Friday, July 10, 2015

Tour Talk, week Two

Just like that, 7 stages are done. We are one third of the way through this years Tour! We've had lots of excitement, carnage and heartbreak thus far...including TWO riders wearing yellow abandoning AFTER finishing the stage. Has anybody heard anything at all about Fabian and how he's doing with his re-injured back? We know that Tony Martin had his surgery bright and early this morning and was watching the stage on the TV from his hotel room (he tweeted and emailed a picture even). He must have been quite happy to see Cav finally get the humongous silverback Mountain Gorilla off his back and win the day. And even though I'm not a huge Cav fan, I'm still happy for him and the team.

I AM however a huge Sagan fan, and will be anxiously watching Stage 8 to see if he can pull off some magic and take over the green jersey from Griepel (let-alone if he could possibly win the stage). A lot will depend on how much work he does for Alberto throughout the day. Obviously the team is giving him a reduced workload and protecting him as best they can without sacrificing anything for Alberto, as the overall yellow in Paris is obviously THE goal. Anything else (as long as it doesn't put Plan A at risk) is just icing on the cake. He has been having some fantastic results nevertheless (that's three 2nds and two 3rds after stage 7)....and consider that's with NO dedicated lead-out train whatsoever, AND after working for Alberto and the team most of the day. He's being paid a lot of money, but I don't think you can get a better value than that. It would be fantastic if he can win a stage, and I'll surely be rooting him on.

The race is really going to start heating up this week, as the GC guys will finally have to come out of the pack and show some cards. I'm SO VERY EXCITED that ALL the GC guys (and then some) are STILL in the race and (as far as we know) healthy and ready to rumble! Froome is right where he wants to be sitting comfortably in yellow. TJ (who I considered a dark horse) is RIGHT THERE not only knocking on the door, but already INSIDE the door sitting on the couch drinking a beer. He sits at a paltry 13 seconds back which is pretty fantastic! Alberto is also in a great position at only 36 seconds back. Nibbles has a bit more work to do, sitting at 1:36, while Valverde and Quintana sit at 1:51 and 1:56 respectively. Purito has climbed from obscurity in the pack and sits just behind Valverde and Quintana at 2 minutes flat. I never really considered him as even a dark horse pre-race, but he's showing that he IS a Grand Tour contender.. And then Talansky sits just back of him at 2:39.

Realistically, barring disaster up front with the fantastic 4 (or 6, or 8 even?) Talansky has almost no shot even at making the podium. That's a LOT of time to gain against the VERY BEST in the sport. And even Purito, Valverde and Quintana have am extremely tall order to get up into the top 3 (I hadn't considered Valverde pre-race as a podium contender, but he has shown he still has the fire and is capable) We'll see what happens on Movistar when the going gets can't have two leaders without suffering morale problems. The first one to blink will quickly find himself as a super-domestique. I believe Quintana will be able to drop Valverde like a bad-habit in the steep stuff.. but hey... it's the Tour...and ANYTHING can happen on any given day, and about the only thing I know for sure is that the current order won't last...and that we are in for surprises and changes during the next 2 weeks.

Take a breath for a moment and consider that we currently have EIGHT potential podium guys withing 2:39 of the lead going into week 2! That's got to be THE most exciting crop of possible winners surviving the first week in memory! The tour has changed so much in the last 10 to 20 years...the first week has become SO difficult to get through unscathed with most of your team.

And speaking of teams, let's not forget the Team Time Trial on Sunday...there will certainly be big winners and losers in this crop of protagonists. This might very well be THE most important TTT that I've ever seen! Add into the mix the time bonuses available at the finish lines every day (except for TT's)...and OMG are we in for an BATTLE-ROYALE all the way to Paris!

Hold onto your hats, it's going to be a WILD RIDE!

Tour ON!


  1. Well well well! The TTT is in the history books, and I'd have to say Quintana (and Valverde) were the big winners! Who expected them to lose only a few seconds to both BMC and Sky? I was worried it would be the death-nail in the coffin. That apparently was what Nibali/Astana got. I thought sure Movistar would have been down there with Astana. That's got to be a HUGE lift to Quintana going into the mountains! Add to that the fact that Valverde (who is AHEAD of Quintana by a few seconds) is a viable threat in his own right...and Movistar has some great cards to play when the going gets steep!

