Friday, July 8, 2016

Tour talk

As of this morning at the start of stage 7 history was made...ZERO RIDERS HAVE ABANDONED thus far!

I'll write that one more time, just because it's SO hard to believe:


Can you believe it? The first week was (well, the first 6 stages) somehow completed with minimal carnage! It's never happened before in the history of le Tour that ALL the teams still have ALL their guys going into stage 7.

Not that there haven't been crashes...Contador's crash on stage 1 when he slid-out on that turn did take out a few others, but mostly the damage was to himself. Mr. Tinkoff himself mentioned after yesterdays stage (when he was on the set with Bobke and Christian) that Alberto is quite bruised up and in considerable pain, but he's pushing on the best he can. Today will be a big milestone, to see what he can do on a REAL climb. I'm hoping he survives with the GC guys, but I'd have to say after watching him the last few days that it's unlikely.

And then there was that crash at the end of Stage 1 when Michael Morkov caught a pedal on the STUPID barricade legs protruding out into the course, which caused him to veer into the speeding sprinters, only to bounce off them and go back into the barricades where his high rate of forward progress was stopped immediately when he re-hit the barricades. That took out a few others, but none so horrid as Morkov. That he wasn't killed or SERIOUSLY hurt was just a miracle. That he showed up for the start of stage 2 was superhuman. And the fact that he's STILL racing is beyond category.

We've had plenty of excitement in what is usually a ho-hum first week (other than the typical carnage). Cavendish won his THIRD stage yesterday on #6, putting him alone in the 2nd most Tour wins EVER list. Good for him, it's nice to see the Manx Missile BACK! I can remember his early days when he came out of nowhere and started winning...he certainly didn't endear himself to the fans. But he's a changed man the last many years, as he's learned that he doesn't win the sprints alone, and now sings the praise of the teams efforts on his behalf loud and clear.

It's funny how each year you never know what to expect in the sprinters...going into this years race I totally would have expected Kittel to be the man with 3 wins at this point. But he's only got the 1...and Griepel? ZIP! THAT is also a sad way for he and his team. He just can't seem to get it done.

And so...what lies in store for us today? All I can say is that I hope it's a surprise, and I hope it's exciting, and I HOPE it doesn't involve riders getting hurt.

Game ON!


  1. Stage 7...what a CRAZY stage! Love it that a GINORMOUS breakaway made it...29 guys!!! INCLUDING Van Arvermat, wearing the Yellow, over 5 minutes AHEAD of the GC guys! And Nibbles was in there too, really gave the GC teams a scare that he was sandbagging...but in the end it wasn't so. I would have LOVED it had he NOT been, and pulled a bunch of time back...but that wasn't the case. But Steve Cummings had solo'd away from the huge break a LONG ways out, and wasn't to be denied...he held off everybody and took the stage, good on him! And his team (Dimension Data) must be floored with their success thus far...4 wins in 7 stages...all this for a team only in their 2nd year in the Tour! was a very exciting stage...and tomorrow we get REAL was just a warm-up!

  2. Wow, a fantastic stage today (Stage 8). Had our first abandon during the stage...Michael Morkov (the man who crashed SO BAD in the finish of Stage 1). He sure gave it his best tho. And hey, how about that 1k arch falling down JUST IN FRONT of Adam Yates yesterday just after he broke away from the bunch! I can't believe it fell so fast, he truly never even saw it moment he's blazing away, and the next instant he's flying over the bars. Glad he's ok other than stitches on his chin! Still pretty crazy tho. And today, wow. Never really been a Froome fan, but it was nice to see Mr. Roboto throw away the robot-book and live dangerous! That he pulled it off was amazing! Nobody can deny him those seconds he put on his rivals, that's for sure. The Tour is all about bold and audacious, and that break was all of that. And for the life of me I couldn't figure out why TJ didn't jump up front right away and help Valverde and Quintana TRY to bring him back before the gap got so large...those seconds lost are on him too. Just ANOTHER reason why I don't like him. Nothing bold or audacious in sitting back letting someone else do YOUR work. I'm GLAD he lost seconds today.

