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Tour de France Wrap-Up

In: Sports

Posted By: Doc Holliday at 4:26 pm

24 Jul 2009

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Even though I refuse to watch these guys race on tv, I still admire the punishment they put themselves through for three weeks.  For a sport that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me as a “sport” (just like long-distance running), it’s definitely cool to see Lance dominate the French countryside for such a long stretch of history.  Unfortunately for Lance this year, it looks like Contador’s got this race all sewn up:

AUBENAS, France (AP) – Alberto Contador stayed in command at the Tour de France with two days of racing left while teammate Lance Armstrong remained in third place as a daunting mountain climb awaits.  Mark Cavendish of Britain captured Friday’s 19th stage in a sprint finish. He became the first racer to win five stages in a single Tour since Armstrong in 2004.

Cavendish edged Thor Hushovd of Norway and Gerald Ciolek of Germany on the relatively flat, 111-mile ride from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas. Hushovd most likely will win the green jersey awarded to the Tour’s best sprinter. They all finished in 3 hours, 50 minutes, 35 seconds. Armstrong, the seven-time champion, had the same time. He trimmed four seconds off his deficit to Contador and second-place Andy Schleck of Luxembourg.

Contador leads Schleck overall by 4:11 and Armstrong by 5:21 entering the last big stage — Saturday’s 104-mile ride from Montelimar to a punishing finish up the famed Mont Ventoux.  The race ends Sunday in Paris, with what is usually a ceremonial ride on the Champs-Elysees for the rider in the yellow jersey.

“It’s really hard. I’d very much like there not to be a climb,” Contador said, referring to the widely dreaded mountain. “There’s a lot of headwind.”

…Giggity.  At this point Contador would have to fall off a precipice on Mont Ventoux in order for Lance to make up the time defecit.  But I’m damn happy for Contador that he’s on his way to taking home the crown, and not just because he’s on Lance’s team.  I like the way he spat in the face of the bullshit “unwritten rule” in bicycling, where the team picks the guy with the best shot to win mid-race and then protects and helps that guy for the rest of the Tour, sacrificing their own energy and stamina in the process.  It became clear by the halfway point of the tour that Contador wasn’t going to bow down and kiss Lance’s feet just because he’s Lance fuckin’ Armstrong.  Alberto won the damn race in ’07 for Christ’s sake.  “Every man for himself” simply makes for a more interesting and entertaining race, it separates the true iron men from the pack, and it puts the designated “assistant” riders on equal footing with the well-known riders of the Tour.  Well done, Alberto – watch those cliff faces tomorrow.

Couple of Tour nuggets:
1.) Peeing: Pairs (so they aren’t always at the back all the time) or sometimes even peloton stop en masse, and hang a leek on the side of the road. It is normally decided as a group where and when they should stop. There is an unwritten rule that riders do not attack when someone is taking a nature break.
2.) Women: There is a female Tour de France which is shorter and much smaller with little prize money or media coverage…as it should be.
3.) Records: While Lance has the record with 7 wins in a row, 5 other guys have won it 5 times.
4.) Lance: On one stage, Lance once lost over 15.5 lbs due to dehydration.
5.) Jerseys: The Tour’s best mountain climber is awarded a White Jersey with Red Spots and is given the best nickname in the race – “King of the Mountains.”  Richard Virenque has the record with 7 total.
6.) Spectators: 15,000,000 spectators set to line the route each year, many having camped out on the side of the road for a whole week just to get a good view.  Television viewers?  Oh yeah, only 2 billion.  They must see something I don’t.

(Shitload more facts here)

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