    In the big scheme of things, I quite honestly don't car who wins...I just want it to be a hard-fought and CLOSE race down to the bitter end, with hopefully MORE than two guys fighting it out. We've got Froome, TJ, Contador, Quintana, Valverde and even though it seems improbable, lets NOT count out Nibbles.

    Oh...and speaking of death-nails after the TTT, forget Nibbles...I totally forgot about poor Talansky. Now THAT is a death-nail...Cdale/Garmin was CRUSHED in the TTT. Talansky is now over 4 minutes back, so unless there is a nuclear strike at the front of the race he's pretty much out.

    It will be very interesting to see how the Pyrnees go...everybody EXCEPT for TJ has to throw caution to the wind at some point and risk losing a lot to gain a lot. Even Contador is over a minute back...that's a lot when you consider he's already done the Giro....and who he's trying to gain the time on. I think the big question will be "IS TJ ready for the BIG-Time?" And also, "How will he and his team handle the LONG grueling climbs?" Is he on-par with Froome (and Quintana/Valverde/Nibali) when the going gets really long and steep? Tuesday should finally give us taste of an answer to those questions. All I REALLY know for sure is that I'm SO HAPPY that the main contenders are STILL in the hunt after the cataclysmic opening 8 days!

  2. Susie, a thought - since we've been having problems with losing comments, I have started copying my comment before I attempt to post it. Then it if gets lost, I just have to hit PASTE to try again.

    1. That's good thinking Barbara! I can't for the life of me figure out why comments are being lost...I think it happened to me once or twice, but not in a long time.

  3. I have been so busy at work this week that I am coming home, logging back on, and firing up the DVR to catch up on le Tour. It's exhausting, but the Tour has been so exciting! I cried when Tony Martin crossed the line - I have never seen him smile so much! What a triumph! And his team and all the guys in the car and the bus were just crazy. And I admit I shed a tear when he went down 2 stages later. Watching him holding his arm in that trademark broken collarbone way, getting the yellow jersey behind the stage so nobody could see how the hell they even go it on him... broke my heart. (As our former friend Marty would say... Onward....)

    - I was really GLAD to see CAV get a win - he had to get that monkey off his back. And now we don't have to hear about it...
    - I LOVE TTT's! I love watching them work the paceline
    - Happy for TJ and his team today! And I think his interviews have gotten SO much better - he doesn't sound whiny anymore. So IMHO he deserves a podium spot - wouldn't that be fun!
    - Having friends from and in South Africa, I'm thrilled that their team is getting noticed with the polka-dot jersey.

    Can't WAIT for the MOUNTAINS!!! And we have EPIC mountains this year!


  4. And Barbara...Agree totally w/ Tony...I was SO excited when he made that breakaway (I wasn't kidding when I said I was YELLING at him thru my TV to GO GO GO! And it wasn't even live....just on my DVR). And that crash before the line....I was already sad that Fabian went out....but to actually finish the stage and KEEPING the yellow jersey, only to be unable to start...pure heartbreak! I bet he's been pretty happy for his team since tho. And they even did fairly well today in the TTT without him...just think how much time they could have knocked off WITH Tony!

    I also agree TJ has indeed gotten better...(still room for improvement tho, but at least I don't want to poke my eardrums-out with a pencil just so I DON'T have to listen to him anymore). I do have to say I'm SO not a fan of his new haircut tho. There...been wanting to say that for a while. But he's certainly riding maybe it brings him luck...whatever he's doing, it's working. Maybe NIbbles should get a would be worth a shot at this point (tho not working so well for Talansky).

    And yes, it's been wicked cool to have our African Polka-dot jersey holder...I'm hoping he gets in lots of breakaways and wins it in the end, as well as a stage somewhere along the way. He's a breath of fresh air (I won't even TRY to spell his name, let-along pronounce it).

    Isn't this just the BEST tour you can remember?? If only Contador, Quintana (and yes, even Valverde) can cut their deficit, boy oh BOY would there be fireworks in the mountains! And I'd even be happy if Nibbles can work some magic and get back in the mix. Gosh...a 5 or 6-way shootout...they'd be exhausted from marking each other! And just think of the poor teams with THAT many contenders to worry would truly be EPIC!