  3. Just finished watching Stage 9. OMG! When I turned on the DVR at 5am, the race was already underway (it must have started early?)...and Valverde and Contador were ATTACKING! On the FIRST CLIMB! I'm surprised I didn't wake Jeannie up, I was screaming (quietly) for them! Valverde drug Contador to the large group, but alas, he couldn't hold it and fell off and back to the Froome group...but Valverde stayed up, which was a GREAT MOVE by Movistar! Wasn't long before Froome regrouped with a few guys and picked up the pace, cutting the gap. Gotta give Valverde credit...he saw the writing on the wall (also probably being told by EVERYBODY in that group) that as long as he's there the break is in danger and won't last. So he dropped back to give the break a chance.

    And then...after all that, Alberto abandoned...I was SO hoping THIS was going to be the year Froome gets it from multiple TRUE contenders. Well, in the end he did...and it wasn't Quintana (who was more like Froome's shadow today) was Dan Martin and Ritchie Porte. Gotta love those guys, they just attacked and attacked and attacked to the line. Quintana, not once, not even a tiny little dig. I can only assume he wasn't able. But his lack of even one try gives me doubt he can stay w/ Froome when it gets big (again). And speaking of who can't stay w/ Froome when it gets big, know who...Mr. Whiney himself, TJ. There's Ritchie at the front going BIG, and TJ is doing exactly what I expected...dropping off losing time. It was SUCH a tragedy when he had that flat...we all know WHO should be the leader, and it's NOT TJ! I'd sure love to see Ritchie get back his lost time from that flat. And about Adam Yates! LOVE IT that he and Dan Martin (and Quintana) are all right close to Froome! MAYBE those 3 can give him and Sky the ol' 1/2/3 in the Alps! We know at least 2 of them will!

    What a GREAT STAGE! Can't ever recall hail on a mountain-top stage finish Just WOW! Tomorrow is a rest day...for us fans too..I need to get a good nights sleep! July is always hard!

  4. Monday morning, and my dark-side has been in overdrive. Once again I have to say that I find it very interesting that Sky has 4 or 5 guys up with Froome up in the high mountains (on the Queen stage even, w/ OVER 5000 METERS of climbing yesterday), when all the other contenders are alone or w/ MAYBE 1 guy. We've all seen this's how Postal/Discovery looked, and we NOW all know how that happened. Hate to be negative, but it's bothering me again. How on earth are THEY the only team able to do this, year in and year out? OK...enough negativity. Enjoy the rest-day.

  5. Hey Matt - could you believe that HELLACIOUS weather on the last mt yesterday?! OMG! Between the downpour, the hail & the STUPID fans who insist on running IN the road, waiving their stupid flags into the riders, it was CRAZY! And SO dangerous! I'm GLAD Froome punched that one jerk the day before! He actually got fined by the UCI for that! Ridiculous! The ASO either need to hire more security along the final mt or put up more barriers as the "fans" are getting out of control.

    And I agree, Matt, I don't like Froome that much either (as you know) , but you have to give it to him for SHOCKING the other GCers with that bold move on Saturday! But I do quibble with you about your trashing of Tejay - he wasn't the ONLY one there! The other 14 guys could have hauled ass down that mt to try to catch Froome too, but either waited too late or just couldn't keep up. And speaking of WHINING, the one guy who WHINED afterwards was YOUR guy Quintana! I was very disappointed to read of his bitching that Froome "attacked right when he was getting a bottle". Boo-hoo. 1st of all, Froome was AHEAD of Q, so may not have had any idea what Q was doing. Plus, it's not like Q was having a mechanical! Taking a bottle does not PROTECT you from attacks for pete's sake.

    And then yesterday, yes, it would have been awesome if Tejay could have attacked too, but he doesn't ride well in the cold & rain. Some guys do, some don't. Some have problems in the heat. I was happy TVG stayed with them till the final 3K & then lost only 30 seconds. The Tour is LONG, these guys have to measure their efforts over the entire 3 weeks. And just remember, Ritchie is known for looking great in the early stages of a Grand Tour & then cracking the 3rd week. I'm hoping HE measures his efforts better this year. I WAS rooting for him yesterday even if it does look weird that a rider seems to be attacking one of his own teammates (ok, not really). And speaking of attacks, a guy who was not really suffering but did nothing but suck wheels up the Arcalis was, ahem, Quintana. Granted, he'd lost his main helper farther down the mt, Valverde (who also suffered & lost even more time than TVG), but was joined by 1 of his guys from the break (who had waited) for the final few K & still didn't attack. I don't think he can be too criticized though because the conditions were just awful!

