Tour De France 2004

5bigtoes

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Anyone else watchin' the tour???

I'm watching the tour despite all the allegations of drug use....this contraversy has been a topic for years....as in the Olympics, track and field, you name it all sports have'm (drugs in sports?? hmmm that's a separate thread I'm sure????)
 

Dude

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I'll be paying close attention, as always. This year could turn out to be the best in a long run. Armstrong, first of all, is on a mission. The man is being attacked on all angles by the French quest in their efforts to soil his reputation. Although drugs are prevalent in cycling, and their own proud history was built on the speed ball, they have locked on to Armstrong.

Remember this: unlike the great Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa's of this world, LA has been under the scrutiny of constant surprise visits by anti-doping authorities and has not tested positive once. These guys show up whenever they see fit: X-Mass morning, or while a man is on his way out the door taking his laboring wife to the hospital.

Besides the motivation to become the first to win 6, he'll be out to prove everyone wrong who's said he's lost it, is too old, and unfocused. When he's done- and this may very well be his last real kick at the Tour, despite his commitment to three more for the new team sponsor (OLN)- he will go down in cycling history as the man who refused to lose, the toughest racer mentally, and the toughest physically. He does not have the God given tallent of Jan Ulrich, or the bloodlines of Spain's Iban Mayo, but he's full of American arrogance. He's always at his best when his back's to the wall.

This year also promised the best competition. Not on is Jan Ulrich reported to be in his best shape ever, but there is a bevy of young riders ready to take their spot at the top of the tour hierarchy. The organizers have also made the famous Alp D'Huez into an uphill time trial, which will prove to be the critical stage.

My prediction is that LA will pull it off again this year. I'm saying a 3 minute margin.
 

Captain Shamrock

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Great stuff, Dude, but is there any chance you can post any photos of the women who give the winner of each stage flowers and a kiss. They are fcuking hot. I believe they were also wearing yellow today. Any photos would be appreciated.

For the record, every rider in the Tour de France is on performance enhancing drugs. Cheers
 

Dude

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I tend to agree with your last statement. Honestly, how can any one of them even complete the Tour without a little help?

I didn't say he was clean, just that he's never tested positive, dispite being visited more often than anyone.

I'll do my best w/ finding some of the Mailliot Jaune birds...
 

Dude

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Armstrong had a big day today, adding more than 2 minutes to him lead over main threat Jan Ulrich in finishing second in the 12th Castelsarrasin - La Mongie stage. He also managed to take almost 4 minutes out of current leader, rookie Thomas Voeckler. Voeckler did well for a young guy today, and may be a force to reckon with in the future. His 9 minute plus lead entering today is now down to 05' 24"; I'll be surprised if he's still in yellow after tomorrow.

The last climb today was a 12 KM long, 1st category climb (Rated from easiest to toughest, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, and "Hors Categorie"- meaning they rate it so tough it is out of category). Ulrich started laboring w/ about 4 KM to go, and Armstrong attacked. He pulled one rider with him, Ivan Basso, whom I believe is another mountain goat from Chile. Basso followed Armstrong up to the summit, and took the stage win.

Basso should be considered a legitimate threat now, considering one of the two Time Trials remaining is Alp D'Huez, a 13.8 km climb at 7.9% grade rated HC. Granted, this is Armstrong's favorite stage, where he has traditionally had most of his success in laying the boots to his nearest rivals. Judging by his form today, I don't see him losing significant time here to anyone. When the road levels for the 55 KM stage 19 TT in Besançon, Basso's shortcomings in true time trailing will be exposed by wind, and by stronger riders like Armstrong, Ulrich, and Hamilton.

Another tough day tomorrow will be either the resurgence or the final nail in the coffin for Jan Ulrich. Plateau de Beille features a 15.9 km HC climb (7.8% grade) at the end.

Sorry Captain...can't find any pictures of the crackers...
 

Ralph Wiggum

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I read his autobiography and he's got an interesting story about his upbringing, basically an orphan (albeit a single, caring mom), how he lost himself in sports when so many kids today go the other way, and how he's driven. not the best of reads but an interesting look at the blueprint to one of the best athletes ever.
 

knvb

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Man, there is some tremendously cool lingo used in bike racing and I actually enjoyed reading Dudes post, he made it all sound so interesting, but at the end of the day I know it's still only men in tights peddling their bicycles. It's a shame I'll never have anything to do with it again. Or bike racing.
 

