What matters, comes after

Angel of Ohlsdorf

I took a trip to Germany years ago. One of the places we stopped was a cemetery.  The person I was with commented on all the swastikas on the graves of the WWII soldiers. As Americans, standing there looking on these graves, that symbol felt wrong to see anywhere. But in a place of mourning, a place that had always been a place of mourning, these scattered graves of local people, who had died in that horrific time, serving that horrific regime, bearing that hated mark, it made sense.

I doubt anyone will ever want to go back through every graveyard in Germany and elsewhere that nazi soliders and sympathizers died, and chip off every swastika. I suppose it could be done, maybe it should be done, but it would take funding, and family approval, and town approval and . . . really all you feel in that place is sadness already. Sadness that someone, anyone, ever fought and died in such a worthless cause as hate, racism, and national socialist whackjob-ism.

When I think about Confederate symbols in graveyards, I feel the same way about them. Lives lost over such an immoral, obscenely worthless cause. But I don’t feel that way about Confederate symbols in public places. I think those symbols should be removed and replaced with symbols of hope. Emancipation Park shouldn’t have a statue of General Robert E Lee. It should have a symbol of the Great Emancipator, Lincoln. Or of Harriet Tubman, whose emancipated so many.

I speak as someone who loves history and has a degree  in it. I also speak as an artist. Now is the time to remove bronze statues, to give them to artists of today to melt down and create something new to go on those empty plinths. Now is the time to give those cenotaphs to sculptors to chip away at and remake into something new. Now is the time, for today’s artists, and today’s historians, to join up and transform these places and with outdated, prejudiced, oppressive symbols in to symbols of our time, symbols of truth, of hope, of aspirations not yet met.

Why can’t Rosa Parks replace Robert E Lee on that plinth? Why can’t Rebecca Lee Crumpler stand tall on a campus quad? Why can’t we celebrate the achievements and progress of our country, of people of color, where once there was a symbol of intimation and oppression? Why can’t a statue of Former Justice Thurgood Marshall (of Brown v Board of Education) stand where Former Justice Roger Tany (of Dred Scott) did?

Why can’t we start to do this now?

Nature abhors a vacuum. I call on you, artists and historians. Let’s create the future now, by celebrating a past that also actually happened, and was good and inspiring and uplifting, not just for people of color but all people. Let’s not leave an empty plinth, a hole in the ground, or a space for a plaque on a monument to be ceded to a new version of racism and intolerance.

I call on cities and counties, states and communities. I call on people to form committees, to get this important work, in this critical time, accomplished. Let the dead, who buried their Confederate soldier and sympathizer dead, and are now themselves dead, lie. Their time is over. They are dust, as we all must someday be.

But in our public spheres, alive and vibrant, let we the living create new art, alive and vibrant, so that 100 or 150 years from now, those monuments will still stand tall and remind living people of the future, of people who lived  in times past and whose lives deserve to be remembered and celebrated still, not just by Americans of color, but by all Americans who pass by.

To destroy what is bad of the past is good, but what really matters is what you create in it’s place. What really matters, is what comes after.

 

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Who’s minding the mint?

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At this point, I guess former US General, John Kelly is now the de facto president running the US govt. I don’t say that as an insult or as praise. I just state it as a fact.

The Republican Congress has decided the Republican president is incompetent to be president but clearly don’t want him replaced by Pence, because then they’d lose the chump base voters, who still cling to the failed president. The GOP are counting on those die-hard chump voters in 2018, even as that base clearly is eroding fast and will likely be gone by the 2018 elections.

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Given the bad situation GOP has found itself in with a chump president who is clearly not a GOP supporter and not qualified to be president, the GOP has had to take some drastic actions. First they had to remove the president’s ability to make foreign policy, because of the head chump’s inability to even care that Russia interfered with the US elections. Then, they had to even go so far as to remove chump’s ability to remove Special Counsel Mueller. The GOP, had to legally stop the GOP president chump from doing something that would get said GOP president impeached.

In other words, the president of the US is considered by his own party, and even his own White House staff, to be a toddler.