    And so sad for Contador! Not shocked as we could see how he was losing time on almost every stage, but we all kept HOPING he'd miraculously heal up & be ready to attack Froome in the mts. Man, I tell ya, the past 5-6 years it seems we lose at least one of the top 5 faves during every Tour to either crashes/injury or illness! If only Contador had not ridden the Giro last year! I STILL don't understand that!

  6. And Matt, you sound like me about Team Sky now. Part of it is because they have SO much money to spend (about 2 -10 TIMES that of the other teams) that they can hire all the top riders/domestiques & spend so much more on training, equipment & camps. It just doesn't seem fair to the other teams. And the other part of course is - just WHAT are they spending all that money on? New, undetectable PEDs perhaps? I hate to accuse someone or a team with no evidence, but based on all the info coming out about MASSIVE doping in many other sports, I no longer believe cycling is "cleaned up". I even think it's possible it's almost has bad as it ever was, just more hidden.

    Hey, I'd never heard of that Yates kid before! Since we don't get to see much cycling on TV anymore, I don't think I've ever even heard of his name. Wow, maybe a future TDF champ! Of course, a lot of guys can have one great week or even a great Tour & then you never see much from them again. Hope he keeps developing.

  7. Hey Susie, I didn't know Q had 'whined' about Froomes attack...I did hear him explain that he was surprised by the attack just as he was grabbing a bottle...I loved that attack! Thought it was brilliant, and the fact that Froome (Mr. Roboto) can even RIDE like that(sitting on the top-tube) and then PEDAL is amazing. That's a VERY VERY VERY difficult riding position. I've tried it like twice...I wouldn't even call it difficult, I'd call it "TERRIFYING".

    I'll give TJ (and Q) some slack due to the weather, but "there better be some attackin' going on Lucy!" in the coming stages! I'm really liking Adam Yates...and hey...he's in a GREAT place on the GC, and wearing the white (possibly yellow one day this tour?) I'll be watching him with interest to see what he does in the coming big stages...along w/ Richie Porte...maybe he WON'T suck in the final week for a change! I can hope!

  8. Hey Matt - Todd Harris is back as the host! Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear them say at the beginning that Paul was just a temporary fill-in till Todd came over from working the USA Olympic Track & Field Trials. And I didn't hear them say anything about Paul leaving at the end of the show yesterday, did you? I missed the 1st 3 minutes this morning, so I guess they mentioned it then! Heck, I was just getting used to Paul, but I missed Todd so I'm glad he's back.

    I don't want to give too much away but today's (WED) stage did NOT end the way you think it will! So stay tuned till the end.

    And Rae? Barbara? Are you ok? Out there? Watching the Tour? Would LOVE to hear from you. :) :)

    So, tomorrow is Ventoux & they've had to modify the finish down the mt because of YOUR 'friend', Matt - Mr WIND! I'm still expecting fireworks! And I HOPE it doesn't rain! Here comes my annual bitching about rain at the Tour - HATE it! I get so worried for all the riders on those wet/slippery roads & then of course, we can barely see with the rain-splattered camera lenses & TV feed breakup. The only thing worse is FOG! Then the helicopters can't fly & we can't see a damn thing. Back in 2010 or 2011, the Queen Stage with Alberto & Andy fighting it out was unwatchable thanks to the fog/mist. I think it was in the Pyrenees but can't remember.

    Speaking of memory - I've been thinking about what I remembered about last year's Tour & it's always interesting to see what you'll remember a year later. I remembered Froome & Quintana went 1-2, but completely forgot that Valverde was 3rd! Also don't really remember much about how Froome rode except that he dominated in the mts. I do remember all the crashes in the 1st week, the wind/echelons on Stage 2 (?), but most of all I remember Tejay having to abandon due to sickness with only about 2 days to go. It STILL just kills me! It's one of the saddest (nonfatal) memories of any Tour for me. Watching Lance in 2010 was also awful - all his luck ran out in that one race. Plus, I HATED seeing him lose time day after day so he could hopefully be allowed to go in a break. I knew what he was doing but still hated seeing it.

    What's your best & worst memories of the Tour?

    Matt - do you ever plan to go to the Tour one day? Maybe on of those group things where you can ride part of the stages beforehand & then see the race each day? Or maybe just travel around by yourself in a van/RV? I've always wanted to see it in person BUT I want to watch the NBC-SN show too! That's right - I want it ALL! :) :)

    Gotta scoot. Catch ya later!

