Tag Archive | tour de france

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!)

Image result for arch triumph tour de france paris

Feeling Miffy about the 4th

MiffyTDF

It’s that time of the year! Time to bust out the red, white and blue and celebrate the July 4th – the start of the Tour De France.

This year Le Tour starting in Utrecht where Miffy (seen above sporting a “king of the mountains” jersey) is a cultural icon.

The thought of seeing giant Miffys in various jerseys popping up here, there and everywhere is actually more of the reason I’m tuning in.

Sorry, TDF, but I just don’t find the group of riders or the route very interesting this year. Seriously, how many times can I watch 150 sweaty men in spandex climb L’Alpe d’Heuz?

But Miffy? Awww, I could look at her for hours. I can’t wait to see where she turns up!

Mes yeux on the maillot jaune

olivier_jornu

This is a visual approximation of my latest — same look in the eyes, same weird combination of refinement and horsiness. He’s sort of a friend of the family. By “sort of” I mean I might be dating my father’s ex-lover’s son.

My father was in the Service, before he met my mother. While stationed overseas, he made fast friends with a local guy. He dated this friend’s sister. But things didn’t work. She married someone else almost immediately after they broke. And, 9 months later . . . “Der Rosenkavalier” was born.

Der’s family lives in Holland. But he’s of French-Belgian parents. He’s a businessman. He works for his father’s firm. It’s all very . . . boring, except boring is definitely not a word you’d used to describe Der himself.

Der’s mother asked her brother to ask my father to send me to meet him at the airport and make sure he got settled okay.  It’s weird being in a strange city. I get that. It’s good to have someone you can call, someone to show you around and tell you the skinny.

I really did not expect to be much more than Der’s “in case of emergency” contact. But, we bonded immediately — mutual love of Le Tour.

He landed in the wee hours. After a few formalities, we went to his hotel, where he asked the desk clerk, “How can I find the Tour?”

I knew what he meant. What station did he want to tune into? But the hotel didn’t carry that station. That’s right, free porn but no Tour de France!

I explained to him that he could get the Tour on his laptop, for a small fee, while in the US. He wasn’t best pleased. So we dropped his bags and I took him to a cyclist’s cafe I know. During July, it opens when the TDF Live show starts.

We had breakfast, with various cyclists, and watched on a giant flat screen as the Australian team, Orica-GreenEDGE, redeemed themselves from the Day 1 stuck bus fiasco. After that I left him at his hotel.

He arrived unexpectedly at our 4th of July block party, with champange. “After all, the French did help the Americans win their independence.”

And then there were fireworks!

Happy 100th, TDF

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For those of you who think of the Swiss as conservative banker types and tightly wound watchmakers . . . apparently not so much during the TDF.

July is always a weird month for me. Mostly it’s the sleep depravation.

I’m a Tour de France fan, which you may already know as the TDF is practically a character in Lily Does Sweden. Sadly though, I’m not in France in July so the race for me starts live — on NBC Sports every day for a month — at 4:30 AM.

Admittedly, I have zero investment in cycling itself. I don’t participate in TDF fantasy cycling. I don’t cycle. I don’t even own a bike. But I like the TDF itself, the scenery, the crashes, the massive athleticism combined with the even more massive denial of drug use.

I view the TDF as a stand alone event, a chance to drop in on an alternative subculture. Kind of like a friend’s wedding really, except way longer.

I know most of the top riders and their stories. I  have a few favs, but overall my go-to is Tommy Voeckler — who is also a French favorite. But I’m tour savvy. I know there’s way more to the Tour than just the actual race and its riders.

There are the broadcasters: Phil Liggett (from the UK) and Bob Roll (aka Bobke, from the US). “Bobke is the best thing to happen to commentating in years.” Say that to anyone about the Tour and you’ll sound in the know. Probably you’ll also start an arguement, but hey, that’s the Tour for you.

For those of you who don’t know, the Tour has great commercials you won’t see anywhere else. And the Bobke ones are some of the very best. There was even once a nude Bobke commercial. . . . Sorry, having a laugh attack. . . . What was I talking about . . . uh . . . oh yeah . . . .

The Tour has wonderful roadside fans, some in costume — most in rather more than the Swiss above, swinging their huge flags. Most of them are cycling enthusiasts or cyclists. The Swiss are cyclists. You can tell by their tan lines.

Some people just set up camp and wait for the Tour to come to them at one. Others  follow the race around all month. But everyone cheers on their nation’s riders, regardless of team. Of course, fans can be dangerous too, they can cause accidents, but so does the odd dog now and then because there are generally no barriers. I mean, NO barriers . . .

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Welcome fans to another up close and way too personal TDF!

Most people, who haven’t actually been to the Tour live, don’t know there is a long pre-race parade that travels through each town a few hours ahead of the first riders’ arrival. It’s a bit like Mardis Gras because people throw candy and stuff off the floats. Also, along the Tour route, each town or district tends to put on displays so when the choppers go by there’s a nice visual. It’s all kinda hokey, but in a good way.

Yeah, I like the Tour. I like the rest day hotel room arrests, the petty squabbling, the sudden withdrawls, the strategic plotting, the swearing in multiple languages, the last 1000 meters, the sprints, the mountains, the time trials, the weird rivalries — even within teams, the accusations, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the weird victory line “dances,” the colorful jerseys, the little stuffed lions, and . . . .

And, ok,  I do actually look for the Clean Bottle mascot at every stage. Don’t ask why.  I don’t know myself. I just like seeing this cheerful 8-foot bottle trotting alongside the riders. It makes me feel good. I want one so bad — a mascot, ok and a Clean Bottle.

I suppose my loving the TDF but not cycling itself says a lot about my level of inexplicabilty. Which reminds me, I have a dog I have to take to obedience class tonight.