of the "American" teams (BMC) is still doing pretty well - Tejay is holding his own in the mountains & is currently 5th. Can't decide if I want him to get on the podium or not - he'd become even more insufferable. But heck, I'm a patriot, so, go Tejay!

    1. Thanks for the updates Susie! Sure don't get this kind of scoop on VN! I'm torn on what to root for w/ TJ...somebody needs to work on his interviewing skills....uhm....uhm.....good gravy, he is TERRIBLE in front of a mic! Maybe Horner can give him some tips....not that it would help I'm afraid...I think it's just his personality that irks me. Heck...I think I'll root for the French guys!

      Had a nice day yesterday...went to Pearl Harbor (I worked out on Ford Island for 8 years, so I've kind of 'been there, done that'...but the rest of our group have never been here before so it's for them). Went out to the Mighty Mo (the Missouri battleship, guarding her fallen sister Arizona) and got a tour, always awesome! Hard to imagine so much steel can float! (EACH one of the 9 big 16" guns weighs more than than the space shuttle...did NOT know that). Takes over 600lbs of powder for each shot...the 16" projectile can reach altitudes over 30,000 feet on it's 21 mile journey taking 91 seconds...and if each of the 9 guns is firing at their best speed, there can be over 20 projectiles in the air at any given time. THAT is some fascinating stuff!

      Then we went back to the main island (Mo is docked on Ford Island) and found they had canceled the rest of the day's trips out to the Arizona Memorial due to high winds...that's always a very moving thing to stand above the ship (I re-enlisted onboard the Arizona Memorial another lifetime ago...still have my flag that was raised on the mast of the Arizona, which IS actually attached to the ship, where-as the memorial doesn't touch the spans over it).

      Gotta run...doing Haunama Bay today...snorkeling...SWEET!

  9. Hey Matt - great to hear about your Hawaiian trip. Would love to hear more if you can. How many hours are you behind France? 15? Can you watch the coverage LIVE , um, the previous night? I hope to visit Hawaii one day. I watch a couple Hawaii real estate TV shows & geeze, the housing prices there are even worse than Calf! Even worse than San Francisco I think. Plus, the food apparently cost more. With all the agricultural land & fab weather, I thought the vegetable & fruit costs would be cheaper. Any insight?

    And yeah, I guess we feel the same about Tejay, but shoot, I have to have SOMEbody to root for! All the guys I would have been cheering are gone! Cav - gone. Contador - gone. Spartacus - gone. Talanksy - gone. I love seeing Horner & Jensie, but I don't expect either to really figure in this race. Heck, Horner is lucky to be alive & that he is riding in the TOUR after that car ran him over in April is a friggin miracle!

    Hey, you know what I had forgotten? I was looking thru my 2013 datebook & I had wrote in Tour tidbits & CVV had actually crashed out of his final Tour BEFORE the 1st rest day. Once I saw my note, I remembered being so upset & sad for him. "Speaking" of CVV, I really like him on the show, but he REALLY needs speech/vocal training. What I thought was nerves, I think is really his speech patterns, & for TV, they are NOT GOOD! What do you all think?

    An hey Janann - where are you?! Miss you! Hope you're ok & just busy with the house stuff. And anybody have Rae's email? Tell her to stop on by, we miss her too! I guess Cathy might be over in France working for Katusha?

    And I know I've whined about this (sorry), but can you believe 4 years ago, we all thought the TDF would be the Alberto & Andy show for a 5-7 year run? Unbelievable. And while it's looking more dour for Andy, AC is not sitting pretty either. Heck, he's 31! Probably only has another 2, maybe 3 more chances to win the Tour. After working & sacrificing all year to get back here in BETTER condition than last year, & boom, just like that, it's OVUH! Reaching for an energy bar in his back pocket, hits a dip/pot hole & next thing he knows, he's flying over his bike & then on the ground.

    Oh, & I read that Sagan will be on Saxo next year. HOW will that work? Is AC's contract up? How does a team support a guy planning to be on the top step of the podium AND another who is basically a sprinter? You can't have the support guys killing themselves for both outcomes, it never works. Tinkoff probably thinks it was fine for Cav on Sky & Wiggins still won the Tour. I disagree - I think Cav wasted his time being on Sky & could have won a lot more on a team dedicated to him. Plus, Sagan HAS a team working for him & he's still not getting across the line 1st. Will be interesting.

    Talk to ya, Monday!