  9. Hey Susie, no...I had NO IDEA that Paul was leaving and Todd was coming back...but I don't watch 'every second' of the broadcast (I only record the morning 'live' show, not the evening show). I just don't have that kind of time. I was ok w/ Paul...I think looking back at the other 'failures', he was good. But Todd is good it's a wash IMO (I'm a guy...we like things to 'stay the same'...change is scary to us!)

    Today was pretty fantastic! Loved it that Sagan picked just the right moment to attack w/ a teammate, and that Froome jumped on that, just WOW! I was blown away...and never have I seen a break where all the guys buried themselves like that...having the yellow and green jerseys working together, each w/ a teammate willing to destroy themselves was a real treat! Once again Mr. Roboto is dashing my expectations on the rocks...great move today Froomey, LOVED IT! Even if Quintana had been right on Froome's wheel, I doubt very much that he could have made that acceleration. I don't think he's got that kind of power...making that leap to catch Sagan wasn't a gift by any means...he had to dig REALLY HARD. And poor Simon Gerrans...he was just full-gas to catch on! It really made a flat stage exciting! I was wondering what damage the windy stage would do...great day for SURE!

    What do I remember about last years Tour? I remember Quintana coming back, gaining lost time like gangbusters in the final week. I also remember the horrible carnage in the first many guys hit the deck, and how many abandons. This year has been pretty incredible in that respect. And speaking about hitting the deck, did you see that slo-mo of Mika (sp?) from Tinkoff going over that speed-bump at 30-something, and his rear wheel just flying up and he goes over the bars, slamming on the tarmac? OUCH!!! He's lucky he didn't break a wrist or shoulder...your hands just naturally go out on those happens so fast...he's real lucky he wasn't seriously hurt, going over the bars like's one of the worst ways to crash.

    As to me ever going TO the Tour, I'd sure love to...for a few days, or the dream would be follow the entire race day by would be crazy awesome for sure. Not sure it will ever happen...Jeannie has zero interest..and it would be pretty pricey. Certainly not something to do alone...(I speak ZERO French, so that alone would be interesting). But you never know what the tides will bring in (Castaway). Maybe one day I'll get a FRANCE!

  10. And also, I second the "hello out there...Rae? Barbara? Cathy? JD? ANYBODY?? to hear from you all if you get the chance. Anybody else lurking out there?? This is "The Asylum"...inanity is my stock in trade. Bring it!

  11. Be sure to watch today's stage - truly an exemplary WTF moment! Remember what I said a just a few days ago about fans out of control & that the ASO needs more barriers &/or roadside security? Well, today it ALL HIT THE FAN!

  12. ooh...watching the stage now...I can hardly wait to see what happens! Btw...I'll be out of town tomorrow and most of Sat (heading over to Pahrump for my dad's 85th bday, come home on I'll prob miss the ITT, and can catch up on Sat's stage that evening).

  13. Hi Matt and Susie! Rae here! I haven't been completely absent, but for some time I haven't been able to post here. My comments just disappear. I don't know if I will be able to post today, either. Ever since I made the switch to Windows10/Edge I have had trouble with some sites but I am hoping that it is mainly fixed.

    Anyway, wasn't today just the most unbelievable stage!!! I am so glad that the race jury decided to neutralize the stage at 1K -- it just wouldn't have been completely fair IMO to let Quintana et al overtake Porte and Froome because the road was blocked from no fault or error or mechanical by the riders or teams. The scenario seems to me the same as when the peloton is split at a rail crossing.

    I've warmed up to TJ some, although he certainly isn't very eloquent and actually doesn't seem as sharp as some others. I just don't think he has it this year -- isn't able to make the moves -- he doesn't strike me as having the self-confidence of past years for another thing. I wonder if having Porte brought onto the team, making it clear that HIS goal was also the TdF, has affected him negatively.

    Likewise I've also warmed to Froome (is this a case of "everyone loves a winner"?) from his interviews and his brilliant, aggressive riding the past few stages. I chose him for my fantasy team this year, resisting my sentimental urge to pick Alberto -- just thought he was the best man. Alberto doesn't seem to have recaptured the brilliance of his early years after his suspension. Actually, watching him on the bike, I don't think his position is the same when climbing as it used to be.