  5. I plan to come back later to chat a bit but saw the awful news earlier about Ivan Basso - when he had a small crash earlier in the Tour, he felt some pain in his testicles. Today he went to the Drs about it & they did some tests & he has testicular cancer & must pull put of the Tour! Poor Ivan. Hope he'll be alright. I also hope Lance reaches out with some medical advice & helps Ivan get the best Drs/care. I also hope this isn't the end of Basso's career. I'm not sure how much longer he planed to ride but this is sure a horrid way for his career to end (if it does).

    The main thing of course is Ivan's health & that he start treatment as son as possible, but man, have to feel for Contador & the other Saxo guys too. This must be devastating to them - seeing their teammate/friend diagnosed with cancer (!) & have to leave the Tour like this & worrying about him & also that they are now down one of their best guys. ( I know that last part seems inconsequential but they ARE at the Tour & it goes on).

    Here's hoping all the best for Ivan & for him to GET WELL SOON!

  6. About the TTT - I think the biggest shock & losers were Trek & Garmin, both with GC contenders who after a poor 1st week & now terrible TTTs (for them), are now so far back it will be iffy for them to even finish in the Top 10. Remember when those teams DOMINATED team time trials?! What the heck happened? Garmin especially, they have 3, count 'em THREE, GC type riders that SHOULD be great at TTTs! Maybe some of their guys are hurt. Otherwise, all I can think is that Vaughters or whomever put that Tour team together did a piss-poor job. At least Trek can point to losing massive engine Spartacus for an excuse.

    Anyhoo, so happy for TVG & BMC! And I'm sure Tejay is probably disappointed he didn't get into the Yellow jersey but it WILL save him lots of time at the end of stages (no press conferences & standing on his feet). I'm not shocked at Movistar anymore - about 4-5 grand tours ago, they started WINNING the TTTs & after that original shock, I'm used to it now. Also, they added 1-2 guys just for that stage (which is smart).

    Ok, looking ahead at the contenders : it's such a cliché but SO SO TRUE that the "Tour starts when it gets into the mountains" (of course, IF you survive the 1st week). We've seen the guys do those short hills at the end of stages, but those aren't truly indicative of how a rider will do on a real mountain stage. HOWEVER, I do think it shows who is mentally in this race & who is physically ready. I will be SHOCKED if Nibbles wins & would NOT be shocked if he doesn't even get on the podium. For the 1st thing to happen, Froome would have to crash out of the race or crack so badly on 1 mt stage that he loses 5 minutes or more. Same with Contador, although I just don't know how Contador will ride in the mts after going so deep in the Giro. I think Quintana COULD zoom up the mountains, away from everyone, even Froome. But since the last time I actually saw him at a grand tour (except for video clips from last year's Giro), I really don't know how he'll go now.

    More below

    1. I think the really interesting part will be WHEN Quintana attacks, who will (be able to) follow. Froome isn't a guy for quick accelerations when he's already on the 'rivet'. His MO in the past has been to hold his pace and when the attacker eventually backs it down, he slowly reels him in. This tactic only works IF the attacker backs it down. IF Quintana can attack and maintain, he could re-take a bunch of lost time. THAT will be what I'm waiting to see. What can this 120lb mt goat really do in the heat of battle! When Alberto was (is?) in his prime, he's much like Quintana...look at last years Vuelta...he attacked over and over and over...I LOVED that! But it wasn't the Tour, and as you said Susie, we don't know how deep he will be able to go after a hard Giro. IF he's on form, he will also be dangerous to Froome. And as to TJ, I didn't get to watch any of the races so just don't know how he will be able to handle a relentless mt goat attack of quick and vicious accelerations. But I think we are about to find least I HOPE SO!

  7. Which brings me to TGV. I know you won't remember but during last year's TDF, during the final days, I looked at Tejay's results in the mt stages & subtracted all the time he lost during the 1st week due to crashes & realized THEN he COULD have gotten onto the podium! I don't think he's quite the level of Froome or Contador when they are "on form", but when all goes perfect for him & set-backs affect F & C, I think he's definitely a podium contender & even possibly a champion one day. I mean, heck, he's finished Top 5 twice! A problem this year is that I don't know how much help he will have in the mts from his team (they seem mostly big/Classics guys). Of course, I THINK he did most of the mt work by himself last year.