Repeated reports from within the White House state that the president can’t read more than half a page without getting bored and distracted — toddler. They also state that the president always decides things based on the last person he spoke to — because he has a toddler’s memory and attention span.

Even new chief of staff Kelly confirmed this. Kelly actually said this about the president: he makes bad decisions because he’s not given good information and he thinks fake news is real news. So, there you go.

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Real general, real president

Because of this reality, Kelly now controls all information that reaches the president. This is what Kelly said he was doing. Kelly is de facto controlling the govt, because only Kelly decides what the president sees in the way of reports and and only Kelly decides who the president talks to last.

This again is not a pro or anti statement. It’s just the stated facts.

I guess president chump having gone to military school is okay taking orders from a ranking officer. But it’s not a good situation for a democracy to have no real democratically elected leader who has no ability to govern or lead and has himself to be lead and governed by his chief of staff.

I guess the GOP is okay with the situation. I guess they think a US General is unlikely to have anything but the country’s’ best interests at heart. Of course one has to consider that the GOP and president chump were okay with General Flynn. I’m not saying Kelly is in the same category as Flynn. But the chump has record of choosing the worst possible person for any job.

And too, people want a real president in the executive branch. Not a puppet whose strings are pulled by his chief of staff. If chump can’t be a real president, which we all know he can’t, he should be removed. That the GOP doesn’t do that, basically means they’re okay with destroying the Constitution and the fabric of our democracy.

The only question now is, how loyal, John Kelly, our de facto second Irish Catholic president, will be to America and her Constitution.

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Real general, shadow president

 

 

 

This entry was posted on August 8, 2017.

Improve Don’t Remove

debate

I am not your health care Guinea pig, Congress!

I think having a “debate” about a health care bill that’s going to have massive impact on people, the economy, and the entire county, when no one has read it because it isn’t even in a finished form to read is beyond ridiculous. It’s criminally negligent.

The duty of elected officials is to craft legislation, review and debate it through all the channels it’s designed to go through to safeguard a good outcome, and then take a vote. the GOP has done none of this. This is not a totalitarian regime. It’s a democracy.

I’m not sure why the GOP want  to avoid the process that has seen America through over 150 years of government, but like most things that slither out from under rocks, they seem to want everything they do to avoid the light of day. That should make people think.

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The ACA has problems, but that was always a known factor. The plan was always to fix it as time went on. The idea was always to set it up, imperfect at is was, and then improve, not remove, the ACA when things were found to need changing.

At this point people wonder if there’s anything the Congress, as in every single elected member of Congress, can agree on if not on a major thing like health care and the ACA. As a matter of fact, there is. Every member of Congress has agreed they don’t trust the president’s judgement.

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Yes, like child-proofing your house, they all decided, every single one, to vote to not let the president make decisions about sanctions when it comes to Russia. So I guess we should be encouraged by that, and to finally know there is actually a line is for the GOP when it comes to Trump.

I’m curious to know where the line will be drawn within the Cabinet though. That’s yet to happen. Although we are starting to see major cracks, and by major I mean important for a number a reasons. Some cabinet posts are facade. A crack there can’t bring down the administration. Others are foundation. A crack there can bring down the White House.

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The Sessions-Trump relationship is foundational. It’s what Trump’s campaign was and his presidency is built on. Sessions was Trump’s first real supporter. He introduced Trump to Bannon, who was and remains Sessions long time friend. Session saw in Trump a fool. Someone he could use as front man, that in a worse case scenario could become a patsy.

If Trump became president, whatever had to be done to secure him the presidency, could be swept under the rug when Trump gave Sessions the AG spot, he had once been denied and frankly humiliated over.

Sessions could block every inquiry into all the dirty deals and wrong doing that Sessions, Trump, Trump’s family, and his associates did to “win.” Bannon, Session’s minion, would get the chief strategist, aka Nazi propagandist, spot in the White House and continue the white supremacy agenda that had brought Sessions and himself together in the first place. Bannon was also there to keep an eye on the babbling, tweeting fool of a president and manage the legislative agenda that Sessions would have to be “above” since he was no longer a senator.