    Favorite memories? The first year I was able to watch the TdF, I was just entranced and watched it every day that I could, even more that once each day -- it was like a Zen experience! Then, when Dave Zabriskie won the yellow jersey and he was all "gee, shucks" -- then sadness when he crashed out of it during the TTT. The battles between LA and Basso and Ullrich. Chaingate. Robbie McEwen's sprints! Gosh, so many great moments that I tend to forget the bad.

  14. Hey Rae, welcome back! Yes, today was the most bizarre stage I've ever seen! however that 1k inflatable arch falling RIGHT IN FRONT of Adam Yates was quite strange too. But this one...the can the organizers NOT have had time to move the barricades? The race finish was moved down the mountain @ 1am...they had ALL DAY to move the race doesn't finish until around 4 to 5pm each day. Bobke and Christian said it...what the heck did they expect? 6k of crowd moved down the mountain jammed into the throngs of existing crowd, on the most FAMOUS mountain in Tour history, ON Bastille Day! How could they NOT get the barricades set-up? I can't believe it! How stupid can they be? (who made that decision to go without the barricades? OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! (in your mind think Sigourney Weaver's voice in the Alice and Wonderland remake).

    Wow. Just wow. But they at least got it right at the surely can't penalize Richie, Adam and Chris for that. It was the most confusing and strange end of a stage I've ever seen for sure...and I have to think we'll ALL remember this one forever!

    OK...I'm off to bed...gotta get up at 4am to drive 425 miles...then come home Sat afternoon. A freeway warrior for sure. The ITT will be most interesting tomorrow...but I won't get to watch it most likely, just won't have that kind of time when I get back on THAT stage will be the priority.

    Viva le Tour!

  15. Oh..and one final thought...why does Mavic neutral support even BOTHER to carry bikes? Seriously...WHEN in anybody's memory have they given a bike to someone who was able to save their race? Pedals need to match, the bike size/setup needs to be SOMEWHAT similar...we all saw how it works with Chris Foome getting one of their bikes..useless. Wheels, now that's ok as they just have to match the cassette (gear cluster)...Shimano/SRAM or Campy...the fine-alignment will certainly be off, but you'll be able to get some gears and still pedal, even tho your drivetrain might be making tons of unhappy sound. But the entire bike? Ridiculous. Get rid of that car, (cars) that much more room to the racers. Keep the neutral support moto's w/ wheels tho...they do get used. Just my 2 cents worth.

  16. RAE! So glad you're still out there & watching the Tour too! And yeah - you can comment again! :)

    I didn't even know about the Nice tragedy until right before I turned on the TDF this morning. Puts things into perspective! I was still incensed at the ASO's bumbling of yesterday's stage & then you find out about REAL horror. I've actually been worried about something awful happening at the Tour for years - they're all so exposed & now, with the INSANE world we live in, well, I worry if such an event will be able to continue for much longer.

    I don't want to say too much about the TT today but it's really looking like the Froomster has this one wrapped up unless something crazy happens - you know, like yesterday! Quintana didn't actually lose as much time as I though he would, but Froome rode like a TT specialist. Plus, what I was shocked about yesterday is that Q could NOT keep up with Froome & Richie on Ventoux. Since he mentioned several times before the Tour started that that mountain was 'perfect' for him, etc, etc, it was quite surprising. Of course, if the CHAOS hadn't happened, there was a chance that he & Tejay would have been to catch back up as there was still 1K to go.

    I'm really hoping Tejay can not just stay with Froome in the Alps, but that he & Richie will ATTACK & get time on everyone! He did pretty well today in the TT (better than Richie) but not great like 2 other GC guys. And y'know, Tejay may not exactly be Mr Charisma but he's American & we NEED an American to do well in this race or who knows how much longer we'll be able to see the TDF LIVE every day! Plus, he has gotten SO much better with what he say/shows to the media over these past few years. And Rae, I think I agree with you a bit about how maybe Tejay is handling the addition of another GC guy on his team, but maybe he's also just being conservative so far while Richie is maybe being TOO aggressive before the very difficult 3rd week?

    Alrighty, gotta go. Be SAFE Matt! Wish your dad a 'Happy Birthday' for me! Oh, Sunday's coverage starts at 6:30 AM my time (1 hour earlier than most days this Tour).