12 July 2011
I might be a little disorganised or might write poorly for a bit (like I did Sunday night). Tell you about it later, but my apologies. Heavy lightning tonight. Must send this out without editing. Sorry.
Racing results first, then extra stuff if I have time and energy. I really did appreciate the rest day. Tomorrow when I write, I will be looking forward to the big mountains. The Tour starting to come together, although sometimes it seems to be falling apart. Like life.
Reflecting on the past week or so, I really found myself getting upset or disturbed by the injuries or potential injuries to so many leading riders. There have been some good racing moments at the end of nearly every stage. Take a team like Radio Shack. They started with four guys, any or all of whom could be in the top ten, suddenly, with many days to go, might have NO fully functioning guys to ride for the GC. I don't even LIKE Radio Shack. We won't find out how well Leipheimer and Kloden really are until Thursday afternoon. Popovych is also hut for them. As for missing riders, it is more or less normal to have only nine teams of the 22 with all their roster intact. Maybe a bit above the average, as we have not even reached the mountains. But the thing about this Tour is so many outsiders (anyone who might get in the top ten except Schleck and Contador) are invovled. Out or injured. Kreuziger, Contador, Leipheimer, Gesink, for example, are still riding, but if you read a bit, it appears they are not at all in good shape. Haven't heard anything bad bout S. Sanchez or Evans yet. Chavanel might not be able to win a stage, he is suffering. Thank goodness for Voeckler, from the French point of view. However, a guy like Samuel Sanchez who is meant to threaten the podium, is not meant to be five minutes off the pace BEFORE the mountains and without a long TTT. This means it is a Tour of surprises, but on the other hand, they are not really good surprises.
Overall. Doing well enough, Evans, S Sanchez (stretching it), both Schlecks, Kloden if his back doesn't go, Basso (not out anyway),P. Velits ... Out, Wiggins, Horner, VDB, Vino, Kreuziger (probably, lost six more minute today).
Green still with Gilbert, who is deadly serious about it. He wants to take it to Paris. Today he knew he would not beat the sprinters, so he decided to help out Greipel beat Cav. He was actually a team-mate. He attacked, as far as I can tell, to try and upset the pattern of Cav getting to the finish with five guys in front. It worked. Cav actually was alone when he attacked, following the wheel of Daniele Oss, from Liquigas, who was just trying to win by attacking from afar. First Greipel was following Roelandts, his teammate. Then Greipel followed Cav's wheel, pulled out, and went past him. Not many can go past Cav, unless they planned well and Cav and his boys were affected by Gilbert's attack. That is, the HTC team had to work really hard on the hill just before the sprint. Some of them never even were there at the end, Renshaw, Eisel. Admittedly Gilbert lost some points for green, but he still finished 14th.
Yellow is the same. Nice to see Thomas V. in the last escape, green and yellow in the same little group ahead of the peloton. Not terribly sure I would have gone when Voeckler did. Why not let the others get away and not care? Just hang at the front of the peloton, just behind the HTC lads. Surely it was obvious there was nothing to be won today, as Gilbert must have known. By the way, no time to discuss, som epeople are not Voeckler lovers. They think he has made mistakes. Later.
Spotted jersey carried all day by the hero, Hoogerland. I don't want to exaggerate, but I saw the crash. I saw the cuts. I saw him get stopped by being caught in mid air by a barbed wire fence. Then he kept up with everyone today. He is a hero for me.
Gesink still in white. We don't know whether he is getting back in shape or whether he is still weakened. Thursday. They asked him how to pronounce his name. It is NOT a hard G. It something a bit like in Hebrew when they say Chutzpah. A kind of guttural H. Hesink more than Gesink, but with gutturals in the H.
They found the “woman in yellow” whose placement on the side of the road caused several riders, including Contador to lose over a minute on the very first stage. http://www.cyclingfans.com/node/2325 L'Equipe found him and brought him to meet Contador on rest day. Nice picture of them shaking hands. Yes, him. Just about 13. A kid. Never been to the Tour before. Mostly plays rugby. He swears that his feet were never on the bitumen, he was on the side of the road. He was looking toward the disappearing back of riders to identify the French ones. He even has a mark on the large T shirt he wore. Also an autograph from Alberto. That's the kind of story I would go for if I were a reporter on the Tour. Kid has funny hair.
More in the paper about Alberto's knee. No one knows. He has fallen three times or is it four, did he fall today? Anyway it hurts. You can't ride a bike well with a hurt knee, you just can't. We will see Thursday when someone else attacks. There are plenty of riders with motivations to attack. Including Alberto of course. I really hope someone goes for it. Anyone will do. A young French lad, A Brit, a Basque guy, anyone.