 

Of course, what to do when such quid pro quo as the Sessions-Trump pact breaks down in the face of a relentless free press?

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Sessions by recusing himself from the Russia investigation and anything to do with related Trump investigations, has basically reneged on the deal in Trump’s eyes. Let’s be honest. Trump is extremely stupid about government. He seems to think Sessions is unable to be AG just because he recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Whether that’s true or not, Trump wants to fire Session because he thinks Sessions is not looking after his person interests and protecting him so his wrong doing doesn’t come out.  But Trump can’t fire Sessions because that would put the nail in the coffin of the obstruction charge, and lead to impeachment.

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Currently Trump is trying to rant and bluster about Sessions to try to get Sessions to quit. For the record, that’s never, ever going to happen. Sessions is a seasoned politician that is used to getting mud slung in his direction. Sessions also has the support of many in the AG office and in law enforcement. But finally and most important, Sessions will never give up the office he’s coveted all his life.

Sessions is smarter than Trump politically. Everyone in DC is, but Sessions is a battle hardened veteran in politics and Trump, comparatively speaking, has washed out of basic training in his first 6 months. If Trump expects loyalty from Sessions, he’s nuts. Trump is a traitor to his own people. He’s proved that time and time again.

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Bannon calls Sessions his “mentor” in politics. This is why people such as Jared Kushner ended up in the White House. Trump has never trusted Sessions fully. He has always wanted to be a real president, but he knows he can’t cut the strings tied to Sessions hands without falling flat on his face.

In the end, if push comes to shove, Sessions (and Bannon) will turn on Trump and his family, cabinet choices, and aides to save himself.  And anyone rational would have expected this to happen. Sessions has more political clout and savvy than Trump. He’s not a little elf, he’s a little Golum, without the remorse or soul. And he has a part to play in this story.

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2017.

Would you do it? 2 seconds = $35,000

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There’s one more day of Tour de France racing. Right now the third and forth place riders are separated by 1 second. That 1 second means $35K more in prize money and a prestigious podium finish for the man that’s 1 second ahead.

Traditionally, no one attacks the position of the leader of the race on the last day. It’s more of a victory lap for him. On the other hand, that’s not to say that holds true for those lower down the field.

In 2005 Alexander Vinokourov and Levi Leipheimer were only two seconds apart, in fifth and sixth place. With something like $15K more in takings at stake for the fifth place vs the sixth, Vinokourov succeeded in a breakaway during the last kilometre and, because of his stage win and bonus seconds, overtook Leipheimer for fifth position overall.

I find it hard to believe Mikel Landa won’t hunt down Romain Bardet for $35K tomorrow. Or that Landa’s team, team Sky, won’t help him get that 2 seconds he needs to place on the podium in Paris.

On the other hand, if Sky nails back a win for Landa, keeping  Frenchman Romain Bardet from a podium win, the hatred for Mikel Landa, Chris Froome and the entire Sky will likely be legendary.

My feeling is that Landa will go for it and team Sky will crush Bardet. Bardet has already laid the foundation for his loss. Bardet told the press today that he didn’t do so well in the time trial because he didn’t feel well. Hmm?

Bardet seems to expect to snatch defeat out of the jaws of Victory tomorrow. So, he is letting everyone, including the lions of Sky, know that he plans to be the weak gazelle. I don’t think the French will be too happy about that. But it makes for great race watching.

Personally, I’m rooting for Bardet to win. But I always root for the gazelles.

[Update: Sky didn’t hunt down Bardet. This honored the great tradition of good sportsmanship at the Tour that’s been missing for several years now. Kudos! to Froom and team Sky for gentlemanly behavior. Congrats to the race organizers for a brilliant race. Thank you to France and most especially Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet, and all the French riders who made this tour one of the best and most exciting!)

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Life’s little miracles

Michael Matthews celebrates winning stage 16 at the Tour de France

Australia’s dark horse

At the start of the Tour de France, the Sprint category (the green jersey) was de facto Peter “the Hulk” Sagan’s to lose. Close contenders were Mark “the Manx missile” Cavendish, Andre “the Gorilla” Greipel , and Marcel “the upstart” Kittel. There were other great sprinters in the race. No one gets to the Tour without being great. But no one really pegged them as having a chance.