    SO much can change these last 2 weeks. A weird crash can take a guy completely out of the race (literally) like Contador last year. Cracking can see a guy lose MINUTES on any stage. Other guys may just not "have the legs" this year or he/they can be exhausted from the Giro.

    Based on what we've seen so far & how he performed in the Dauphine, I'd say Froome will have to crash out not to win it all. I think. Heck, you'd think 2 MINUTES would be impossible for Quintana to make up, but I just don't know! :) :)

    I'll be rooting for Tejay to get onto the podium! And SO SHOULD YOU ALL! I'll tell you why - if an American looks like a contender & actually gets ON the podium this year then there is a better chance NBCSN will continue broadcasting the Tour LIVE! Of course, it would be better if he WON some time in the next 3 years too! I.AM.NOT.KIDDING.

    BTW, as you probably realize (as the NBCSN nightly scrawl reminds us) - there are ONLY THREE Americans in this year's Tour. Terrible! Hardcore Tour fans like us might not care but the AVERAGE American does & THEY are more important to NBC than us.

    Also, here's something to ponder - you know how teams are 'French' or 'British' or 'Spanish' or 'Aussie'? Well, look at their TDF rosters - you will find AT LEAST 3-4 guys of that country on those teams. Not so for the so-called "American" teams. Why, there is NOT even ONE American on Trek this year. And just Tejay on BMC & just Talansky on Garmin. I started noticing this about 2 years ago, but this year is even worse. Makes me wonder....

    1. While I'm not on the TJ Fan bus just yet, I agree that having an American on the podium (and especially WINNING) would be GREAT for us here. Consider that officially there is only ONE American Tour winner.. Greg LeMond. Floyd and the Devil are out...nothing to see here, move along. Having another American winner would be FANTASTIC! We need it. As I said, honestly in the end I don't care WHO wins, as long as it's a close/hard-fought battle between MULTIPLE contenders! If one of them is TJ, then so much the better.

  8. And HI Barbara! I started copying comments last week but sometimes when they are short, I don't take the time & of course, THOSE are the ones now that disappear! ;)

    Also, Matt - I'd be a big fan of Sagan IF he had a different voice! He's a very unique rider, can do SO many things semi-great but at the TDF you need to be either a GREAT sprinter or a GREAT mountain guy & he's not either. Still, his overall abilities HAVE gotten him the Green jersey 3 years in a row now? It would seem he would be the perfect Classics rider but his "failure" to win this spring is what disgusted Tinkov so much. BTW, did you see Sagan hanging out with the BMC guys after the stage yesterday? Hmmmmmm, wonder if he wants away from Tinkov ASAP? Don't blame him at all! :)

    And does anyone else now have to pick 3 food photos in the verification process? This started about 3 weeks ago - SAME time as the disappearing comments!

  9. However, the rest of the podium is up for grabs (especially the 3rd step) & will still make this Tour exciting till the end! (She says with hope in her heart).

    SPOILER - Danger Will Robinson! SPOILER! I would not be surprised if a certain former champ leaves the race BEFORE Paris ("illness" or crash-on-purpose) to save himself & his team the humiliation. Another former champ may stick it out but his BOSS has no one else to blame but himself.

    It's almost funny - the ASO is now making the 1st week of the Tour SO HARD to "keep things exciting" & to delay the domination of one rider (again, to keep the race exciting for as long as possible) when the effect is that most of the GC guys & their teams are just getting exhausted sooner & one rider/team is now dominating even earlier! Heck, the LAST thing I wanted this year is for the eventual champion pretty much determined by Stage 10. At least LAST year is it took crashes & injuries to winnow out the field.

    I guess there is still the possibility of a Schleckian attack where a guy off the podium drags himself back onto it by an audacious long-range attack. And if teams would work TOGETHER, things could get very interesting, but that almost never happens! Hmmm, you know, former TDF champs never seem to care about just getting on the podium, which means that MAYBE at least 2 teams may go for broke! Fingers crossed! :) :) :)

  10. Damn! This was to go ABOVE the comment above! I copied the comment & it disappeared but when I coped back I missed the 1st paragraph!


