After week one’s crashes and withdrawals (including sportreview.net.nz fav Bradley Wiggins), it’s a wonder there was any lycra or cyclists left to get up all those hills. Poor old Johnny Hooglerland’s arse was all over the globe’s tellys after this appalling bit of driving. His polka dot jersey and continued presence in the race is a reminder of how hard tour riders are and how much this race means to them.
My rider of the tour so far has been Thor Hushovd, the World Champion who took yellow after the team time trial, held on to it for a few days as well as dragging his big sprinters’ frame over two mountain stages to take line honours. Super stuff.
Getting into the Pyrenees, Richard Williams wondered where the attacks were – the GC leaders were marking each other into oblivion and not pinning their ears back to make the death-or-glory breaks. Andy Schelck was even nicknamed ‘stiff neck’ by French press for endlessly riding while looking back at his rivals. He must have been reading – his 60KM solo attack in this morning’s 18th stage was the moment of the tour so far. Bizarrely, Eddy Merckx himself appeared in a car, sticking his head out the sunroof like R2D2 to give the cannibal seal of approval to the attack. Little Aussie bleeder Cadel Evans was left to slog up the hill by himself, dragging the other GC contenders up behind him like naughty children.
And so it comes down to the last hill climb, the time trial, and the Champs Elysée. New Zealand fans can cranks the MySky and get up for what should be some compelling stuff. Tomorrow morning’s stage is the Alp D’Huez, the Tour’s equivalent of T20 cricket – let’s see if Evans and A. Schleck have anything left after their long rides today.
Who’s going to win? I’m with BikeSnob, and would like the fairytale, please. Voeckler, who would be the first winner to spend race time in someone’s car port, or Evans. It will probably be a Schleck. Any way it winds up, this has been a dramatic tour.
Red Kite Prayer has part one of two guys’ story of training with the US Postal Service team in 2002 – this was @lancearmstrong’s ‘Blue Train‘ team at the start of his seven tour titles.
No matter how long the ride was, there he was—at the front, leading his team. Headwind, tailwind, uphill and down, Lance set the pace and rode like a motorcycle. He lead some of the smoothest, fastest five hour rides of my life.
The hotel and surrounding resort community sit atop a steep, mile-long climb. This simple “driveway” served to bring already broken men (Bill and me) to a state of groveling at the end of each day’s training ride.
With the tour all but over after the withering Mount Ventoux showdown, sit back and luxuriate in the details.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish rides with an English Rose on board.
Lance Armstrong’s time trial rides, part of his Bikes of Stages effort.
For me, the most stylish team is Garmin Slipstream, whose two Brit riders may have inspired the Argyle.
Tour De France riders must be better at riding no hands than sportreview. You can follow @lancearmstrong, @ghincapie, and @LeviLeipheimer on the twitter. Kiwi @Greghenderson1 tweets too, but isn’t on tour this year
Speaking of which, there’s two Kiwis to follow this year, Julian Dean, a sprinter who could nick a stage win, and sportreview fav Hayden Roulston
For coverage, The Guardian has a dedicated Tour section and Richard Williams reporting live, while The Times has Paul Kimmage, Rough Ride author and ex-pro. Here he is talking to Brit David Millar, the guy with the sweet bike. Luckily, Sky carries pretty much the entire tour here in En Zed.
Here’s a Google Earth thingo. If you can get it to work, let me know(!)
Blog wise, Belgium Knee Warmers and Red Kite Prayer will have some good reading and hopefully The Big Picture will have more amazing photos (this link is not dial up friendly)
Boston.com’s big picture blog points to an amazing series of photos from this year’s tour, including a tilt-shift shot of the peloton, and Devil Guy.
Le Tour is probably the most visually spectacular sporting event going, team. Except Waikato Stadium with lingering shots of Hamilton’s CBD in the background, of course.
London. It’s fantastic, and it’s holding the Olympics after China – but surely that crap mascot can be improved?
The BBC’s John Motson is yer archetypal statto / sheepskin coat-clad football commentator – but he’s still got a potty mouth
Some footballer scores – only to have it saved by the world’s bandiest-legged doctor guy. He’s not happy
Some mountain bike buy gets fully rad over the Tour De France
Britain’s David Millar (here he is talking to Rough Ride‘s Paul Kimmage) may have placed third in this morning’s time trial, but he definitely takes the cake in bike design – here’s his time trial machine, complete with Union Jack wheels to match his British TT champion’s jersey.
You might look like a dork riding to work in gear that matches your bike, but hey, if you’re in the Tour De France you can get away with this shit.
Not so sure ’bout the socks, however.
Le Tour started early yesterday morning – here’s the best places for coverage on the web:
The Guardian and The Times have extensive coverage and photos, alongside Le Tour’s official home page. Cycling News has loads of reports and photos, along with geeky bike porn
Here’s a Google Map, with loads of interactive bits n bobs
Interested in having a go? Each year the Etape du Tour gives weekend warriors the chance to ride a real live stage before the pros. This year the 189km stage took in the terrifying Col du Tourmalet – a 23.5 km climb at an average 7.5% gradient. Here’s two accounts of riding Tour stages, but to truly get a picture, watch this video of the notorious Mount Ventoux. Bugger. That.