Even among the favorites, the creme de la creme, there were issues that worked in Sagan’s favor. The Missile was coming off a bout of mononucleosis, so his health and his chances were not as good as normal. The Gorilla really didn’t have the formidable lead-out train that he’d had in other years, putting him at a disadvantage. As for the upstart, he seemed destined to have a few stage wins but the younger, faster, more wiley Sagan was always going to end up wearing the Green in Paris.

But life’s is a funny thing.

 

  • Stage 1: Thomas 20 points, Kung 17, Kiryienka 15

Kittel was 9th and walked away with 7 pt. Sagan, Cavendish, Greipel and everyone else important in sprinting walked away with 0 points. The people that got points were all GC, or General Classification riders, meaning they’re interested in winning the race for themselves or their team but don’t care about winning sprints.

Because GC riders crossed the sprint line before the sprinters, the sprinters lost out on points. Thus, Thomas Geraint, the Welshman, became the first winner from Wales to wear the Green Jersey.

  • Stage 2: Kittel 63 and Demare 38. Greipel 25. Cavendish 22, Matthews 17, Sagan 14.

Remaining in the hunt, are Germans Greipel and Kittel, Manxman Cavendish, Frenchman Arnaud Demare, Slovakian Sagan, and Aussie Michael Matthews. Keep your eye on the Aussie.

  • Stage 3: Kittel 66, Demare 57, Sagan 50, Matthews 44, Cavendish 31, Greipel 30

At this point, the man from OZ has jumped Cavendish and Greipel. He’s putting in that extra effort for every point. He’s jumped from 5th, to 4th place.

  • Stage 4: Ends in a tremendous crash at the Sprint that takes out Manx Missile, Cavendish, and results in the Hulk, Sagan, being bounced from the Tour. Unexpectedly, the other sprinters are now relieved of two top competitors as a result. The new standings are: Demare 124, Kittel 81, Matthews 66, Greipel 63.

From this point on, Matthews jumps to 3rd place and continues to fight for points every day. Greipel hangs in there at 4th place, but just can’t get enough points to jump Matthews. And that will prove to have repercussions down the line.

  • Stage 5: Demare 127, Kittel 87,  Matthews 73, Greipel 63.
  • Stage 6: Demare 170, Kittel 143, Matthews 96, Greipel 93
  • Stage 7: Kittel 197, Demare 182 , Matthews 123, Greipel 110 .
  • Rest Day
  • Stage 8: Kittel 212, Demare 182, Matthews 140, Greipel 130
  • Stage 9: Unexpectedly, the Demare drops out of the race. So by the end of the day, the new standings are: Kittel 212. Matthews 160. Greipel  130

Because Matthews has been working away at getting points consistently, when Providence cuts him a break, he’s ready to take the number 2 spot. Greipel has been giving it his all, but he can only manage to hang on to 3rd place.

  • Stage 10: Kittel 275. Matthews 173. Greipel  150

From this point on, Matthews pulls away from Greipel even as Kittel pulls away from Matthews. But it doesn’t seem to stop Matthews fighting for every point.

  • Stage 11: Kittel 335 Matthews 202 Greipel 171
  • Stage 12: Kittel 352 Matthews 222 Greipel 171
  • Stage 13:  Kittel 363 Matthews 235 Greipel 180
  • Stage 14: Kittel 373 Matthews 274 Greipel 187
  • Stage 15 Kittel 373 Matthews 294 Greipel 187

A this point, the gaps are pretty big. A lot of people would settle. They’d be happy just to have podium finish in Paris. But not Michael Matthews.

  • Rest Day
  • Stage 16: Kittel 373 Matthews 344 Greipel 204

Kittel, having been sick during the rest day, is dropped early from the pack. Matthews rides like a demon and wracks up an amazing 50 points. Greipel could have fought him for the line, on at least one sprint, and snatched but didn’t. Kittle’s lead is so wide that he can afford to have an off day and still stay ahead.