    I've got good news & bad news for you, Matt! The good news is that TODAY'S stage was as much action as you could have hoped! Maybe even more! The bad news is that barring a crash-abandonment or those Jurrasic World dinobirds have a hankerin' for a certain color & come swoop away a certain mountain "climber", this Tour's final top podium stepper is already determined. sigh.

  11. Ack! The stage had EXACTLY what I hoped for, except by the wrong rider. I thought things were about perfect when Valverde attacked...soften up Sky, make them respond...the Frank and Andy game. But that didn't last...that first attack was really his only one...the next one was more of an "here I go...ok, not" and that was it for him. Then Porte stepped it up another notch and just when I was waiting for Quintana to go, Froome went. And that was that. I can't freaking BELIEVE IT! Froome is THAT much better climber than Quintana? The world has turned on it's axis. Nibbles fell off like he was hit by sandbags, then Contador, and even TJ.

    And that Porte is in 2nd place all of a sudden...with Quintana only 5 seconds back of that...just wow. Sky might even consider shooting for the 1-2 at this point. And P&P were talking that Porte is going to BMC next year? How's that going to work?? I thought he was shooting to be the captain...but I don't think TJ is going anywhere (is he?)

    All in all, quite a performance by Froome, and utter failure by the REST of the contenders. Well, Quintana moved above all the rest, so it wasn't a total loss for him...but still, unless he's got something we haven't seen yet, he's fighting Porte for 2nd (I will keep in mind that he's now ONLY a 1:04 off GOOD day on a mt top finish and he could be right back in the mix).

    Also we need to consider it was the day after a rest day, and that screws everybody up. Except for Froome. MAYBE Qintana, Contador and TJ will step it up after today, as there are lots of mountains to go. I don't expect to see Nibbles anywhere near the podium though...somebody stuck a fork in him...he's WELL done. And I agree Susie...he really needs an excuse to bow out as gracefully as last years winner (and a pre-tour favorite) who is suddenly 6 minutes back can.

    I hate to think this race is over...we went from a 2/3/4 or even 5 man shootout all the way to Paris to not-A. Froome fired one shot and killed everybody. Nice shot Froomy.


  12. Oops....I just realized I was looking at the STAGE finish times, NOT the GC overall times...Quintana is WAY the heck 3:09 now (that makes sense, as he WAS just over 2 min back), just a bit behind TJ, and with Valverde just behind him. Crapsicles. That's even WORSE. NOW I'm depressed.


    Crap, I wasted vacation hours! Every year I seem to guess wrong one 1 stage & today was that damn day! I'd actually debated whether to stay home for yesterday's stage or today's but figured since Tuesday's only had that 1 mountain & the Tourmalet was 1 of 3 mts in this one (albeit NOT the final), I thought TODAY's stage had a better chance of action. WRONG! Well, I would have been VERY unhappy seeing Froome ZOOM away from everyone so maybe it's better I didn't see yesterday's LIVE.

    But, TOMORROW SHOULD be great! I'm taking the whole day off (have some stuff to do at the house in afternoon) & I'm expecting fireworks & MAYBE the fellas were just 'resting' up. Today was hot again & a lot of the guys in GC positions 11-24 must have cracked & lost BIG TIME as Talansky somehow jumped up from 25th to 15th, even though he lost another 20 seconds to the main GC guys at the end. I'll have to print out & look at the stage & GC results tonight.

    I can't decide if I want Contador to go A'Schleckian & make a "run' for it half-way thru the stage tomorrow or not. If Saxo puts 2 guys in the early break, that could mean they will try it (depending on how AC feels). Nibbles is so far down now that HE would have to go "by" (um, get it? ;) ) & he just doesn't have the form/energy/mentality to even think about it. Quintana is already sitting in 3rd, just WAITING to pick off TVG, but if his team is smart, they SHOULD do something crazy like this or their only hope to win the entire race is for Froome to crash out. And perhaps I'm mistaken, but I don't think Quintana is here to be runner-up again, he wants to win it all. And he probably knows the course will almost never again be this much in his favor (although he has gotten MUCH better in TT over the past year!).

