We interrupt your regularly scheduled discussion of the 1989 and 1993 World Championships to bring you something slightly more current: the 2010 Tour de France.
Last year this blog largely ignored the 2009 TdF. Sure, we watched it, but we didn't blog about it much so we are endeavoring to correct this oversight in 2010. Now, live blogging is a cheap trick of bloggers who just sit with their computers in front of a television and type up whatever snarky comments come to mind (okay, I admit I like the idea), but this entry will be more re-hash blogging than live. In other words, I watched the coverage and have a few random comments (yes, some are snarky)(can you believe the outfit that wench was wearing?!).
Prologue - Saturday, July 3
Craig Hummer - Really? Man that guy gives me a rash.
Opening of Versus coverage - The coverage started with a long pre-taped piece hyping the EPIC rivalry between Contador and Armstrong. I realize the point to this is to add the drama that Americans apparently require to be interested in any sporting event, but it is a bit absurd to build it up to a Rumble in Rotterdam story.
Bob Roll - Gotta love Bob Roll but he is looking a lot like Uncle Fester these days.
Lance Armstrong - There is a reason that my personal nickname for Armstrong is "Killing Machine". It will be great to see him and his team riding in the North Sea winds and on the cobblestones. I have a hard time really seeing him as a challenger to win, but a) he is very likely to be on the podium again, and b) this is a 3-week bike race and the right combination of circumstances, weather or crashes or whatever, certainly could have him winning number eight.
Time Trials - I am surprised that there is only one time trial in this year's TdF. Probably good for Armstrong, who hasn't looked strong in the TT's this year, but I will miss a second TT and will miss a TTT (Team Time Trial).
Floyd Landis - I assume that at least some of his new accusations are correct and presumably his personal admissions are accurate. It is disappointing. I really wanted to believe that he was clean and he wasn't lying to us or his Mennonite mother. Oh, I also wanted to believe Tyler Hamilton. I'm tired of talking about it.
Rain in the prologue - In a road race everyone has to endure the same conditions. In a TT that is spread out over literally hours, early and late riders can have very different conditions. It's too bad that this wasn't just a straight out drag race that it was supposed to be and instead the rain caused some to crash horribly and others to slow down and not show their best.
Wiggins - What happened to Wiggins? He was supposed to challenge for the win, not be a full minute off the pace on a 10 minute stage!
Cancellara - What a class act. That dude has legs! I can't believe that they scanned bikes for motors, but at least that accusation was clearly put to bed. I wish that Cancellara had won and then cut his bike in half right over the start line. Way too showy for a Swiss, but it would have been hammy and made a point very clearly.
Contador and Armstrong - Wow, is he being "Ullrich'd"? Being Ullrich'd in this case means getting the full mind tricks treatment from the Killing Machine. Lance was great at playing Ullrich like a piano. He built him up and then crashed him to the ground in just the way Armstrong wanted. What if Lance had a bad TT and then decided to pull his punches on a couple of other TT's? And what if he then started feeding the idea that his old legs just couldn't TT anymore? And what if the reality is that his "old" legs are more like the rest of the old legs in the world and they lose their power very slowly but they lose their punch sooner, so that the whole time he was just planning on challenging Contador in the TT's but he doubled the effectiveness of this by screwing with Contador. If Contador put more time into the TT to pick up time there, it has the effect of taking some punch out of his climbing legs, right? So Lance manages to not only mess with Contador's mind, he manages to make him less effective at the same time. Ever hear the term "mind-f__k". And lastly, even if Lance didn't plan it all, what does it say about him that he is such a competitor that we (okay, I) think that he might have. Gotta hand it to the Killing Machine - 5 seconds never meant as much.
Stage One - Sunday, July 4
What! I was promised wind, rain, echelons, some teams taking other teams to the wood shed as they used brute strength to tear the field apart. I want my damn echelons. Instead, we just got a boring pancake flat bunch sprint day. Sure, a breakaway (love the name "Lars Boom") that is caught, a dog in the field causing a crash and a waste of 200+ kilometers of me sitting in front of the television.
By the way, I typed that sentence with about 4 kilometers to go.
A few things happened after that, like Cavendish crashing just under 3 kilometers to go (it looked like it was his fault). Then a massive pile-up involving most of the leaders (no word yet on injuries) and then one final crash taking out Tyler Farrar. I was hoping that he was going to take the day, but it is hard to win when an AG2R bike is stuck hanging off your own bike.
Check the usual suspects, cyclingnews.com or velonews.com, for the details, but no one picked Petacchi as the winner today. Wonder what this will mean for the green jersey hunt for Cavendish when Hushvold got 3rd and Farrar at least picked up points (I think).
Personally, I hate seeing crashes in races. Unlike a NASCAR crash where the car takes the punishment and the bodies usually walk away to fight again at the next race (usually), with a bike crash there are always bruises and road rash, but there are also often broken bones and dashed hopes. Even with no apparent injuries, when you hit the deck, your body has to spend some energy repairing the damage and when the difference between achieving glory or being the goat is 1-3%, that has to have an impact.