  10. Hi there everybody and thanks for thinking of me, SusieB! I've been watching the Tour every day but also contending with repairing water damage from the deluge we had just before it started (we had 4" in 24 hours and neighbors kayaking in the street!). Nothing drastic, though. Plus trying to catch up yard work from last year's neglect and all the rain so far this year. It's a real wonder that people aren't dying from the hordes of mosquitos (must be because they are all attacking ME)

    Matt, glad you are having a lovely vacation in Hawaii! My aunt & uncle moved there early in WWII ( my uncle was a watchmaker recruited to work on something to do with bombing) and stayed until around 1970 Funny I've never had any desire to go there myself!

    This tour has been astonishing so far! I've had so many things that I wanted to comment about -- then the next thing happens! I had tears in my eyes when Alberto had to withdraw. I was indeed looking forward to seeing if we would see an exciting battle between Froome, Bertie, and Nibs

    Some people have expressed surprise that Nibs has been so good, but I remember a few years ago he was on fire -- then for 2 years seemed to have lost any form (kind of like the Schlecks although without the injuries, and like Philippe Gilbert) This domination now has to make me wonder, even though I don't really want to wonder. It seems that anytime in the past 5 or so years that we have seen someone ride away from everyone like this, they have been popped later. I really hope it doesn't happen again.

    I was glad to see Frank pull a good result today. (I miss CSC! almost as much as HTC!) Even more pleasantly surprised to see Zubeldia pull himself into the top ten -- I always thought he was a quality rider, but I did think that his best years had been spent as a domestique and he wouldn't be able to show much as "co-leader" for Trek.

    I am LOVING the coverage on NBCSN this year! They have finally gotten it right! Good people on the desk, the post stage interviewers not making fools of themselves (and interviewing a variety of riders from many teams), Steve Porino inside the race, of course getting Chris Horner on air every day -- and just in time, too, have you noticed all the stumbles Phil is making in his play-by-play? Rumor had it he was retiring last winter, but ... I think CVV is doing a fine job, SusieB, I like hearing what he has to say.

    When Horner heard (on air) that AC was out, couldn't you just see the wheels turning in his head, calculating his chances?

    I was also so sad that Ted King had to abandon. He was in no way a contender for a high finish, purely a domestique, but I really like him, love reading his blog. And after the way he had to leave last year this was doubly disappointing!
    I bet the rumor about Sagan and Tinkoff is just that, a rumor. Unless, unless, Cannondale is going to pull the plug on the team... Cav certainly didn't think that it worked out well on Sky, and I don't think it would work for Sagan -- although, I think he could benefit from some coaching from Bjarne Riis -- he is not winning I think because he is not riding tactically well -- he certainly has the talent and engine, he SHOULD be winning!

    I WAS getting pretty annoyed at TJ, five word interviews and every stage was "brutal"! WHINE! But I guess he is warming up to the mic, or isn't as beat after the stage; today he was not half bad (not that giving entertaining interviews is really his purpose at the TDF, but it DOES help people to know and support him). AND, maybe, he has figured out that he really isn't such a phenom. He IS good, no doubt, but so are a lot of other young riders, and t is a team effort.

    Enough for tonight.... SusieB, you are doing a great job, I always enjoy what you have to say just like Matt. Should be a decisive stage tomorrow!


  11. HEY RAE!!! Welcome welcome! Glad to hear the rumours of your demise were just that...rumours (GRIN!) Love all your analysis! You and Susie can really dissect the happenings and really peak my interest! I'm only sad that I"m not seeing even a tiny BIT of racing here...but it IS my summer vacation....and I'll be home for some of the Pyrnees, and the ride into Paris (always bittersweet).

    Today was pretty nice, as have been every day thus far...but tomorrow the outskirts of a hurricane/tropical storm will be upon us...supposed to rain anywhere from 1-3 inches, and possibly (in a perfect storm kind of way) up to 20" if we get the best of the worst...they don't think that will happen, but are just warning us. Today was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay...always fun and tons of fish to see for everybody....not too crowded either which is a nice change from years past...I think I heard they now limit the number of people they let down the hill into the park/preserve....that's a great idea if it's true.

    ANYWAY...bed time...just back from a late dinner and milkshakes for dessert as we wander the streets of Waikikii...LOVE the weather here (I lived here for a total of 10 years....I could easily retire here...if I could afford it that is). Keep the analysis coming Rae and's all I get until I get home next Tues night....

    Game ON!

  12. Hi everyone, it's Barbara (who still can't figure out how to make my Google sign in work). I have no "analysis", just reaction.