Dude

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Men on bicycles =fastyism

Actually, with the exception of swimming, running, and riding, he sucked at sports. Any sports requiring agility were out the window for him.

I think he'd take offense to being termed an orphan, though. Yeah, his dad took off, but his mum was 100% supportive of his swimming, then drove him around the Southern US when he raced in the USTS Triathlon series as a pro at 17. That's how he was discovered in cycling: he and another young Texan named Chan McRae were, from my recollection, top 5 finishers overall in the Wildflower Triathlon in Texas. Both were 17. The US Junior Cycling team then took these guys on as prodigies.

From my understanding, she has basically no formal education, but was able to buckle down, support him, get her real estate license, and become very successful in that field. I would argue the other way, that the toughest person Lance knows is his mum.

Obviously, I'm a fan of his athletic and community charity accomplishments (drugs or not...the whole freaking peleton is a massive speed ball). Truly, one of the more inspirational stories out there. Plus, he's a freak athletically. I have absolutely no doubt that if he took a year from road, and trained for the Hawaii Ironman, he'd win it. He's that good a runner and swimmer, too.

Just heard that Armstrong's room was searched (yet again) for drugs in a surprise raid by the French Police. No wonder he blew away the field today in a relatively easy stage...sticking it where the sun don't shine! Tomorrow will be a slaughter, now that this comes to light.

On KNVB's post: agreed on the tights. It's about functionality, not fashion. The bright colors are all Euro influenced, because the sponsors are plastered all over the jerseys / shorts. The shaved legs are not for aerodynamics, but because road racers crash so often. I can attest to my road racing days that pack cycling is dangerous as hell, and the pavement takes away a lot of skin. If there's hair on that skin, it takes forever to heal. No hair = fast healing. What I find funny w/ triathletes is that they all shave too, but for what reason? They rarely, if ever crash, as the cycling is individual and there are rules in racing against drafting. Nearly all swims involve wetsuits, with the exception of Hawaii or other hot climates. Yet, most male triathletes shave.

Go ahead, ask Luc.
 

Sandman

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"The Tour" is an absoluitely fabulous sporting event. This morning was awesome. Lance turned it up a notch and Heras, Hamilton and Ulrich struggled. Watching Lance romp up the mountains is really amazing. The tour will get VERY interesting from this point on. If anyone has never watched it, things are just about to get fun........you'll get a combination of athletics, drama........and women (those "Credit lyonnais" girls on the podium are on fire). Stage 13 (Saturday Morning) finishes off a 128 mile route with an "Hors Category" climb.......and Stage 16 (Wednesday Morning) is the famous Alpe D'Huez time trial of a 15km route up another "Hors Category" climb....It really is good stuff.

Sandman
 

Dude

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Plateau de Beille

Entering today's Pyrenees mountain stage, Plateau de Beille, I expected LA to put the hammer down. Ulrich suffered yesterday, and given today is even tougher with the first HC climb of the tour, it would take a bloody miracle for the German to recover enough to be able to stay with the 5 time champ.

The last time Plateau de Beille was incorporated into the tour in 2002, LA won the stage on his way to the overall victory. The final climb up to the summit today saw the main peleton (w/LA, Ulrich, Mayo, and young yellow jersey wearer Voeckler 3 minutes back of a 2 man break-away from earlier in the stage. This is where teamwork comes into play for USPS. Essentially, each USPS rider takes a turn at the front of the group, setting the pace. Armstrong will sit on the wheel of whomever he has leading the peleton up the climb. The idea is to conserve the leaders legs until the final 5 KM, and to set a pace to high that most will drop off. Eventually, the only USPS rider near the front of the peleton will be LA...hopefully alone.

Like yesterday, LA's teammate George Hincapie took several pulls at the front. Yes, he took several pulls at the front (easy KNVB, you sick cnut). The man is well known to be LA's right-hand man; LA is the boss of the peleton, but Hincapie is the henchman. Soon, he dropped off the back, and his place up front of the chase group was taken by USPS domestic Rubiera.