  • Stage 17:  Still not feeling well, Kittle ride in the back of the peleton, a notoriously dangerous place to hang out. Unexpectedly, a crash happens early in the race taking Kittle down. He falls very hard injuring his shoulder, elbow, and knee. He gets medical assistance, but it’s not enough. He abandons the race. The standings at the end of the day: Matthews 364, Greipel 204

At this point, there’s 4 days left of racing. If Matthews can just do as he’s done, fight for every point, he’ll be in the Green jersey in Paris on Sunday.

This a life lesson you can take away from this year’s Tour. Put your head down, do the work, and fight for every point, because you never know what obstacles might miraculously disappear from your path.

I can’t tell you Mike Matthews is the best sprinter in the world. I don’t think he’d say that. He just did the work. He gave the last ounce of effort he had. And life just took out of his way the “brightest and best” Sagan, Cavendish, Demare, and Kittle, to give him the victory.

In life there may be a host of people “better” than you at whatever you do or aspire to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your out of the race. Sometimes it’s just about sheer dogged determination and physical endurance.

Oh and if that’s not enough for you?

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The man that won the stage today, Primoz Roglic of Slovenia, started his career in professional cycling “late” in life, at age 21. He’d been a ski jumper, till 2011, but after a life-threatening wipe out, he had to change sports. By 2013 he was on a professional cycling team. Now his fearless riding on the downhill slopes launched him straight into a stage win in his first Tour de France.

So that’s another lesson. Sometimes you need to change to win. Primoz didn’t give up sports, he just changed to a different one. Maybe something you’re doing isn’t working for you anymore. Degas’s eyesight started to fail, so he gave up oil painting and switched to pastels. Don’t quit doing something you love, just find another way to embrace it. If you do, maybe you’ll also find yourself on the podium, as a result of life’s little miracles.

 

 

 

This entry was posted on July 19, 2017.

Like father, like son

Admittedly, I read through Don Jr’s self-published emails. I think they were posted in an attempt to clear himself of wrong doing. Reading them, they are clearly incriminating. They’re also doctored copies.

The printouts, that have been recopied many times, probably to hide edits and redactions. But it’s clear that what is show reflects only a few select emails that appear to repeat other select emails.

What isn’t show are printouts of the original emails. That’s important to remember. That’s what contains things like who saw what, when, and how many times things were circulated about.

The initial email sent, on a Friday, by Rob Goldstone, talks about the son of a Russian oligarch, Emin Agaralov, having a father, Aras Agaralov, who met with a Kremlin lawyer wanting to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton. The subject of the mail is Re: Russia – Clinton private and confidential.

Uh … okay. Pretty clear there one is venturing into the territory of collusion with Russians, to manipulate an election, all of which is illegal. In fact the letter states that “Russia and its government support Mr Trump.” Normal people would back away.

But, let’s continue. Because the Trump campaign certainly did.

So the meeting between the father, Aras, and the Russian lawyer, happened in the morning in Moscow. At approx 5:30 pm Moscow time; 10:30 am NYC time, the son, Emin, calls Rob Goldstone to use him to get in touch with Trump.

Rob then reaches out to Don Jr. And the best part of the email? Rob hesitates to send it to DJT Sr because it’s “ulltra sensitive” and apparently everyone knows, even within the family the Trump kids know, Don Sr is a babbling fool not to be trusted with anything sensitive.

Jr says he’s busy — it’s Friday. I guess he’s going golfing. But he’ll email Ron back Monday.  I find the casual response to the offer of Russian information straining credulity. Jr states it could be helpful later in the race, after the primaries are over. Okay….

Do we think that Jr never discussed this with anyone else on the campaign or his father the entire weekend? I don’t. So where are those weekend emails?

Monday at 12:40 pm. Rob reaches out again. About 2 hours later, 3:03 NYC time, Jr says he wants to talk to Emin. So, what happened in those 2 hours? Who else knew that this phone call was going to happen?