    I loved today's stage - the mountain goats on the mountain and the ones on the bikes, too! What fun to have a whole bunch of guys going for it on a summit finish. I have decided that this Tour is a chance for us to see some of the new kids show us what they can do. Enjoying that. I hate seeing riders climb into the team car. I got choked up for Froome and Contador - so much work, such a disappointment. And Talansky - wow, what a swan song! Last time I remember watching someone do a solo act like that it was - you know who - going out ahead of everyone.

    I can't believe the pace these riders are doing! I set my DVR to record an extra 30 minutes, and usually need it in the Alps, but not this year. Then I go out for a ride and really think I can ride like them. It's all good until I look at my computer... I have a climb tomorrow that's the same slope as today's finish - but it's only a mile long. I will not feel like Nibbles by the end.

    Susie, I was thinking CVV had gotten better, but I have been noticing some stumbling - like he's trying to talk too fast. But I think he has a lot of good insight to contribute (a less goofy version of Bobke - whom I love). I hope he wants to stick with it and gets some coaching. I coach people on presentation and speaking skills all the time - maybe he should give me a call. Tejay I would just smack upside the head - we KNOW It's brutal out there. That's the POINT, isn't it? You have to realize if you want to be a star this is part of it. We want to LIKE our heroes. Here's what I do like - having the "guest commentator" on the post show. Jens, Spartacus, Horner, Stetina today - they've all been informative and of course Jensie & Horner were entertaining as hell.

    I am getting REALLY tired of the commercials. Sorry, did I already say that? And I mostly watch on DVR so I can skip them.

    Matt, enjoy your vacation!

    Hey, have you guys been reading Jill's report on her ride across South Africa - amazing event, and she has posted some incredible photos!


  13. Wow, Nibali extended his lead further today! When he attacked the group he was in, he didn't just lift his pace, he made it look easy! And threatened to win the stage again! Kudos to Majka for hanging in for the win, another one of the youngsters takes a stage. TJ thought the stage was hard, he didn't know what else to say, but he acquitted himself well and gained time on Valverde (surprised to see VV tail off at the end). And 2 young Frenchmen, Pinot and Bardet, lit up the last 2 km in their battle for 4 & 5th on the stage. In fact, what a delight, 3 of the top 5 today were French! France is having a great tour so far!

    I have to amend my earlier comments about Nibali's transient loss of form. It was in 2011 (time flies so fast) but it wasn't as bad as I remembered -- he was still getting top 10s in races, and 2nd in the GIro. The next year he had some big 2nd and 3rds, including the TdF, continued that trend in 2013 including another win of the Giro. So not as far out of the picture as I remembered at all! I wonder why I thought that -- maybe just because he didn't get talked about all that much?

    I forgot to mention Talansky too! he showed why his nickname is "Bulldog" didn't he? Hope his inflammation heals quickly and completely -- I want to see how he develops over the next year or two. He may do great things if he doesn't burn out!

    Oh, the commercials, just like every year, so repetitive. Even the ones that I rather like at first -- I love Flo! -- are wearing thin. (I am oddly fascinated by the dancing robot arms in the caddy commercial, though; don't think that I have actually looked at the cars once)


  14. Helllooooo! I was out of town for a week. Didn't have wifi in the hotel room and then we were camping and I had to catch up on the DVR when I got back! Holy crap - what is going on in the Tour? I really hated to see AC crash out like that - so sad - especially after Froome and Cav went out! And then Talansky. That just about broke my heart. It brought tears to my eyes to see how MANY fans had waited the entire half hour after the finish to cheer him on when he finished. I must confess......I think that I am jinxing riders. With the exception of Froome, I have had all of the other missing riders on my fantasy cycling team. Yep, Ted, Cav, AC, Talansky, Cancellara. All I have to say is WATCH OUT Peter Sagan!

    I have many of the same feelings about Tejay. I really want to like him and cheer for him, but I do have issues with his personality at times too. In the past he has seemed really cocky and just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I do think that he is maturing this year and I decided that I'm pulling for him this year. I hope he can stick with the climbers in the next set of mtns. I'd LOVE to see him take Valverde's place. That guy I can't stand.

    I am also cheering for those 2 young French guys. They are real fighters! Hopefully they will re-energize the French fans!