  14. MORE SPOILER (Wed) -

    At least Garmin had SOMEthing good happen today. Doesn't quite save the Tour for them (yet) but better than the 1st 10 stages. I just don't understand that team at all this year. Talansky was picked as the "lead" GC guy here but they included 2 other GC guys on the Tour team, one of which went VERY deep at the Giro. And a bunch of newbies. Their TTT was terrible & Talanksy has been mediocre to bad since Day 1 (his time trial while wearing the USA colors as the recent USA TT champion was embarrassing!). And yet when speaking with the media, he seems upbeat. I can't decide if that's just PR or he's delusional. Does anyone know if he's injured? If not, then his performance so far as just been very disappointing I think. Of course, compared to poor Nibbles, he's rockin' it. ;)

    I know it's premature to crown Froome already as weird or awful things CAN & DO happen every day at the Tour. Contador broke his knee (or something) on stage 10 just last year. In Vino's last Tour, he was involved in a multi-rider crash in the 2nd (?, might have been 3rd) week & broke his hip. Everyone thought the Alps would be the big decider this year & I wonder if too many teams are still waiting. Big mistake! If Contador, Quintana &/or TVG can take back 1-3 minutes on Froome TOMORROW, we're talking a whole new ball game, don't you think? Of course, the ONLY way for that to happen is the Schleckattack or for Froome to crack big or crash. What are the odds for the latter? Um, probably not great as he is looking insanely (may I say' SUSPICIOUSLY') strong. And would SOMEBODY tell Mantis-Man that if he stopped annihilating every other rider in the race, he wouldn't be accused daily of doping! Reminds me of 2013 all over again.

    BTW, anyone else thinking Astana is NOT doping this year & that's why Nibbles & his team are on one never-ending "jours san", jours after jours? But then if you think back over the past 7-9 years, it seems a team always has one horrendous year at the TDF every so often. Remember when Johan's team had their 3 GC guys ALL crash out by mid-race (Levi, Horner, Klodi)? Last year was Sky's horrendous year. This year it's a toss-up between Orica-Greenedge & Astana who is having the worst Tour. (But, I absolutely believe Nibbles was doping last year, remember how HE flew away from EVERYONE day after day in the mts?)

  15. One more thing & then I won't be able to comment again till Friday. Did you hear Richie Porte is apparently moving to BMC next year? Wonder how TVG feels about this. It MUST put even more pressure on him NOW to get on the podium THIS YEAR. I would assume Sky can pay at least the same as BMC (& probably more), so the only reason he'd leave "his good mate Froome" is to be the main GC guy at the Tour (& not at the Giro).

    I like Richie, but the few times he's been put into the position as GC leader at a Grand Tour, he has failed miserably. Of course, last year he was thrust into it mid-race in Stage 5 & I guess you can't count that too much.

    One thing I know (ok, believe) - Tejay would NOT be happy being relegated to Tour helper while he's just entering his prime years. Unless Richie has agreed to go for the Giro again next year & help TVG at the Tour (doubtful), I think this is a dumb move by BMC. Some companies & teams think it is GREAT to have 'competition' within, that it fosters a "winning attitude" or some such sh*t. Or they just like to sit back & watch the carnage. Since cycling is a TEAM sport, I think it is dangerous & self-destructive philosophy. What BMC needs to do is find some more mt goats who are only fair time trailers. At least Tejay has Sammy Sanchez this year but is he still good in the mountains?

  16. Gotta scoot. Would love to read any thoughts/opinions on the above.

    Here's hoping tomorrow is FANTASTIC!

    See ya, Friday! :) :) :)

  17. I'm thinking tomorrow SHOULD be a BIG day. And I'm glad you brought up "suspicious" first...I obviously have been thinking it...but didn't want to say it. If I recall, everybody looking back said that Lance (and team) HAD to have been doping, as whenever they were in big mt stages, he was a superhero, and ALWAYS had team-mates around...much like Sky if I do say. NO OTHER TEAM OR RIDER can even come close. He looked like he was sipping tea with his mates today on the Tourmalet. But hey...he's passing every test (but we all now know that that means). It just seems so unlikely that ONE GUY can be THAT much better than ALL the rest of the TOP guys. OK...I'll shut up on that now...other than demolishing EVERYBODY ELSE, he's shown no evidence of anything suspicious. Hope you have a nice day off Susie! I'm taking Friday off driving over to Pahurmp NV for my Dad's 84th little bro flew in today from Houston, and my big bro Greg will meet me in Mojave, and we will drive over together...spend Fri and Sat, then home on Sun. So I'll be out of touch for the three days (do don't be alarmed that I disappear from the planet...don't expect to have any internet or see any of the stages). Have a great weekend everybody!