Someone found this site, I think from my forums. It use is self-evident, and useful in the moutnains especially. http://videos.lachainemeteo.com/videos-meteo/tour-de-france-et-orages-64940.php while we are at it, someone also pointed out this interview with Rigoberto Uran, the Colombian who rides for Sky. I think he will win big one day, and I am not alone. He was in one of Thomas's videos, sleeping on the way to the race start.
The feature articles specially written for rest day in L'Equipe were about the caravan and young French riders. No time tonight to reflect on the caravan articles. Maybe after I go to see the sprint finish on the 17th. Might gets some pics to illustrate. With the young guys article, there was a long series of quotes about French cycling in general and why it is really a bit mediocre now. All of the principals were French team directors. Again too lengthy for this blog, but most French observers have discussed this over the last two years. The actual NEW young French guys they tip to move up are Romain Sicard 23, Tony Gallopin 23 (written before the break today), Johan Le Bon 20, Thibaut Pinot 21, Arthur Vichot 22 Cyril Gautier 23, Olivier Le Gac 17 and Arnaud Demare 19. Voila. Now you know the names. You just have to wait. OR go to Wikipedia or the team sites for more info. I had a guy figured three years ago, Fabien Taillefer, then he got sacked and some kind of doping problem and …
Good article on Hoogerland and the crash. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812104576439862756666174.html
The sprint was rather full of somewhat hidden meanings for some of you. Greipel used to ride for HTC, until this year when he left to ride for Omega. Greipel and Cav did not get along well, sprinters are a bit strange and maybe more individualistic than others riders. Cav has said many times that there is no way Greipel could beat him. Greipel was a second rate sprinter, Cav was best. Except today. I see the result, the defeat of Cav, as a well worked, carefully devised strategy to figure out “how to deal with Cav”. Today there was a hill just before the finish, and that is where Gilbert attacked. Hard. By doing so, he wasted maybe a couple of Cav's train, and tired him out a bit, so Greipel could beat him. Which he did. The third place guy, Rojas does not appear to have gained much ground after Cav attacked. Feillu wasn't that close. Thor stopped pedalling when he saw he would lose the stage. By the way, I now think that Thor is NOT that serious about green. Watch the video. He stopped pedalling before the finish, once he had lost the stage win. The green jersey is now mano a mano, Gilbert vs. Cav. One important stage will be the one that finishes in Montpellier. Flat. The interview with Greipel after the stage was really really boring. He spoke like a dumb cyclist. Told us nothing. I prefer Cav for interviews. http://www.cyclingfans.com/node/2618
Hejsdal was not well on the climbs. He was good last year.
The first break was interesting for me. Vichot is one of the very young, 22, hopes for French racing at World Level. He is good at everything, and most people think he needs a couple of years to mature a bit, and then bingo. El Fares, who is what they call a “puncheur”, good in strong fast bursts that are longer and harder than sprints (Gilbert, for example), is also “from the diversity” as some now say. He is of Maghrebin (North African) origin. This is the exact time of history when non-vanilla French guys are breaking into top level cycling. I think it is exciting and well worth paying attention to. El Fares is also pretty good, but he is 26 and so he should be producing victories now. Will he? So seeing Vichot and El Fares in the break was kind of additional interest. Not to say Cyril Gautier, 23, puncheur, who also interests me French wise.
I suppose it will be on You Tube, but both my wife and I rather liked watching Thor (or anyone) change shoes while riding or rather while hanging on to the car while not pedalling. Take a look.
Best display for the day in the farmers' competition was the map of France, quite accurately outline in a field, with a dot in it. It said “Vous Etes ici”, which was, of course nowhere at all. Excpet it worked, I remembered. It was Almayrac, Almyrac. Check it out. First prize so far. I could not figure out what material they used to make the white marks for the map.
I was wrong about the break today, it was a sprint. So tomorrow, I don't even know if I should guess. Fewer climbs, last fifteen k look almost flat, the last five k are totally flat, even a bit downhill. I imagine any person wishing to appear wise would say Cav. I do too, although I will try to guess someone else, to win more points tomorrow. In our fantasy guessing, you don't get as many points if you guess Cav, along with ten other people. Speaking of which, my Fantasy team in one league is not doing well at all. I tried going for really cheap sprinters, and spent my money on climbers and GC guys. AND I picked Wiggins and VDB, both of whom are out completely. Also picked Leipheimer, who seems to be limping. In short, my cheap sprinters did nothing, and I don't have many GC guys left. It might be worse than last year. Still I have spared you the details of those fantasy leagues. But they do take up time.