    I also really have enjoyed the commentary on NBC this year. CVV does have some odd speech patterns, but to me they are sort of endearing most of the time and he definitely has some good perspectives to add. And the guests each day - brilliant idea! They've chosen some super guys to have up there too. Jensie and Horner are two of my very favorite guys in the peloton to listen to about the race. PLEEEEEEASE get them into broadcasting when they retire NBC! I would really love that. Not a fan of Steve Schlanger(?) and his questions or some of the post-race questions from the girl (not sure what her name is). One of them got an interview with Tony Martin, who has been KILLING it this Tour, and they asked him what he thought was going through the mind of Talansky off the back. What? Today the girl asked Sagan why he wasn't frustrated by not having a stage win - a question she asked a day or two ago. Sagan, BTW, is one of my favorites and I just adore his interviews :)

    I hope you are enjoying Hawaii, Matt! One of my favorite places. I really hope to get back there again someday. Oooh and snorkeling was one of my favorite experiences there! You're making me jealous ;)

    We had an open house today, so spent much of the last couple of days cleaning up from our trip and getting things back in order and sparkling clean. Ugh. I'm really getting tired of constantly cleaning. So happy to be hearing from Susie, Rae and Barbara. Looking forward to the rest of this crazy race!!

    Oh, and FRANK SCHLECK back up there! Well, not quite as far up there as he used to be, but I've been really happy to see him finishing well in the Alps. I've sort of missed the Schlecks.

    OK, gotta head to bed. Have been up WAY too late the last couple of days cleaning and catching up on the TDF!

  15. WHOO-HOO! The gang's comin' back! :) :)

    Weekend Update, Tour edition - While on Saturday we saw a Spaniard lose time & verify his ethnicity (anyone EVER on time in that country?) & The Shark limit his maneating to a few "nibbles", '24' hours later we saw 'truth follow fiction' as JACK BAUER was once again scooped up at the end by the dastardly Russians (Team Katusha)! But what I REALLY want to know is how the Tour organizers got the weather to cooperate on Sunday for the perfect movie tie-in promo for 'INTO THE STORM'!

    And Janann- here I thought it was me that was the Kiss of Death & it's really all YOUR fault! No wonder Sagan hasn't won a stage. LOL!

    BTW, the NBC gal may have asked Sagan 2 times about being frustrated over his lack of winning because he's now LYING about not being frustrated! When she 1st asked, he had THROWN his bike behind the podium platform after finishing 2nd again. Man, if you're gonna throw a hissy fit, at least own up to it.

    I think all of you are showing admirable maturity by regretting the crash-outs of the faves but looking at the bright side of the new guys "coming to the front". I'm TRYING to get that same mindset but I haven't gotten thru the 5 stages yet. In this case - grief. Sniff, sniff. And I'm happy for France that they finally have some REAL GC contenders, but I know almost nothing of those 2 guys, so just can't root for them. At least not yet.

    About Nibbles - it's not just that he's on Vino's Astana & not just that at the Dauphine, he rode like pack fodder & not even just that he supposedly "worked" in the past with one if those "doctors" that have "ties to doping". It's the EASE with which he's NOW climbing up those mountains! If he doesn't soon have one bad day, at least a LITTLE, I will be more than suspicious. I mean come on, he jitterbugs away whenever it seems he wants to. The only guys ahead of him Saturday were not remotely GC threats & he STILL attacked? When he had NO teammates left? I don't know, I guess if he thought his TT skills are Schleck-like, maybe that was a smart move, but if not, what was the point? To rub the other GC guys' faces in it? And what really kills me - LOOK at the winner right after he crossed the line - like a floppin' fish out of water, GASPING for breath. And then there came Nibbbles, CRUISING in....

    "Suspicion, torments my heart".

  16. Also, from what I've read & heard on TV, I think Talansky's nickname is 'Pitbull'.

  17. Yes, 'Pitbull'! at least I got one syllable right...
    How is Nibs TT? Does he really have this locked up already, barring a mishap?

    Hi Janann (waves)!
    Well I will agree that that interview with Tony Martin was a bit lame! I guess that NBCSN still thinks that their viewers want everything to be USA-centric? I am glad that they seem to have made an effort to talk about all the American riders here and there.

    One thing that P&P have been driving me crazy with, is it seems that they have forgotten how to pronounce Spanish names and never bothered to learn some names new to them (Rafael Majka for example -- I don't know how to say it either, but I had heard of him before now...sort of thought they would have too and would check how to say it... I think I heard them say it 5 different ways... who knows if any of them were right! and who is this YAKIM Rodriguez they keep talking about?)