  18. Susie, I don't even want to THINK about the prospect of no live coverage... but I remember the early 80's when I was a runner and the NYC and Boston marathons were covered LIVE from start to finish (if you consider the moment the first 10 men crossed the "finish" of a race with 40,000 people in it). When I ran NYC in 86, the entire course looked and felt familiar because I had watched the race on TV for years. But I also remember the year that Patty Catalano became the first American woman to break 3:30 but the coverage cut off just before she finished. So I know this can happen.

    And yes, I am now being tested on how well I recognize FOOD. On little tiny pictures that I can't tell what the hell they are!

    I just watched the 3rd Pyrenees stage... what horrendous weather, hot first half, then rain, hail, tadpoles, etc! Bring on the ALPS!!!


  19. No food pictures tonight when I published. They just took my word for it that I'm not a robot!

  20. I am pretty disappointed in Garmin's whole year so far. Another close but no cigar. I realized that there is some "rebuilding" this year, but still. And what happened to their TTT prowess? Speaking of TTT, did you hear the comment that Trek Factory ( direct descendent of Discovery) had only ridden together twice for that? Back in the days of HWMNBN, wasn't that something that they drilled repeatedly?

    I was disappointed in today's stage. Just want so much for SOMEONE to challenge Froome. Yes, they attacked, to no avail. Suspicious? who, me? TJ (who didn't attack, not able to?) says he is waiting for the Alps. I don't understand that strategy, seems to me that is leaving it pretty late to erase a couple of minutes. It was a very hard day for the riders and I give them credit for all hanging tough in those conditions (esp. to JRod for his second win and Fuglsang for second place) but I just wanted to see some more GC action. I guess if I were a Froome fan then I would have thought the stage was great!
    Maybe the reason Vino is reportedly unhappy with Nibali goes beyond just having a bad tour! Hmm, and Fuglsang riding better than I've ever known him to...

    I have never understood the hiring at BMC, with the exception of TJ and Cuddles it seems that big salaries lead to absence of results and little teamwork.

    past my bedtime, but happy birthday Matt's Dad!


  21. Barbara, Rae....agree I was left wanting after this 3rd Pyrnees stage. I kept WAITING for Quintana to attack. Valverde gave it a go a few times, and FINALLY Quintana gave one...but didn't appear to be serious (he shut it down and just looked back, waiting to get swept up). And TJ...not even TRYING. Sky just looks impossible to crack. But I agree...I just want SOMEBODY to give it a GOOD TRY! It was nice to see Nibbles attack too..all the contenders need to do just that...but NOT STOP! We can hope for more of this (and some success) in the Alps. Tomorrow hopefully is a day for Sagan to put some distance between himself and the Gorilla. But at least the Green jersey is a GOOD FIGHT this year! The rules changes seem to have helped.

    OK...bed time for me, then off to Pahrump..I'll check back in Sunday afternoon.

    Tour ON!

  22. Howdy! Happy birthday to your dad, Matt! And hope you & your bros all have a great time over the weekend!

    About Thursday's stage - I overslept a bit & didn't turn on the TV til 6:15 but I COULD have kept on sleeping til 10:00 & NOT MISSED A THING. Argh. Disappointed from the get-go that none of the GC faves tried a Schlecktack (I'm assume although we didn't get to see the 1st 2 hours on the road) but still hoped for major action on de Beille. Damn that rain! Do you think that kept the other guys from succeeding with their jabs? Or was it that Froome had TWO teammates with him more than halfway up that mt? I know you wanted TGV to attack too, Matt, but he's more like Levi - just keeps chugging along. I was happy & proud that he STAYED with the other top guys even though he had NO TEAMMATES on almost the entire final mt. You know, 3-4 of the other riders that had been 4-6 minutes behind Froome could NOT stay with these guys, which means the "musical chair" portion of the TDF for podium steps #2 & 3 has begun between just 5 guys. UNLESS AC & Quintana do something unexpected. Just HOPING that Froome will have a bad day in the Alps is NOT a good plan for the win!