Rob replies that Emin, the son, is on stage in Moscow, where the time is 10:30 pm, but he’ll call when he gets off stage at 11 pm. And then there there’s no emails reported. Interesting. So in that half hour, who gathered in Jr’s office to be on the call?

At 4:38 pm NYC time (11:38 pm Moscow time), Jr sends an email thanking Rob for hooking him up with Emin. So, clearly there was a call, but we have no idea who was on it besides Emin and Jr. We know from the email that call could have lasted anywhere up to 40 minutes.

The call was specifically about Hillary Clinton and how Russia could help bring her down. That’s called collusion. Anyone arranging that call, or on that call, is guilty of collusion. But what’s really interesting is that after that long phone call, they decide to go ahead and set up a meeting — in NYC to get a Russian on US soil to collude with their campaign.

The following day, Tuesday, at 4:20 PM NYC time, Rob emails to set up a meeting in NYC between Jr and “the Russian attorney.”

Please note:  At this point, that we know of, from the emails we are shown, no one ever says if the attorney is a woman or a man Also, no name is ever given in the emails that were released. If this were all above board, there’d be a name and a gender. These people know what they are doing is collusion.  I also suspect there are emails that give the names, but they were not released.

The Russian attorney is said to be arriving in the US on Thursday, to go to court and will be in a NYC local court until 3 pm — and after that will able to leave that court and arrive at Jr’s office at 4 pm. That puts the courthouse within a 1 hr drive time of the office. That would seem to be something  both notable and checkable.

And not only that, this attorney is traveling with another person. You can’t tell me Mueller of the FBI isn’t pulling flight logs and immigration records already. Ask yourself what cases were going on involving the Russian govt in 2016 in NYC? What kind of case might need a Russian representative. The answer is the Russian money laundering thing Preet Bharara was working on and sure enough, the lawyer Don Jr met with was involved.

Also, in this email, Rob says he’ll be sending Don Jr the names of these two Russian people, for security, but we never see that email from Rob which gives names them. He also says he’s going to the meeting to introduce them personally. So, sometime before the meeting, Rob is meeting them and taking them to Jr’s office.

This is why I say, there are more emails from this discussion than the ones we are being shown. Probably a lot more, with a lot of names in the CC / BC listings. I expect the FBI will request them and eventually they will become public.

On Wednesday, June 8, Rob’s email indicate that as of 11:18 am, NYC time, the Russian attorney and her companion have not arrived in the US from Moscow. It’s also the first time anyone mentions the attorney is a “she.” So that gives the FBI a window of arrivals to discover the other person who was on the plane with the lawyer.

So there you have it.

Issuing what he thinks are exculpatory facts. Jr in fact incriminates himself completely. And not just himself, his bro-in-law Jared, and then campaign manager and still Russian lobbyist Paul Manafort as well. If we could but see the rest of the unredacted emails, which the FBI will, DJT Sr I’m sure is in this as well.

Like father, like son.

 

This entry was posted on July 12, 2017.

Mont Chat and the dog days of summer

Being the Tour de France junkie I am, I’m heartbroken so many great riders are out of the race at such an early stage. On the other hand, a lot of those who crashed out did so taking too many risks on Mont Chat.

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I can’t blame the race directors for the chosen route, as some have. Mont Chat was very hot and in places rainy and the twisting turns of the descents would be terrifying even in a car, let alone on a bicycle going 50 mph.

It was riders ambition exceeding riders technical grasp that took out the greater part of the fallen athletes. But cyclists don’t take up the sport for the love of caution, so . . . it was all too easy to see where it would end.

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For all the crashes and injuries though, the worst moment by far had to be Warren Barguil losing at the finish line  in Chambery at the end of Stage 9. Absolutely crushing. In many ways, his loss at the line was more devastating than any of the spectacular crashes.

Rigoberto Urán and Warren Barguil 

Missed by a tire width

I always root for the French, and this year the young guns have racked up some impressive stage wins and grabbed the King of the Mountains jersey as well. I look forward to possibly seeing a Frenchman on the podium in Paris.

At this point, with half the race to go, anything could happen.

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Anything.

This entry was posted on July 11, 2017.