Eventually, the chase group caught and passed the two early stage leaders, while riders continued to drop off the back- including Ulrich and Voeckler. Eventually, it was (once again) Lance & Ivan Basso racing to the top, putting time between them and their rivals. This young rider, Basso, is impressive. He'll be the next great Italian...and a force to be reckoned with on Alp D'Huez next week. Frightening about this guy appears to be his calm ability to match LA's pace in the calm, almost emotionless form reminiscent of 5 time great Miguel Indurain, who had an obscenely low resting heart rate of 28 bpm. While LA stands on his pedals, running high RPM's, and dancing his way up, Basso sits motionless, matching the effort. A difference in styles, but Basso's conservative demeanor makes it appear he is able to crank it up another notch...

At the end, it was Armstrong deciding he wanted the win, sprinting past Basso for his 19th TDF stage victory. They finished 2'41" ahead of Ulrich. Amazingly, Voeckler managed to hang on to yellow for another day by finishing 4'40" back. He's a tough SOB, fighting for every second. He now only has 22 on LA on the overall picture, so his 15 minutes are almost up, for this year...

With 1'22' lead over Basso, LA now has to turn his focus towards the Alps, where he'll be riding defensively and marking Basso. Ulrich is done...it would take a monumental effort, and a lot of luck for him to make up the 6'40" deficit he now faces to LA. Armstrong has always dominated Alp D'Huez...this year being a time trial will make things that much more interesting, but if he can emerge either maintaining his lead over Basso, or having added to it, he'll go on to his 6th straight tour win. Basso is no match for Armstrong in the 55 KM time trial to come, so barring crashes or injuries, LA looks good to 6-peat.
 

Dude

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TT is when the riders are sent out individually in 1minute time intervals. Considered the race of truth because there is no hiding in the pack to escape the elements (wind) or to draft. Basically, the rider against the clock. This is where the best overall riders shine.
 

Dude

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Saw more footage of yesterday's stage...Mayo was actually close to 30 minutes back, and contemplating abandoning the Tour. Hamilton did abandon.

Two of Armstrong's rivals give up, while one (Ulrich) concedes the race to him (saying it appears Armstrong is too strong). A good day for LA, bad for the other contenders.
 

Dude

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What a stage today!

Yesterday featured Jan Ullrich throwing down an attack halfway through the stage on a category 1 climb that splintered the peleton. What was expected to be a stage where the big guns were to take it easy in anticipation for today's TT turned into a day of high paced chasing, and a sprint finish at the end. The final pack included about 8 riders, and all the top riders in GC- with the exception of young Thomas Voeckler, who lost the Yellow jersey once and for all, along with around 7 minutes.

Ullrich's attack appeared to have two purposes: one, to try and draw Armstrong out from the safety and surroundings of his teammates in the pack, and get him chasing. Two: it may have allowed Ulrich to get away and gain some time back. A pretty balsy break that ruined what was supposed to be an easier day of riding.

In the end, LA took the stage win in a sprint.

Today featured the first time trial of this year's tour, and the first TT ever up Alp D'Huez. Final results: LA with the win, 1",1' over second place Ullrich, who had a tremendous ride himself. Complete contrast in riding styles between these two...Ullrich is a masher, pushing high gears at low RPMs, whereas Lance pedals low gears at high RPMs. Ullrich even opted to use aero bars today...odd, considering it was a climbing stage. He spent pretty much the entire climb in the saddle, while LA danced his way up. LA also managed to add 2'22" to Basso today, who remains in second on GC, 3'48" back.

In any event, unless Armstrong crashes, or somehow loses a lot of time tomorrow, the race is now for 2nd. I see Ullrich pulling back at least another 2-3 minutes on both Basso & Kloden in the 55 KM time trial to come, but he'll have to get at least a minute on those two tomorrow. Tomorrow features one HC climb near the beginning of the stage, plus several 1st cat climbs. There can still be some significant changes to GC...
 

Dude

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BTW: An estimated 900,000 fans lined the mountain today. If you get a chance to catch the coverage on OLN tonight, it's worth a watch.