    How heartbreaking was that for Jack Bauer yesterday! I so want Garmin to win one...SO close! and was that really Heinrich Haussler up there in 2nd? Where's that guy been?

    It was nice to have the tour rest day coincide with my day off! I actually got a lot of work done! But now I am watching the recap show... just can't stay away.


  18. Yaaaayyyy...the gang's mostly all here again! Hooray!

    Well...last day in Hawaii...(sob sob)...tomorrow (Tues) is travel day...leave the hotel @ 9am, and won't get home to the fur-babies until around midnight CA time...gonna be a LONG day.

    Thanks everybody for chatting up le tour since I've been gone, as I've been completely unable to see any of it. Susie....I've had that 'suspect' feeling for nibbles since he kept the yellow on that first climbing day WAY back when pretty much everybody said he had a snowball's chance in hell of keeping it. Sure the yellow gives you wings and all...but he's riding like superman. Not that he doesn't have previous Grand tour experience, but just like Froomey last year: when 1 guy is leaps and bounds better than everybody else, it makes us suspicious. Can't be helped tho, considering the past (and likely similar future, only with new and better drugs and even better concealment).

    Gotta run....last dinner soon...last Mai Tai is what's on tap right now....THEN the last dinner. Then finish packing (which consists of tossing in whatever else is left out that I'm not wearing or carrying tomorrow, and flinging / jamming it into a suitcase).

    Later stop: California (boo hoo).

  19. Always such a SAD day when you have to climb on that plane and watch Hawaii disappear into the distance........sniff

    I've spent the entire day working on my computer: trying to make a backup, changing BIOS settings, booting from USB, trying 25 other BIOS settings. To no avail. I was really trying to make my Windows 7 work on a recovery disk but it looks like I have to dive into Windows 8. I've been dragging my feet something terrible, as I hate to learn how to do things that I've mastered all over again. Finally ran the Windows 8 recovery disks (the only ones that came with the computer) and I'm typing this on my computer!!! Hooray! Its been down @ 8 weeks now and I was going crazy! Wish me luck with Windows8.

    Susie & Matt, I know exactly what you are talking about with Nibali. I want to believe that all is above board and that he is having the best form of his life. But, my husband and I were talking about it the other night and realized that he's riding this race like Lance would, winning in what looks like an effortless manner, day after day, taking time on everyone. On the other hand, I won't enjoy the sport if I suspect everyone who rides well, but suspicions are difficult to keep at bay with all we know... I still hope that we're witnessing a real sporting race.

    SO difficult to watch Jack Bauer get caught almost on the line. I was literally jumping up and down yelling at him while watching that stage! I'm always pulling for the Garmin boys and hope that they get some kind of result in the race this year.

    I LOVED your comment about Valverde, Susie! Made me giggle.

    Yes, Rae! The pronunciation issues from P&P are horrible. They have NEVER been able to pronounce the Spanish names - or even tried very well. That is one of the first things that struck me when I started watching them years ago. "Yakim" has been killing me too during this Tour!

  20. STAGE 16 - TUESDAY (spoiler alert!)

    AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE, OY, OY, OY! Yeah for Mick Rogers in a breakaway win!

    Unfortunately, America's last best podium hope cracked in the Pyrenees & from what I gathered from the Live blog, it was the SPANISH hoping & succeeding in making the omelet. Sigh. Those mountain stages after a Rest Day are always tricky!

    Meanwhile, the Shark swam on. Not his best day but not what you'd call a "bad" one either.

    I'm taking vacation time tomorrow morning & Thursday to watch the next 2 stages live. May there be SOMEone in the peloton whose name, middle name, or nickname is QUINT! Know your classic movies, people! :) :)

  21. SPOILER ALERT well, it appears that Nibs has this sewn up -- excepting a disaster in the TT. I couldn't see yesterday's stage since I was at work and they didn't show the evening replay! But I saw today's stage, cheering Horner on until WOW he was passed by a jet with the afterburners on! Like he said, wisest move after that was pack it in and save it for the Vuelta!

    I am admiring Tejay's determination and persistence, for sure. And it seems that he has thought of some things to say! Yippee! (really, I believe him, he just couldn't think of things to say previously)

    Those young Frenchmen are making a real battle out of the white jersey -- have you ever seen that before? I am glad that the French are getting real contenders to cheer for too.

    So tomorrow is another one for the sprinters -- and probably Sagan's last chance -- I truly hope he gets it!

    And after watching EVERYONE work so hard today -- if Nibs is using PEDs I really, really hope he gets popped.