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Paul Tevis

Entries in cycling (4)

Sunday
Jul242011

The Tour Is Dead, Long Live The Tour

And so ends another edition of the Tour de France. This was the most thrilling one I’ve watched, and I’m sad to see it go. A few final thoughts:

  • Stages that weren’t supposed to be exciting turned out to be. Tuesday and Wednesday featured attacks that GC riders had to respond to, on days when they weren’t supposed to come. And just when I thought Thor Hushovd couldn’t do anything more amazing, he gave us a repeat performance of his breakaway stage win. I was happy to see Edvald Boasson Hagen take the next stage, because with both Thor and Ryder Hesjedal there at the Tuesday’s finish, there was no way he was winning that one.
  • Thomas Voeckler is made of courage. Enough said.
  • Andy Schleck’s attack on the slopes of the Col d’Izoard was the sort of things that legends are made of. That just doesn’t happen in modern cycling; it harkened back to attacks by the big men of the 60s and 70s. And Cadel Evens’ response, when he took control of the chase on the Col du Lautaret on the way up to the Galibier, was the defining moment of the Tour for me.
  • Bernand Hinault has one of the coolest jobs in the world.
  • Watching the live coverage of Thursday and Friday’s stages cemented in my mind how ridiculous and epic the Tour really is. I was exhausted by the end of those stage, and the only thing I’d been riding was my couch.
  • Hats off to Pierre Roland for attacking at just the right time on Alpe d’Huez. I felt a bit bad for Sammy Sanchez, but I was glad to see France get a stage win.
  • I’m really happy to see Cadel finally get the win. Next year, I’ll be pulling for Andy to do the same.

And now I finally get my evenings back. Vive Le Tour!



Fitness: Biked 13 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 376 words, 314 seven-day average, 264 average, 30566 total, 566 over the goal for the week

Monday
Jul182011

Rest Day, Again

I don’t know if France has gotten prettier or if our new TV just lets us see it better, but the first two weeks of the Tour de France have been wonderful to watch. As I did on the first rest day, here’s my thoughts on the Tour so far:

  • Thor Hushovd is amazing. His persuit and breakaway win over the top of the Col d’Aubisque was about the last thing I would have expected from him. I felt bad for Jeremy Roy, who worked so hard and looked like he was going to clinch the first French stage win of this year’s race, but Thor was just fantastic to watch.
  • Thomas Voeckler continues to do the yellow jersey proud. He’s climbing with the best in the world right now. I don’t think he’ll be able to continue that in the Alps, but we’ll just have to see.
  • I still think this could be Cadel Evans’ year. The Schleck brothers both look good, but I believe Cadel can time-trial better than either of them. Basso, Cunego, and Contador have lost enough time that I don’t think any of them will top the podium in Paris. If Cadel goes into Saturday’s time trial less than twenty seconds back from either of the Luxembourgers, I’m predicting the first Australian winner of the Tour.
  • So much for my fearless prediction that Philippe Gilbert had a shot at green. Mark Cavendish’s lead isn’t insurmountable, but Gilbert will need be in a lot of breakaways over the next few days to make up ground. If Cavo makes it through the next few days, we could see him take win number twenty and sew up the green jersey on the Champs-Élysées.

Six stages to go. Thursday’s and Friday’s should be absolutely insane, but any one of them could turn the whole race upside down. I love this sport.



Fitness: One Hundred Pushups, Week 1, Day 1 (6-6-4-4-12)
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 351 words, 330 seven-day average, 261 average, 28717 total, 1283 to go for the week

Monday
Jul112011

Rest Day

The Tour de France is, without a doubt, my favorite sporting event of the year. So today, on the first rest day of the 2011 Tour, here my thoughts on this year edition so far:

  • Obviously, crashes have dominated the first nine stages. There are always crashes, but this year’s are something different. They’ve happened in later stages than usual, they’ve affected a lot more of the big names than usual, and they’ve been just weird. Alexandre Vinokourov, Chris Horner, Janez Brajkovic, Bradley Wiggins, Tom Boonen, Jurgen Van Den Broeck: All of these guys were expected to make an impact on the Tour, and they’re out because of crashes. Add to that Nicki Sorensen getting clipped by a motorbike and — of course — Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland getting taken down by a television car and it’s hard to imagine talking about anything but crashes. (But, of course, I will.)
  • It’s awesome to see Thomas Voeckler back in the yellow jersey. He’s a very different rider than he was during his magical run in yellow in the 2004 Tour; I’m glad that he’s living up to some of the expectations created back then.
  • Thor Hushovd is climbing as well as I’ve ever seen in him, due no doubt to the extra “suitcase of courage” that comes with the maillot jaune. I’m very impressed with how long he held onto it. He’s another rider who I’ve been watching for long enough to see make transitions in his career, which make me feel like a good fan.
  • Philipe Gilbert is having a magical season. The first week of the tour has suited him extremely well, with many of the finishes resembling the Spring Classics races like the Amstel Gold that he rides so well. He’s been amazingly consistent and I think he’s got a shot to win the green jersey ahead of the pure sprinters.
  • Speaking of the green jersey, I’m quite liking the intermediate sprint changes. They’ve certainly made the first few stages more exciting. We’ll see if that continues.
  • Last year’s top finishers, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, have not particularly impressed me thus far. Contador has had a great year, but he’s made some mistakes and suffered from some bad luck. Schleck, on the other hand, hasn’t looked anywhere near as good as he has in the past. Neither has had to rise to the occasion so far, so it remains to be seen what they have in reserve.
  • This could be the year that Cadel Evans finally ends up on the top step of the podium in Paris. He’s the only one of the big contenders who hasn’t made a mistake so far, and he seems to riding extremely well. Still, we haven’t had real test. Contador, the Schleck brothers, Tony Martin, Damiano Cunego: All of them seem to be right there at the finish when there’s even a slight uphill. Any of them could have a breakout in the mountains, and any of them could crack. Cadel has a history of having one bad day in the mountains that sinks him. If he avoids that this year, he could be on top.
It’s an exciting Tour so far, and it’s just getting started.



Update

Fitness: One Hundred Pushups, Week 1, Day 1
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 336 words, 309 seven-day average, 256 average, 26406 total, 1594 to go for the week
Sunday
May222011

Two-Wheeled Excitement

Today was a good day to be a cyclist.

This morning Gwen and I went for a nice bike ride. It wasn’t too easy, and it wasn’t too hard. It was, as it were, a Goldilocks ride. Afterward we headed down to Thousand Oaks, where we caught the final stage of the Tour of California. We ended up standing in the middle of the figure-eight shaped closing circuit, with a clear view of the finish. Because of the shape of the course, the riders passed us ten times. After the race was over, a number of them stopped right in front of where we were to congratulate each other. We really couldn’t have asked for a better spot to watch it from.




Update

Fitness: Biked 10 miles
Writing: 429 words, 274 average