From OLN:

Lance’s 21st Stage Victory After 21 Turns

The cauldron of 21 hairpin turns from Bourg-d’Oisans to L’Alpe d’Huez was yet again transformed into the biggest sporting arena in the world. With police estimates of over a million spectators, it’s easy to understand why a rider like Lance Armstrong had more to think about than just turning over his pedals. There was a lot for the Texan to consider. Above there was one thing at the forefront of Lance’s mind. “Today I was focussed on getting to the finish safely,” said the five-time Tour champion. This was in response to a question about being the first rider to score six overall victories. Does he think about that during the race? “I try not to.” And, really, how could he?
The fans which lined the route gave Lance barely enough room to breathe in the first five kilometers. The crowd control barricades did not line the entire 15.5km stage. This offered admirers a chance to get close to their hero and critics an opportunity to try and baulk the man who eventually triumphed. Armstrong was the only rider who finished this epic time trial in under 40 minutes. The winning time was over a minute ahead of the five-time runner-up, Jan Ullrich. And, at the end of the day, none of the distractions made a dent on Lance’s resolve.
Was the crowd a factor? “Honestly,” said Lance, “that’s the way it is every day in the mountains. There was a section at Plateau de Beille that was more scary.” The very thing which makes a day on L’Alpe d’Huez so special contributes to the fear the riders experience. The atmosphere of anticipation mixed with national pride and a good dose of booze adds to the myth of the mountain. The images projected on television screens around the world are bound to be a ratings winner but Armstrong is not alone in his concern about such a potentially volatile situation. “I don’t think it’s safe,” concluded the rider about the crowd
Lance now leads his nearest rival by three minutes 48 seconds. He has proven that he hasn’t slacked off despite his numerous successes in the event which, as he was quick to assure the media, has made him one of the biggest stars in world sport.
Before the stage, the Italian ‘tifosi’ weren’t the only ones who felt encouraged by Ivan Basso’s performances on the three major mountain stages before today. The CSC rider won one and was runner-up twice. He began the stage just one minute 25 seconds from the lead in general classification. Could Ivan challenge Lance in this one-on-one contest? Were Lance’s two previous victories the result of clever team work? These were quandaries to consider before stage 16. But in the post-race press conference, a reporter from a Boston newspaper posed another question all together: “Were you surprised to see Ivan?” Armstrong had caught the man who had started the time trial two minutes ahead of him. And there were still three kilometers to race. “Was I surprise? Yeah!
“It’s incredibly motivating for a rider when you see that you’re catching somebody,” responded Lance. “I still have a ton of respect for Ivan. I think he’s the biggest threat in the race.” Ivan is still second overall but Ullrich is closing in fast.
The German has been the perennial bridesmaid of the Tour since his victory in 1997. With another tough time trial to come – a 55km test that is more suited to Jan’s powerful style – there’s every chance that he’ll finish on the podium yet again. Which step is yet to be confirmed. When it comes to the battle for overall honors, that may be the only question which remains. Armstrong is clearly the strongest rider in the race. His speed up the mountain is such that he is able to cause riders to finish outside the time limit (33 per cent of the winner’s time) in 15.5km.
Of course, those kilometers are far from average. The road which leads to L’Alpe d’Huez is a Mecca for cycling fans. It prompts people to pack their cars and camp on the roadside for weeks before the event is scheduled to arrive. It stirs their emotions and fuels their fanaticism. The road is decorated with the names of cycling heroes long after the race has passed. But the memories of what prompts the pilgrimage of fans each time L’Alpe is on the Tour’s itinerary remains.
Marco Pantani etched his name into the history books with his conquests at L’Alpe d’Huez. He set the record for the 13.9km ascent back in 1997. This mark of 37 minutes 35 seconds was expected to fall today because the mountain was the only challenge of the stage unlike the day ‘Il Pirata’ reached the climb after 189km were already covered. But Armstrong’s efforts, as impressive as they were, fell short. By just one second!
“Our secret,” said Armstrong when asked how he prepares for the Tour, “is that we work all year long. I hate to disappoint the skeptics but that’s what it is.” He rides the mountain when the paint has faded. He studies every kilometer. The numbered turns provide him with a guide to where he’s at. Lance might not like to think about his impact on history but with every turn carrying the name of the winners he will now be reminded of his achievements on his next reconnaissance for he now joins the elite company two win twice at L’Alpe d’Huez.
 

Sliver

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I don't know how those riders can ride with the crowd so close like that. You almost get dizzy/ vertigo just watching it on tv.

The riders can only see a few feet in front. The crowd pulling away as the bike gets close.
 

knvb

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If you get a chance to catch the coverage on OLN tonight, it's worth a watch.
No, it’s not. Besides I have an extra personal "seminar" to run on Washer Safety tonight in Surrey.

Its men in tights peddling through the French county side. No one needs to watch that.
 

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