    If I was the DS of Saxo, I'd get Sagan in Saturday's early break. This is for 2 reasons - 1st, it helps Sagan get pts in the green jersey contest when they hit the Intermediate Sprint & 2nd, the final few Ks are steeply uphill in Saturday's stage & CONTADOR should try to breakaway about 30-40K out, when no one is expecting it! Sagan can have dropped back from the early break to help. Well, it's a PLAN! :)

  23. More about Tejay - I'm thrilled for how things are going for him & BMC so far. I've listened to all his TV interviews & they've been perfect. YOU would be surprised, Matt! I was very worried when he lost so much time on the 1st Pyrenees stage & dreaded Quintana, AC & Valverde putting even more minutes into him over the next 2 days, but that didn't happen!

    One thing I'd forgotten about last year - TVG cracked on the 1st stage (was in the Pyrenees) after the 2nd Rest Day & lost 3.5 minutes. If THAT had not happened, he would have been on the podium even after crashing & losing so much time in the 1st week. I don't think he & his team have still figured out the best thing for him to do on Rest Days as he lost time again this year after the 1st Rest day, although he didn't really crack like last year, just couldn't keep up with Froome, Quintana & Valverde.

    Unlike Froome, Quintana, AC & Nibbles when they are on their best form, Tejay doesn't seem to have the ability to PUNCH & accelerate when it's real steep. BUT, he can keep on chugging, which can prevent him from hemorrhaging major chunks of time. I am a bit worried about Saturday as TVG said that final bit is VERY short & steep, not his forte. Hope he can hang in!

    Also, I've been thinking more about Richie joining TVG & if Richie agrees to work WITH Tejay at the TDF, they could BOTH finish on the podium! The one thing Tejay NEEDS is a teammate with him on the final mountains, like the other top GC teams. Maybe this could help both of them. Anybody know if Richie is older than TVG?

  24. Hey all...I'm BACK! (Sunday afternoon). Didn't see a lick of Friday's stage, but did catch the last 2 hours of Saturdays stage...Susie, YOU should be GM! Sagan WAS in the break, and even though he was dropped in that steep section, he FOUGHT BACK and STILL finished FIFTH (of a 19 man break!)...un-BELIEVABLE! And he took 2nd on Friday, and even admits he (HE) made a mistake not passing Greg Van Aramat right away instead of sitting on his wheel for a bit...(I LOVE IT that he takes responsibility for his not winning....not that he had anybody to blame mind you,'s refreshing to just see someone admit they made a mistake and call it what it was). NO IDEA what happened today (Sunday)...I'll try to sneak in some viewing tonight...right now I'm a 1-armed-man hanging wallpaper (got home from the 7 hour drive, and just finished working around the house like MAD helping Jeannie get it ready for our houseguest coming in this evening, staying the week). I'm beat.

    AND...RAIN! It rained like a double-monsoon yesterday (Sat) in Pahrump (which is the southern edge of Death Valley). Short monsoons...but it rained HARD. And then today driving across the Mojave to get home, more rain! Up north of the city of Mojave (on hwy 58, goes all the way from the I15 to Bakersfield thru the Mojave) it did the Monsoon rains AGAIN! I had to slow down to about 45mph on the highway and STILL couldn't see anything! There were multiple times when even at that speed I'd hit moving sheets of water running across the freeway a few inches deep, and I'd lose steering briefly as I"m hydroplaning...very exciting! We don't get rains like that. And then here in Santa Maria it rained 'some' (ie: not much) but today the humidity is off the charts...AND it's in the 80's (one of the VERY FEW days a year like this, where we are DYING!)

    OK...I don't even know what tomorrows stage is...(when is the 2nd rest day? Should be VERY SOON if not tomorrow). Too bad TODAY wasn't the rest day being as I missed it. OK...gotta scoot...another weekend is shot...later gaters!